|Orford Castle in 1600|
Some weeks ago, I reprinted a 15th century legend involving a mermaid. As it happens, Orford Castle in Suffolk has an oddly similar tradition about an amphibian "wild man":
A curious story relating to Orford is told by Ralph of Coggeshall (abbot of the monastery there in the early part of the 13th century). Some fishermen on this coast (A.D. 1161) caught in their nets one stormy day a monster resembling a man in size and form, baldheaded, but with a long beard. It was taken to the Governor of Orford Castle, and kept for some time, being fed on raw flesh and fish, which it "pressed with its hands" before eating. The soldiers in the Castle used to torture the unhappy monster in divers fashions "to make him speak;" and on one occasion, when it was taken to the sea to disport itself therein, it broke through a triple barrier of nets and escaped. Strange to say, not long afterwards it returned of its own accord to its captivity; but at last, "being wearied of living alone, it stole away to sea and was never more heard of." A tradition of this monster, known as "the wild man of Orford," still exists in the village.~Publications of the Folk-Lore Society, Volume 37 (1895) citing Francis Grose, "Antiquities of England and Wales," Volume 3.