1890 (pre): Peel Castle’s Black Dog

Peel Castle on the Isle of Man (off the coast of England), was said to have been haunted by a Black Dog known locally as the "Mauthe Doog." It was said to wander through all rooms of the castle, but to be seen most often in the guard-chamber where it would appear as soon as candles were lit, and then it would lie down before the fire. This used to happen while soldiers were actually in the guard-house; and though they were filled with fear and awe initially, they soon learned to live with the phantom dog, always being careful to not bother or molest the spectral creature.

        Nonetheless, there came a night when one soldier, in a drunken fit, announced that "he would try whether it were dog or devil!" Now whether he struck at the dog or simply tried to touch it we are not told; but what we are told is that as soon as the soldier interfered with the Black Dog he was both instantly sobered, and instantly rendered speechless. He only lived another three days, dying "in agonies more than is common in a natural death."

My Source

        This account was taken from a section on "spectre-dog" legends in a collection of English tales gathered by Edwin Sydney Hartland in 1890. In his introduction to this chapter of his book, Hartland makes two things abundantly clear: that Black Dogs were always associated with evil doings, and that he absolutely didn't believe in them.

        Oddly enough, while Hartland himself didn't believe any of the tales, some were told to him by people who clearly believed their tales to be true. I have to wonder how friendly they were to Hartland after he published his book! The tale above was collected from a Mr. Waldron who heard of the soldier's death from a number of people he knew, but most especially from an old soldier who claimed to have seen the Black Dog more often than he had hairs on his head. It also seems that Sir Walter Scott had heard this tale as well, for in his poem Lay of the Last Minstrel Scott gives this brief reference:

"For he was speechless, ghastly, wan,
Like him, of whom the story ran,
Who spoke the spectre-hound in Man."

        As with all accounts from older sources such as this, it is entirely up to you to decide if it is true or not; but, in either case, it still evidences the beliefs regarding the Black Dog spirits in the area at the time the tales were collected.

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