Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Britain's Man-Monkey

Researcher Nick Redfern has generously sent in a guest blog detailing the first known report of what he calls the Man-Monkey:

Nick Redfern talks about the Man-Monkey:

In her 1883 book, Shropshire Folklore, Charlotte S.Burne wrote: "A very weird story of an encounter with an animal ghost arose of late years within my knowledge. On the 21st of January 1879, a labouring man was employed to take a cart of luggage from Rantonin Staffordshire to Woodcock, beyond Newport in Shropshire, for the ease of a party of visitors who were going from one house to another. He was late in coming back; his horse was tired, and could only crawl along at a foot's pace, so that it was ten o'clock at night when he arrived at the place where the highroad crosses the Birmingham and Liverpool canal. Just before he reached the canal bridge, a strange black creature with great white eyes sprang out of the plantation by the roadside and alighted on his horse's back. He tried to push it off with his whip, but to his horror the whip went through the thing, and he dropped it on the ground in fright."

The creature duly became known to superstitious and frightened locals as the Man-Monkey. Between 1986 and early 2001, I delved deeply into the mystery and legend of the strange creature of that dark stretch of canal, and uncovered a wealth of "British Bigfoot" style stories of hairy wildmen inhabiting the darker corners of some of Britain's larger woods and forests.

During the course of my investigations, I often foundmyself asking the questions: Is Britain really home to a Bigfoot-style entity? Does the creature have supernatural origins? Or is it something else entirely?

Today, I'm still not really sure; but there is no doubt that the story of the Man-Monkey is the strangest cryptozoological mystery I have ever delved into.For more details on Nick Redfern's investigation of Britain's Man-Monkey, see:



In the past decade or so, Britain has had numerous reports of Bigfoot-like creatures, usually centered around a location known as Cannock Chase, an area of countryside in Straffordshire, England. The Chase has long been a center of strange phenomena, with reports coming from the area of UFOs, ghosts, big cats, strange clouds, werewolf-like beings, and of course, the British Bigfoot reports.

The first known modern British Bigfoot report was in 1995, by a Jackie Houghton, who witnessed a large, hair-covered beast near the village of Slittingmill, located right in the heart of Cannock Chase. Similar reports followed in 1998, 2003, and 2004, with all of the witnesses reporting similar Sasquatch-like creatures either in or around the area of the Chase. Some of the reports were very detailed, as in the case of the 1998 witness:

"It was a star filled night, clear, but dark and we were all in the car driving home, happily chatting and joking. Suddenly we all fell dead serious, the people in the back sat forward and we all pointed to the same shape. It was a tall man-like figure, sort of crouching forward. As we passed, it turned and looked straight at us. In my own words I would describe it as around six feet eight inches tall, legs thicker than two of mine, very strong looking and with a darkish, blacky [sic]-brown coat. I just could not explain it and I still get goose bumps thinking of it."

Do Bigfoot-like creatures really roam the forests and back woods of Great Britain? There are only two possible explanations for the reports (besides the skeptical argument that all sightings are hoaxes, hallucinations, or misidentifications) is that either a population of flesh and blood creatures exists in Great Britain and is incredibly elusive, or the beings have a paranormal origin. It seems highly unlikely that a breeding population of such creatures could exist in Great Britain very long without being discovered, especially not in a country that is only about the size of Texas. The only other logical explanation is that the creatures are paranormal entities of some sort, which I hesitate to endorse as a solution to the mystery because of the problems with the theory, not the least of which is that obtaining physical evidence becomes problamatic, if not impossible, should the creatures prove to be paranormal.

Whatever the explanation is, Nick's book is an important part of an area in cryptozoology that has remained largely neglected by most cryptozoology and Fortean researchers.

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