In his absolutely definitive book Explore Phantom Black Dogs, the author and researcher Bob Trubshaw wrote the following: “The folklore of phantom black dogs is known throughout the British Isles. From the Black Shuck of East Anglia to the Mauthe Dhoog of the Isle of Man there are tales of huge spectral hounds ‘darker than the night sky’ with eyes ‘glowing red as burning coals.’ The phantom black dog of British and Irish folklore, which often forewarns of death, is part of a world-wide belief that dogs are sensitive to spirits and the approach of death, and keep watch over the dead and dying. North European and Scandinavian myths dating back to the Iron Age depict dogs as corpse eaters and the guardians of the roads to hell. Medieval folklore includes a variety of ‘Devil dogs’ and spectral hounds.”
One of the most infamous of all black-dog encounters in the British Isles occurred at St. Mary’s Church, Bungay, Suffolk, England, on Sunday, August 4, 1577, when an immense and veritable spectral hound from hell materialised within the church during a powerful thunderstorm and mercilessly tore into the terrified congregation with its huge fangs and razor-sharp claws. In fact, so powerful was the storm that it reportedly killed two men in the belfry as the church tower received an immense lightning bolt that tore through it and shook the building to its ancient foundations.