Two eye-witness accounts of the Hethersett Faines –“I thought it was two boys, one on the other’s shoulders playing a prank, but then I realised it wasn’t…”

Not only does Weird Norfolk recount tales of the unusual and inexplicable in the county, it also collects new stories such as these, of the Hethersett Faines.

We published the story of the Faines some time ago: on the excellent Hidden East Anglia website, under a section about creatures related to Black Shuck, there is a strange little snippet. “The Faines: These were animals the size of calves with saucer eyes which frequented Hethersett,” it says, “one of them kept on the Mill Road and the other, which my informant met 25 years ago, the Gravel Pit Lane.” This information, Hidden East Anglia reveals, is from Walter Rye’s Recreations of a Norfolk Antiquary, published in 1920. At the time, we mentioned that this was the only account Weird Norfolk could find about the mysterious Faines but that we would love to hear more: and quickly, the eye-witness accounts arrived.

One of Weird Norfolk’s Facebook followers (do join us) contacted us with his own story of an encounter with the Faines which happened 30 years ago as he cycled to work at Brooks’ meat factory at 5.30am. He wrote: “At the top end of Henstead Road it goes sharp left then about 100-200 yards on turns sharp right.

“As I approached the left hand bend my bike lights dimmed just after a car passed me - as I got round the bend, I could make out a large black shape in middle of road. I slowed down and it disappeared. Then I looked to my right and this huge rough-coated dog was padding beside me. I was on a racing bike and the dog was level with my shoulder... It looked like a deerhound or wolfhound but I couldn’t see the head of the animal and it made no sound which was unusual as it was padding on a road.”

“It stayed with me until I got round the right hand bend when it just disappeared in the darkness. As this happened my lights became brighter and another car passed me. Both cars [I saw that day] were driven by people I worked with, so I mentioned to them about the large dog in the road but neither of them had seen anything. The hedges were quite thick and had wire fences behind as they contained sheep. At no point did I feel frightened and the sheep made no noise - if the dog had got into the field it would have spooked them.”

Some time later, the witness was volunteering at the Norwich Beer Festival and, as they cleared up, got chatting with another volunteer. “He found out I came from Hethersett and, without telling him my story or even mentioning large dogs in country lanes, he told me about an experience he had on Hethersett Memorial Playing Field,” he wrote. “Late one night while coming through the footpath from Canns Lane, which leads on to the park, he saw a large shape in front of him. He thought it was two boys, one on the other’s shoulders playing a prank, but as he approached he realised it wasn’t two boys but a huge rough-coated dog.”

“As he walked along the path heading towards the Recreation Road entrance the dog kept with him about 50ft into the field. If he sped up, so did the dog. If he slowed down, so did the dog. He went behind the pavilion but when he came out the other end, it was still there. When he passed behind the brick toilet block it had vanished he then, in his own words, “must have been bloody mad” because he went and looked for the dog. It had disappeared. The visibility was good, it was a clear night and believe me you can see a long way across the park. He said if it had moved further out its shape would still have been visible, but it had just vanished.

“He also said that he could see the dog’s head but it didn’t have the large saucer eyes that it’s sometimes seen with. It has intrigued me ever since - I have used both the park and the road many times since but have never seen it again.”

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