Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W Is for the Woolpit Green Children

This month I'm participating in the A to Z ChallengeMy theme this year is Unsolved Mysteries. Today's letter is:




It was harvest time in the mid-12th century when villagers discovered two children beside one of the wolf pits. They had an odd color that many described as green. They spoke an unknown language and their clothing was unfamiliar to the villagers.



The villagers took them in and began feeding them. Soon they lost their green color and began to acclimate. Unfortunately, the boy died soon after being baptized.


Sign in the village, erected in 1977. Photo credit: Wikipedia

The older sister found a way to communicate with the villagers. She explained they were brother and sister, from "the land of St. Martin." In St. Martin, she explained, it was always twilight and everything was green.


Illustration by Randolph Caldecott. Photo credit: Wikipedia

She told the villagers that one day, she and her brother followed the sound of some bells, somehow made their way into a cave, and were later discovered near the wolf pit.



Some say the language the children were speaking may have been Flemish, since many immigrants were in the area at the time. They believe the children were green due to a disease known as hypochromic anemia, otherwise known as "green disease." That would explain why the green tinge would have disappeared once they began eating. 



But some have more other-worldly explanations. Is it possible the land of St. Martin actually exists? Or were the two children merely malnourished?

⬅️ V Is for Vermont's Bennington Triangle

69 comments:

  1. Malnourished and a bit delusional from a lack of food, I'd say.

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    1. Oh you scientifically-minded people! :-)

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  2. Perhaps the land of St. Martin doesn't exist yet. Perhaps they are refugees from a far distant future world where everyone is force fed the Twilight films. Entering the cave triggered a time disturbance, sending them back in time.
    I think either that or they were lost immigrant, dazed and confused.

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    1. You have quite the imagination!

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    2. I'm a writer. That's kind of my job. ;)

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  3. I was surprised the villagers took them in. Since they were green and spoke a different language I was afraid the villagers were going to be afraid of them and kill them.

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    1. I could see that...especially since some people fear things they don't understand. If it happened today, they'd turn them over to doctors who'd study them, diagnose anemia, and have them cured in a few days!

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    1. It does...but the people in the area still tell it today!

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  5. I think the malnourished story is most likely. Along with hallucinations from hunger or perhaps an imagination strong enough to block out whatever horrors they had really faced
    Debbie

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    1. That is likely the truth. Which makes you wonder about the stories in the Bible. When true historical events become legend, they seem to become a little magical in their retelling. Our scientific minds today don't allow us to create legends like that...which I think causes us to miss some of the magic of life.

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  6. This does sound like a fairy tale that you might tell kids so they will eat?

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  7. Yeah, I agree--it sounds like a fairy tale. Kind of like "Twilight" without the vampires.

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    1. That's the second mention of Twilight today...and I just now got it! I'm not much of a Twilight fan, if you can't tell...

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  8. The human body can turn some funny colours due to illness!
    Sophie
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles | Wittegen Press | FB3X

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    1. Yes, and I can imagine back then it was quite alarming. They couldn't Google symptoms like we can!

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  9. Sounds like the kids got diseased and sent away. Worthy of strange tales

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    1. I hadn't thought of them being sent away, but you're right! They probably were sent away because they were turning green.

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  10. Another great mystery tale. It could be the sort of story a parent might tell a child to make him eat!

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    1. Someone also said that above--I think you guys have a great idea there!

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  11. What an interesting mystery! I supposed it was that particular form of anemia, but I like the idea of St Martins instead. Maybe it was a bit of both.

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    1. St. Martins does sound like an interesting place!

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  12. I think something strange must have happened to those kids. What happened to their parents. I know they could have disappeared or died but still this story just has something really eerie about it. I do believe the kids were actually sick and malnourished though.

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    1. You do have to wonder why their parents never came looking for them. Someone above said maybe they were sent away because they'd turned green...people thought they had some sort of disease others might catch?

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  13. This is a tale I'm a little familiar with. It's something where you kind of want to believe something extraordinary, but in reality, it's probably not that fantastic.

    ~Ninja Minion Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

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    1. I think these tales live decade after decade because people do want to believe that there are magical worlds!

