Month: October 2015

The black dog of Peterloo

Guest post from Rosie Garland. A Manchester Encounter, or, The Black Dog of Peterloo From an unpublished and anonymous letter now in the collection of the Portico Library, Manchester. Typography dates it to the first quarter of the nineteenth century. Spelling and punctuation have been adapted for ease of the modern reader. “How often do we pass through life recalling chance encounters of the briefest duration. Against all reason, we remember a snatched conversation or a face glimpsed in a crowd, rather than those interactions born of long and amiable acquaintance. There is no man living who does not...

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Black dog tales: From folklore to fiction, the landscapes of the Baskervilles

‘There is a rumour that…’ is a phrase that appears a lot in relation to the genesis of the spectral hound Conan Doyle’s The Hound of the Baskervilles and the Black dog within. A variety of locations lay some claim to the hound, not least those used in the setting for it on Dartmoor. And the legend of squire Cabell a local buried at Buckfastleigh church near Buckfast Abbey is woven into the fabric of that, so much so that the folklore and fiction and fiction and folklore are almost impossible to untangle. Cabell is said to have been...

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Black Dog tales: The Hound of St Austell

A guest post from Andrew Macdonald of Waveney Archaeology. Samuel Drew (1765-1833) was a self-taught man of letters; his special interest was metaphysics, which is perhaps why he is little known now. He was apprenticed to a shoemaker and gave the following account of a childhood experience. “There were several of us, boys and men, out about twelve o’clock on a bright moonlit night. I think we were poaching. The party were in a field adjoining the road from my master’s to St Austell, and I was stationed outside the hedge to watch and give the alarm if any...

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Vanishing Point: Out of sight

Genealogy is an inconsistent science and growing a family tree quickly becomes an obsessive work of semi-fictional detective work. The urge to push further and further backward heading into our peasant laden past, hankering after the occasional sight of a king or queen, some lord or scholar as the tree fans out, trying to find some real fixture in the firmament of the past. First the obvious two, the parents, four grandparents, then eight, sixteen, thirty-two, sixty-four. gradually filling like a chess board covered in grains of wheat becoming increasingly disconnected. The turf is forced back over all of...

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Lost in a landscape: Ditchingham – an eye for an eye

Ditchingham sits just North of the Norfolk Suffolk Border. It is to all intents and purposes a suburb of Bungay albeit in a different county and on the other side of a main road. The town and its satellite village sit on the edge of the gentle yawning line that forms the Waveney Valley as it rambles West to East across the countryside to the sea. This is the rift where Shuck has roamed the imagination for centuries, where under nearby Broome Heath our ancestors rest beneath the bracken, and where some of the teeth and bones of mammoths...

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Vanishing Point – Langemark

Langemark is I feel one of the most desolate corners of the Western front. As I mentioned in another piece on Vladslo there is something so desperately bleak and sad about German cemeteries. They don’t lack in any of the respectfulness of the loss or the death or the sacrifice or whatever you want to call whatever it was which happened that drew millions of humans to try and murder one another at the behest of their heads of state. It is what it is. A piece of land full of the dead, borne of Germanic soil and laid...

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Lost in a Landscape: Weeting pathways

We’ve been here before. Scrambling about in the past and the past is somehow where this piece of Breckland always feels like it is frozen. We took our children to run around the ridges around the holes in the landscape and down into the belly of the Brecks deep in the  bone white chalk and the burnt glass of the flint. I stayed in teh forest near Brandon and Santon Downham when I was a teenager, my search for a path had led me briefly into youth work, showing people, some of whom were barely two years younger than...

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An introduction to Black Dog tales

An introduction to Mapping the grim and black dog tales. I grew up and live in Norfolk and have a family roots in the area going back nearly as far as the eye of history can see on paper and parchment, We have tilled these fields for centuries, certainly as far as the visible genesis of this cycle of stories. By stories I am referring to those that at least locally surround the appearances of the Black Dog ‘Shuck’ or ‘Shock’. A black shaggy thing which is alleged to roam the highways and byways of our East Anglia and...

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Sucking Eggs

  My mum is dead, she died over ten years ago at a ‘ripe old age’ after period of massive emotional instability and virtual madness bought on by a rather large stroke. It was a hinterland for her and us, her children. It lasted 18 months from the onset, the invisible burning hole in her head to the end where light as a feather she left us with memories and some letters and battered bits of furniture. I’ll not recount too much of it here, but the last year and a half of her life were by turns mad...

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