Mysterious hoofprints

I remember reading somewhere about a mysterious line of hoofprints (like horse prints) that had just appeared in the countryside somewhere ( I think it was New England but don’t quote me). Apparently they just proceeded in a straight line over hedges, on rooftops, and such, with no evidence of how it had happened. I ain’t gonna say it was a mysterious supernatural beastie…but then again, I’m not gonna say it wasn’t, either. Could someone refresh my memory and let me on any Straight Dope that has appeared on this incident? :confused:

The best known case was that of the Devil’s Footprints in Devon, England, in 1855, which were supposed to go on for miles, meandering on through several villages. One explanation that sounds pretty plausible to me is that is was the footprints of small animals, distorted from melting and refreezing.

YES! That’s what I was thinking of…thank you for giving me the name of it…but could small animals’ footprints freeze in such a line?

I have tried to find a decent link, but all that turned up are either too credulous or dismissive without giving alternate theories. There’s a story in the Skeptical Inquirer, 1996 (not online). And my attention span has run out.

Me, I don’t know enough about either critter prints or the physics of melting and refreezing to offer a useful opinion. However, I don’t think snow is too too common in that part of Britain, so that something that would look commonplace to someone from a wintery clime might really catch the attention of someone unfamiliar with snow tracks. Squirrels and birds, hell, a lot of critters, can clamber over hedges and up roofs. The tracks were not in a straight line as in an as-the-crow-flies straight line by any means, and perhaps they became more contiguous with each retelling.

As usual in these threads, I’m afraid my job is to throw cold water on the thin ice of the existence of ghosts (which explains why there is such a lot of hot air talked by parapychologists :slight_smile: ).

You are welcome to put ‘haunted house’ into:

You will discover an interminable number of ghostly reports, which have one thing in common.

No evidence.

I’m all for scientific investigations of claims.
But every time scientists investigate haunted houses, they find nothing.
No noises, drops in temperatures, ghostly visions.

P.S. if you really want gullibility, try:

Accrding to them, there is also a Loch Ness monster. :rolleyes:

Maybe it is your job, glee, but what does that have to do with what Sam Hell asked?:


the motto of the Straight Dope is to fight ignorance.

Sam Hell said ‘I ain’t gonna say it was a mysterious supernatural beastie…but then again, I’m not gonna say it wasn’t, either.’

Well I can tell him (and you) it wasn’t a ‘mysterious supernatural beastie’.

If you examine the link I gave:

you will find enthusiastic support for the hoofprints from a group that also believe in the Loch Ness monster.
Unfortunately, as I emphasised, they have precisely zero evidence for either.

Do you believe in dowsing? :wink:

Paraphrasing the movie Ghostbusters:

  • “Do you believe in Ghosts, ESP, poltergeists, the lock ness monster, and the lost city of Atlantis?”
  • Lady, if you give me the job, I’ll believe in anything!!”

In this current market, I feel that way! :frowning:

But I am digressing to my job situation; lets go back to subject:’s_devil.htm

It happens on occasion that the best source to debunk something comes from the very believers of fortean reports; I noticed this happening before with the moon hoax, Noah’s ark etc. One could think evidence like that helps their position, but in their opinion it hurts them; hence the debunking of very shaky reports. (Kinda like reasonable conservatives dumping on Ann Coulter) [sub]– ow! ow! ow! I am sorry Manny! Ow! Stop throwing me that chalk!- [/sub] :wink:
I needed to explain all that because the quoted site is very credulous in other phenomena, please pay no attention to other subjects there, unless you are doing research on what the other side is doing. . .

Or getting a job. . .


Beautiful work, GIGObuster


you won’t be surprised to hear that ‘Devonshire, England’ is not a small town. It covers several thousand square miles - because Devon is a county of England.

(Note that many counties do have shire on the end, but not this one.)

Ah, the seconds of painstaking research that these ghostbusters put in… :rolleyes:

Most excellent research, GIGObuster. Just what I was looking for and couldn’t find.
No, glee, I don’t believe in dowsing (or ghosts either). I do believe that what GIGObuster posted was what the OP was asking for though, not your opinion on the matter.:rolleyes:

Well, some nitpicks glee:

  1. I am on your side.

  2. The exaggerated reports of the phenomenon even did go so far to describe trackers following the tracks through the countryside for miles, hence the reason why many occult sources called that case the “Devonshire Devil” And how big that was that town 150 years ago?

  3. Therefore it was Opal’s mistake [sub]– Opal. . . put. . .that. . . chalk . . . down![/sub] I mean: calling it the Devonshire Devil was the mistake of the occult phenomena proponents.

[Inspired by Benkman:]
Back off man, I am certified!! :slight_smile:

[sub]I just passed my A+ friday, now, here I go to get a good job! [/sub]

The Invisible Pink Unicorn did it (may her hooves never be shod). :slight_smile:

Look, England itself doesn’t even cover several thousand of square miles. We’re not very big, y’know.

Good point though.

Just one more nitpick: please do not assign to me that quote of the “small town of Devonshire, England”: that is the quote from the paranormal crowd, and their mistake. Not mine.

If only glee had edited his quote for a few more painstaking seconds. . . :rolleyes:


Dear GIGObuster,

My apologies. :o

Your research was impeccable.

Of course I didn’t mean to put that ‘ghostbusters’, such as yourself, had spent minimal time on the subject.
I realised that it was the paranormal guys who had made the mistake.
Therefore I should have typed ‘believers in ghosts’.

Perhaps a ghost directed my typing :eek:

(Note that there never has been a town called Devonshire, nor even a county - that’s called Devon.)

Um, London alone is about 1,000 square miles. I think you’ll find this sceptered isle is bigger* than you think!

(*England is about 50,000 square miles, Devon is about 2,500 square miles)

No problem glee, this however leaves a loose end: which city in Devon had the misfortune of having this rabbit pass through town? Or should I say fortune? If the Lock Ness is a tourist attraction because of the “famous” monster, I wonder if a city in Devon is still boasting about their weird phenomena.

Colin Wilson’s really credulous and fabulously entertaining book “Unsolved Mysteries” has a map in his chapter on the Devil’s Footprints. It shows Exmouth, Withycombe Raleigh, E. Budleigh, Bicton, Woodbury, Clyst St. George, Topsham, Powderham, Kenton, Starcross, Mamhead, Dawlish, Luscombe, Teignmouth, Newton Abbot, Torquay, and Totnes.

:::must…resist…urge to read P.G. Wodehouse novels…

I was so outraged by your contradicting me that I went out and measured it.

Unfortunately you appear to be right. Jings. Who’dathunkit? I was confused by the fact that it’s only 400 miles from here to London. I do not and have never approved of the concept of square miles.


Thank you for being so gracious about my posting.
You are a scholar and a gentleman (or lady - delete as appropriate).

Thanks for filling in the town names. :cool:
It’s a shame the footprints didn’t reach Thorgunby Weldrake! (which I think is in Yorkshire)

But why wouldn’t anyone want to read P.G.Wodehouse :confused:

No worries, mate!