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  14. How extraordinary. Totally intrigued, what a great choice for your challenge.

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    1. Thank you, Tracy! I believe there's a book (or a few!) out there about it.

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  15. That would make an excellent story if they did come from somewhere "other", but malnutrition makes a lot more sense.

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  16. For the most part there is always an explanation for things. It's finding that explanation.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  17. Hansel and Gretel there ate the witch. That's why they were green! :)

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  18. Nah, I like the idea of St. Martin and living in a green forest.

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  19. Saw this on Mysteries At The Castle. They were malnourished and had eaten a lot of plants. The girl survived and eventually had a normal color. It was an interesting story.

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  20. There's a story here.......

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  21. Odd story. I go with science. But interesting tale the kids told.

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  22. Stephanie: this is fascinating! I'm a skeptic through-and-through and I suspect they were just anemic kids who came from a tiny, hidden hamlet. I'm glad the 12th century people who found them didn't decide they were demons or witches, and kill them!

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  23. I always thought that green folks were from Mars. Never heard of St. Martin. There are lots of vitamin related diseases out there.

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  24. There's always a scientific explanation

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  25. Fascinating! What a great post - magic :)

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  26. I have heard about blue people, but not green~ I am happy there is a scientific reason~ So, sad though about the boy!

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  27. It's how folklore begins. The condition makes a lot of sense about being anemic, etc. :)

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  28. Christine's comment made me laugh :) Great post, Stephanie. I find the real life photo a bit eerie.

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  29. There were major changes occurring in both religion and society at the time. Flemings were among those persecuted and who likely went into hiding - perhaps even underground where it might always be twilight. Add to that a diet of only greens...

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    1. Didn't Susan Dey once get orange fingers from eating too many raw carrots?

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  30. This would make a great movie- maybe they had liver disease

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  31. This would make a great movie- maybe they had liver disease

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  32. Fascinating story. Great A-Z theme. Been busy this year, so haven't visited you until now. Maui Jungalow

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  33. I think I'm good with the lost from family anemia story, but the mysterious part is much more fun for a story at the pub.

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  34. Thank you for visiting my blog. This is fascinating (and no, I hadn't heard of the legend). The Randolph Caldecott illustration was a bonus. I have one Facebook friend with a medical background - I wonder what he will make of this.

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  35. This is a very cool fact. I like the whole idea, especially the boy dying from a baptism...that adds a whole different level to the "creepiness" of the story.

    Thanks
    Stu
    A to Z
    Tale Spinning
    www.stuartnager.wordpress.com

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  36. How interesting. They were probably mal-nourished and abandoned or lost. The photo of the three sets of legs, one with the greenish cast is amazing. I've never heard of hypochromic anemia.

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  37. Where would St. Martin be?

    Love,
    Janie

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  38. As others have said, it does have a fairy tale feel. Maybe they were malnourished and it spawned a fable?

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  39. What an interesting story. Sometimes real life is stranger than fiction.

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  40. I've seen those children featured on Mysteries at the Museum or something similar. At first they were thought to be alien. . .after all they were green. It seemed it was as you said a type of deficiency.

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  41. That is interesting! I wonder if this is where the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields gets its name.

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  42. Oooh, that is some freaky stuff! I wonder if the expression "green around the gills" is related to this tale?

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  43. Oooh, that is some freaky stuff! I wonder if the expression "green around the gills" is related to this tale?

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  44. The green disease sounds logical. The rest sounds more like a myth passed down through the centuries. Makes a great story though!

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  45. It's too bad that DNA testing wasn't around then. That could've offered more clues. I just feel sad to know the boy died.

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  46. I suspect malnourished and foreign and willing to perpetuate the myth to remain "special" and hence fed.
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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  47. Sounds like this would make a great novel! At any rate, the green-thing is freaky and reading this gave me chills. This may be the best one yet!

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  48. I had heard about this in my book of Unsolved mysteries and always wondered about this. Now that I know about the green colour due to malnourishment, I could see this be a case and they may have traveled far. It is neat and weird that there have been no other type who were green ever.

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