By: Penny Dobson and Jennifer Tyrrell
Anyone that knows even just a little bit of folklore or legends has most likely heard or come across stories of black phantom dogs that tend to hang around old crypts and graveyards. These phantom creatures have been said to be anything from the grave owner's pet to Satan himself depending on which myth you read.
Stories of these dogs are not new, in fact some date back centuries such as the legend of the Black Shuck.
Picture yourself alone on an English hillside late at night, with only the light of the moon above you. As you walk along the air is cold and damp as if a storm was moving in. You hear what you think are twigs snapping on the trail behind you. Stopping, you listen, but hear nothing. You start walking again only to hear the snapping return. Slowly turning around you find a large headless dog has been following your every move. Stalking you!
Sounds like a purely fictional tale right? Well not if you ask certain people in England. Some people especially the older generation will tell you that if you ask them the Black Shuck is very real and is not something that you should take lightly.
The Black Shuck has many stories associated with it. Depending on what version you read it can appear headless or it can appear to be floating. Most of the stories that we have come across though has described it as being a large black dog with glowing red eyes.
The Wikipedia has this to say about the appearance of this dog, "Black Shuck has appeared headless, and at other times he appears to float on a carpet of mist rather than run. According to folklore, the specter often haunts graveyards, side roads and dark forests." * There is even a poem that is said to go along with this terrifying beast.
"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" *
What makes this legend one of the most frightening is that " 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" *. They also say it will cause the death of any person that is brave enough to look into his eyes. They say that anyone that does foolishly look into the eyes of this hound from hell will parish within a year.
What we find interesting is that the Black Shuck or hell hound as it is sometimes referred to, does not appear to choose its victims, nor does it seem to seek them out either. From all the stories we have read about this being there does not appear to be any reason for the witnesses to have encountered it other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We have read many theories as to where they might be found, but not as to why. Again, depending on the version you read they are said to be in churchyards, graveyards, and straight roads, as well as hillsides, and even possibly places that are along Ley Lines.
So then why do they appear to some people and not others?
We have not been able to find an answer to this question at least not yet, but we can tell you that if we ever happen to be walking alone at night where the hell hounds are said to dwell, and hear any noises that seem to be coming from behind us we will NOT be turning around to see what it is!
*1. Taken from
*2 Taken from
*3 Taken from