The Moddey Dhoo or Mauthe Doog is a black dog haunting the Isle of Man, especially Peel Castle.
Mauthe Doog means black dog in Manx. It is a common mistake to call it Snarleyow, which is the eponymous anti-heroic vicious ship's dog in an 1837 novel Snarleyyow, the Dog Fiend by Captain Frederick Marryat.
People believe that anyone who sees the dog will die soon after the encounter. It is mentioned by Sir Walter Scott in The Lay of the Last Minstrel--
- "For he was speechless, ghastly, wan
- Like him of whom the Story ran
- Who spoke the spectre hound in Man."
In the days when Charles II was King in England, and Charles, Earl of Derby, was King in Mann, Peel Castle was always garrisoned by soldiers. The guard room was just inside the great entrance of the castle and a passage used to lead from it, through one of the old churches, to the Captain of the Guard's Room. At the end of the day one of the soldiers would lock the castle gates and carry the key through the dark passage to the Captain. The soldiers used to take turns to do this.
About this time a big black dog with rough curly hair was seen, sometimes in one room, next time in a different room. He did not belong to anyone there and apparently no one knew anything about him. But every night, when the candles were lighted in the guard room and the fire was burning bright, he would come down the dark passage and lay himself down by the hearth. He made no sound, but lay there until the break of day, when he would then get up and disappear into the passage.
The soldiers were at first terrified of him but after some time they were used to the sight of him and lost some of their fear, though they still looked upon him as something more than mortal. Whilst he was in the room the men were quiet and sober, and no bad words were spoken. When the hour came to carry the key to the Captain, two of them would always go together - no man would face the dark passage alone.
One night, however, one foolish fellow had drunk more than was good for him and he began to brag and boast that he was not afraid of the dog. It was not his turn to take the keys, but to show how brave he was, he said that he would take them alone. He dared the dog to follow him.
'Let him come,' he shouted, laughing; 'I'll see whether he be dog or devil!' His friends were terrified and tried to hold him back, but he snatched up the keys and went out into the passage. The Black Dog slowly got up from before the fire and followed him.
There was a deathly silence in the guard room; no sound was heard but the dashing of the waves on the steep rocks of the Castle Islet.
After a few minutes, there came from the dark passage the most unearthly screams and howls, but not a soldier dared to move to see what was going on. They looked at each other in horror.
Presently they heard steps and the rash fellow came back into the room. His face was ghastly pale and twisted with fear. He spoke not a word, then or afterwards. In three days he was dead and nobody ever knew what had happened to him that fearful night. The Black Dog has never been seen again.
Theory about existence
In 1871, during excavations, the bones of Simon, Bishop of Sodor and Man (died 1247) were uncovered, with the bones of a dog at his feet.
They say, that an apparition, called, in their language, the Mauthe Doog, in the shape of a large black spaniel with curled shaggy hair, was used to haunt Peel Castle, and has been frequently seen in every room, but particularly in the guardchamber, where, as soon as candles were lighted, it came and lay down before the fire, in presence of all the soldiers, who at length, by being so much accustomed to the sight of it, lost great part of the terror they were seized with at its first appearance. They still, however, retained a certain awe, as believing it was an evil spirit which only waited permission to do them hurt, and for that reason forhore swearing and all profane discourse while in its company. But though they endured the shock of such a guest when altogether in a body, none cared to be left alone with it. It being the custom, therefore, for one of the soldiers to lock the gates of the castle at a certain hour, and carry the keys to the captain, to whose apartment, as I said before, the way led through in church, they agreed among themselves, that whoever was to succeed the ensuing night his fellow in this errand should accompany htm that went first, and by this means, no man would he exposed singly to the danger; for I forgot to mention that the Mauthe Doog was always seen to come out from that passage at the close of day, and return to it again as soon as the morning dawned, which made them look on this place as its peculiar residence.
One night a fellow being drunk, and by the strength of his liquor rendered more daring than ordinary, laughed at the simplicity of his companions, and though it was not his turn to go with the keys, would needs take that office upon him, to testify his courage. All the soldiers endeavored to dissuade him, hut the more they laid, the more resolute he seemed, and swore that he desired nothing more than that the Mauthe Doog would follow him, as it had done the others, for he would try if it were dog or devil. After having talked in a very reprobate manner for some time, he snatched up the keys, and went out of the guard-room.
In some time after his departure a great noise was heard, hut nobody had the boldness to see what occasioned it, till the adventurer returning, they demanded the knowledge of him; but as lond and noisy as he had been at leaving them, he was now hecome sober and silent enough, for he was never heard to speak more; and though all the time he lived, which was three days, he was entreated by all who came near him, either to speak, or, if he could not do that, to make some signs, by which they might understand what had happened to him, yet nothing intelligible could he got from him, only, that by the distortion of his limbs and features, it might he guessed that he died in agonies more than is common in a natural death. The Mauthe Doog was, however, never seen after in the castle, nor would any one attempt to go through that passage, for which reason it was closed up, and another way made.
-Recorded by Sir Walter Scott in Perveril of the Peak, 1876