This was part of the original intent of the Public Archaeology project (for PA2015) and for me, because data is poetry and maps are fine prose. Due to the nature of my working life; the fact that I’m a bit of a butterfly/battering ram when it comes to how I approach things and get on with them it has been vaguely sidelined. A holiday got in the way for starters which inevitably because it was in Northern France set my Atlantikwall/D-Day/Cider/Cheese obsession flickering again so I spent a bit of time staring at concrete emplacements and imagining airdrops and all that malarky. So sorry for the delay for anyone who gives a stuff.

Here it is, it is not finished in the slightest. Because as I’ve spiralled downwards into the Maw of Shuck and into the mouths of all the other Myth-Dogs the whole thing has widened out and flattened out so much so that last night as I tried to fill in some of Suffolk I ended up as far as India with the V??ka the word that spawned the the shape-shifting wolf-vampires that are the Vlkolak of Slovakia, the dogs of Bulgaria and the Vilkatis of Latvia.

Spirited off with the Perchta or Befana as far as the Yule celebrations of central Europe with her pack of witches or his pack of dogs or in male form as Berchtold. You will find Woden in many guises as he shifts from Arthur to Herne, Sigurdhr or Guro Rysserova, switching genders, morphing from King to Witch to pauper flying with dogs, witches, birds and even fish. They can be a portent or war or stuffing socks with gifts. Cerberus is there guarding the gate of Hel or Hell just as and Arawn still rules inside the fairy kingdom. Discovered Tolkeinesque-Psychopomps dragging the dead into their wild hunts and sky-battles.

And still there is the single dog, (here keyed in red), our rather unusual mostly English hound, the Barghest, the Shuck, he is still part of the same scheme. Around Peterborough you can find two folklore strands entwined. The Wild Hunt is tied to both with St Guthlac of Crowland as leader and more importantly with Hereward the Wake a story where curiously the dogs are familiar, they smell of the country lanes of North Norfolk; hound, jet black with eyes like saucers.

“Let no-one be surprised at the truth of what we are about to relate, for it was common knowledge throughout the whole country that immediately after  [Abbot Henry of Poitou’s arrival at Peterborough Abbey] – it was the Sunday when they sing Exurge Quare – many men both saw and heard a great number of huntsmen hunting. The huntsmen were black, huge and hideous, and rode on black horses and on black he-goats and their hounds were jet black with eyes like saucers and horrible. This was seen in the very deer park of the town of Peterborough and in all the woods that stretch from that same town to Stamford, and in the night the monks heard them sounding and winding their horns. Reliable witnesses who kept watch in the night declared that there might well have been as many as twenty or thirty of them winding their horns as near they could tell. This was seen and heard from the time of his arrival all through Lent and right up to Easter.” – The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

Above is the map. It is crude a patchwork of things all bleeding into one-and-other, It isn’t anywhere near finished.

There is a rough key. Acid Green is the general name in use in an area. Red are Shucks, barghests, Skeffs, Hairy Jacks and other single dogs. Blue are Were-creatures, mainly wolves, Purple are the non-moon-phase-dependent shape shifters. Darker Green are the Wild Hunts, like the single dogs these vary immensely, more so in fact, the basic tenet is the same, but the leader or the pack changes as other myths or real people are absorbed and what the pack is doing might change. The shucks are mostly drawn with permission from the collected stories from Mike Burgess at Hidden EA. The North Yorks and some of the Lancashire dogs have been added by Tim Hardy without whom etc.

This is a work in progress, a lot of work at that. So come back and check. and more importantly if you fancy transcribing stories from Hidden EA or any other source please get in touch. It would be particularly interesting if people who have knowledge of a certain area, Dartmoor for instance is a real hub for tales of Black Dogs were to get involved, you just need a Google account and access granted and we can make this much more than a sum of it’s parts very quickly. If we can achieve decent data levels then the whole thing can be exported onto a more manageable platform.

Nick Stone 2015

Image: Tyr and Fenrir by Bauer. OOC

 

Tales from this series

Black Dog Tales: Toby Gill

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The black dog of Peterloo

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Black Dog lore of the North York Moors

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Black dog tales: Bungay

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