Black Shuck

The Black Shuck is the name of a large ghostly black dog from folklore in the British Isles. Other names consist of Old Shuck, Old Shock, and Shuck. It is said that it roams around the coastline and countryside of East Anglia.

The origins of the name “Shuck” come from the word scucca, which means “demon”. Or it could have derived from a local word “shucky” which means “shaggy” or “hairy”.

The Black Shuck is classified as a cryptid with a variety of accounts and sightings, and sometimes referred to as an omen of death. Some locals believe that if you encounter the creature it is a warning that you will die on the last day of the year.

Others claim seeing the dog will mean almost immediate death. However, most claims are that the creature terrorizes them, then leaves them alone; but sometimes a close relative will die or become ill.

The Black Shuck has also been portrayed as a protector. Helping lost travelers, or accompanying women on their way home.

In 1877, a writing from Walter Rye states the shuck is “the most curious of our local apparitions, as they are no doubt varieties of the same animal.”

In another writing from W. A. Dutt from the 1901 Highways and Byways in East Anglia, the Black Shuck is described below:

“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.”

The Black Shuck is described as a large black dog with flaming eyes of red or green. The size of the beast varies from a large dog to the size of a calf or horse. Some have told of the beast being headless or floating on a layer of mist.

The most famous account claimed of the Black Shuck happened on August 4, 1577 at Bungay and Blythburgh churches, and since has become an iconic part of the area.

The beast was reported to burst through the church door at Blythburgh, passed by the congregation killing a man and boy. Then the church steeple fell through the roof. As the beast left the church, it left scorch marks on the north door that can still be seen today. Locals describe the marks as the Devil’s fingerprints.

On the same day at the church in Bungay, the beast ran up the isle killing two while they knelt in prayer. An historic novel by I.S. Morgan, “The Black Dog of Bungay,” recounts the event from 1577.

Sighting claims of the Black Shuck have occurred as recently as 1980.

Image Caption: (LEFT IMAGE) Title page of the account of Rev. Abraham Fleming’s account of the appearance of the ghostly black dog “Black Shuck” at the church of Bungay, Suffolk in 1577. Credit: Abraham Fleming/Wikipedia | (RIGHT IMAGE) Black Dog, a supernatural dog that appears as an omen of great change. Credit: Liza Phoenix/Wikipedia (CC BY 3.0)