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The Green Children Of Woolpit, The Medieval Legend From England Of Visitors From Another World

Updated: Dec 20, 2022

The medieval legend of the Green Children of Woolpit has been a cause of debate for over eight centuries. Many people are still convinced that the tale is a true account of children who accidentally arrived on Earth from another world.

Many researchers believe that the Green Children of Woodpit were from another planet
Many researchers believe that the Green Children of Woolpit were from another planet

The 12th-century story of the Green Children of Woolpit, in Suffolk, UK, is a fascinating folk story that has been talked about for generations. Not every day do we hear of children with green skin that are not able to speak the local language appearing at the edge of a field.

The tale of the Green Children of Woolpit is still the subject of debate with historians as to its origin, many even claiming that the story describes an extraterrestrial encounter.

The Story of the Green Children of Woolpit.

The legend describes the Green Children of Woolpit as being a young brother and sister, they were spotted by reapers who were working in the fields near some ditches that had been excavated to trap wolves at St. Mary's of the Wolf Pits (Woolpit)

The reapers were astonished when they came upon the children, their skin was green and their clothes appeared to be made from materials unlike anything they had seen before, their speech was also unrecognisable to them.

The reapers took the children back to the village, where they would eventually be taken into the home of Sir Richard de Caine, a local landowner in Wilkes.

It is detailed that the children would not eat any food that was offered to them, even though from the outside it would appear that they were starving. Some of the villagers finally brought round some recently harvested beans, the children devoured these. The story says that they survived on nothing more than beans for several months until they acquired a taste for bread.

A village sign in Woolpit, England, depicting the two Green Children of Woolpit
A village sign in Woolpit, England, depicting the two Green Children of Woolpit

The boy became sick and quickly died because of his illness, while the girl remained in good health and was reported to eventually lose the green tinge to her skin. As the years passed she learned to speak English and would later go on to marry a man in King's Lynn, Norfolk.

Some ancient accounts say that she took the name Agnes Barre, and that the man whom she married was an ambassador of Henry II, however, these details have never been verified. Once she learned the English language she is said to have relayed the story of their origins.

The girl explained how she and her brother came from a land underground which she called the Land of Saint Martin. In it, there was no sun, but a perpetual twilight. She described how all of the inhabitants of Saint Martin's lived beneath the surface and were all green, just like them. She described another luminous land that could be seen across a river.

She explained that she and her brother were caring for their father's flock when they discovered a cave. Upon entering the cave, the two children walked through the darkness for a long period of time, following the sounds of bells, when they came out of the other side they were met with bright sunlight, which they found startling. It was at this point they were found by the reapers.

The Medieval Chronicles That Recorded The Story Of The Green Children Of Woolpit.

The tale of the Green Children of Woolpit is set in the rural village of Woolpit, which is located in Suffolk, East Anglia, England. During the Middle Ages, this area was the most agriculturally productive and densely populated area of rural England. The village was owned by the powerful Abbey of Bury St. Edmunds.

The original story of the Green Children of Woolpit was recorded in two separate contemporary chronicles. Ralph of Coggeshall, who was an English chronicler, who died around 1228 AD, was an abbot of a Cistercian monastery at Coggeshall, which was approximately 26 miles south of Woolpit. His account was detailed in the Chronicon Anglicanum, and in it, he named Sir Richard de Caine, who took the children in, as his source.

William of Newburgh, who lived from 1136 to 1198 AD, was the English historian and canon at the Augustinian Newburgh Priory in Yorkshire. He included the story of the Green Children of Woolpit in his work, Historia Rerum Anglicarum (History of English Affairs).

Both of the writers described how the events took place within the reign of King Stephen (1135 to 1154) or King Henry II (1154 to 1189), depending on which version of the story you read.

Theories On The Origins Of The Green Children Of Woolpit

For centuries, many different theories have been argued in an attempt to explain the fascinating story of the Green Children of Woolpit. Regarding the green colour of their skin, one suggestion is that the children had a condition known as Hypochromic Anemia, originally known as Chlorosis (coming from the Greek word Chloris, meaning greenish-yellow).

Chlorosis is normally caused by a poor diet and affects the colour of the red blood cells, often resulting in a green shade of the skin. Many people believe that this theory is backed up by the fact the girl is described as returning to a normal colour after being on a healthy diet.

Paul Harris suggested in Fortean Studies 4 (1998) that given the girl's description of the strange land, the children could have been Flemish orphans, potentially from a nearby place known as Fornham St. Martin, which was separated from Woolpit by the River Lark. Many Flemish immigrants came over during the 12th century, however, many were persecuted during the reign of King Henry II, in 1173, many of them were killed near Bury St. Edmunds.

Some investigators believe that if the Green Children of Woolpit were in fact Flemish immigrants on the run, and if they had fled into Thetford Forest, it may have seemed like a permanent twilight to the terrified children. It is also possible that they may have entered into one of the many underground mine passages in the area, before eventually being led to Woolpit. The local villagers at the time would have certainly thought it strange if two children wearing Flemish clothing whilst speaking a foreign language arrived in their locality.

Could The Green Children of Woolpit Have Been Extraterrestrials?

Many other researchers over the years have claimed that the children likely came from another world. Robert Burton suggested in his 1621 book, The Anatomy of Melancholy that the Green Children of Woolpit "fell from heaven," this led many to speculate that they were of alien origins.

Artists depiction of the Green Children of Woolpit
Artists depiction of the Green Children of Woolpit

In 1966, an astronomer by the name of Duncan Lunan published an article in the magazine, Analog, where he hypothesized that the children had been transported to Woolpit accidentally from their extraterrestrial home planet, which might be trapped in synchronous orbit around its sun, presenting the conditions for life only in a narrow twilight zone between a fiercely hot surface and a frozen dark side. He included these claims again in his 2012 book, Children from the Sky.

Since being recorded, the story of the Green Children of Woolpit has been a source of debate for eight centuries. We may never know the exact facts behind the tale, however, the story has been the inspiration for many novels, poems, operas, and plays all across the world. Panspermia hypothesis - the theory that life came from the stars.


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