Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Dartmoor: The Legend of Cutty Dyer

The moors in Dartmoor cover 368 square miles. This area located in the South Devon countryside in England is considered to be one of the spookiest places on earth.

These moors misty bleakness and changeable weather conditions are most likely responsible for this reputation. Because of this, the area has inspired an incredible assortment of myths, legends and ghost tales--notably Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Hound of The Baskervilles.

In the future, I will share more of these tales.

One myth told by the locals in the town of Ashburton that sits on the border of Dartmoor  is a cautionary tale told to children and drunks to warn them about misbehavior and being too close to the water.

The story of Ashburton’s Cutty Dryer--sometimes spelled “Kutty.” is its most popular myth.

An Evil Water Sprite

Cutty Dyer is an evil little water sprite or ogre that lives under bridges along the Yeo River. One version states he is seen near Williams Crossing and the town hall in Ashburton.

Generations of this town’s “naughty” children have been warned to keep away from the Yeo or Cutty Dyer would cut their throats and drink their blood.

Stories about this ogre state he has no fondness for drunks. It is said persons that are inebriated fall victim to the same fate.

One account that describes  Cutty Dyer was published in the “Devonshire Association of Science, Literature, and Art in 1879.

“Old Townspeople of Ashburton recollect well the dread of their lives when children, was a mysterious being supposed to inhabit the river Yeo, with whose displeasure and its undefined consequences they were threatened by parents and nurses as a punishment for disobedience and childish frolics.

To the generation before, namely, to our great grandparents, “Cutty Dyer” was the dread of their more matured years, and was supposed to inflict summary punishment on topers as they reeled with difficulty by night through the dark streets to their houses.”

This account went on to describe what Cutty Dryer looked like.

“He was described by persons who saw him as being very tall, standing in the water to his waist, with red eyes as large as saucers, endeavoring to pull them into the water. When the stream was bridged he remained only a scare to children, and on the streets being lighted disappeared altogether.

 Two Witnesses

Two adult witnesses encountered Cutty Dyer at William Crossing late one night.

The two men were walking along the bank of Yeo when they saw an ogre with “great goggle-eyes, black hair hanging over his shoulders in twisted snake-like locks, a beard of the same color, and teeth like a shark.

Luckily, these two were able to escape unharmed.

This story is still used today in Ashburton as a warning.

In one recent BBC interview the town clerk, John Germon notes that this story worked, for he and his friends when young were so afraid of the water sprite that cut children’s throats, they stayed away from the area.

In another post, I share the tale of La Llorona. This legend is told in New Mexico--it is also used to warn children to stay away from water. How La Llorona does this can be found here.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

I grew up in ashburton and we tickled fish under the stone walls. It was a favourite haunt of ours, to go through town without being seen, we thought ? barefoot in the river.under the houses and bridges to the park. Although it was always a dare to go under Westabrook bridge ! (Picture) he's there somewhere ? Sends shivers up my spine just seeing the bridge !