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Down the years, England has been well known for its folklore, fairy tales and downright weird stories. But we don’t often delve into the lesser known mythical beasts that spent many years haunting the dreams of the residents of wherever they tend to hail from. 
 
We all know about the Loch Ness Monster (from Scotland), Bigfoot and The Bogeyman… but have you heard of these creepy cryptids that cause mischief around the country? 

Black Annis (Leicestershire) 

The origin of most folklore myths is often disputed, and Black Annis is no different. Some say she was based on a real person named Agnes Scott (I hope that isn’t true, and you’ll see why), some say she was first mentioned in a deed written in the 18th century and some say she was mentioned in ancient European mythology. Wherever she came from; she doesn’t sound very nice. 
 
Black Annis is a blue-faced hagg (not my words, Agnes) that haunts the Leicestershire countryside. She is said to have iron claws with which she used to carve out her cave and in case you weren’t sure which cave is hers, she hangs her victims outside from a tree. She is also known to use the skin of her victims to fashion clothes or pieces of furniture. Try selling that on Etsy. 
 

Old Shuck (East Angliia and Suffolk) 

If you’re every out roaming the countryside of Norfolk and happen to see a black dog which is the size of a horse and has one eye like a cyclops…. Run! Although you won’t get very far. 
 
Old Shuck (also known as Black Shuck or Old Shock) is one of the most famous mythical creatures in all of England, rising to fame when mentioned in newspapers in 1577, warning people of the ghost mutt himself. 
 
The spirit of Old Shuck has been kept alive in popular culture with the band “The Darkness” naming a song after it, “Teen Wolf” gives it a mention and he appears as a boss in the popular video game “Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla”, when the playable character comes across the beast whilst exploring the countryside of East Anglia. 
 

Filey Dragon (Yorkshire) 

Filey Brigg is a long, rocky, and very steep area of cliffs on the coast of North Yorkshire. Legend has it that is used to be inhabited by a big scary dragon that terrorised the nearby townsfolk. 
 
Like all dragons it was greedy. But not for the usual riches. This dragon was seemingly addicted to cake (I’m not making this up. Someone else did that for me. Or did they?...). Not just any cake. Parkin. Which is apparently a very sticky type of cake, I’ve not tried it myself, but it sounds pretty good. So, I am already empathetic towards this particular dragon. 
 
Rumours have it that the towns people were so fed up of the dragon turning up all aggressive and demanding cake that they eventually killed it. Another rumour is that the dragon ate so much cake it fell into the sea. Whichever way it happened; it was a sad end for the dragon with a sweet tooth. 

Gurt Worm (Somerset) 

Apparently, somerset is a bit of a hotbed for dragon-like activity. But the most famous of all was the Gurt Worm. Unlike your traditional dragon, this one didn’t eat humans either, but was more inclined to eating ponies or cattle. One of the favourite activities for the locals was to go and pick whortleberries, but unfortunately the whortleberries happened to be in the area where the dragon hung around. 
 
Needless to say, this wasn’t appreciated by the villagers, and they needed to find a way to deal with their dragon problem. 
 
As luck would have it, a woodcutter arrived in the village looking for work. One day he was talking to a lady who made whortleberry tarts and she suggested that he try and find some work up at Shervage Wood… where the dragon lived. Some may call this irresponsible. I call it a gamble. She hoped that the woodcutter would come across the dragon and kill it. 
 
One day when eating his lunch, the woodcutter sat down on a log. Just about to tuck into his lunch, the woodcutter noticed that the log began to move… can you see where this is going? 
 
That’s right! He was sitting on the dragon! With one swift chop with his axe the dragon was cut in two and the villagers had a whortleberry-heavy celebration. 

Stratford Lion (New Forest) 

This is quite a nice one. The Stratford Lion isn’t known for wreaking havoc or anything violent. As far as we know, he might just have a good PR team. 
 
The story, from 15th Century England, describes a man named John Stratford doing some gardening one day when he came across a pair of antlers sticking out of the ground. He pulled on the antlers, but they didn’t move. John realised that he would have to roll up his sleeves and pull these antlers with all his might. When he did it revealed a huge red lion’s head. John kept pulling, why? I have no idea. But he did, and it revealed a giant lion that wasn’t in a great mood. 
 
The beast ran at the man, but John was agile enough to jump onto the its back. The Lion bucked and ran and kicked but eventually gave up and John managed to subdue the monster. 
 
Once tamed the lion pledged to serve John Stratford and was always around to help out the family. People still claim to see a ghostly figure wandering the forest with John on its back. 
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