Dark History

Yeth Hounds, Lost Souls of Dartmoor

Yeth Hounds, Lost Souls of Dartmoor

JON KANEKO-JAMES explores the vicious legend of English Yeth Hounds – the demonic spirits of dead babies and the lost


1942 was a terrible year for snow. RAF Davidstowe Moor records a significant spike in crashes wrecks due to bad weather. It was a dark time for the allies, but for one anti-aircraft gunner, time weren’t just dark. They were haunting.

Private Jack James was heading back for his bed, looking out over the moors, when he saw a mass of black spots. They were a long way off, but moving quickly, cutting across his path, lapping over one of the rolling white fields. Sheep and cows were a fairly common sight on the Cornish moors, but herds didn’t move so quickly or purposefully as that. This something much more dangerous than a herd, this was a pack.

Yell Hounds. Yeth Hounds. Wish Hounds. They’ve got many names and they appear all over Britain: in the North of England, Sussex and the West Country. Strange hounds with glowing eyes, baying on the Moors. Bringing back the kind of primal fear that we British have now forgotten: the fear of being outnumbered by predators, cornered and taken down. The fear of being forcibly returned to the animal world.

“the darkest secret of the Yeth Hounds’ origin story … it’s said they are spirits themselves: the stillborn children, terminated pregnancies and unbaptised babies …”

The worst thing is that they aren’t just monsters and predators: the Yeth Hounds are us, or at least they could have been.

There are many myths about the Yeth Hounds (deriving their names from an archaic spelling/pronunciation of the word ‘heath.’) They are said to be the servants of the devil, or the denizens of the Wild Hunt, pursuing travellers unlucky to be caught out at night on the moors. They say if the huntsman catches a sight of you he can pursue you, carrying you off to faraway lands. If you’re lucky enough not to be torn apart by the dogs then speaking of what you’ve seen is still death.

The Yeth hounds are terrible, blacker than black. Their cry is the cry of the banshee: to hear it means death within a week. Worst of all, they can be seen to be hurtling across the moors at times, chasing something invisible through the night.

This is the darkest secret of the Yeth Hounds’ origin story, because it’s said that they don’t just hunt spirits, they are spirits themselves: the stillborn children, terminated pregnancies and unbaptised babies. All those who are born and die unbaptised become spirits on the moors, lost forever. Worst of all, they become the eternal, hellish hunt, finding the lost souls of other lost children to becomes hounds themselves.

Perhaps the only hope for the lonely traveller is to have been born at midnight. They say that a baby born at midnight in Cornwall will hear ‘The Gabriel’ or ‘Yell’ Hounds, and that baby will have power over the supernatural.


JON KANEKO-JAMES is one half of Boo Tours, which runs ghost and supernatural tours around London, including talks about human skin covered books. Check out Boo Tours website is here. JON also has a new ebook, The Sleepless Man, which is a gritty urban fantasy exploring the suburban hell and squalid desire of the Selkie Wife myth. For more details visit here.


View Comments (3)

3 Comments

  1. Pingback: Yeth Hounds, Lost Souls of the Moors | The Devil's Davenport

  2. MLA

    19th October 2014 at 7:32 am

    I object to being FORCED to “share” your article before I even know if it’s worth sharing. So I won’t be either reading it, or sharing it.

  3. Pingback: Monster of the Week: Hellhounds | The Supernatural Fox Sisters

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Dark History
@Jon_KJWriter

Jon Kaneko-James is a London-based writer, with a particular interest in the history of magic and the medieval church. He works as a tour guide at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre and maintains his own small guiding company called Boo Tours.

More in Dark History

St-Lucifer

Route 666, On The Trail Of The Devil In Ireland

Ann O'Regan30th August 2015
Old-Autopsy

Testimony of the Dead BOOK EXTRACT from Haunted Kirkcaldy

Guest Writer26th August 2015
Scary-Pig

The Dolocher, Dublin’s Night-Prowling Demonic Pig

Ann O'Regan19th August 2015
Crime-800x666

Britian’s Most Notorious Unsolved Deaths

Nia Jones26th July 2015
Matthew-Hopkins

East Anglia gets Witch Fever!

Josie Palmer21st July 2015
Richard-Cabells-Tomb

Devon’s Notorious Squire Richard Cabell

Guest Writer17th July 2015
Vincent Price in Witchfinder General

Who was the real Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins?

Barry McCann14th June 2015
Derby County FC 1946

The Curse of Derby County

Michael S. Collins4th June 2015
Lord-Lucan-and-Veronica

10 historic disappearances that are still a mystery

Nia Jones3rd June 2015
The-grave-of-William-Shakespeare

The curse of William Shakespeare’s skull

Pollyanna Jones16th May 2015
St-Nicholas-Church-in-Great-Yarmouth

Ghastly tale of Great Yarmouth’s greatest grave robber

Josie Palmer2nd May 2015
Knowlton-Henge

Christianity and Paganism clash at Dorset’s mysterious Knowlton Henge

Richard Phillips-Jones1st May 2015