The Mothman

John A. Keel, a paranormal researcher and author, was visiting Point Pleasant, West Virginia in 1975 to investigate and write an article for Playboy magazine about UFO sightings in the area. He interviewed people of the area about weird events such as mysterious lights moving across the sky, people’s pets and cattle being found slaughtered and mutilated , and sightings of a mysterious part-man part-moth like creature.  His findings led to his book, The Mothman Prophecies, which inspired the movie in 2002 starring Richard Gere.

The Mothman Prophecies book cover

The Mothman Prophecies

The legend of the Mothman started on November 15, 1966.  When two couples, Steve and Mary Mallette and Roger and Linda Scarberry, reported to police, that while driving through the McClintic Wildlife Management Area, 6 miles north of Point Pleasant, West Virginia; a creature flew over their car.  The group got out of the car to investigate and saw a six or seven foot man with a ten foot wingspan and it had red glowing eyes.  The creature started to walk on what appeared to have two sturdy legs with a shuffling gait towards the group.   The scared couples quickly got into their car and drove away from the mysterious man-like bird.  However, while driving away this  creature took off of the ground and started following them while flying in the air without flapping it’s wings and was making high pitched squeaking noises.  After filing a report with the local authorities, the local media picked  up on the story and gave the creature the name, Mothman.  One of the witness’, Mrs. Scarberry stated that the creatures eyes didn’t start glowing red until their lights hit the creature’s face.  Three days later,  two Point Pleasant firemen visited the same area of the first sightings of the Mothman, near the TNT compound within the wildlife refuge.  They also reported seeing the huge creature but stated that it was just a bird.

mothman new article 1

mothman new article 2

In 1967, during the holiday season, the Silver Bridge collapsed killing 46 people who were commuting over the Ohio River.  The bridge was built in 1928 and connected Point Pleasant, West Virginia and Gallipolis, Ohio.  Days before this tragic event, sightings of the Mothman were reported near the top of the bridge.  Some of the locals believe that the Mothman was to blame, while others interpreted the appearance of this mysterious creature as a warning sign of impending doom.

silverbridge news article 1

mothman bridge

Wildlife experts and other skeptics claim that the description of the Mothman fit the description of a few types of birds that are common in the area of where the sightings have been reported.  A barn owl, a horned owl, or the sandhill crane were suggested to be the culprits of the many sightings of the Mothman.  All three species of birds have eyes that will glow red when light is directed to them.  However, the locals of Point Pleasant celebrate the Mothman every September by holding a Mothman festival.  A Mothman statue was erected in the middle of the town in front of the Mothman museum.

Point Pleasant welcome sign

References

Mothman Revisited:
 Investigating on Site – CSI. (n.d.). Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://www.csicop.org/sb/show/mothman_revisitedinvestigating_on_site
Mothman Prophecies True Story – John Keel, Silver Bridge, Indrid Cold. (n.d.). Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://www.chasingthefrog.com/reelfaces/mothmanprophecies.php
Mckendry, D. I. (2015). The REAL Story of THE MOTHMAN PROPHECIES: Part One. Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://www.blumhouse.com/2015/12/01/the-real-story-of-the-mothman-prophecies-part-one/
Who Is The Mothman? (n.d.). Retrieved July 08, 2016, from http://www.gods-and-monsters.com/mothman-legend3.html

 

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Vampires

nosferatu1-1

Through countless folklore, novels, or films from around the world, vampires have been a part of our culture since the dawn of civilization.  The glamorous imagery of these blood sucking human creatures romancing our youth that drive them into gothic subcultures are entirely fictional characters that were created for pure entertainment.  However, there are real people from the past and present who have been portrayed or claim to be real vampires that have been documented by historians, journalist, and scientists.  Before I continue any further with this blog post, It is not my intention to convince you that immortal vampires that are portrayed in pop-culture exist.  The intention is to shed light on the subject of Vampirism itself by separating the facts from the myths.

