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Friday, November 11, 2016

Tales of horrifying bogeymen like Rawhead and Bloody Bones.

(Image: Geoffrey Fantomo via Monster Wikia)
For as long as children have been misbehaving, adults have been telling them terrifying stories in a bid to make them tow the line – lest they be stolen away in the night, never to be seen again. To that end, children in 16th century Ireland and Great Britain were told tales of horrifying bogeymen like Rawhead and Bloody Bones.

The first written evidence of the gruesome duo dates to around 1564, but other documents from the same period seem to suggest that they were already familiar figures – making it difficult to tell for sure when the pair first began haunting children’s nightmares.

The Mask of Reason blog examined the original stories which featured a creature known as Tommy Rawhead, most often referred simply as Rawhead or even Rawhead and Bloody Bones, despite apparently describing a single bogeyman. The name was a literal label, since he was sporting a raw and bloody skull. Some interpretations of the tale have Rawhead living in ponds. Ponds were potentially dangerous places, and his presence was implied as a cautionary tale to keep curious children from wandering off and drowning.

'Keep away from the marl-pit or rawhead and bloody bones will have you' photo:
In other folk stories, Rawhead lived in disused cupboards, while one claimed that says that if children stood on the stairs and gazed down between their ankles, through the gaps in the steps, they might catch a glimpse of Rawhead, crouched on a pile of bones in his home beneath the stairs. Should the children be caught, he’d gobble them up and add their bones to the pile.

No doubt such parental stories had the desired effect, and Rawhead’s nursery rhyme was a popular one:

Rawhead and Bloody Bones
Steals naughty children from their homes,
Takes them to his dirty den,
And they are never seen again.

Folk stories of Rawhead eventually migrated to North America, where they took on an even darker meaning. There, particularly in Missouri (and further south), Rawhead became the familiar of a witch named Old Betty, manifesting in the form of a half-wild boar.

Other articles on the same theme:

Story source: 
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