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Black Shuck


In its preview of tonight’s PBS showing of a new version of The Hound of The Baskervilles, the New York Times notes how, “according to older Celtic myths”, Dartmoor (the story’s setting) was reputed to be infested by various supernatural beings including “the dreadful Black Shuck, a monstrous hound that was said to bleed fire from its eyes”.

Well, Black Shuck was certainly a sinister creature, but he wasn’t from Devon and nor was he a Celtic myth – he is a legend from the other side of England, from the east coast (my part of the world, as it happens) and his name has either Anglo-Saxon or Norse roots. Devon had its own demon dogs, but Black Shuck wasn’t among them.

It’s a small point, perhaps, but the devil is always in the details. Besides, in Norfolk we were always rather proud of our marshland horror. In Texas they feel much the same way, except there the evil is carbonated and put in a can.

Oh no, I’ve gone and mentioned Dr Pepper again.