Who or what is the Black Shuck?

In a town in the east
The parishioners were visited upon
By a curious beast
And his eyes numbered but one and shone like the sun
And a glance beckoned the immediate loss of a cherished one!

The Black Shuck is a unsolved mystery and legend of Norfolk and much of the British Isles. The Black Shuck is reported to be a large, angry black dog, much in the tradition of other black dog legends of the British Isles. The vicious hell hound stalks the East Anglian coastline in search of prey, and is said to bring death within the year to all who gaze upon it's eyes.

"Black Shuck" is also the glam rock opening track to Permission To Land, the debut album by The Darkness. Despite the lyrics, all reports seem to indicate that the beast has a full complement of eyes. But the rest of what they say is true, at least as far as the legend goes; the Black Shuck brings about misfortune, and has a soft spot for attacking small parishes and churches...

Flames licked round the sacred spire
And the congregation's last line of defense
Was engulfed in fire
As the flaming priest stepped into the firing line
On the business end of despair

One miserable Sunday morning in 1577, the Black Shuck attacked a congregation of worshippers at St Mary's Church in Bungay, leaving two dead and another suffering with burns from the very fires of Hades itself. Earlier that week, Satan's own best friend had attacked the church at Blytheburgh, sending the church spire crashing through the roof, breaking the font, leaving both the townsfolk and church burnt to cinders.

A nimbus of blue light surrounds a crimson paw
As he takes another fatal swipe
At the Blytheburgh Church Door

As the hound fled from the scene, repelled by the holy aura of the town's priest, it left hideous scorch marks upon the door, which are clearly visible to this day. Some people say they are copies of the devil's own fingerprints.

Black shuck is by no means the only name under which the various hounds of hell are known. Black dog myths are abundant around the British Isles, each with their own local legend and names. Guytrash, Shriker and Barguest prowl Yorkshire and Lancashire; Wish hounds and Yeth make their homes in the south of England and the Black Shuck stalks it's territory along with Skeff and Moddey Dhoo.

It was the coming of the...
(Black Shuck) Black Shuck!
(Black Shuck) That dog don't give a fsck!

The one thing that ties the Black Shuck and all the other black dog myths of the United Kingdom together is their stalking grounds. It seems that these demonic doggies stick to either where people regularly move around - roads, crossroads, bridges and courtyards, or to sites of consecrated ground - churches and graveyards. Some believe that these dogs haunt leylines and spirit paths, acting as unholy guardians of the underworld.


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