On This Day In History: ‘Devil’s Footprints’ Appeared In Devon, England – Feb 8/9, 1855

On the night of 8/9 February 1855, a strange phenomenon – the so-called ‘Devil’s Footprints’- occurred around the Exe Estuary in East Devon and South Devon, England.

The trails of hoof-like marks appeared after a heavy snowfall, overnight in the snow covering a total distance of some 40 to 100 miles.

The marks appeared on the tops of snow-covered roofs and high walls, in open fields, in gardens and court-yards, enclosed by high walls. Sometimes they stopped abruptly and continued after a large break.

Most of the ‘footprints’ measured around four inches long, three inches across, between eight and sixteen inches apart and mostly in a single file. They were reported from over thirty locations across Devon and a couple in Dorset, which means that the total distance of the tracks amounted to between 40 and 100 miles.

Some people believed they were the tracks of Satan, as they were allegedly made by a cloven hoof; others rejected this idea as superstition..

The phenomenon was widespread, and some of the more scientifically minded examined the marks meticulously. One naturalist sketched some of the marks, and measured the distance between them, it was found to be eight and a half inches.

This spacing seemed to be consistent wherever the tracks were measured.

Additionally, the way in which they were set out, one in front of the other, suggested a biped rather than a creature walking on four legs.

There have been many speculations concerning the phenomenon among scientists and lay men alike. Animals such a kangaroo, rats, swans, roaming racoons, and many more were blamed.

The Devil’s Footprints from Devon, England still remain a mystery, which perhaps, one day, will be solved by researchers, but only under one condition – the footprints must appear again.

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