Vampirism: [vam-pahyuh r-iz-uh m, -puh-riz-]

  1. Belief in the existence of vampires.
  2. The acts or practices of vampires.
  3. The act of preying upon or exploiting others

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/vampirism

Folklore

Vampires have been found in unearthed documents dating all the way back to the first known human civilization in Mesopotamia (modern day Iraq) known as the Sumerians roughly around 4000 B.C.E.  There hasn’t been any documented evidence found stating that they encountered vampires, but the belief in vampires was very real in their religious texts.  The Sumerians believed in two types of vampires, the immortal blood drinking vampires and psychic vampires.  The psychic vampires were referred to as the ekimmu which were described as an evil dust of wind that would find a human victim and torment them until a priest or priestess arrived and banished the evil presence away.  The Sumerians believed that this evil entity was created from a violent death or the body was not buried properly forcing the spirit to roam around earth looking for easy prey.  The other race of vampires, the immortal blood drinking variety, that the Sumerians also feared were the Seven Demons.  These creatures were known not only for drinking the blood from the veins of their victims but were also known to be afraid of the images of the gods of Sumer which were typically found in the Sumerian temples.  Coincidentally, looking at the western modern day vampire folklore, you can see the similarities of modern day vampires not being able to enter a church or having the fear of a crucifix.

Mesopotamia vampires

1,500 miles away and a few centuries later the Indus tribes of Northern India not only believed in vampires but were the first to believe in the concept of vampire gods.  These vampire gods were ruthless demonic beings that were appeased by the people out of fear.  Paintings and carvings were found in the Indus valley, that date back to this time period, of demonic looking creatures with green skin and fangs.  As of now there hasn’t been any literature found from the same time period that describes these beliefs, however in the surrounding areas these beliefs developed and these vampiric gods were eventually given names.  The Nepalese Lord of Death was the first known vampire god.  This god had fangs and was depicted by holding a skull used as a cup filled with blood while standing over a pile of human skeletons.  The Lord of Death was also a god believed by the Tibetans.  Their version of the god was depicted as being a green demon with fangs and it lived off of the blood of humans.

lord of death

A more modern vampire-like deity known as Kali was worshiped by the Thugee cult until wiped out by the British Empire in early 1800s.  Kali battled a demon known as Raktavija.  Every time Raktavija’s blood spilled onto the ground, more demons would appear.  Kali, so the tale goes, drank Raktavija’s  blood to defeat him.  The Thugee cult were responsible for killing tens of thousands of people, draining their blood, and roasting the remains on spits to appease the goddess Kali.  Kali is often depicted being covered in blood, having fangs, and sticking her tongue out presumably to lick up the blood sacrifices.  Sometimes pictures of Kali would have her standing over human skeletons like her predecessors.

Kali

The ancient Egyptians are suspected of being the culprits of bringing the vampire creatures to this realm by summoning a demon from another realm.  In Asia, they refer to vampires as Jiangshi, which are evil spirits that attack people and drain their life energy.  The Tibetan Book of the Dead mentioned 58 deities that were described as wraith-like entities that roamed the land of the dead.  It is believed that these spirits would posses a corpse, rise from the grave, and attack the living.  An old Romanian legend claims that to find a vampire’s grave one needs a white horse and a 7-year- old boy.  The boy needs to be wearing all white, placed on the horse and let the team go in midday in a graveyard.  When the horse stops, the closest grave to the horse is the resting spot of a vampire.

A common theme in the undead vampire folklore, is the fear of the dead rising from the grave.  Most folklore states that the best way of dispatching a vampire is to stake the vampire in the chest to pin the creature to the earth so it never comes back.  According to other folklore many supernatural beings such as djinn (genies) and vampires fear iron.  Some folklore state that the head needs to be chopped off of the creature.  Placing garlic or a brick in the mouth of the suspected vampires to prevent them from biting was another way of dealing with vampires.

