Barghest – The Troller’s Gill Hellhound

Legend of the Hellhound

Legends and stories of Hellhounds spread the width and breadth of human existence.  The most commonly referred to stories of Hellhounds come from the British Isles, and Northern Europe, with the earliest written records of Hellhounds dating all the way back to 1127.  Regardless of where or when the Hellhound is seen, it is described as large, fearsome and the harbinger of doom in one form or another.

The Barghest of Troller’s Gill

One of the more famous historical accounts of a Hellhound is from the book Yorkshire Legends and Traditions written in the late 19th century by Thomas Parkinson.  In this book, he reprints an interpretation of an encounter with a Hellhound from Dr. Dixon’s ‘Stories of Craven Dales’.  Ultimately this is likely a work of pure fiction but is pulled from the long history of hauntings and encounters with Hellhounds  and ghosts in the area.

Barghest Near Grassington

In another section of Yorkshire Legends and Traditions is the story told by one Billy B. who gave  his account of encountering the Barghest of Troller’s Gill as given to the Leeds Mercury Supplement and published  February 28th 1881.

‘Of this mysterious personage (Bargest) I am able to give a very particular account, having, only a few days ago, seen Billy B- y, who had a full view of it.
‘You see, sir,’ said Billy,’as how I’d been a-clock-dressing at Gerston (Grassington), an’ I’d stayed raither lat, an’ may-be gitten a lile sup o’ spirit, but
Iwar far from bein’ drunk, an’ knaw’d everything ‘t pass’d. It war about eleven o’clock when I left, an’
war at back end o’ t’ year ; an’ it war a grand neet. T’ mooin war varra breet, an’ I nivver seed Rylston
Fell plainer i’ a’ my life. Now, yo’ see, sir, I war passin’ down t’ mill loin, an’ I heerd summut cum past me, brush, brush, brush, wi’ chains rattlin’ a’ t’ while; but I seed nowt; an’ thowt I to mysen’, now, this is a most mortal queer thing. An’ I then stuid still, an’ luik’d about me, but I seed nowt at a’, nobbut t’ tw stane walls on each side o’ t’ mill loin. Then I heerd again this brush, brush, brush wi’ t’ chains; for, yo’ see, when I stuid still it stopp’d; an’ then, thowt I, this mun be a Bargest, ‘at sae mitch is said about ; an’ I hurried on toward t’ wood brig, for they say as how this Bargest cannot cross a watter; but, lord, sir, when I gat ow’r t’ brig, I heerd this same thing again ; so it wud oither hev cross’d t’ watter, or gane round by t’ spring head (only thirty miles !). An’ then I becom’ a valiant man, for I war a bit freeten’ed afore; an’, thinks I, I’ll turn an’ hev a peep at this thing. So I went up Greet Bank towards Linton, an’ heerd this brush, brush, brush wi’ t’ chains a’ t’ way, but I seed nowt; then it stopp’d a’ of a sudden. So I turn’d back to gan hame, but I’d hardly reich’d t’ door when I heerd again this brush, brush, brush, an’ t’ chains, going down towards t’ Holin House, an’ I follow’d it, an’ t’ mooin then shone varra breet, an’ I seed it tail! Then, thowt I, thou owd thing ! I can say I’ve seen the’ now, so I’ll away hame. When I gat to t’ door there wor a girt thing like a sheep, but it war bigger, liggin’ across t’ threshold o’ t’ door, an’ it war woolly like; an’, says I, “Git up,” an’ it wouldn’ git up; then, says I, “Stir thysel’!” an’ it wouldn’t stir itsel’. An’ I grew valiant, an’ rais’d t’ stick to baste it up, an’ then it luiked at me, an’ sich oies (eyes)! they did glower ! an’ war as big as saucers, an’ like a cruell’d ball ; first there war a red ring, then a blue one, then a white one ; an’ these rings grew less an’ less, till they cum to a dot! Now, I war nane fear’d on it, tho’ it grinned at me fearfully; an’ I kept on sayia’, “Git up an’ stir thyself” an’ t’ wife heeard as how I were at t’ door, an’ she cum to oppen it, an’ then this thing gat up an’ walk’d off, for it war more fear’d o’ f wife than it war o’ me! An’ Icall’d wife, an’ she said it war t’ Bargest, but ah’ve niwer seed it since; an’ that’s a true story


The Bongay Hellhound

An even older and more vicious account of a Hellhound comes from the writing dubbed “A Straunge and Terrible Wunder”, written by  Abraham Fleming.  In this tale that takes place in 1577 a great storm happened and was followed by a Hellhound ruthlessly attacking churchgoers.

The reporte of a straunge and wonderful Spectacle.

Sunday, béeing the fourth of this August, in ye yéer of our Lord 1577.

to the amasing and singular astonishment of the present beholders, and absent hearers, at a certein towne called Bongay, not past tenne miles distant from the Citie of Norwiche, there fell from heauen an excéeding great and terrible tempest; sodein and violent, betwéen nine of the clock in the morning and tenne of the day aforsaid.

This tempest took beginning with a rain, which fel with a wonderful force and with no lesse violence then abundance, which made the storme so much the more extream and terrible.

