Monday, 17 August 2015
Update on Black Shuck dog
Last year I made a post about a dig that uncovered the burial remains of a 7 foot tall skeleton of a dog. To read that visit here.
It was found buried on the grounds of Leiston Abbey, the same regional area where the local legend of supernatural dogs appear. Seven miles from the abbey at Holy Trinity Church in Blythburgh (a 10 minute drive away), the frightening apparition of Black Shuck appeared there in the year 1577. It caused a terrible storm and a bolt of lightning destroyed the church steeple, while the demonic dog killed two people. Terrified people tried to barricade themselves within the church as the dog scratched angrily on the wooden door, leaving blackened hot claw marks that remain there to this day. It was described as a 7 foot tall black dog with flaming red eyes. Nicknamed "Black Shuck". The discovery of a 7 foot tall dog in an unmarked grave at the side of another church sent everyone wondering if this is the true remains of Black Shuck.
Other interesting things about the discovery also. The dog's skeleton was found neatly placed under what was once a kitchen area of the monestery. Would anyone go through the hassle of carefully burying a fallen demonic beast? Or would they treat the body of a loving dog with consideration?
In 1536 all monastreries dissolved because Henry VIII changed everything, removing the assets and properties that once belonged to the Roman Catholic church. That abbey was sold to Lord Charles Brandon (1537-1551) who owned the property, and transformed it into a farm. The farm was built within the walls of the old monastery and likely that there were dogs. It scatters the idea of it being an evil Shuck.
A piece of the skeleton was sent to a lab in Florida, USA, for radiocarbon dating. The dog was the size of a large breed of dog that we would recognise in Great Danes or Mastiffs. It's also possible, loking at the bones and jaw of the dog, that it might've been elderly. It had worn teeth and athritis! Devil dogs have supernatural powers. The appearance of Black Shuck at Holy Trinity Church happened in 1577. Radiocarbon results shows that the dog lived in the mid or late 18th Century. Over two centuries after the Holy Trinity Church event. However, Black Shuck, as all other devil dogs and hell hounds, are immortal, atleast live a very long time, longer than the average earthly dog.
What do I think? Personally I don't believe this was Black Shuck at all. It was a household pet used to protect the farm and the home, who lived a long life, was well fed, and loved by its owners. The people living in the farm house understood the place as a farm, not what it used to be. In the 1920's, the farmhouse/abbey was purchased by Ellen Wrightson, who restored the building to it's original spiritual dwelling as Lady Chapel, a place of sanctuary and prayer. Today it's a ruin owned by Pro-Corda, and protected by English Heritage. The abbey is haunted and today it's still visited by ghostly monks, and not far away is the looming Sizewell nuclear power station, also said to be haunted.