The legends of Black Shuck roaming the Anglian countryside date back to the time of the Vikings. His name may derive from the Anglo-Saxon word scucca meaning “demon”, or possibly from the local dialect word shucky meaning “shaggy” or “hairy”. The legend may have been part of the inspiration for the Sherlock Holmes novel The Hound of the Baskervilles.
Sometimes Black Shuck is referred to as the Doom Dog. It is said that his appearance bodes ill to the beholder, although not always. More often than not, stories tell of Black Shuck terrifying his victims, but leaving them alone to continue living normal lives. In some cases it has supposedly happened before close relatives to the observer die or become ill.
Sometimes Black Shuck has appeared headless, and at other times he appears to float on a carpet of mist. According to folklore, the spectre often haunts graveyards, sideroads, crossroads and dark forests. Black Shuck is also said to haunt Beeston Bump, a hill close to Beeston Regis and Sheringham.
The encounter on the same day at Bungay was described in “A Straunge and Terrible Wunder” by the Reverend Abraham Fleming in 1577:
This black dog, or the divel in such a linenesse (God hee knoweth al who worketh all,) runing all along down the body of the church with great swiftnesse, and incredible haste, among the people, in a visible fourm and shape, passed between two persons, as they were kneeling uppon their knees, and occupied in prayer as it seemed, wrung the necks of them bothe at one instant clene backward, in somuch that even at a mome[n]t where they kneeled, they stra[n]gely dyed.
All down the church in midst of fire, the hellish monster flew, and, passing onward to the quire, he many people slew.
The Black Dog of Bungay and Black Shuck both appear in “The Kettle Chronicles: The Black Dog”, a novel by Steve Morgan, former vicar of Bungay, set in 1577. According to the children’s book The Runton Werewolf by Ritchie Perry, Black Shuck is a Gronk, a race of friendly shape-shifting aliens, the ancestors of which were accidentally left behind on Earth when one of them suffered from stomach troubles. Hector Plasm: De Mortuis features a one panel picture and reference to Black Shuck. Black Shuck also makes an appearance in Mark Chadbourn’s trilogy The Age of Misrule and is mentioned in Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights.
Black Shuck also appears in the Supernatural: Origins comics.
A dark hound named Black Shuck serves the champion of the Shadowdancers in the online role-playing game Lusternia.