The Werewolf of Lincolnshire

21 06 2010

Following on from the story of Black Shuck, the demon hound, here’s another hairy character from the folklore of my home county…

 This story was uncovered by Roger Parsons and dates from 1926:

A young archaeologist living in Langrick Fen near (the appropriately named!) Dogdyke one day discovered a set of possibly Neolithic remains in a peat bog. The curious thing was that the skeleton uncovered appeared to have a large, canine-like skull. A wolf’s head, in fact. The young scientist carried the skull to his cottage and set about a minute examination of the bone structure. After several hours of work, he admitted defeat. The wolf’s head would not submit to any rational scientific explanation, and so he decided it was a hoax, possibly in the same vein as the famous Piltdown Man. In that case the lower jaw of an orangutan had been used to fake the preserved skeleton of an early species of man. In this case, the Langrick Fen archaeologist believed that the monstrosity he had uncovered may be a hoax got up by a travelling fairground to excite the crowds. Having served its purpose, the thing had been dumped in the Fen when the fairground passed by.

That night our scientist friend found it impossible to sleep. A scratching noise, as of a large animal pawing at the ground, came from the back of the house. He got out of bed, and was on the point of investigating further, when he heard a sharp rat-tat on the window. His head snapped in the direction of the sound and, to his amazement, he saw a dark shadow watching him. This image began to define itself into the form of a human being… with the head of a large wolf!

Transfixed with terror, the man could do nothing but stare as the thing’s thick black lips drew back into a snarl and its hot, fetid breath steamed the windowpane. The creature howled in fury and pulled back its muscular arm, ready to break the glass. In that instant, the scientist recovered his wits and ran for the door. As he fled to the kitchen he heard the shattering of glass behind him and the padding of paws upon the bare boards of the bedroom floor. The scientist locked himself in the pantry and curled up in a tight, quivering ball. All through the night he heard the clicking of long, uncut claws and the shuffle of questing nostrils.

At last, the first hint of dawn crept under the pantry door and the scientist eased back the bolt and stepped outside. There was no sign of the uncanny visitor of the night before, and the man began to believe that he had suffered some kind of brain fever. On entering his bedroom, however, he found evidence of the supernatural visitation. The table, whereon he had placed the skull, was overturned and the window of the room was shivered into fragments. He wasted no time in snatching up the skull and hastening to the burial site. He threw the strange head back into the hole and covered it over with several layers of peat. From that day the werewolf of Dogdyke has been at rest.

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