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The Shriker, also known as Skriker or Striker, is a monstrous Black Dog strongly associated with Lancashire, England.

Etymology

The word shriker is a local term for a complainer or a whining person, a reference to the creature's cry. Instead of barking, it only whines or moans constantly, as if in pain.

Description

The Shriker most commonly takes the shape of a giant black dog with glowing eyes, following travellers on the road, although it can also appear as a cow or a horse. Seeing the creature is supposed to be an omen of extreme bad luck, most often the death of the sighter or a member of their family, much like a banshee. Looking into its eyes would force a person to approach the monster. In some stories death only follows if the person attempts to chase away the Shriker pacing him. While trying to beat off the Shriker would cause the monster to attack, maim, or even kill the victim, simply ignoring it would cause bad luck. Its distinctive screaming cry could be heard from a great distance away.

History

In 1825, a man was allegedly attacked and pursued by a Shriker in the form of a headless dog near a church in Manchester.

Art/Fiction

  • The Shriker is the main villain of The Beast of Noor by Janet Lee Carey. In the book, the creature is the vengeful, shapeshifting spirit of a dog which was betrayed by its master, inhabiting a nearby forest and attacking passersby.
  • In The Skriker, a play by Caryl Churchill, the antagonist is a shapeshifting, malevolent fairy with the name of Skriker, possibly a reference to the Black Dog.

Quote

In Norfolk and Cambridgeshire, a dogfiend known as Shuck haunts lonely churchyards for some inscrutable purpose. Lancashire lads call a like creature Trash and Shriker, giving it the first name in imitation of the noise it makes in travelling—a noise resembling that made by a heavilyshod walker on a miry road, and the second in imitation of the peculiar shrill yell with which it warns the hearer of the approaching death of some near relative or dear friend.

-Charles Dickens, 1873

See Also