SHUCKLAND       Introduction        Alphabetical List of Locations
Location: Great Yarmouth, NORFOLK
Legend: Long ago, a creature known as 'Old Scarfe' was seen in various forms around the town of Gt. Yarmouth and even further afield, and was apparently thought of as the Devil in disguise. As a huge, fierce black dog loaded with chains and with fiery eyes, he was said to always be seen crossing over the former Yarmouth bridge going towards Gorleston at midnight, and in different parts of town between then and 2am (sometimes in different places at the same time.)

A sailor's wife is said to have met him one night near her home in Blackfriars Road. The dog appeared out of the darkness, put his huge front paws on her shoulders, gazed into her face, and breathed his hot, foul breath upon her. The woman, who was pregnant, screamed and fell unconscious until the next morning, and lost her baby.

As a huge goat with big, luminous eyes and horns, he could be seen standing on the quay west of the river, gazing into the water, and sometimes roaming the area around, harming horses and cattle. Old Scarfe was supposed to wander the Southtown or turnpike road leading to Gorleston and Burgh Castle more than any other, and indeed loped to Burgh Castle every night.

According to tradition, Scarfe was long ago imprisoned in the cellars of the Duke's Head inn [c.TG52220755] by Catholic priests, "for so long a time as the waters flow beneath Yarmouth bridge."

The dog was said to be named after Baron Rudolph Scarfe, who was supposed to have been a mercenary knight of the 13th century in the Hartz mountains of Germany, who after much wickedness and depravity there, fled after excommunication to the village of Burgh Castle, and continued his evil lifestyle there. After he was finally slain, the Devil was said to have changed him into dog form, laden him with chains, and sent him back to earth to create further havoc on earth. (1)

"It was currently [mid-18th century] believed that the Evil One, under the familiar name of Old Scarfe, assumed the shape of a black dog, and on dark wintry nights was heard rushing up and down the Southtown Road making sorrowful moanings, and dragging after him a clanking chain...Notwithstanding this [being immured under the Duke's Head], however, Old Scarfe continued to be a terror to benighted travellers, until at length the increase of houses scared him away." (2)

"...'Old Scarf', who used to frequent the Southtown Road, Yarmouth, with fiery saucer eyes and a jingling chain - if a straw were placed in his path he would rattle his chain violently and stand howling. Eventually the clergy took him in hand, as the legend goes, and with solemn rites chained him in the cellar of the Duke's Head. Candles were thrown over the bridge into the water, and 'Scarf' was doomed never to re-appear until the candles were burnt out, i.e., until St. Tib's Eve." (3)

Sources: (1) Percy de Lisle: 'Tales & Traditions of Old Yarmouth', in the 'Yarmouth Independent', 7/1/1893.
(2) C. J. Palmer: 'The Perlustration of Gt. Yarmouth', vol. 3 (G. Nall, 1875), p. 263-4.
(3) James Hooper: 'Demon Dogs of Norfolk & Suffolk', in the 'Eastern Daily Press', 2/7/1894.
Comments: The name 'Scarfe' I think may derive, not from some fictitious German baron, but from the same root as the dog 'Skeff' at Garveston, i.e. 'skeffy' or shaggy.
Place Name: Yarmouth - OE 'mouth of the river Yare'
Other: See also encounters below, and Gorleston.

Location: On beach at Great Yarmouth
Encounter: Mr. Graham Grant, then aged 34, was the coastguard officer on solo duty on Wednesday April 19th, 1972, in the Coastguard Station on Gorleston South Pier. He was scanning the beach area north of the pier through his binoculars when, at about 4.45am, he saw a "large, black hound-type dog" on the sand. At first he ignored it, but then looked back and watched for a couple of minutes, running over the beach and stopping, as if looking for someone. Then as he watched, it vanished in front of his eyes.

Although he kept looking the dog did not reappear. He thought at first it had dropped into a hole, then confirmed through his binoculars that the beach had been bulldozed flat earlier. He felt the experience remarkable, and "quite a shock."

Mr. Grant had transferred from the Isle of Sheppey only the previous year, and had never heard any of the local tales of 'Old Shuck' until he mentioned the incident later to his colleagues, and one of them, a native of Cromer, told him the legends. (1)

The dog was about 50 yards from the sea edge when it "just faded away as if a veil of fine silk had been drawn over it." The weather was overcast at the time, with a force eight wind from the north west. The colleague who had told him about 'Old Shuck', and the ominous nature of its appearances, collapsed and died on July 1st of that year. Mr. Grant told his father in York, who died of heart failure four weeks later, in February 1973. (2)

Sources: (1) 'Was it Old Shuck on the Prowl?', in the 'Eastern Daily Press', 27/4/1972.
(2) Letters from witness to Ivan Bunn, 7/2/1974 and later.

Location: Tesco supermarket car park, Great Yarmouth
Encounter: "A friend of mine, Dominic Gray, used to work at Tesco's in Gt. Yarmouth. I was talking about the couple of 'black dog' stories I knew about Gt. Yarmouth when he mentioned that he had had an encounter a few years back.

He was the last to leave the store along with the assistant manager at about 2am in the morning. It was pitch black on the rooftop car park. As they approached their cars, they heard a dog running towards them. Dominic said that from the sound of claws on the tarmac he got the impression of a very large dog. As they turned towards the sound, they 'felt' the dog or whatever it was rush past them very close by. They ran to their respective cars to put on the headlights to see what it was, but there was no sign of any animal. There is only one way down from the roof and the 'dog' had been running away from this, and there was no cover for it to hide behind."

Source: 'A Brush with the Black Dog', letter from Claire Blamey in the 'Fortean Times' No. 70 (Aug./Sept. 1993), p. 65.

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