Ancient mystery returns as 'Satan's hoofprints' are spotted in Devon back garden
By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 1:42 PM on 13th March 2009
A 150-year-old mystery has reared its head after a woman woke to find 'Satan's hoofprints' dotted across freshly fallen snow in her back garden.
The single track of cloven-like prints - which appear to have been made by a two-legged creature - precisely resemble footprints recorded in the area in 1855.
The phenomenon, which has never been explained, became known as the 'Devil's foot prints' in a local legend.
Unexplained: The imprints appear to have been made by a two-legged creature but scientists are not yet sure of the culprit
The new tracks appeared in fresh snow in Jill Wade's back garden on March 5th.
Grandmother Jill, 76, of Woolsery, Devon, said: 'I looked in the garden and it really intrigued me.
'I couldn't believe it - the footprints were in the shape of a cloven hoof. There were no other marks at all in the snow.
'I was quite surprised by it and I hadn't got a clue what it was, but I thought I would love to know.'
Legend: The original 'Devil's Footprints' appeared after light snowfall in 1855 and travelled from Exmouth to Topsham in Devon, even scaling rooftops
Scientists from the Centre for Fortean Zoology inspected the prints which measure 5ins (13cm) long with a stride of between 11 and 17ins (28 and 43cm).
Jonathan Downes, who runs the centre, is investigating whether the footprints could have been left by a hare or rabbits hopping on their hind legs.
Villagers blamed the church for letting the devil into their communities
He said: 'Thousands of people across the world believe in the paranormal, but so far every single thing we have looked into has turned out to have a natural explanation. I'm sure these will as well.
'Do I believe that the Devil comes from the pits of Hell to wander around the gardens of North Devon? Of course not.
'But if you're asking if there are things that can't be explained by modern science, then yes. But human knowledge is expanding all the time.
'I believe that things that are currently put down to the paranormal will one day be explained by science.'
The original 'Devil's footprints' appeared after a light snowfall on February 8th, 1855, and travelled from Exmouth to Topsham in Devon - even crossing the estuary of the River Exe.
The tracks reportedly continued unbroken for 100 miles - appearing on both sides of 14-foot walls and locked gates.
Some villagers blamed the church, who had recently changed the standard prayer book, for letting the devil into their communities.
Others blamed animals, pranksters, and even a weather balloon - but the phenomenon, described as the 'great Devon mystery', was never explained.