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The Monstrous Beast of the Forest of Dean

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

The Forest of Dean spreads across a huge area of Gloucestershire and as well as a place of natural beauty it has a unique culture within it's boundaries. A real Forester, as those born in the Forest are called, can claim a Free Miner license, as granted to their ancestors by Edward I for undermining the fortifications of a Scottish castle the king was besieging.

A myriad of wildlife roams and scurries around the forest...five types of deer, rare pine martens, even beavers are making a comeback there, but the most iconic animal is the wild boar. Hundreds of these creatures root around the trees and opinion on them is divided. However, one in particular has become a legend.

The Beast of Dean is said to be a gigantic fusion of boar and ox, able to crush hedges and knock trees over. It terrorised everyone, until a party of hunters went into the Forest determined to do something about it. An account from 1802 tells us that the men came from the village of Parkend and that their hunt came to nothing. Another version says that they did indeed find the Beast of Dean and succeeded in bringing it down. Thinking that the creature was not going anywhere, lifeless as it was, the group returned to their homes to deliver the news and fetch others to come and witness the event. When the crowd followed them back to the place of the hunt – the Beast was gone.

During the more modern 1990s two men claimed to have been chased by the Beast, hearing it's “unearthly roar” and seeing only a huge dark shape in the trees. This could easily have been a very large example of the resident wild boar, but who knows? The Forest of Dean has an abundance of legend, folklore and paranormal tales which I will return to over time, but for now the Beast of Dean stands as a fitting mascot for this mysterious and beautiful place.

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