With thousands of years of history, there’s no wonder Britain is home to an assortment of spooky urban legends.
Some are well-established with sightings going back centuries, others are more recent – but all have terrified those who claim to have spotted them.
We’re talking about big cats, ghoulish children, animal-human hybrids and blood-sucking vampires, none of which would be out of place in a spine-tingling horror movie.
Even scarier still, there’s no shortage of evidence that suggests these urban legends may well be 100% true.
Here, we dig a little deeper to explore some of the most bone-chilling paranormal urban legends ever mooted in the British Isles.
If one relates to your area, you’d be wise to keep your eyes peeled….
The Beast of Bodmin Moor
An enormous phantom wild cat is believed to stalk this Cornwall moor, with sightings going back to 1983. It’s believed to have two sharp prominent fangs.
There were 205 sightings of such a creature reported in the Devon and Cornwall area between 2000 and 2011 alone, with many more since then.
In 2019 a man claimed to have been attacked by a huge “panther-like” animal in Helston, which he said could have eaten his girlfriend if he hadn’t been there to protect her.
“It grabbed my hand through the window,” he told CornwallLive. “I used to work with animals and this thing was like nothing I’d ever seen.”
Sets of giant paw prints have also been discovered in the area, adding more fuel to the theory that the famous Beast of Bodmin could actually exist.
The six-foot ‘púca’ of Lincolnshire
A bizarre 6ft tall creature described as a “human-deer” hybrid has been spotted around Grimsby, with five or fix reported sightings in the Lincolnshire region in the last 40 years.
Every witness describes it the same way: a half-man, half-deer with antlers that mostly walks on two legs.
It reportedly has brown fur, a mane, is the same height as a tall human man and, most disturbingly of all, has glowing red eyes.
Lee Solway, host of the Realm of the Supernatural podcast, told Daily Star Online the creature could be a púca, a shape-shifting legend in Celtic folklore.
It often presents itself as a horse, goat, cat, dog or hare, but can also take a human form that has certain animalistic features such as ears or a tail.
Welsh mythology features a similar creature called a pwca, and in Cornish mythology it’s called the Bucca. The pouque are said to be fairies living near ancient stones in the Channel Islands.
The vampire of Highgate Cemetery
This North London graveyard is where many prominent figures have been buried, including Karl Marx and George Eliot.
But it’s also believed by some to be home to someone else – a vampire.
In 1967, two young girls walking home claimed they saw the dead rising from their graves, and around the same time there were reports of a “tall man in a hat” seen melting through the cemetery’s walls.
In early 1970, the corpses of several animals were found dead and drained of blood near the cemetery.
The gruesome findings prompted Sean Manchester, a self-proclaimed exorcist and vampire hunter, to write that the people of Highgate “were not witnessing a harmless earthbound apparition… but a vampire”.
He became locked in a feud with local magician David Farrant, with both men vowing to destroy the undead creature they claimed lived in the cemetery.
Things escalated until Friday the 13th of February, when dozens of enthusiastic amateur vampire hunters descended on Highgate armed with homemade stakes.
That August the century-old remains of a woman buried in the cemetery were found to have been moved from her grave and desecrated.
Manchester eventually claimed to have successfully killed the vampire in 1973, but even 50 years on there is still a lot of public interest in whether the monster could still be walking in the area.
The Black Shuck of East Anglia
There have been many reported sightings of enormous black dogs in the British Isles for centuries, but this ghostly pooch is particularly frightening.
“Shuck” comes from the Old English word “scucca”, meaning devil or fiend – and the name seems all too accurate.
Clergyman Abraham Fleming wrote in 1577 of a huge black dog running through a church in Suffolk and killing two people who were kneeling in prayer. It’s believed this account was based on multiple eyewitness reports.
An 1850 edition of the long-running scholarly journal Notes and Queries also describes the legend, saying:
“This phantom I have heard many persons in East Norfolk, and even Cambridgeshire, describe as having seen as a black shaggy dog, with fiery eyes and of immense size, and who visits churchyards at midnight.”
An excavation of Leiston Abbey in 2014 unearthed the skeleton of an enormous dog that would have measured 7ft tall if it stood on its hind legs. It was discovered a few miles from the church where Fleming described the Black Shuck killing worshippers, prompting speculation it could be the body of the legendary beast.
However there were still sightings of a huge black dog being reported in the area as late as the 1950s, and the dog skeleton was believed to be far older.
The Black Shuck, or a version of it, was immortalised by J.K. Rowling as “the Grim” in the Harry Potter series.
Black-eyed children of Staffordshire
Ghost hunters have reported seeing terrifying childlike ghouls with jet-black eyes since the 1980s, with numerous nightmarish clips purporting to capture them circulating online.
Fears about their ghostly presence grew again in 2014 after a paranormal expert spotted one in the marshy countryside of Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.
However famous paranormal investigator Barri Ghai told Daily Star Online he doesn’t believe the children really exist.
“I think I’d freak out totally if I came face-to-face with a child with black eyes staring at me.” he said.
“I honestly believe it’s a bit of folklore, a bit of urban legend.
“You know how mass hysteria when someone says something and someone says something else – it spreads like wildfire.
“There are these theorists that believe they’re either spirits, extraterrestrial beings or demonic activities.
“I don’t know if they exist.”