This tempest was not simply of rain, but also of lightning and thunder, the flashing of the one wherof was so rare, and vehement, and the roaring noise of the other so forceable and violent, that it made not onely people perplexed in minde and at their wits end, but ministred such straunge and vnaccustomed cause of feare to be cōceiued, that dumb creatures with ye horrour of that which fortuned, were exceedingly disquieted, and senselesse things void of all life and féeling, shook and trembled.

There were assembled at the same season, to hear diuine seruice and common prayer, according to order, in the parish church of the said towne of Bongay, the people therabouts inhabiting, who were witnesses of the straungenes, the rarenesse and sodenesse of the storm, consisting of raine violently falling, fearful flashes of lightning, and terrible cracks of thūder, which came with such vnwonted force and power, that to the perceiuing of the people, at the time and in the place aboue named, assembled, the Church did as it were quake and staggar, which struck into the harts of those that were present, such a sore and sodain feare, that they were in a manner robbed of their right wits.

Immediatly héerupō, there appéered in a moste horrible similitude and likenesse to the congregation then & there present, a dog as they might discerne it, of a black colour: at the sight wherof, togither with the fearful flashes of fire which then were séene, moued such admiration in the mindes of the assemblie, that they thought doomes day was already come.

This black dog, or the diuel in such a likenesse (God hée knoweth al who wor¦keth all) runing all along down the body of the Church with great swiftnesse, and incredible haste, among the people, in a visible fourm and shape, passed betwéen two persons, as they were knéeling vppon their knées, and occupied in prayer as it séemed, wrung the necks of them bothe at one instant clene backward, in somuch that euen at a momēt where they kneeled, they strāgely dyed.

This is a wōderful example of God{is} wrath, no dout to terifie vs, that we might feare him for his iustice, or puling back our footsteps from the pathes of sinne, to loue him for his mercy.

To our matter again. There was at ye same time another wonder wrought: for the same black dog, stil continuing and remaining in one and the self same shape, passing by an other man of the congregation in the Church, gaue him such a gripe on the back, that therwithall he was presently drawen togither and shrunk vp, as it were a péece of lether scorched in a hot fire: or as the mouth of a purse or bag, drawen togither with a string. The man, albeit hée was in so straunge a taking, dyed not, but as it is thought is yet aliue: whiche thing is meruelous in the eyes of men, and offereth muche matter of amasing the minde.

Moreouer, and beside this, the Clark of the said Church béeing occupied in cleansing of the gutter of the Church, with a violent clap of thunder was smitten downe, and beside his fall had no further harme: vnto whom béeing all amased this straunge shape, wherof we haue before spoken, appeared, howbeit he escaped without daunger: which might paraduenture séem to sound against trueth, and to be a thing incredible: but, let vs leaue thus or thus to iudge, and cry out with the Prophet.

O Domine! &c. O Lord, how wonderful art thou in thy woorks!

At the time that these things in this order happened, the Rector, or Curate of the Church, béeing partaker of the peoples perplexitie, séeing what was séen, and done, comforted the people, and exhorted them to prayer, whose counsell, in such extreme distresse they folowed, and prayed to God as they were assemled togither.

Now for the verifying of this report, (which to sōe wil seem absurd, although the sensiblenesse of the thing it self confirmeth it to be a trueth) as testimonies and witnesses of the force which rested in this strange shaped thing, there are remaining in the stones of the Church, and likewise in the Church dore which are meruelously rēten & torne, ye marks as it were of his clawes or talans. Beside, that all the wires, the whéeles, and other things belonging to the Clock, were wrung in sunder, and broken in peces.

And (which I should haue tolde you in the begining of this report, if I had regarded the obseruing of order) at the time that this tempest lasted, and while these stormes endured, ye whole ChurchPage was so darkned, yea with such a palpable darknesse, that one persone could not perceiue another, neither yet might discern any light at all, though it were leser thē the least, but onely when ye great flashing of fire and lightning appéered.

These things are not lightly with silence to be ouer passed, but precisely and throughly to be considered.

On the self same day, in like maner, into the parish church of another town called Blibery, not aboue seuē miles distant from Bongay aboue said, the like thing entred, in the same shape and similitude, where placing him self vppon a maine balke or beam, wheron sometime ye Rood did stand, sodainly he gaue a swinge downe through ye Church, and there also, as before, slew two men and a lad, and burned the hand of another person that was there among the rest of the company, of whom diuers were blasted.

This mischief thus wrought, he flew with wonderful force to no litle feare of the assembly, out of the Church in a hideous and hellish likenes.

These things are reported to be true, yea, by the mouthes of them that were eye witnesses of the same, and therfore dare with so much the more boldenesse verifie what soeuer is reported.

Let vs pray vnto GOD, as it is the dutie of Christians, to woork all things to the best, to turne our flintie harts into fleshie hartes, that we may féele the fire of Gods mercy, and flée from the scourge of his iustice.



Modern Day Encounters With The Hellhound

While these tales are hundreds of years old, even today, people across the globe report encounters with hellhounds.  It doesn’t take much digging to find reports of “Black Schuck” that are very recent.  Apparently Hellhounds followed Europeans to the new world and now accounts of them pop up from throughout Central and Southern America on up through the USA.

Regardless of what this phenomenon is, a Hellhound is not something you ever want to encounter.

Have You Encountered A Hellhound?

If you have encountered a Hellhound, please let us know.  You can submit your encounter by email here:  Report Hellhounds

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