EXTRA: The Green Children of Banjos
In 1965, John Macklin published an account of a pair of green children being found near the town of Banjos, Spain. According to his book, Strange Destinies, this event happened in August 1887.
Macklin tells us that workers 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 an important and respected man in the village, 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... or so Macklin tells us. As should be obvious by now, this account of the Green Children of Banjos is simply a modern re-telling of the story of the Green Children of Woolpit; in fact, Macklin copied the text of Keightley’s account of the Woolpit story published in 1850 almost word for word in his re-telling3. The most glaring similarity between the two stories, however, is in the name of the man whose home the children were taken to. In Keightley’s account, the Woolpit children are taken in by a knight named Sir Richard de Calne; in Macklin’s account, the Banjos children are helped by “the village’s chief landowner,” a man named Ricardo da Calno. In the end, the only major difference between the two accounts is that the green girl dies after a mere five years. This can be seen as a story convenience on Macklin’s part; after all, if the 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 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. This 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.
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 event4. Oy.