You can’t tell from the box of bones if the creature they came from had shaggy “shucky” fur, flaming eyes or a knack for wringing necks – just that it was definitely big and canine. But was it Black Shuck, the legendary Hellhound of East Anglia?
Archeologists from DigVentures searching the grounds at Leiston Abbey in Suffolk, England, recently found a box containing the skeleton of what appears to be a 7 foot long dog that would have probably weighed over 200 pounds.
The abbey is a few miles from the Holy Trinity Church in Blythburg where, on a stormy August 4th night in 1577, it’s said that the hellhound called Black Shuck tore open the door with eyes enflamed and killed a man and a boy by wringing their necks before running out just as the steeple collapsed.
For skeptics who need more than an account of the attack in the pamphlet “A Straunge And Terrible Wunder” by the Reverend Abraham Fleming (who would doubt the word of a reverend?) or the image of Black Shuck in Bungay’s coat of arms, there are scorch marks on the wooden door of the church said to have been made by the hot paws of the Hellhound.
The bones were found near pottery fragments that date to the same 16th century time period. Carbon dating will be performed to obtain their exact age. So, has Dig Ventures found the legendary Black Shuck or an abbot’s big best friend? DigVentures managing director Lisa Westcott Wilkins is predictably evasive.
We’re still waiting for results from specialists but we believe the bones are from when the abbey was active – so they could be medieval. The dog is huge – about the size of a Great Dane – and was found near where the abbey’s kitchen would have been. It was quite a surprise. We’re all dog lovers and we have a site dog with us on our digs, so it was quite poignant. Even back then, pets were held in high regard.
In the meantime, no one in the area is opening cans of dog food or playing with squeaky toys.