Alphabetical List of Locations


Mythconception 1 : Moddey Dhoo & Snarleyow


Analysing the Hell out of the Beast:        part 1

                part 2

                part 3

                part 4

                part 5


Dubious Cases


Related Creatures



The Vikings


  • The next Mythconception actually follows on from the previous Dutt extract. Like many other authors, he brought in the notion that Shuck is somehow an ongoing folk tradition or memory of the Vikings. Specifically, of the "black hound of Odin."

Even in modern literature we have such as the following:

G. Carter, 'Forgotten Ports of England' (1951), p. 6: "Black Shuck, the killer dog of Woden..."

J. W. Day, 'Essex Ghosts' (1973), p. 11: "[Black Shuck] derives from the mighty dog-of-war, the Hound of Odin...Wherever the sea-wolves [Vikings] landed the legend of Black Shuck endured."

David Butcher, 'Waveney Valley' (1975), p. 96: "...Shuck after all is none other than Shukr, Thor's dog."

C. D. Reader, 'The Reality behind Black Shuck' in 'East Anglia Monthly' (Feb. 1983), p. 47: "Most scholars believe he [Shuck] is a folk-descendant of the legendary Hound of Odin..."

And from online: shuck: “Other historians say that the hound has its origins in Norse mythology based on the huge dog of war of Odin and Thor ‘Shukir’ who came over to Britain thousands of years ago along with the Vikings long-ships.”

I have to say to this one...Aargh!!!

Nowhere in Norse mythology will you find that either Odin or Thor had a dog called 'Shukr' or 'Shukir.' This is a pure invention. Indeed, neither Odin/Woden nor Thor/Thunor is mentioned in connection with any dog at all. Wolves yes, but not dogs. Odin had two wolves, Geri and Freki (both of which roughly mean 'greedy'), which followed him into battle. But they play a minor role in Norse myth compared to his two ravens, Huginn and Muninn. Occasionally wolves are known as 'Odin's dogs', but in the sense of pack animals that clean up after him on the battlefield. The solitary Shuck can hardly be any kind of memory of this. And Thor isn't particularly associated with any animals at all - unless you count the magical goats who pull his chariot!

Some have stretched the point and suggested that maybe Shuck and other ghostly dogs are an expression of Garm, the giant hound that guards the gate of Hel in Norse myth, or Fenrir, the wolf offspring of Loki, who killed Odin when Ragnarok came around. But quite frankly, there's very little evidence that Viking mythology made any significant impact on the existing population - and no sign of Garm or Fenrir at all in the Anglo Saxon versions of the myths.

And the notion that 'black dog' legends survive wherever the Vikings landed or settled simply doesn't stand up to scrutiny. There is, for instance, virtually no correlation at all between phantom dog tales and Scandinavian place names. And as Patricia Dale-Green noted in her authoritative 1966 book 'Dog': "Some people believe that dog-phantoms derive from [Viking] myth...This theory is, however, untenable - at least from an historical and geographical point of view - for dog-ghosts appear prolifically in parts of England uncontaminated by Nordic beliefs."

I sincerely hope that this mythconception can be laid to rest (but somehow I doubt that it will be.)