vampire-grave

In time periods before modern knowledge of science, superstitions ran rampant in cultures and societies.  Tragic events were usually blamed on some supernatural creature/entity and sometimes vampires were the chosen culprit.  This belief was even brought over to the Americas when European immigrants stepped off the boats onto the land of their new home.  Graves were found by children playing near a gravel mine in Griswold, Connecticut, in 1990.  At first the police suspected that these graves were unknown victims of a local serial killer, Michael Ross, but later Nick Bellantoni, a Connecticut state archaeologist, confirmed that the unknown graves were colonial-era farm cemetery that was typical of the 1700s.  The dead, many of them being children, were laid resting in the similar Yankee style, simple wood coffins with their arms resting by their sides or crossed over their chest except Burial Number 4.  It was one of only two stone crypts in the cemetery.  While archaeologists uncovered the large rock forming the roof of the crypt, they found remnants of a smashed coffin and a pile of a skeleton bones with the skull sitting on the top of the pile.  After analyzing the remains of the skeleton, it was reported that the decapitation of the head, rib fractures, and the arrangement of the bones occurred  5 years after the individual was laid to rest.  Other graves have been found in the United States and Europe with similar characteristics like a brick found in a skull’s mouth or a sickle wedged between the head and the spinal cord.

fig-8-sickle-burial

Historical Vampires

Vlad the Impaler ( Vlad Tepes 1431-1476) the most famous known vampire due to Bram Stoker’s Dracula set the standard image of the modern day interpretation of a vampire.  Vlad earned his nickname Vlad the Impaler by striking fear and intimidation to his enemies by impaling captured enemy soldiers while alive.  While enemy troops approached the scene of battle they would hear their captured comrades moaning in agony while dying a slow death.  It was also claimed that Vlad was seen sitting at a table with a cup of the blood of the dying soldiers and dipping bread into the blood and eating it while smiling at his enemies approaching.

vlad-tepes-impaler-dracula

Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614) also known as the Bloody Countess was born into Protestant nobility in Hungary.  Her family controlled Transylvania and an uncle was the king of Poland.  In 1609, after her husband’s death, the Hungarian countess developed a reputation for being cruel and violent with her servants.  Young women started to disappear from nearby villages and towns.  Eventually it was discovered that Elizabeth developed a craving to bathe in young women’s blood believing that it was keeping her skin looking younger.  Elizabeth’s servants were accused of aiding her blood thirst hobby and three of them were executed.  And go figure, the wealthy countess was sentenced to house arrest, more like sent to her room, at the Castle Cachtice where she died.

elisabeth20bathoryyf01

Real Vampires

Not your typical goth teenagers romanticizing about being the sexy undead creatures of the night, yes I am talking about people who claim to be real mortal vampires.  They believe that feeding off of other’s blood or other’s psychic energy keeps them healthy and strong.  These are ordinary people who have ordinary jobs who prefer to be anonymous for the fear of prejudices from other human beings.  This is understandable, people hating others because of the color of their skin, sexual identity/preference, or religious differences is a common social issue throughout the world.  There are also other organisms that have vampire characteristics such as the vampire bat, mosquitoes, leeches, and spiders.

Now that I covered real life examples of the first two definitions of vampirism let’s look at the third definition,  the act of preying upon or exploiting others.  Crooked politicians, con artists, sex offenders, and TV evangelists come to my mind first when I think of vampirism.

                      

 References

K.(1996). Vampires: The occult truth. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn Publications.

Browning, J. E. (2015). Real-Life Vampires Exist, and Researchers Are Studying Them. Retrieved June 19, 2016, from http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/crux/2015/03/26/real-life-vampires-exist/

Pallardy, R. (n.d.). Elizabeth Bathory. Retrieved June 19, 2016, from http://www.britannica.com/biography/Elizabeth-Bathory

The Great New England Vampire Panic. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2016, from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-great-new-england-vampire-panic-36482878/?no-ist

Vampires: Fact, Fiction and Folklore. (n.d.). Retrieved June 19, 2016, from http://www.livescience.com/24374-vampires-real-history.html

The Hull House

Hull House

In 1856, a real estate tycoon Charles J. Hull built a home in the near westside of Chicago, which in that time period was considered to be the upper class area of the city.  Mr. Hull’s wife died in the second floor bedroom and shortly after a few months of her death it was reported that her ghost haunted the room.  After the rest of the Hull family vacated the house  the Little Sisters of the Poor and a used furniture store occupied the building and also claimed to have experienced the presence of Mrs. Hull.

