Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Other Beast of Bodmin

Any mention of the infamous Beast of Bodmin Moor inevitably conjures up imagery of large black cats roaming the British countryside. But not always. A couple of days ago I received an email from a man who had an intriguing, but unfortunately, very brief story to relate.

The details, from Keith Fletcher of Derby, concern a story told to him back in the mid-1980s (by a work colleague who hailed from Cornwall) of a "giant monkey" roaming Bodmin Moor 6 or 7 years prior to when Keith heard the story - which would have placed the events somewhere in the latter part of the 1970s.

Keith is currently trying to track down his source; and so hopefully we may learn more in due course.

In the meantime, it's intriguing to note that others seem to have data on what may be the same story.

In his book Big Cats Loose in Britain, author Marcus Matthews says: "On 2nd January 1985, an article appeared in Exeter's Express and Echo about the 'Beast of Bodmin.' I have learned from a relation that in the 1970s and 1980s there were always rumours of an escaped orang-utan ape in the area. Farmers coming home from the public houses were used to seeing a strange pair of eyes looking at them, and a hairy human-like figure disappearing quickly."

Expect more data if and when I get it...

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Investigating the Owlman

I mentioned a month or so ago that from time time I would make mention here of other British man-beasts, beyond those of the classic "British Bigfoot" type.

Werewolves fall squarely into the category; and in addition to the posts I've already made on that topic, I'll be posting others here on the subject in the near future.

And there's another type of British man-beast, too: the "Winged Thing." And without doubt, the most famous is the so-called Owlman of Cornwall, whose exploits were so famously chronicled within the pages of The Owlman and Others, written by my good friend Jon Downes.

And for those that may not be acquainted with the facts, check out this link to an article written by Jon on the whole, weird saga.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ancient Monuments & Sacred Landscapes

As many of you will be aware, I have made mention here of the fact that on numerous occasions the British Bigfoot has been seen in the vicinity of ancient and sacred sites.

Indeed, such stories are a central part of my new book, There's Something in the Woods.

And with that in mind, I'm very pleased to be able to present a guest-blog from Brian Haughton - author of the new book Haunted Spaces, Sacred Places: A Field Guide to Stone Circles, Crop Circles, Ancient Tombs, and Supernatural Landscapes - who touches upon the issue of unusual entities seen in such places in the following paper:

Ancient Monuments, Sacred Landscapes
Brian Haughton

By exploring the ancient monuments and sacred landscapes of the world using a combination of archaeology, legend, and folklore, it is possible to obtain a unique insight into the hidden world of our ancestors. But what marked out a place as “sacred” or “special” in the mind of ancient man? There may have been a number of factors, varying from culture to culture and over different time periods.

One characteristic which must always have been of prime concern when constructing these ancient monuments or ritual complexes was the dividing up of the landscape, the separation of the sacred from the profane. Of course the place may have already possessed natural characteristics that made it unique. Recent research into geological anomalies and acoustics at ancient monuments is coming up with some interesting results. However, it seems more likely that it was something much less tangible, more “in the mind” of the inhabitants that made the place “special.”

Designing and building structures such as the ritual complex of monuments at Avebury in the UK, the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming, USA, and the standing stones at Carnac in northern France may have been a way of “monumentalizing” or enhancing this aura of sanctity, but it was the place itself that possessed the sacredness. The buildings acted as an expression of this sacredness. Often, nothing at all was constructed at a sacred site, its own personal myth-history being enough for it to be venerated (Ayers Rock in Australia is a good example of this).

In any attempt at understanding sacred places, perhaps a good way to begin is by examining some of the legends and lore that have become attached to the sites over time. However, the legends and even the archaeology of ancient sacred places are not sufficient in themselves for an understanding of how our ancestors viewed their sacred landscapes. In the words of American geographer Donald William Meinig “any landscape is composed not only of what lies before our eyes but what lies within our heads.”

To gain even the slightest insight into what was going through the minds of ancient peoples when they designed or visited monuments like the prehistoric temples of Malta or the vast Ohio Serpent Mound, we not only have to reunite ourselves with ancient values and traditions, but also attempt to cut ourselves off from our increasingly materialistic technology-based 21st century worldview.

The stories connected with ancient sites can take many forms, from legends at least a thousand years old, such as that of the wizard Merlin transporting the blue stones to Stonehenge, to modern accounts of UFOs and Bigfoot at, for example, Mount Shasta in California. There is a plethora of folklore connected with ancient sacred sites, especially the megalithic monuments of north Western Europe, a number of which are included in my new book, Haunted Spaces, Sacred Spaces.

The folklore of ancient places has become fairly standardized over the years: they are inhabited by fairies, built by giants or the Devil, haunted by ghosts, guarded by dragons, visited by spectral black dogs or cursed by witches. Stones are said to conceal buried treasure, dance at midday, walk down to a stream at midnight to drink, cause people to lose all sense of time and resist all attempts to move or to count them. The parallels between such folklore motifs and modern “paranormal” accounts reported at ancient monuments are obvious.

