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1887, August: The Green Children of Banjos

The Legend:

In August 1887, workers near Banjos, Spain, were harvesting their fields when they heard frightened cries; investigating, they discovered two children, a boy and a girl, terrified and huddled near a cave. The two were screaming in a language that was not spanish, and their clothes were made of a strange metallic cloth... but stranger still, the children’s skin was green. The two children were taken to the home of the village’s chief landowner, Ricardo da Calno, where the local populace attempted to take care of them, but the children refused to eat or drink anything that was offered. The boy soon sickened and died; but the girl finally began to eat a diet of uncooked vegetables, mostly raw beans, and was soon healthy and hearty.

        The green girl lived for five years after her appearance, during which time her skin slowly lightened to a normal caucasian tone; she also learned Spanish, but what she told of her origins only deepened the mystery. She said that she and her brother had come from a land with no sun; the people there, all green skinned, lived in a perpetual twilight. They could see a land of light, but it was beyond a great water. When she was asked how she had come to be found outside the cave, she could only say that she had heard a loud noise and then been pushed through something; then she and her brother were in the cave and could see the light from the mouth of it. With her death, any hope of solving the mystery faded.

Spain?

        The legend above first saw print in John Macklin's 1965 book, Strange Destinies, and Macklin assures us that that he saw documents, reports, and sworn witness statements that supported the story... which is very unlikely.

        The main reason is that the story above is just a modern re-write of a tale told of the town of Woolpit, England, in the reign of King Stephen [between 1135-1154 CE; see the link below]. In fact, Macklin's tale as he tells it in his book is almost a word to word duplicate of the tale of the Green Children of Woolpit as told in a book by Thomas Keightley printed in 1850. A further obvious indication is that in the tale of the Woolpit children, they are helped by a man named Sir Richard de Calne; compare this to Ricardo da Calno, as given above.

        In fact, the only major difference between the two tales (ignoring location, of course) is that in Macklin's tale the girl dies after five years; in the Woolpit tale the girl lived a long time, even marrying a local man. This difference can be seen as a story convenience on Macklin’s part; after all, if the Banjos girl was found in 1887 and survived to a good age, researchers would expect to be able to find lots more evidence for the story... instead, I have only John Macklin’s word in his account that there were documents, reports, and sworn witness statements in existence at least as late as 1965, when his book Strange Destinies was published.

       Despite the obvious fact the story was a re-write, many authors who should have well known better picked up Macklin’s story and repeated the account, often changing details further… the name of the children’s saviour, Ricardo da Calno, is not repeated in any of the further re-tellings of the story, for example, which means that at least one of the authors repeating the Banjos story realized it was a fake, but chose to disguise this fact by removing a detail that would be a dead giveaway. Sillier still, the story of the Green Children of Banjos has been used as proof that the original Woolpit story must be true, the logic being that if the same event is described as happening twice in two different places and times, it must be proof of an actual repeating event. Oy.