The Black Shuck
The Burning Black: Legend of Black Shuck
Help bring the most famed of all British monsters, Black Shuck, to the Comic Book medium!
In English folklore Black Shuck is the name given to a legendary ghostly black dog said to roam the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.
Accounts of the animal occur primarily in the records of Suffolk, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire fens and Essex.
According to folklore, the beast varies in size and stature from that of simply a large dog to being the size of a calf or even a horse. Sometimes Black Shuck is recorded as having appeared headless, and at other times as floating on a carpet of mist.
W. A. Dutt, in his 1901 Highways & Byways in East Anglia, describes the creature thus:
He takes the form of a huge black dog, and prowls along dark lanes and lonesome field footpaths, where, although his howling makes the hearer's blood run cold, his footfalls make no sound. You may know him at once, should you see him, by his fiery eye; he has but one, and that, like the Cyclops is in the middle of his head. But such an encounter might bring you the worst of luck: it is even said that to meet him is to be warned that your death will occur before the end of the year. So you will do well to shut your eyes if you hear him howling; shut them even if you are uncertain whether it is the dog fiend or the voice of the wind you hear. Should you never set eyes on our Norfolk Snarleyow you may perhaps doubt his existence, and, like other learned folks, tell us that his story is nothing but the old Scandinavian myth of the black hound of Odin, brought to us by the Vikings who long ago settled down on the Norfolk coast.
According to some legends, the dog's appearance bodes ill to the beholder - for example in the Maldon and Dengie area of Essex, the most southerly point of sightings, where seeing Black Shuck means the observer's almost immediate death. However, more often than not, stories tell of Black Shuck terrifying his victims, but leaving them alone to continue living normal lives; in some cases it has supposedly happened before close relatives to the observer die or become ill.
By contrast, in other tales the animal is regarded as relatively benign and said to accompany women on their way home in the role of protector rather than a portent of ill omen. Some black dogs have been said to help lost travellers find their way home and are more often helpful than threatening; Sherwood notes that benign accounts of the dog become more regular towards the end of the 19th and throughout the 20th centuries.
Was the Black Shuck found at Leiston Abbey?
500 years after Black Shuck first went on the prowl, archaeologists were examining the skeleton of a 7ft long dog unearthed in the remains of an ancient abbey.
It was discovered a few miles from two churches where Black Shuck is said to have killed worshippers during an almighty thunderstorm in August 1577.
What’s more, it appears to have been buried in a shallow grave at precisely the same time as Shuck is said to have been on the loose, primarily around Suffolk and the East Anglia region.
Estimates suggest it would have weighed more than 14 stone and stood 7ft tall on its hind legs.