Indeed, whilst there is a significant record of folklore directly associated with ancient sacred places, the evidence for the occurrence of paranormal phenomena at these sites, reported in many books, Internet sites and magazine articles, is largely unconvincing. Additionally, much of the research into such phenomena is remarkably uncritical, and the conclusions premature to say the least. A good deal of the evidence for supposed “window areas,” places that apparently attract or produce strange phenomena, is either media generated or consists of exaggerations of local folk tales and legends, as is the case, for example, with a large part of the material related to the San Luis Valley, Colorado, Mount Shasta, California and to a certain extent Mount Penteli, just outside Athens in Greece.

However, in all of these areas there are some genuinely baffling elements to a few of the accounts collected, and this criticism does not mean to suggest that unexplained phenomena are never reported at ancient sites. But if the reports of strange lights, crop circles and bizarre creatures at ancient sacred places are indicative of anything, it is that these places are still regarded as significant enough to attract and generate myth and legend thousands of years after their construction. The important question is, whether these myths, ancient and modern, can tell us anything about the beliefs, ideas and motivation of our ancient ancestors. It is in this sense that ancient sacred sites may be viewed as windows into the past.

But just how reliable is folklore and myth as a guide to prehistory and history? Can legends shed any light on the construction and purpose of ancient sacred landscapes, such as at that around Stonehenge, and the ritual complex centered on Newgrange in Ireland? The majority of scholars of folklore and myth remain unconvinced that such tales can give us any genuine insights into the mind of ancient man. On many occasions the traditional tales surrounding prehistoric archaeological sites are “modern” (post 18th century), as with the tale of the Witch at the Rollright Stones in Oxfordshire, UK. If this is the case then it is obvious that although the lore may reflect contemporary ideas about the monuments, which is in itself important, it can tell us nothing relating to the purpose of the site it is connected with.

Nevertheless, if research is undertaken combining folklore and legend with archaeology, as it was at Troy by Heinrich Schliemann in the late 19th century, and is currently being done with the archaeology of Stonehenge and the story of Merlin and the blue stones, then perhaps we can begin to create a richer ancient past, one inhabited by people rather than merely their artifacts and buildings.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The British Bigfoot: Going Underground

The new issue of Fate magazine includes an article from me on mysteries of the London Underground. For years, rumors have been quietly told of encounters with strange beasts seen deep in the tunnels below Britain's capital - including the British Bigfoot. If you're interested in cryptozoological stories of the underground kind and their links with the British Bigfoot, check it out!

Friday, July 11, 2008

The British Bigfoot at The Daily Grail

A new interview with me has been posted to The Daily Grail today. During the course of the interview, we discussed the British Bigfoot, and here's what I had to say:

"In Britain we get a lot of Bigfoot-type reports. In fact, there are dozens on file that span centuries. These reports, and the witnesses, are as credible as any that have come out of the United States.

"And I’ve spoken to many such witnesses in England, and I’m absolutely convinced of the honesty of these people when they say they saw this huge, hairy thing. But there is not a single chance in hell that a tribe or race of giant ape-men is hiding out in the woods and forests of the British Isles – that’s completely ludicrous!

"The size of the country, the nature of the land, and the human population size and range would ensure they would be caught in no time at all. And where is the evidence of the huge amounts of food that creatures of this size would have to ingest every day just to stay alive? Where are all the stripped trees? Where is the evidence? I’ll tell you: there is no evidence!

"Plus, in the UK, many such sightings have been made near old stone circles, archaeological sites, and more. So, yes, people are seeing something – but what, precisely, is a matter of debate. But a large, literal, flesh and blood ape-man: no."

You can check out the rest of the interview right here.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The British Bigfoot: New Info

As I mentioned yesterday, my new book, There's Something in the Woods, contains substantial new data on the British Bigfoot. And to give you an indication, that includes a wealth of new material on the Cannock Chase man-beast; the Man-Monkey of the Shropshire Union Canal; and a host of British werewolf encounters.

Sunday, July 6, 2008


Well, we ended up getting home a bit early from the July 4th weekend; and as this is the same weekend that my new book - There's Something in the Woods: A Transatlantic Hunt for Monsters and the Mysterious - is published, I figured I might as well go ahead and tell you about it now.

Published by Anomalist Books, it covers my cryptozoological investigations and monster hunts that took place over the course of the last two years.

In early 2006, my wife, Dana, and I moved back to jolly old England to live, and remained there until August of that year - after which we returned to sun-drenched Dallas.

So, basically, the book - as its sub-title demonstrates - is a personalized account of the many and varied crypto-driven exploits and adventures that I embarked on in that same period - on both sides of the Atlantic, and sometimes with a bemused and amused Dana along for the ride.

And what, you may ask, does the book contain?

Well, for Anglophiles - and for those of you that regularly check out this blog - you get much on the British Bigfoot; the Werewolf of England's Cannock Chase woods; strange creatures summoned up within the confines of Crop Circles via ancient rite and ritual; the Devil-Dogs of centuries-past; big-cats; giant snakes; and a dizzying array of other beasts.

And States-side, you will will find a wealth of new material on the Thunderbird and other mysterious winged-things; the American Werewolf; Sasquatch; the Texas Goat-Man; monstrous insects; and much, much more.

Expect much more here on the book - and on the data contained in the book on the British Bigfoot, too - over the course of the next few weeks.