In this article we will be looking at the ancient account of the Green Children of Woolpit which dates back to the 12th century…
The Green Children
The ancient account starts with the green children ( a young boy and his sister ) being spotted in a field at the entrance to a wolf pit. A group of reapers were working their way through the daily routine when they stumbled across the strange children.
Their skin had a mysterious green coloring to it and their clothes were made out of material that the reapers had not come across before.
When the reapers started to question the children they replied in a language that was unintelligible so they were taken down to the local village.
Sir Richard de Caine
None of the villagers could make any sense out of what the children were trying to say and they were eventually taken home by a local landowner named Sir Richard de Caine.
It was obvious to de Caine that the children were completely starving so he offered them some good, nutritious food. The children would not touch anything put in front of them.
News of their eating situation soon spread throughout the village and a few local farmers turned up with some fresh beans. This seemed to do the trick and the children devoured them at once.
The green children continued to eat just beans for the next few months of their life until they eventually developed a taste for bread.
The boy tragically fell ill within a few months of their stay at the village and died soon after.
His sister seemed to thrive in her new surroundings and became stronger and stronger by the day. She eventually lost the strange green shade to her skin to a much more human color.
Within time she learned how to enjoy traditional food and even caught on to the English language. She eventually married a man from Norfolk and took the name ‘Agnes Barre’.
When she was able to speak English fluently she began to tell the strange tale of her and her brother’s origins…
The Strange Land
She claimed that her and her brother originated from the “Land of Saint Martin” which was in a perpetual twilight. All of the inhabitants of this land had the same strange green hue to their skin.
When living in Saint Martin she claimed that they could see a strange luminous land across the river but nobody ever attempted to travel there.
Her and her brother were in charge of their father’s flock when they stumbled across a strange cave on their land. Curiosity got the better of them and they entered the cave and started walking.
The cave seemed to go on and on for miles when suddenly they exited into bright sunlight. The children had never encountered sunlight before so they were stunned and could not move.
This is when the reapers came across them and rescued them from their disorientation.
Theories & Explanations
There have been numerous theories over the centuries put forward to explain this strange account.
Their green coloring has led many skeptics to the conclusion that they were suffering from Hypochromic Anemia. This condition is the result of a poor diet and would explain why the girl lost her color when she developed a more ‘human’ diet.
Another theory is that the children were Flemish orphans, possibly from a nearby place known as Fornham St. Martin, which was separated from Woolpit by the River Lark.
There were large numbers of Flemish immigrants in Britain at the time but they were constantly being persecuted by Henry II. During one massacre the Flemish had all fled into the safety of Thetford Forest.
This forest was an extremely dark place and children being brought up there would have no real idea what sunlight was. They would also have been dressed in strange Flemish attire and spoke the Flemish language.
Then there are those who believe that the children originated from another planet. In 1966 an astronomer named Duncan Lunan hypothesized that the children had slipped dimensions from their planet and ended up near Woolpit.
The Green Children of Woolpit
This account has been the basis of many different poems, plays and novels over the centuries. It’s a mystery that has traveled all over the world in various forms of story. The real facts behind the story may never be known but it continues to capture the imagination of anyone who hears it.
If you have any thoughts or opinions on the Green Children of Woolpit please leave them in the comment section below.