After the Chicago Fire of 1871, burning down most of the westside, the wealthy moved to other parts of the city and the near westside became inhabited by Italian, Greek and Jewish immigrants.  The area’s landscape went from luxurious homes with green lawns and hedges to tenement houses and factories.

Jane Adams

jane adams

Jane Adams was a social reformer who was the first American woman to receive the Nobel Peace prize.  In 1889, Jane Adams along with her partner Ellen Starr Gates started their social equality efforts in Chicago by opening up the Hull House as a peaceful haven for the immigrants living in the area.  They provided shelter, education, and job training to improve the quality of life of the residents who resided in an area that became plagued with crime and crooked cops and was known as the “Dark Corner of Chicago”.  The Hull House was purchased by the University of Illinois and still stands today as a museum of social reform efforts made by Jane Adams, Ellen Gates, and the staff of Hull House.

1280px-Hull_House_2

The Devil Baby

The Hull House became a footnote in the realm of urban legend folklore by becoming known as the House of the Devil Baby of Chicago.  The story goes that a catholic woman married an atheist man.  The woman tried to put a picture of the Virgin Mary on a wall of their house and the man ripped the picture down and tore it to shreds.  The man yelled out, “I would rather have the Devil himself in this house than that picture.”  Shortly after the woman gave birth to a child that had scales and a tail.  Some variations of the story claim that the child had horns and a hooves for feet.  The baby was taken to and abandoned at the Hull House.  Supposedly, Jane Adams took the baby in and while trying to baptize the baby, the infant stood up, walked around, and was mocking the priest.  Rumors ran rampant about the “Hull House Devil Baby” and people would visit the House and ask to see the infamous baby, some even tried to offer money for a peak of the demonic creature.  

Jane Adams and the staff of Hull House denied the stories.  Jane Adams even wrote in her autobiography dispelling the rumors and claims of the Devil Baby.  People to this day claim to see at night a demonic face of a child appearing out the attic window of the Hull House.  Whether the story has some truths or not, there are now known birth defects that could have happened that could logically explain on how this once started as a rumor then turned to the legend of the Devil Baby.

References

About Jane Addams. (n.d.). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.hullhousemuseum.org/about-jane-addams/

 

Visit The Museum. (n.d.). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.hullhousemuseum.org/overview/

Jane Addams and Hull House. (n.d.). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.hauntdetective.com/hauntings-legends-folklore/chicago/westside/85-jane-addams-and-hull-house

The Devil Baby of Hull House. (2011, October 3). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.chicagonow.com/chicago-quirk/2011/10/the-devil-baby-of-hull-house/

JANE ADDAM’S HULL HOUSE. (n.d.). Retrieved June 05, 2016, from http://www.prairieghosts.com/hull.html

The Bunny Man

The bunny man bridge

While searching for my great white whale of a tale, I came across an urban legend with a title that alone gave me a smirk on my face and sparked my curiosity.  As I’m reading the legend of the Bunny Man I couldn’t help but notice the similarities between the true events of the Bunny man and another piece of folklore that I picked up when I was a kid going to summer camp.  I’m not  going to give it away, but if you see it or possibly hear it in your head while reading this blog,  please give me some form of validation that I’m not the only one who thinks this is funny.

