We’ve already taken a peek at the real-world cryptid inspirations for the Harry Potter series, but there are plenty of beasties that J.K. Rowling missed.
Let’s take a quick tour of the most whimsical creatures rumored to live in the British Isles!
You know about the Loch Ness Monster, one of the most famous cryptids in the world, rivaled only by Bigfoot. You can read all about Nessie in our coverage of the legendary lake monster. Recently, a new–and incredibly clear–photo of the monster appeared on social media. However, it’s almost certainly a fake.
The Loch Ness Monster is far from the only one of her kind in the UK and Ireland. There are at least 29 noted lake monster legends in Scotland, such as Loch Morar’s Morag. Even more have been spotted in Wales and Ireland.
But Nessie is entry-level stuff for crytpid hunters. What about the weirder, wilder creatures?
British folklore is rife with the not-so-creatively named black dogs. These spectral hounds are thought to be omens of death and doom. The most famous example is the fictional Hound of the Baskervilles, which terrorized a young woman in Dartmoor before being exposed as a fake by Sherlock Holmes. However, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle rooted his creature in actual legend.
Black Shuck is said to roam East Anglia, a rural area comprised of rocky coastlines, rolling pastures, and boggy fens. Black Shuck was described by a clergyman in 1850 as being “a black shaggy dog, with fiery eyes and of immense size, and who visits churchyards at midnight.”
One of the first recorded sightings was in 1577 in Bungay, Suffolk. Accounts of the time described a monstrous black dog that charged into Holy Trinity Church. There, it reportedly killed two people and made the steeple collapse. It also reportedly left scorch marks on the door.
West Virginia might have the surprisingly buff Mothman, but Cornwall is just as proud of their Owlman.
The Owlman of Mawnan is described as being quite similar to the Mothman in appearance, albeit a little shorter. It has a wingspan of about 10 feet and features that combine man and owl–just like it says on the tin. Like Mothman, it has glowing eyes.
The first sighting happened in April 1976, when holidaymakers in Mawnan saw the creature circling the tower of a church. Sadly, most experts agree that the two girls who first spotted the monster had actually seen an eagle-owl. I’m going to consider that a victory for Mothman!
In the Aughts, multiple people claimed to see werewolves running amok in Cannock Chase in Staffordsihire. The BBC reported that 20 sightings happened within a relatively short period of time. Witnesses included a postman and a local scoutmaster who saw the creature up close in the picturesque woods of Cannock Chase.
Unlike most werewolf lore, this beast can apparently appear in daylight. It’s reportedly also quite shy. Cannock Chase has been a hotbed of paranormal activity and UFO sightings for decades
Chris Turner’s documentary Elusive British Cryptids is well worth watching if you’re interested in the beast of the British Isles. Check out the trailer below: