Black Shuck, Norfolk
Black dog legends abound in Britain, but one of the best documented is that of Black Shuck in North Norfolk . Whether the name Shuck comes from the Anglo-Saxon for demon, or dialect for shaggy is not clear, but what is very plain is that you don't want to meet this beast.
The Vikings seems to have imported the legend of a great black demon dog into Britain, and of course the East Anglian coast was prime territory for Viking Raids. It may even have been that the savage Vikings brought giant hunting hounds with them across the sea. That the legend lives on in the area is not surprising: the coast is extensive, the cliff paths lonely and dark, and the cold wind whipping in from the North Sea completes the picture of ancient desolation.
Black Shuck is said to be a giant dog, descriptions varying from Rottweiler scale to the size of a horse. If that isn't enough, he possesses giant red eyes, or green, or possibly yellow, the size of saucers. Though sometimes he is headless. Or just has one eye. Try not to think about him as you stroll in the late evening along the shoreline of Sheringham , Cromer and Overstrand . But above all try not to turn and face him if you sense his presence behind you - those who meet Shuck's gaze are said to expire within a twelvemonth.
In 1890 a boy was rescued from the sea here, driven further and further into it by a giant black hound, and if you listen carefully on the darkest nights you can hear him still, though some say it is just a trick of the wind rolling over the clifftops. Nothing to worry about then.
The hill of Beeston Bump just outside Sheringham is particularly associated with the demonic hound, perhaps a special lookout spot for the beast. Perhaps keeping an eye out for his next victim - red, yellow or green it would seem to make little difference to the terrifying aspect.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle , recuperating in a Cromer hotel, almost certainly got the raw material for his great Hound of the Baskervilles story from the tale, related to him by a Norfolk friend, Bertram Robinson. The dog's regular path (or one of them) was said to lead to the undoubtedly spooky looking Cromer Hall, though Overstrand a mile or so further east goes one better, with a lane named after the creature.
Don't worry too much about Shuck if you visit Norfolk, however, as chances are you will miss him, his beat ranging as far away as Great Yarmouth . But if your paths do cross, remember to look away. If you can.
3 Responses to Black Shuck
From I S Morgan on 7th December 2011
The Black Dog legend extends much further south than Yarmouth. I've written a novel The Kettle Chronicles: The Black Dog, based on the visit of a spectral hound to Bungay in 1577. He also called in at Blythburgh!
From Piers Warren on 16th June 2011
I have just written a new supernatural thriller about Black Shuck, based on my experiences on the North Norfolk Coast, which is coming out this Halloween – see http://www.black-shuck.co.uk.
From stuart lee-haigh on 24th February 2011
hi im stuart lee-haigh i have a great interest in the black shuck and wanting to get as much info on it as i can e.g. times,dates and areas where it apears because one day i am actualy wanting to hopefuly come face to face with it and i know a lot of people will think i am mad for doing so but my interest in the black shuck over comes anything that anyone can tell me to try turn me away from my goal of seeing it in person
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