The legend takes place in FairFax County, Virginia.  On Halloween at the stroke of midnight while you are hanging out under the Colchester overpass, which is also nicknamed the Bunny Man Bridge, a flash of light will appear.  Anyone under the bridge will have their throats slashed and will be hanged from the bridge.

overpass

There are some variations of the story that created the origins of this urban legend; however, the main part of the story starts in the early 1900s.  An insane asylum was built deep in the wilderness of a nearby town called Clifton.  After the Civil War, the population started  to grow in FairFax County.  As the population increased the fears of living near an insane asylum arose and eventually a petition was signed by the populus of the county to have the inmates transferred to another facility known as the Lorton Prison.  One of the transports crashed and the guards and some of the inmates died.  Ten inmates escaped into the woods and after several exhausting months of manhunts eight of the inmates were apprehended.  Two of the inmates, Marcus Wallster and Douglas Griffin, vanished into the woods.  The inmates managed to evade the authorities long enough to cause the manhunts to be called off.  The police figured if they’re not dead by now they would be soon.

Soon after, skinned rabbits were being found and sometimes hanging on the Colchester overpass.  Eventually the body of Marcus Wallster was found hanging from the overpass.  The police suspected Douglas Griffin for the crime and he became known as the Bunny Man.  Douglas Griffin was convicted of murdering his family on Easter Sunday which is what landed him in the asylum in the first place.

Some versions of the story state that the authorities caught up with Mr. Griffin and while pursuing him he was  hit by a train.  Another variation stated that the authorities found Mr. Griffin’s dead body lying on the train tracks that run over the Colchester overpass.

Now there have been many tales of teenagers hanging out under the Bunny Man Bridge on Halloween night and found the next day hanging from the bridge.  Here is where I’m starting to smell the presence of good old fashioned parenting.  Scare your kids by telling them ghost stories to prevent them from doing stupid things, which inevitably causes them to do those stupid things when they become teenagers.

According to my sources there are  no documents whatsoever to validate the origins of this legend.  There are also no police reports confirming that there have been people found hanging dead on this notorious bridge.  However it is pretty common to find abandoned buildings or remains of buildings in the backwoods of Virginia.  It is possible that one of those remains could have been the abandoned asylum that was shut down.  And it is possible that documents could disappear.  If you don’t believe me ask a lawyer or a unscrupulous business person.

paper shredder

Anyways…

This is where it gets a little silly and weird.  In 1970, a series of the Bunny Man sightings started to pop up.  Police reports were made and even some of the local newspapers started chiming in on these mysterious encounters.  The first report was made by an Air Force Academy cadet Robert Bennett who was on leave in Virginia  and was visiting his uncle.  Towards the end of his leave he spent the evening with his fiance.  They were sitting in a car in the 5000 block of Guinea Road when a man dressed in a bunny suit came out of the bushes wielding an axe shouting out, “You’re on private property and I have your tag number”.  The man tossed the axe through the right passenger front window of the car and then skipped off back into the dark woods.  Another report was made less than two weeks later by Paul Phillips who was a private security guard for a construction site.  Phillips reported to police seeing a young male appearing to be in his 20s dressed in a bunny suit carrying an axe.  As Phillips approached this bunny man the man struck a wooden support with his axe on a new house being built and shouted out, “All you people trespass around here.  If you don’t get out of here, I’m going to bust you on the head”.  There were over 50 reports of sightings of the Bunny Man in the 70’s.  Even to this day there are sightings of a man in a bunny suit near the overpass or somewhere along Guinea Road.

While reading about these true encounters the Little Bunny Foo Foo song started to play in my head.  If you have never experienced or heard of this song I have provided a link below.  Warning this song is very catchy so I give you my apologies in advance.

http://bussongs.com/songs/little-bunny-foo-foo.php

I extended my research for this blog just to see if there are any correlations between the folklore of the “Bunnyman” and “Little Bunny Foo Foo” and there are none.  However it did inspire a “Little Bunny Foo Foo” parody of mine.

Little Bunny Foo Foo hopping through the forest…Slicing people’s throats and hangin’ em on the bridge…

I’m not going to continue on with it.  I will leave the rest of it up to your imagination.

