Friday 12 June 2015

Black Dog Field Notes

Ian Humberstone navigates Troller's Gill in the Yorkshire Dales. This limestone gorge is said to be the spot where a wizard met his maker at the muzzle of a barguest. The tradition is long-standing in the district, and commemorated by a ballad dating to the early nineteenth century.

The Wambarrows on Winsford Hill in Somerset. These ancient tumuli are rumoured to conceal a hidden treasure, which is guarded by a ghostly black dog. The phantom is said to appear on autumn nights, its saucer eyes glowering in the gloom. Approach it and death will follow, stand motionless and the vision will slowly fade away into the moorland mists.

Arianne Churchman's notebook, laid out on a table at the Locks Inn, Geldeston. In the nineteenth century, a 'Hateful Thing' in the form of a black dog, but keeping no regular shape or size, appeared near here to a mother and daughter. The daughter took great fright at the apparition, but the mother at first saw nothing - it was only on touching her daughter's hand that the creature revealed itself to them both. Great significance was placed upon the fact that the daughter was born 'under the chime hours' and could therefore see things others couldn't.

David Chatton Barker takes a break at Black Dog village in Devon. A black dog was said to haunt the well here at the time of the Civil War. More recently, a procession, involving guisers decked out in a black dog costume, was set up in the 1990s to honour similar reports of 'a beast' seen along the local roads.

The black dog weather vane in Bungay, Suffolk. On the fourth of August, 1577, a great tempest occurred here during divine service at St. Mary's church. A contemporary pamphlet records that in the midst of the storm a black dog, or 'the devil in such a likenesse', ran about the church assaulting the parishioners. Several are said to have been slain by the creature, which caused one man to shrivel up like a piece of leather 'scorched in a hot fire'. The Black Dog of Bungay has since become a local emblem.

The interior of Dob Park Lodge, an austere Tudor ruin overlooking the Washburn Valley near Harrogate. Legend tells us that in the foundations of this old manor there are a number of hidden passageways and chambers. It is said that deep down within the subterranean lair there lives a talking barguest that guards a chest of gold from any foolhardy enough to seek it.