Saturday, 30 November 2013

Shock! The Black Dog of Bungay - book review

Shock! The Black Dog of Bungay by Dr David Waldron and Christopher Reeve

I read this book as research for a project I'm working on. I could tell you what it is but I'd have to kill you. Needless to say I write in various genres, fiction and non fiction, all sorts of subjects related to the paranormal, the irrational and the downright crazy so you need not be surprised that I might be interested in The Black Dog of Bungay. Also, I play a bit of African percussion, which may not seem that relevant but it does mean that I drive through the Suffolk town of Bungay every summer where, nearby, I attend a percussion camp. So when I heard of the legend of the black dog I was doubly interested.


The story is that in 1577 a large black dog appeared inside St Mary's Church in Bungay, England, during a Sunday service, while a major thunder and lightning storm took place outside. The dog was reported to have attacked members of the congregation, killing two people and leaving marks inside the church while the lightning struck and severely damaged the steeple. You can find out more by reading the book with gives a full account of the story.

The book examines the evidence and explains who said what and when. As well as looking at the basis of the legend, the book examines the historical and sociological background of the people of the time and all the developments of the legend in the centuries since. It also gives you a comprehensive background on the history of Bungay town and its place in the local landscape.


If you were making a study of Bungay, the story of the Black Dog, black dog legends in general (which it seems are found across much of Britain), or how folkloric traditions of the paranormal arise in historic towns, then this is just the book for you. The book was written by a local historian in collaboration with a historian and anthropologist so it takes a fairly academic approach to the subject. This is no bad thing though for if you are a student of history, social anthropology, Forteana, or just a collector of ideas for your own purposes, then there's plenty here for you.

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