Suffolk’s Mysterious Animal Sightings

As with many rural counties, Suffolk has its fair share of myths and legends, and not all of them are from the mists of time.  Even today there are regular news items about mysterious animal sightings, and some just cannot be simply dismissed as hallucinating observers catching a vision of next door’s cat.

Mystery Animals of Suffolk catalogues a wide range of yet-to-be-identified animals together with creatures of local tradition from the region briefly known as the Curious County. 

The book opens with an examination of mythical entities of East Anglian medieval storytelling, including the woodwoses (wildmen) that survive as figures carved on the fonts, porches and towers of Suffolk’s churches. There are tales too of encounters with baby-snatching fairies and “certain little people” clustered around Stowmarket. The mystery animals surveyed then become progressively more plausible, with the last third of the book devoted to an account of over 170 modern mystery big cat sightings within Suffolk.

No book on this subject would be complete without mentioning Black Shuck – Suffolk’s phantasmal black dogs appearing from ancient folklore to encounters in 1970s Lowestoft.  And then there are the evil freshwater mermaids and what a pamphlet from 1665 described as “the body of a mighty giant dig’d up at Brockford near Ipswich.”   A cavalcade of spectral coaches and coach horses, equestrian ghosts and invisible horses have been seen and heard in Newmarket, Holbrook and elsewhere.  Sea serpents are seen off the Suffolk coast, particularly around Kessingland – were they misidentified whales? – an Orford Ness “sea dragon” and a winged “serpent” in Mendham in 1662. There were also numerous imps in 17th century Suffolk, according to dubious testimony from local witchcraft trials, taking the forms of ducks, exploding mice or “lice of an extraordinary bigness”. 

Mystery Animals of Suffolk closes with a detailed account of local sightings of big cats (black leopards, pumas, lynxes, bobcats and something like a domestic cat “but five times as big.”) Featured are numerous interviews with eyewitnesses and photos of a possible black leopard from Wortham, North Suffolk and of a well-documented escaped West Suffolk bobcat. There’s investigation of big cat “kill signs” (evidence of predation on livestock) from around the county and a look at big cats that seem to wander into Suffolk from Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex including the “Norfolk Gnasher” and the “Beast of Balsham”.

This is a fascinating book and journalist Matt Salusbury treats the investigations seriously, but with healthy scepticism and a touch of humour. 

A book of strange and yet-to-be-identified animals, animal folklore and tradition from the region briefly known as the Curious County – including an account of over 150 mystery big cat sightings.
AuthorMatt Salusbury
Dimensions:21cm x 14.8cm

More Suffolk Folklore

AuthorKirsty Hartsiotis
Dimensions:19.8cm x 12.9cm
Publisher:History Press
A collection of strange tales and local legends from the county illustrated with the authorʼs photographs of places featured in the text.
AuthorJohn Ling
Dimensions:23.4cm x 16.5cm

Weird Tales from the Waveney Valley

Weird tales, ghosts, folklore and legends from East Anglia’s Waveney Valley.  Haunted Landscapes Volume One.
AuthorCharles Christian
Dimensions:23.5cm x 15.5cm
Publisher:Heart of Albion
Strange stories of mysteries, crimes and eccentrics.
AuthorSarah E. Doig
Dimensions:23.4cm x 15.6cm
Publisher:History Press
Chris Spalton, creator of ‘The Eelman Chronicles’, explores a selection of tall tales, grim history and extraordinary events from East Anglia, illustrated with his own brilliant cartoon style drawings and photographs. 
AuthorChris Spalton
Dimensions:21cm x 14.8cm


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