The Devil’s Footprints

If you’ve ever been out just after a light snowfall and looked at the ground completely untouched by footprints or and disturbances you no doubt understand the compelling beauty of it all.  But what if you went outside and found right in front of your house a long series of single file hoof-prints?  It wouldn’t be that strange, but what if these same tracks went up onto roofs, ignored obstacles, and stretched for hundreds of miles without breaking?  Such was the case of the now famous “Devil’s Footprints” discovered in 1855.  And no matter how many theories attempt to finally explain the incident away, none have held up.

The Devil’s footprints were a phenomenon where the otherwise un-disturbed snow would be broken for hundreds of miles by a series of hoof-prints.  But as news came from villages all over that the tracks could not have been made by a conventional creature, many suggested the incident could only have been the work of a supernatural force.  And in relation to the event, this is one of the most widely accepted theories today.

Another theory was that a balloon had been accidentally released still dragging its mooring ropes with horseshoes on them.  As the balloon traveled down wind the horse-shoes impacted the snow even up on top of roofs and left miles worth of incredible tracks.  The men responsible, according to this version of events kept the incident silent because the floating horseshoe had done more than its fair share of damage too and they did not want to be responsible for the scandal.  But this theory falls short as the incident appears to have stretched for quite some distance leaving distinct impressions in the snow unlike the dragging hoof-print that would be left behind from a rope and horseshoe.

Then there is the perhaps even more dubious claim that all of the tracks had been the result of wood mice leaping.  This seems unbelievable because of the great distance and the fact that would mice would not be able to jump onto peoples’ roofs no matter how skilled they were.  A similar theory about a kangaroo came about, but this too was debunked.  And then there’s the theory of mass hysteria.  But over the course of the long distance it’s difficult to imagine that all the people who communicated rarely from village to village managed to spread the hysteria faster than they could have if riding on horseback that afternoon.

But there is one other theory about the mysterious hoof-prints that appeared around Devon, England.  Many residents of the area reported seeing a strange figure in the distance walking around the area with a distinct “devil-like” appearance.  Could this have been a real cryptid that made its way the long distances to terrorize people?

It may not seem like the Devil’s footprints will ever be solved, but in 2009 a similar incident broke through international headlines.  The location?  None other than Devon, England.