The Black Shuck
An Old Norfolk Saying… “And a dreadful thing from the cliff did spring, And its wild bark thrill’d around, His eyes had the glow of the fires below, Twas the form of the Spectre Hound.”
There are so many myths, tales, legends and sighting’s of this fearsome apparition that it is hard to know where to begin. Black Shuck is said to be one of the oldest phantoms of Great Britain, with the name deriving from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘scucca’, meaning demon or devil. Other historians say that the hound has its origins in Norse mythology, based on Odin and Thor’s huge dog of war ‘Shukir’.
Local legend tells of a huge hound, the size of a small calf with blazing eyes, who regularly prowls the coastal path between Sheringham and Overstrand. Unsuspecting night walkers would first become aware of the padding sound of the hound’s heavy paws. Out of the corner of their eye they may see a gathering darkness slowly forms into the outline of a huge hound. Lurking in the night shadows, the beast is said to track the steps of its victim, drawing ever closer.
Anyone unfortunate enough to turn around and meet its fiery gaze is said to die within a twelve month period.
The Black Shuck has had many documented sightings. In 1890 a young boy was rescued from the North Sea who told of being forced to swim further and further from the shore by a huge black dog who had chased him into the sea. Even during the 1920’s and 1930’s there were reports from the fishermen of Sheringham, of hearing a hound howling on the cliff tops during stormy nights. As recently as 1970 a sighting of Black Shuck made the headlines, when a huge hound was seen pounding over the beach at Great Yarmouth. In 1980, a young woman claimed to have met the hell hound whilst out walking with her young son. This sighting took place near Wisbeach, though the woman said that this hound had yellow eyes rather than red, but all of the other details were the same as that of Black Shuck.
Mythology says that ‘ghost dogs’ tend to haunt old straight roads which may be located on ‘Leylines’, ancient straight paths of invisible earth energy. Folklore says that churches would be sited on these straight lines and would be used by spirits who would travel along them from graveyard to graveyard. These were sometimes known as ‘Corpse Ways’.