The story of the Green Children of Woolpit is still celebrated by the small village to this day. A sign even hangs proudly in the village to tell of their arrival to these parts almost one thousand years ago, most likely under the reign of King Stephen of England, 1135-1154.
While in all likeliness there is a large degree of truth to the legend – a legend of two children with green skin who appeared out of nowhere in rural England in the twelfth century – there has also been a lot of theorising and counter-theorising over the years.
That it took place in the Middle Ages – a time when science was largely overruled by superstition and hearsay – only makes it harder to try to pull apart the solid facts from the fabricated elements. Even so, it is an interesting occurrence, and one where the basics of the story are largely agreed upon.
Firstly though, while it doesn’t address this particular story, the video below is a good example of the kinds of myths and urban legends of medieval times.
The Arrival Of The Green Children
The story of the Green Children was recorded chiefly by two chroniclers of the time – Ralph of Coggestall, and William of Newbridge – and although details differ slightly, the essence of the accounts are very much the same.
Seemingly out of nowhere, at some point in the mid-1100s, two children – a boy and a girl – appeared on the boundaries of a field in the small village of Woolpit, in Suffolk, England. They looked as any other child would, except their skin radiated with a green glow, as did all of their attire, which themselves were made of a strange and unknown material. They also spoke a language utterly foreign to any that heard them.
Reapers working in the field were the first to spot the children, and it was they who took them to the home of Sir Richard de Caire. At first they would not eat, both due to upset and confusion, despite their obvious starvation. They eventually managed to communicate with their hosts that they would eat beans from the beanstalks that had recently been harvested. Over time it is said that they also developed a taste for bread.
Although both children were said to be unwell upon their discovery, the boy soon became very sick, and eventually died. The girl however was said to have made a full recovery, and it is from her that some of the background to their origins might be found.
Over time, the mystery girl became strong, and even lost the green glow of her skin to a point where she no longer stood out from the rest of the villagers. She even managed to learn English fluently, and was able to communicate in the same way as everyone else.
She told the villagers that she and her brother had come from a land where there was no sun, but instead perpetual twilight. One version of the story even states that the name of this land is St. Martin’s Land, leading some to suggest a link to the immigration at the time of Flemish communities to much of eastern England – in particular the village of Farnham All Saints, known at the time as Farnham, St. Martin. Author Paul Harris was the first to suggest this, but critics argue that most Flemish people in England at the time were generally mercenary fighters and assassins as opposed to settled tribes.
The young girl stated that they had been with their family flock when they suddenly heard the sound of bells and “sweet music”, which they began to follow. They soon came upon a cavern that had a bright entrance. As they stepped through this huge entrance, they were momentarily blinded by the brightness of the light. They were also temporarily paralysed where they stood, as both of them could feel a change in the atmosphere around them.
It is said that the girl grew to a young woman, eventually married a local man from King’s Lynn. Some accounts go as far as to state that she took the name Agnes Barre. Incidentally records do show that a woman of that name did exist in Woolpit around the time that the incident is claimed to have taken place, but whether that woman was indeed the “green girl” is not known.
Green-Skinned Aliens? Or Callously Abandoned Children?
Whereas many researchers have been quick to suggest an extra-terrestrial link to the green children, plenty of interested parties to the legend have put forward other theories as to their origin.
The alien angle is a little tenuous at best in this incidence, not least due to the children appearing to be completely human-like in every aspect other than their skin. As far back as 1651 though, Robert Burton wrote in “Anatomy of Melancholy” that the two children had likely travelled here from Venus or Mars. This assertion as far back as seventeenth century proves somewhat that the connection with other-worldly entities is certainly not a modern one, one that might have been arrived at through researchers being influenced by popular culture for example.
The children’s green skin incidentally, has been suggested to have actually been a symptom of anaemia due to their being undernourished. Although the boy did seemingly die from the illness, as the girl began to build her strength, her skin eventually losing the green tinge.
Others have suggested that the skin colouration may have been due to arsenic poisoning, which may explain further why the boy failed to recover from the illness and died, and perhaps why the pair were alone in the dense forest to begin with. Had they had been intentionally poisoned and left to die?
One particular folklore tale from this area of England does indeed tell of two young children who were “heirs to the estate of their dead parents!” They were taken to Wayland Wood, where they were (possibly) poisoned and abandoned so that their estate could be taken by their “evil caretakers!” Wayland Wood is only a short distance away from Woolpit.