References

The Bunny Man Unmasked – Page 4. (n.d.). Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/library/branches/vr/bunny/bunny4.htm

A.K. (2014). The Strange True Story Behind the Legend of the Bunnyman Bridge. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://www.oddlyhistorical.com/2014/04/25/strange-true-story-legend-bunnyman-bridge/

B.S. (2015, May 18). Beware of the Bunny Man! | Mysterious Universe. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2015/05/beware-of-the-bunny-man/

Mckendry, D. I. (2015, December 22). Virginia Haunted by Killer Dressed as Giant Rabbit: The Legend of Bunny Man Bridge. Retrieved May 30, 2016, from http://www.blumhouse.com/2015/12/22/virginia-haunted-by-killer-dressed-as-giant-rabbit-the-legend-of-bunny-man-bridge/

 

 

Bloody Mary: True Stories Behind the Legend

bloody mary 1

As many of us have probably experienced as kids going to slumber parties, summer camps, afterschool programs, or having older siblings trying to scare you; have more than likely have heard and maybe even brave enough to play Bloody Mary.  I can recall playing the game in the 1st grade while attending an afterschool program a.k.a. daycare.  Some older kids told us about the story of Bloody Mary and then dared us to play the game in the bathroom.  You had to turn the water faucets on and chant “Bloody Mary” three times in the dark.  Nothing happened really, except one of the older boys thought it would be funny to put a pack of red Kool Aid in his mouth.  When the light switch was flicked back on it looked like he had blood flowing out of his mouth and his arms were flailing in the air like he was possessed.  But enough with one of my early childhood traumas,  There are many true stories behind the legend of Bloody Mary.

Mary I, Queen of England a.k.a Mary Tudor

bloody mary

The English Catholic Queen reigned from 1553 until her death in 1558.  During her reign, she ordered the execution of hundreds of Protestants and had them burned at the stake for committing heresy.  Her religious campaign towards making England a Catholic nation is what earned Mary I the nickname Bloody Mary.  Mary was afraid that if she didn’t produce a male heir to the throne of England that her religious efforts would have been undone.  Mary experienced several false pregnancies and eventually died in London, on November 17, 1558.  The variation to the Bloody Mary ritual involving a part of the chant saying “I got your baby” is suspected to be mocking Mary Tudor and her failure of giving birth to a successor.

There are many other true stories that have been linked to this legend, but I decided to start with the earliest story because it makes sense how Mary Tudor could have been the first inspiration to the creation of the Bloody Mary legend.  There are many other stories that were credited to the legend.  Some of them make sense and have some aspects to them that has some to little correlation to the rituals that partake in the game.

Mary Worth

Mary Worth was assumed to be a witch who lived in Chicago during the Civil War.  She supposedly captured runaway slaves and locked them up in her barn to use them for her rituals.  Once the locals of the area caught wind of Mary’s dirty little secret, they took the law into their own hands and burned Ms. Worth at the stake.

Mary Worthington

Sometime in the 1960s, Mary Worthington was a beautiful girl who spent countless hours looking at herself in the mirror.  One day Mary was involved in a car accident and her face was horribly disfigured.  No one could stand to look at her.  Then one day she caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror and she committed suicide.

There have been other stories that have been tied to this notorious legend.  There are also other variations to the Bloody Mary legend throughout the world.

Sweden: Svarta Madam (Black Madame)

Russia: Dama Pika  (Queen of Spades)

Spain: Veronica

Japan: Kuchisake-onna (The Slit-Mouth Woman)

In 1978, Janet Langlois’ study found that the Bloody Mary ritual/game served the purposes of providing thrill of excitement to children and was considered to be a form of entertainment.  However, many scholars have stated that the elements of the rituals can be traced back to earlier superstitions and myths.

public domain mirror

Mirrors:  considered to be a “looking glass” into the spirit world.  The story of Snow White, written by the Brothers Grimm in 1857, was based off of a ritual throughout the British Isles in the 1700s.  Young Girls would stand in front of a mirror with a candle while combing their hair and then eat an apple.  The young woman would see in the mirror her future spouse appearing behind herself.   Through the 1800s there was a superstition that claimed that if one is to admire themselves for too long before a mirror it would cause the devil to appear.  Another belief that is present to this day, is if one dies in a room with mirrors,  the mirrors should be covered with clothes to prevent the spirit from  being trapped in the house.

