- Religion and Philosophy
The Hell Hounds Of Great Britain
Virtually all the counties and countries of Great Britain are home to their own legend of a Black Dog, in the vast majority of cases the ghostly Black Dog is seen as malevolent and a harbinger of doom, the best known black dogs are Black Shuck who haunts the flat lands of East Anglia and the Barghest of the Yorkshire Moors, on Dartmoor in Devon legend tells of a huntsman who sold his soul to the Devil, following his death black hell hounds were seen at his graveside and now the huntsman is said to be seen to ride the moors with his ghostly canine familiars in attendance, this tale is said to have been an inspiration for Arthur Conan Doyle when writing his classic novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. Are these sightings akin to the sightings of alien Black Cats in Great Britain? Are they genuine or just misidentification of other animals or just urban legends spread by locals maybe hoping to increase the tourism in their local area? One thing is for certain in the majority of cases the ghostly dogs bring bad luck if sighted perhaps even death. Conan Doyle was a well known believer in the occult and the paranormal ( see his support for the pictures of the Cottingham Faries ) but the stories of phantom dogs had been around long before Conan Doyle wrote his famous tome, indeed legends of black dogs are one of the most enduring legends in British folklore.
Ghostly Black Dogs are usually described as being larger than the average domestic dog and are often seen with eyes that glow a menacing red producing terrible fear in anyone unfortunate enough to see one. Black Dogs go by many names, Lean Dog in Hertfordshire, the Gurt Dog in Somerset, Padfoot in Bradford and Leeds, Hairy Jack, Skriker, Hateful Thing, Swooning Shadow are just some of the monikers given to the phantom beasts.
Well Known Black Dogs
Probably England's most well known Black Dog is the aforementioned Black Shuck, seen in and around Essex, Black Shuck is said be a bad omen and a bringer of death on the viewer or a member of their close family. The Yeth Hound of Devon is a headless phantom heard wailing through the woods at night ( this is another hell hound linked as inspiration for the Hound of the Baskervilles ).
In Scotland tales tell of the legendary Cu Sith a huge beast around the size of a cow who roams the highlands bringing death to any that see him and takes their soul.
The huge Mastiff Gwyllgi haunts the mountains and hills of Wales with its glowing red eyes and fetid breath.
On the channel island of Jersey locals fear the Tchian d'Bouôlé (Black Dog of Bouley) said to be the harbinger of terrible storms.
Origin Of The Legends
Legends of Black Dogs are ancient and stretch back into antiquity, due to their longevity it is impossible to tell if their source comes from Celtic, Norse or Saxon mythology, it is probable that elements of these legends begin in all three and other sources passed down from generation to generation, indeed these legends are not peculiar to Britain alone as there are Black Dog legends all throughout Western Europe and other parts of the world, the Beast Of Flanders in Belgium once again a large black dog with fiery red eyes being particularly well known. In Germany the Devil himself is associated as appearing as a large Black Dog and very similar stories are recalled in parts of South and Latin America. Not all ghostly Black Dogs are linked with doom the Gurt Dog of Somerset is a benevolent spirit who it was believed would help any youngsters who fell upon trouble in the Somerset countryside,
Even today sightings of ghostly black canine phantoms are reported in local and sometimes national newspapers in the UK, they are certainly an enduring legend and one that is not likely to be forgotten soon, so if you should find yourself alone one night in the British Countryside and spot a large black beast with eyes of fire, run!