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Orford Castle, Suffolk England

Wild Man of Orford

Orford Castle resides in Suffolk within Southeast England not too far from the sea near Orford Ness. All that remains today is the magnificent keep, which has been described as one of the most remarkable in England. It was built by Henry II during the 12th century to consolidate his power in the region. Not long after the keep was constructed, it held a “wild man” described as a merman who was taken from the sea. He caused quite a sensation by prompting many to create carvings of wild men in local area churches using baptismal fonts.

As Richard Jones tells the story ...

“There is little today to suggest what a prosperous port Orford once was, save the ruins of its mighty castle built in 1165 by Henry II. It was to this imposing fortress that a group of agitated fishermen brought a most remarkable catch. Having spent a day trawling the waters off the Suffolk coast, they noticed that their nets were unusually heavy, and they discovered a strange creature caught up amongst the fish.

It resembled a man, but its naked body was covered with hair; it had a long, shaggy beard and a bald crown atop its head. Over the days that followed, the castle governor, Bartholomew de Granville, attempted to communicate with his strange prisoner, but to no avail. Apart from a few grunts, the Wild Man of Orford, as he became known, would say nothing. They fed him a diet of raw fish from which he would always wring out the moisture before eating. They even took him to a service at Orford Church, and were perturbed to discover the sacraments meant nothing to him. However, he seemed relatively happy at the castle and did not attempt to escape, even when he was taken out to sea for a swim. After a few months he began to grow restless. One day, when his guardians took him for his customary swim, he slipped beneath the surface and was never seen again.”

Myths and Legends of Britain and Ireland

This story was taken from the book "Myths and Legends of Britain and Ireland" by Richard Jones. We would like to thank Richard for graciously allowing us to use his text on Great Castles for some of the stories presented on this site. You can find other stories by Mr. Jones on his web site, Haunted Britain.

About the Myths and Legends of Britain and Ireland book: The landscape of Britain and Ireland has been the inspiration for myths and legends for centuries. From ancient kings to infamous murderers, this book will open your eyes to the magic and history to be found on your doorstep. In Myths and Legends of Britain and Ireland, author Richard Jones travels the length and breadth of Britain and Ireland, discovering haunted woodland, crumbling castles and mysterious folklore. The book explains and describes the stories behind and places associated with such famous characters as Robin Hood and the mystical fairies and monstrous animals that inhabit these enchanted lands.