Just about everyone has heard of Bigfoot. Very few people, however, are aware of the British Bigfoot. Indeed, I’ve come to realize that even in the field of Cryptozoology the subject doesn’t get much coverage. We’re talking about anomalous apes. In the U.K., the list also includes out of place monkeys, feral people, supernatural entities and much more. Not only that: the U.K. creatures have their own unique names. And, that’s the theme of today’s article. In no particular order, here they are. And their names, too. I’ll begin with the Beast of Brassknocker Hill. The strange saga all began in July 1979, amid wild rumors that a terrifying monster was haunting the dark woods of Brassknocker Hill, situated near to the old English city of Bath. Described variously, and in both excited and hysterical tones, as a long-fanged, four foot tall creature resembling a baboon, chimpanzee, spider-monkey, gibbon or lemur, the creature was of far more concern to some than it was to others.
Locals Ron and Betty Harper were hardly in good moods when they discovered that the mysterious creature had stripped whole sections of their old, mighty oak tree bare of its bark. To the kids of Brassknocker Hill, however, the hunt for the beast provided them all the excitement they needed for a fun adventure – particularly so when, only one month later, the number of trees targeted had reached an astonishing fifty, and the woods were plunged into an eerie silence after almost all the local birds summarily fled the area, presumably for far safer and beast-free pastures. The beast soon vanished. The mystery was never resolved.
Now, let’s have a look at the Somerset Wildman. Monster-hunter Jon Downes investigated the mystery and says: “Many years ago, the area around what is now an abandoned mine at Smitham Hill, in Somerset, was linked to tales of strange beasts seen watching the miners. Sometimes on returning to work in the morning, the men would find that carts and equipment had been pushed over and thrown around during the night.” Jon elaborates further, but on matters of a far more modern day nature: “These things, whatever they were, are still seen in that area today; or, at least, as late as November 1993. This is an exact quote taken from a witness whose case is in my files: ‘I was on a walk through the woods, when I heard a twig snap. I thought nothing of it and continued on. Suddenly the dogs became very agitated and ran off home. At this point I became aware of a foul smell, like a wet dog and a soft breathing sound. I started to run, but after only a few feet, I tripped and fell. I decided to turn and meet my pursuer only to see a large, about seven feet tall, dark brown, hairy, ape-like man. It just stood, about ten feet away, staring at me. It had intelligent looking eyes and occasionally tilted its head as if to find out what I was. After about twenty seconds it moved off into the forest.'”
Moving on, there’s the matter of the Man-Monkey. It was within the packed pages of Charlotte Sophia Burne’s book of 1883, Shropshire Folklore that the unholy antics of what some have since perceived to be the closest thing that Britain may have to the North American Bigfoot and the Yeti of the Himalayas, were first unleashed upon an unsuspecting general public. According to Burne: “A very weird story of an encounter with an animal ghost arose of late years within my knowledge. On the 21st of January 1879, a laboring man was employed to take a cart of luggage from Ranton in Staffordshire to Woodcock, beyond Newport in Shropshire, for the ease of a party of visitors who were going from one house to another. He was late in coming back; his horse was tired, and could only crawl along at a foot’s pace, so that it was ten o’clock at night when he arrived at the place where the highroad crosses the Birmingham and Liverpool canal.”
It was then, Burne faithfully recorded, that the man received what was undoubtedly the most terrifying shock of his entire life – before or since, it seems pretty safe to assume: “Just before he reached the canal bridge, a strange black creature with great white eyes sprang out of the plantation by the roadside and alighted on his horse’s back. He tried to push it off with his whip, but to his horror the whip went through the thing, and he dropped it on the ground in fright.” Needless to say, Burne added: “The poor, tired horse broke into a canter, and rushed onward at full speed with the ghost still clinging to its back. How the creature at length vanished, the man hardly knew.” But, the story was far from over, Burne learned: “He told his tale in the village of Woodseaves, a mile further on, and so effectively frightened the hearers that one man actually stayed with friends there all night, rather than cross the terrible bridge which lay between him and his home.” The Man-Monkey was born.
How about the Shug Monkey? That’s yet another monster with a strange name. Any mention of the mysterious locale that is Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk inevitably conjures up strange and surreal images of the famous, alleged UFO landing within the forest in the latter part of December 1980 – a startling event witnessed by numerous United States Air Force personnel stationed at a nearby military base, Royal Air Force Bentwaters. The bizarre affair has been the subject of a considerable number of books, numerous televisions shows, several investigations by military and governmental bodies, and unrelenting deep debate. Reports of strange lights, of small alien-like creatures seen deep within the heart of the woods, and of high-level cover-ups and sinister conspiracies, are all key ingredients of the case that has, for many, justifiably become known as the “British Roswell.” The aforementioned Shug Monkey has been seen in those woods, too.
Described as being a bizarre combination of giant dog, muscular bear, and large ape, the creature is said to take its name from either (A) an old English word – scucca – which means demon, Staffordshire; or (B) an old east-coast term – shucky – that translates, into modern day terminology, as hairy or shaggy. Maybe the name is even born out of a curious melding of both terms. But, whatever the true nature of the name applied to the foul, hairy entity, its presence in the woods of Suffolk is enough to strike deep terror into the hearts of those souls unfortunate enough to have crossed its path.
Back to Jon Downes, there’s the issue of something called the Green-faced Monkey. Jon states: “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 Churston Woods, Devon. 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. Now, to me at least, this sounds like some form of primitive human, but again, 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, you know.”
Monstrous monikers? For sure!