I remember as a kid watching an old movie based on Jules Verne Journey to the Center of the Earth and became fascinated by the idea of another world existing within the world. As a grew, I discovered the concept of an underworld lies not only with works of fictions but also in conspiracy theories, religion and legends. Over the years I read what I could on this subject from the hollow earth theory to underground civilizations. There was this one interesting story I came across told more than 800 years ago about two green children who emerged from the earth that I would like to share.
The legends takes place back in the 12th century within the Suffolk village of Woolpit, England near Bury St. Edmunds. During harvest time, local villagers were working in the fields when two young children emerged from dug ditches to trap wolves. A boy and a girl, with green tinged skin, worn strange clothing made from unfamiliar material and spoke an unknown language. They were found wandered around bewildered by the villagers who aken the two back to town.
The children were taken to the house of local landowner Sir Richard de Calne where for several days they refused to eat anything that was brought. Eventually, the villagers discovered the two would eat the local harvested beans and would survive on this food for a few months to later acquired a taste for bread. The legends goes on to say as time passed on, the boy became greatly ill and died while the girl continue to grow into a young woman. She adjusted to life within the village, became baptized, learned the language and gradually her skin lost its green color. Some accounts of the myth tell that the woman taken the name of ‘Agnes Barre’ and married a royal official.
What made this legend extraordinary was the account the girl gave to her origins once she could be understood after learning the language. She told that her and the boy were brother and sister, and came from the land of Saint Martin. In her homeland there was no sun, but it was perpetual twilight. The people were also green as she and the brother. She recounts that one day they were looking after their father’s livestock in the fields and stumbled across a cavern. There were the loud sound of bells which they decided to check out and entered into the cave where they wandered through the darkness for some time. Eventually they exited the cavern, but were immediately blinded by the glaring sunlight. After some time, they recovered and attempted to locate the mouth of the cave they exited, yet instead were found by the villagers.
The story was recorded by two 12th century chroniclers – Ralph of Coggestall , an abbot of a Cistercian monastery at Coggeshall and William of Newburgh an English historian and canon at the Augustinian Newburgh Priory. This legend continues to be told and referenced over the centuries even to this day. There have been many explanations given to solving the origins of green children of Woolpit. One thought that has been around since the legend was first told is the siblings were actually from an underground world. An alternative theory suggests the children were aliens from another planet or dimension. A more practical idea has been the two were orphan suffering from a disease causing a strange pigmentation in the skin. A simpler explanation could be the legend is nothing more than another fabricated fairy tale as other similar stories of green children later followed.
Redfer, Nick. “The Wild Kids of Woolpit”. Mysterious Universe. (Accessed: March 25,2015) http://mysteriousuniverse.org/
Briggs, K.M. A Dictionary of Fairies. USA: Penguin Books Ltd. 1977