Mysteries, Oddities, and Everything Strange: Beast of Exmoor


Bridget Vaughan, Staff Writer

Beast of Exmoor: Great Britain’s Urban Legend

The United Kingdom in itself is a rather odd place. With a rich history of monarchs and wars and religious struggles, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, composed of England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland, has its own fair share of oddities and urban legends—and I’m not talking about the bad teeth. An odd cat calls Devon and Somerset counties home, a mysterious creature with a thirst for livestock and a fear of humans. This giant feline, known as the Beast of Exmoor, is a complete and utter conundrum for the residents who were so blessed to have witnessed it. But what exactly is this stray tom doing, wandering about the English countryside? Is it truly a creature of supernatural origins, or is it just an escaped house cat? Is it a mutated wild animal or is it a fleeing zoo exhibit?

From eyewitness accounts, the Beast of Exmoor is described as a large cat-like animal, resembling a panther. It is four-legged and about 3 feet tall by 4 feet long, with black, tan, and dark-gray fur and white markings. It has accelerated abilities, including a quickened speed and a larger leap. If it sounds far-fetched for a creature like this to reside in the marshy English land, it’s because it probably is. Nothing even remotely similar has been reported to live in the area, which could signify it as an invasive species—or something not of this world.

The first sightings of the Beast of Exmoor were reported in the 1970s, but the most renowned comes from a farmer who had over 100 of his cattle slaughtered over the course of three months with similar fatal wounds. People have reported it to live nearby the old mines in the area and gather food from the lake using its paws. From then on, mysterious farm animal deaths were continuously blamed on the Beast, no matter their nature. The Daily Express placed a bounty on the creature’s head, eager for a good story and to hand out funds to anyone who could photograph or even kill the strange wanderer.

Eventually, the reports of cattle deaths had grown to a noticeable excess. It caught the eyes of the government of Great Britain, who deployed troops to scope out the situation. The marines sent out to investigate did report some glimpses of the creature, but no action was taken and nothing was recovered of the mission. The soldiers reported an extremely intelligent and stealthy being, who used the nearby shrubbery for cover. The marines were called back, but cattle killings continued to be reported up through the 21st century and the Somerset and Devon counties continued to be a concern of the government of Great Britain for decades to come.

So little is truly known about the Beast of Exmoor roaming the English mainland. This could be due to the lack of its existence, or it could be of its scarcity. Those who believe in the Beast of Exmoor claim that its enigma is only due to its rarity, and its stealth skyrockets it into local urban legend. The “famous-yet-elusive beast of Exmoor,” dubbed so by the BBC, will be a part of local English folklore for decades to come. And until we can get a clear shot of this big cat, it will remain a big part of cryptid culture. And God save the queen!