Magic Rituals:     The rituals vary when playing Bloody Mary.  The most common rituals either involve turning in circles, the use of candles, and repeating incantations, or all of the above, are typical magic rituals that can be found in many cultures.

References

“Mary Tudor.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 22 May 2016. <http://www.biography.com/people/mary-tudor-9401296>.

“Bloody Mary Legend.” Scary Website. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2016. <http://www.scaryforkids.com/bloody-mary-legend/>.

“The Mythical and Paranormal Realm.” Mary Worth and the Origin of Bloody Mary. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 May 2016. <http://mythical-and-paranormal-blog.blogspot.com/2012/05/mary-worth-and-origin-of-bloody-mary.html>.

Bloody Mary Legend. (n.d.). Retrieved May 22, 2016, from http://paranormal.lovetoknow.com/Bloody_Mary_Legend

 

The Legend of Sawney Beane

sawney bean depiction greater size

The legend of Sawney Beane and his clan of cannibals is a story that has gone through over 600 years of the telephone game. The clan of 38-48 were responsible for killing and eating more than a thousand people in a span of 25 years. The earliest printed story (The Newgate Calendar which was republished as Chapbooks in 1775) stated that the clan consisted of Beane, his wife, eight sons, six daughters, eight grandsons, and fourteen granddaughters; which to my calculations comes out to 38. Most of the variations stated the clan consisted of 48, but there are also many other conflicting or added embellishments to this story. The legend occurred either in the 15th or 16th century Scotland. Alexander Sawney Beane ran away from his ditch-digger father with a female companion. Some variations of the story claim that his girlfriend was a witch.

The couple made a home in a cave off of the coast near Girvan, Scotland. The high tides kept the entrance of the cave and the couple’s brood of cannibals concealed for 25 years.

google maps Girvan

The growing clan from incest would attack travelers outside of villages and towns. They would hack their victims up into pieces and carry all evidence back to their cave. One common element from the variations of the story is how the authorities apprehended the family. The Beane clan attacked a couple leaving a fair. The man managed to escape the fate of his wife’s demise and alerted the authorities of the crime. The story gets tangled with variations of what happened next.

One version states that the head of the family along with the children and grandchildren were apprehended. They were seen as subhuman and unfit to stand trial. The adult men were tortured and slowly executed in front of the women. Then the women were burned at the stake and the children were quickly put to death. Another variation claimed that dynamite was placed at the entrance of their cave sealing in the clan causing them to face the dreaded fate of suffocation.

clan of cannibals

The Newgate Calender was a publication that originated from the Newgate Prison in London that told the tales of notorious criminals. Scottish historian Dr. Louise Yeoman stated that the name Sawney is a derogatory name used by the English towards the Scottish. Yeoman also suspects that the English writer created the story to dehumanize the Scots by portraying them as barbaric savages.

Many people have searched for legal documents trying to authenticate this legend. No records have been found to validate any facts. Despite that the story took place either a hundred or two hundred years before it was documented and that the possibility of the story was made up to paint the image of the Scots as savages, the story has not only transcended time, but it has sparked an interest across the globe and even inspired the imaginations of directors such as Wes Craven and his film “The Hills Have Eyes”. In fact, the imagery of psychotic rednecks terrorizing travelers has developed it’s own Horror Genre. Movies such as “Wrong Turn”, “The Devil’s Rejects”, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”, have created the fear of taking the backroads or “lets take a short cut” a legitimate fear

References

Scottish myths, folklore and legends. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://www.scotland.org/features/scottish-myths-folklore-and-legends/

Brocklehurst, S. (2013, February 22). Who was Sawney Beane? Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-21506077

Sawney Beane’s Cave. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://www.atlasobscura.com/places/sawney-Beane-s-cave

Sawney Beane. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://userhome.brooklyn.cuny.edu/anthro/jbeatty/Scotia/issue23/issue23a.html

Louise Yeoman. (n.d.). Retrieved May 10, 2016, from http://www.shca.ed.ac.uk/Research/witches/lyeoman.html

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