(ORDO NEWS) — The 12th century story of the Green Children of Woolpit in Suffolk is a bizarre medieval folk legend that has been remembered for generations.
It is not often that we hear of children appearing at the edge of the field, with green skin and not knowing any of the local languages.
Even today, historians debate whether there was any truth to this story, and some go so far as to claim that it describes an encounter with aliens.
The legend itself says that the Green Children of Woolpit were a boy and his sister, who were found by reapers tilling the fields during the harvest, near the pits dug to catch wolves in the area of St. Mary’s Church.
Surprisingly, their skin had a green tint, their clothes were made of unfamiliar materials, and their speech was incomprehensible to the reapers.
These children were taken to the village, where they were eventually taken in by the local landowner, Sir Richard de Kane, in Wilkes.
The children did not eat the food offered to them, although it seemed that they were dying of hunger. In the end, the villagers brought freshly picked beans, which the children ate. They survived only on beans for many months until they got used to bread.
The boy fell ill and soon died, but the girl remained in good health and eventually got rid of her green skin. In later years she learned to speak English and subsequently married a man from King’s Lynn, neighboring Norfolk County.
According to some reports, she took the name Agnes Barre, and the man she married was the ambassador of Henry II, although this information has not been confirmed. After she learned to speak English, she told the story of their origin.
The girl said that she and her brother came from a strange underground country, which she called St. Martin’s Land.
There was no sun in it, but eternal twilight reigned. All the inhabitants of the Land of St. Martin, like them, lived underground, were green, like them. She spoke about another luminous country that could be seen across the river.
The girl explained that she and her brother were looking after their father’s herd when they stumbled upon the cave.
Entering the cave, they wandered for a long time in the darkness, until, hearing the ringing of bells, they came out the other side, falling into the bright sunlight, which seemed stunning to them. That’s when the reapers found them.
The story of the “Green Children of Woolpit” took place in the village of Woolpit, located in Suffolk, East Anglia. During the Middle Ages, it was in the most agriculturally productive and densely populated area of rural England. The village belonged to the wealthy and powerful Bury St. Edmunds Abbey.
The story itself was recorded in two contemporary chronicles. The English chronicler Ralph of Coggeshall, who died about 1228 AD, was abbot of a Cistercian monastery at Coggeshall, which was about 26 miles (42 km) south of Woolpit.
His account of the green children of Woolpit was recorded in the Chronicon Anglicanum (English Chronicle), and in it he named Sir Richard de Calne, who had adopted the children, as his source.
Meanwhile, the English historian and canon of the Augustinian Priory of Newburgh, far to the north in Yorkshire, William of Newburgh (AD 1136-1198) included the story of the green children in his major work, Historia rerum Anglicarum (History of English Affairs).
Both writers claimed that the events took place during the reign of King Stephen (1135-54) or King Henry II (1154-1189), depending on which version of the story you read.
Over the centuries, many theories have been put forward to explain the strange story of the green children of Woolpit. As for their green coloration, one theory is that the children suffered from a condition known as hypochromic anemia, originally known as chlorosis (from the Greek word Chloris meaning greenish yellow).
Chlorosis is caused by a very poor diet that affects the color of red blood cells and results in a noticeable green tint to the skin. In favor of this theory is the fact that after switching to a healthy diet, the girl’s skin returns to normal color.
Regarding the girl’s description of the strange land, Paul Harris suggested in Fortean Studies 4 (1998) that the children were Flemish orphans, possibly from the nearby town of Fornham St. Martin, which was separated from Woolpit by the River Lark.
Many Flemish immigrants arrived in the 12th century, but during the reign of King Henry II they were persecuted. In 1173 many of them were killed near Bury St. Edmunds.
If the Green Children of Woolpit were indeed Flemish immigrants on the run, and if they fled into Thetford Wood, then it might have seemed to the frightened children that twilight had fallen there forever.
They may also have entered one of the many underground mines in the area, which eventually led them to Woolpit. Dressed in strange Flemish garb and speaking a different language, the children were a very strange sight to the villagers of Woolpit.
Other researchers have suggested a more otherworldly origin for the children. Robert Burton, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, published in 1621, suggested that the green children of Woolpit “fell from heaven”, leading other authors to speculate that the children might have been extraterrestrials.
In an article published in 1996 in Analog magazine, astronomer Duncan Lunan suggested that children were accidentally transported to Woolpit from their extraterrestrial home planet, which may be in a synchronous orbit around its sun, presenting conditions for life only in a narrow twilight zone. between the hot surface and the frozen dark side.
He included these statements again in his 2012 book Children from Heaven.
Since it was first recorded, the story of the Green Children of Woolpit has spanned more than eight centuries.
While the real facts behind this story may never be known, it has inspired countless poems, novels, operas and plays around the world and continues to capture the imagination of many curious minds.
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