Mysterious Events in History Footprints of the Devil Part 1

About the mysterious event in history involving the appearance of the Devil's footprints, possible solutions to the strange occurence.


When: February 8, 1855

Where: Towns in south Devonshire, England (Topsham, Lympstone, Exmouth, Teignmouth, Dawlish)

The Mystery: The snow fell heavily the night of February 8 in Devonshire. The following morning, a baker in Topsham stood in the doorway of his shop. To his amazement, he saw prints, all in a single line, which came to within a yard of his shop, then turned to the right until they reached a 5' brick wall and continued on the top of the wall. The prints were also seen by others on the tops of houses, in enclosed courtyards, in open fields, over hayricks, over 14' walls, over a 2-mi. estuary. The track looked like a small horseshoe, which measured from 1 1/2" to 2" across and about 4" long. The steps were 8" apart, in a single line. In order for one creature to have made all the marks that appeared that morning, it would have had to cover 60 mi. in 13 hours, at an average speed of 9 strides per second.

When the tracks came to a wall, then continued on the top of the wall, the snow was not displaced as it would have been had an animal made a leap. In places, it appeared that the snow had been removed, not pressed down; in others, it seemed that the tracks were branded into the snow.

A letter from an eyewitness said, "It was quite inexplicable that the animal, considering the scale of the foot, should leave, in single file, one print only, and as had already been observed, with intervals exactly preserved as if the prints had been made by a drill or any other mechanical frame.... A scientific friend informed me of his having traced the same prints across a field up to a haystack. The surface of the stack was wholly free from marks of any kind, but on the opposite side of the stack, in a direction exactly corresponding with the tracks thus traced, the prints began again."

Needless to say, the people of Devonshire were frightened out of their wits and were afraid to go outside at night. The newspapers, even those in London, carried stories about the event. The Illustrated London News printed an item from a correspondent in Heidelberg which said that a Polish doctor of medicine had seen similar tracks on a sand hill in Russian Poland, near the border of Galacia. The inhabitants there attributed the tracks to supernatural influences.

The Reverend Mr. Musgrave, in a sermon, suggested that the tracks might be those of a kangaroo. What other animal, he asked could jump like that?

Whatever, the tracks were never seen again.

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