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The Little Bigfoot Phenomenon

We’ve all heard about the antics of Bigfoot, but what about Littlefoot? Certainly, it’s an undeniable fact that many reports emanating from Britain tell of encounters with not just large and lumbering, hairy entities, but with distinctly smaller critters, too. Centuries-old Welsh folklore, for example, tells of the Bwbach, an approximately three foot tall, hair-covered humanoid perceived by the folk of that era as a brownie or nymph.

Supposedly, like so many of similar ilk, they would undertake chores and little jobs around the homes of humans, providing they were the recipients of two things: respect and nourishment, the latter usually in the form of oats, milk and cream. And they had a deep hatred of those who avoided alcohol and who led teetotal lives!

Feature Image via “Letters From the Big Man” – A Narrative Film project in Los Angeles, CA by Christopher Munch

Wirt Sikes was U.S. Consul to Wales, a noted expert on Welsh folklore, and the author of an acclaimed 1880 book, British Goblins. In its pages, Sikes wrote of the hairy little Bwbach that it: “…is the good-natured goblin which does good turns for the tidy Welsh maid who wins its favour by a certain course of behaviour recommended by long tradition. The maid having swept the kitchen, makes a good fire the last thing at night, and having put the churn, filled with cream, on the whitened hearth, with a basin of fresh cream for the Bwbach on the hob, goes to bed to await the event.”

Sikes continued: “In the morning she finds (if she is in luck) that the Bwbach has emptied the basin of cream, and plied the churn-dasher so well that the maid has but to give a thump or two to bring the butter in a great lump. Like the Ellyll which it so much resembles, the Bwbach does not approve of dissenters and their ways, and especially strong is its aversion to total abstainers.”

The Bwbach is largely forgotten today, but encounters with small, hairy, man-like figures in Britain are certainly not. Jon Downes – director of the Center for Fortean Zoology – says of such matters: “I have many similar reports of such creatures being seen in Devonshire woodland. And the following one is a real cracker because it has so much separate and credible corroboration to it…”

The location, Jon reveals, was Churston Woods, which is situated close to the English holiday resort of Torbay: “Over a six week period, in the summer of 1996, fifteen separate witnesses reported seeing what they could only describe as a green faced monkey, running through the woods. Granted, some of the descriptions were quite vague, but most of the witnesses told of seeing a tailless animal, around four to five feet tall, with a flat, olive-green face that would run through the woods and occasionally would be seen swinging through the trees.”

Jon concludes: “Now, to me at least, this sounds like some form of primitive human, but, of course, such things simply cannot exist in this country – and yet they seem to. And this area – Devon, Somerset and Cornwall – is rich with such tales.” Matters don’t end there, however.

In November 2008, an extremely strange story surfaced from Wanstead – a suburban area of the borough of London. According to witness testimony, a small Bigfoot-type creature was supposedly seen wandering in Epping Forest, a 2,476 hectare area of forestland which, by name at least, was first referenced in the 17th Century, but that has existed since Neolithic times and which, in the 12th Century, was designated as a Royal Forest by King Henry III.

British cryptozoologist and author Neil Arnold describes how the distinctly odd story began: “The animal was first sighted during early November by eighteen-year-old angler Michael Kent who was fishing with his brother and father in the Hollow Ponds area of Epping Forest, on the border of Wanstead and Leytonstone. The teenager claimed that whilst walking towards his brothers, he heard a rustling in the bushes and saw the back of a dark, hairy animal around four feet in height, that scampered off into the woods.”

Another of those that caught sight of the diminutive beast was Irene Dainty, who claimed a face to face encounter with the thing on Love Lane, Woodford Bridge. She told the press:

“I had just come out of my flat and just as I had turned the corner I saw this hairy thing come out of nowhere. I really don’t want to see it again. It was about four feet tall and with really big feet and looked straight at me with animal eyes. Then it leaped straight over the wall with no trouble at all and went off into the garden of the Three Jolly Wheelers pub. I was so terrified that I went to my neighbour’s house and told her what had happened. She couldn’t believe it and asked me if I had been drinking, but I said of course I hadn’t – it was only about 3.00 p.m.”

Further reports subsequently surfaced, some of which were far more of a four-legged variety, maybe even bear-like, rather than actually being suggestive of Bigfoot. But, it was this issue of the “really big feet” that kept the media-driven controversy focused on matters of a mini Sasquatch-type nature. Ultimately, just like so many similar such affairs, sightings of the beast came to an abrupt end and the matter of the Epping Forest monster was never satisfactorily resolved.

Juvenile Bigfoot entities? Escaped monkeys? Unclassified animals? The cases are many, but in terms of definitive answers we have – forgive the pun! – very “little” to go on!

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  • grammy97

    The “green face”  reminds me of the Nain Rouge.

  • Nick,
    Very interesting article. While the existence in Australia of the Jerrawerra and other diminutive hairy hominids can possibly be explained by the fact that they live virtually unnoticed in the vast tracts of impenetrable bushland, creatures existing on the edges of suburban London are another matter. 

    I have tended towards the “flesh and blood” theory for hairy hominids for a number of reasons, including several personal experiences and the fact that from an evolutionary aspect,  their physical features are well suited (even perfectly suited?) to survival in the bush. 

    Perhaps we are all looking at this way too simplistically when we attempt to explain the existence of these creatures in terms of “flesh and blood” or “inter-dimensional” … but what else do we have? 


  • mxyzptlk

    In Welsh, I’m pretty sure the ‘w’ in Bwbach is pronounced as ‘u’ or ‘ew’ — which makes it sound like ‘Bewbach,’ which is just short for Bewbacca, Chewbacca’s little Celtic cousin.

  • Marc_Evans

    It would be closer to say ‘w’ as in English “oo’, i.e Received Pronounciation ‘book’ not ‘Boo!’; ‘ch’ is said as in ‘Loch’ or J.S. Bach – note that the ‘a’ is short, so it sounds like ‘back’ not ‘ark’; unless a mark shows otherwise, the accent in Welsh falls on the penultimate syllable, hence BOObach. Bwbachod (= more than one bwbach) uses the plural ending -od (pronounced as for Eng. “odd”) and shifts the stress, i.e. boo-BACH-odd.
    PS If you play scrabble with Welsh words, remember that ch, dd, ff, ng, ll, ph, rh and th all count as one letter, not two! And if you play anagram games like tv show Countdown, Y is a vowel and W is both a vowel and a consonant. 😉
    Welsh is a very rewarding language to learn and not more difficult than, say, monoglot English speakers might find French. You have a language which preserves very archaic features and words for those who like to delve into the heritage of Indo-European (and earlier) languages and cultures (‘bwca/puck is an intriguing example) while being able to enjoy experiencing contemporary culture (from S4C commentary on La Liga football to ordering ice creams on holiday, or understanding a Super Furry Animals track in Welsh). If the Bwbach was ever an endangered species, there’s little we can do about it, but supporting Welsh allows us all to share in the keeping alive its ancient oral culture and traditions.