Beings From Another Dimension?
Might it be that they were part of a race of people who inhabit the Inner Earth? The girl spoke of them coming to a “cavern entrance” where they were blinded by the bright light as they stepped through it, and even appeared to affected by a change in atmosphere and air pressure. Many cultures have legends of such beings who sometimes venture to the surface.
Or perhaps the bright light they had seen had even been a portal that had transplanted them from another dimension entirely? This was explored in detail by author and researcher, Harold T. Wilkins in his 1959 book, “Mysteries: Solved and Unsolved!” He indeed offered that the two children had entered our dimension from theirs – which incidentally he stated, runs alongside our own reality, but is essentially completely separate from it.
More recently, Scottish astronomer, Duncan Lunan, who is also assistant curator at Airdrie Observatory, proposed a similar scenario, although he theorised the two children did indeed hail from another planet. Examining the girl’s description of her world being in constant darkness, and knowing what we know about how our own moon acts, he suggested that the children’s world was a planet that had one side that always faced its sun, while the other was forever shrouded in darkness. He believes, like Wilkins, that the pair somehow reached Earth via unknown and unintentional means of teleportation.
Before we look at some other strange and apparent alien and UFO incidents from deep in the past, the video below looks at the legends of the green children.
Strange Sightings Of The Middle Ages
Whether the two children have any connections to an extra-terrestrial race or not, their story is just one of many from the middle ages that seems to suggest such UFO driven activity.
On New Year’s Day 1254 for example, several monks claimed to have witnessed a “large ship of a marvellous colour” in the sky high above them in St. Albans, Hertfordshire, England. The event was recorded by Matthew of Paris, who claimed that it simply hung silently over the monks for some time, before it rose slowly into the sky and vanished from sight. A very similar story was recorded in 1290 in Yorkshire at Byland Abbey. Again multiple witnesses saw a “round silver disc” that moved with great speed in the sky.
Perhaps one of the strangest tales however, is that of the ship that appeared to “drop anchor” from the clouds above, in broad daylight and full view of the village’s church congregation. The incident was recorded as having happened in 1211 in Cloera Ireland, and was chronicled in the “The King’s Mirror” – a thirteenth century text.
According to the legend, an anchor suddenly fell from the sky, attached to it a rope that stretched upwards to the sky, yet to the “hull of a ship!” The anchor was then dragged along the church grounds before it became caught fast on the arch of the church itself. The crowd watched in amazement as a figure suddenly appeared from the ship above, and made its way down to the rope as if he was swimming through the air.
This mysterious figure then noticed the crowd below and appeared to panic somewhat. He cut the rope that was attached to the anchor, and then scuttled back on board the ship as it sailed away back into the clouds above. The anchor itself was kept by the church as a reminder of their otherworldly visitor.
Tulli Papyrus, The First Recorded UFO Sighting?
Of course, UFO sightings have gone back right through history, and not just to “recent” history, but seemingly as far back as there is any form of recorded history.
Most would agree that the first recorded UFO sighting in human history goes all the way back to 1500 BC when a circle of fire was recorded by an anonymous scribe in Ancient Egypt during the reign of Thutmose III:
“On a February morning, in the twenty-second year of the reign of Pharaoh Thutmose III, a circle of fire in the sky appeared over Egypt. It hung silent and motionless, and brought with it a foul smell. The Pharaoh was informed and he meditated for a while on what should be done. While he thought, more circles appeared, filling the sky completely. They shone with a brightness that hid the sun. Then, in the hour after dinner, the circles moved off to the South and disappeared from view.”
It is said that when the circles of fire ascended and moved to the south, fishes and birds fell from the sky.
The incident is claimed to have been recorded on the Tulli Papyrus, a highly controversial document – not least because no-one can offer solid proof that it even exists. Named after Alberto Tulli, the Egyptian director of the Vatican museum, who claimed he discovered the papyrus document in an antique shop while on a trip to Cairo.
The price of the document was too high for him to purchase however, so instead he took a copy. He then made another copy but this time replaced the original hieratic script with hieroglyphics for translation.
The video below looks at this controversial account in a little more detail, one, that like the legend of the Green Children, is just one of a plethora of strange accounts from a history that we have only just touched the service of.
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