Over the last few days, I’ve written a few articles on Bigfoot. Also, on anomalous apes in the U.K. It’s this latter issue I’m additionally focusing on today, something which further emphasizes the supernatural nature of the U.K. creatures. Jon Downes, of the U.K.’s Center for Fortean Zoology, notes that the so-called Ghost Ape of Marwood, was, when alive, a pet of a local landowner who, one day, grabbed the landowner’s young son and climbed a tree with him, utterly refusing to come down. And, after being killed for its actions, the monkey supposedly returned, in ghostly form, to haunt the surrounding area. Jon continues on with another, yet somewhat similar, affair: ‘The well known specter of Martyn`s Ape, at Athelhampton Hall in Dorset, is supposed to have been the pet of a member of the Martyn family that was either accidentally bricked up alive during building work, or was entombed when the daughter either committed suicide in a locked, secret room, or was walled up by an unforgiving parent – depending on which account you read and accept.
The Martyn family built the earliest part of this house in the fifteenth century; and, interestingly enough, their family crest was of an ape sitting on a tree stump. The family motto was: He who looks at Martyn’s ape, Martyn’s ape will look at him. The crest in question still exists: it can be found above the main arch of the vestibule that marks the entrance point to the hall. Mark North, an expert on Dorset folklore and a noted author on the county’s many and varied anomalies, notes that the ape sits ‘with a solemn expression upon its face.'”
Certainly one of the most bizarre of all the cases that falls into the domain of this particular category dates from 1789 and is referenced in an old document that came from the private collection of a noted family of landowners in Cornwall, England. The details are unfortunately very scant indeed, but, nevertheless, of deep significance, given what we have read thus far, and what is still yet to come. It concerned an immense monkey-like creature seen on several occasions at Crowlas, near Penzance. The creature was seen by local folk late at night, on at least three occasions, and was described as being a towering eight feet in height and made a strange whistling noise that was interpreted as a call – to who or what, mercifully, remains unknown. Most notable of all: when the creature was last seen, at the height of a violent thunderstorm, it literally disappeared in an almighty flash of light. Cornwall is also home to additional man-beast mysteries.
Any mention of the infamous Beast of Bodmin Moor inevitably conjures up memorable imagery – for those, like me, who recall the story and followed it – of large black cats roaming the old land and leading the British Army and the media of the early 1980s, and into the 1990s, on a very merry dance both night and day. But maybe the beast is not alone. Maybe there are actually two beasts, but of very different types. Several years ago, I received an email from a man who had an intriguing, but unfortunately, very brief story to relate. The details, from Keith Fletcher of Derby, concerned a story told to him back in the mid-1980s – by a work colleague who hailed from Cornwall – of a huge ape seen roaming Bodmin Moor six or seven years prior to when Keith heard the story, which would have placed the events somewhere in the latter part of the 1970s. In this case, said Keith, the animal vanished into what was described as “a small black cloud and just sort of disintegrated, like a ghost.”
Moving on, but still very much on definitive Bodmin Moor turf – and, very possibly, even directly linked to the words and memories of Keith Fletcher – big cat researcher Marcus Matthews has gone on record with a story that is well worth citing right here. In Marcus’ very own words: “I have learned from a relation that in the 1970s and 1980s there were always rumors of an escaped Orangutan ape in the area. Farmers coming home from the public houses were used to seeing a strange pair of eyes looking at them, and a hairy human-like figure disappearing quickly.” It’s worth noting, too, that the eighty square-miles that comprise the atmospheric granite moorland of Bodmin Moor have been a beacon for bizarre tales and legends for centuries. Not surprising at all, given the wild, ancient atmosphere that pervades the old, desolate moor, and its many, attendant tors, hills, stone circles and Bronze Age monuments. In other words, one might well argue if there is any part of the country guaranteed to have tales of monstrous beasts attached to it, it’s surely Bodmin Moor.
And what are we to make of the spectral ape of Dundonald Castle, Scotland? Situated atop a large hill that overlooks northern Kilmarnock, the castle’s origins can be traced back to the 1100s, when one Walter, the High Steward of King David I, constructed a wooden fort high on the hill. Then, a century later, a far more formidable and sturdy structure was built, and Dundonald Castle steadily began to take shape. During the Wars of Independence with England in the fourteenth century, much of the castle was decimated, and razed to the ground. It was, however, rebuilt according to the wishes of King Robert II, and still remains standing centuries later. But that is not all. A remarkable and terrifying encounter with a spectral ape took place near the castle in 1994. The witness was a woman named Josephine Aldridge who encountered a huge, gorilla-like animal on the hill that, after being in sight for a few moments, faded away into nothingness – just like so many other British Bigfoot.
Carew Castle, located in Pembrokeshire, Wales, has an intriguing and notable history. Although originally a Norman creation – and one that was added to, and modified in varying degrees, over the centuries – evidence exists to suggest the area on which the ancient castle was built was seen as having prime strategic and military advantage as far back as 20 B.C. It’s also said to be the haunt of a ghostly gorilla, monkey, hairy ape-man, or…well, take your pick; the choices are many!