A sketch of the prints
|Theories|| · Ghost|
· Swarm of animals
The Devil's Footprints was a name given to a phenomenon that occurred in February 1855 around the Exe Estuary in East Devon and South Devon, England.
After a heavy snowfall, trails of hoof-like marks appeared overnight in the snow covering a total distance of some 40 to 100 miles. The footprints were so called because some people believed that they were the tracks of Satan, as they were allegedly made by a cloven hoof. Many theories have been put forward to explain the incident, and some aspects of its veracity have also been called into question.
On the night of 8–9 February 1855, after a heavy snowfall, a series of hoof-like marks appeared in the snow. These footprints, most of which measured around four inches long, three inches across, between eight and sixteen inches apart and mostly in a single file, were reported from over thirty locations across Devon and a couple in Dorset. It was estimated that the total distance of the tracks amounted to between 40 and 100 miles. Houses, rivers, haystacks and other obstacles were traveled straight over, and footprints appeared on the tops of snow-covered roofs and high walls which lay in the footprints' path, as well as leading up to and exiting various drain pipes as small as four inches in diameter.
There are several explanations as to what the phenomenon could be. Theories include:
- A ghost
- A swarm of animals
- The devil
- There were also attendant rumours about sightings of a "devil-like figure" in the Devon area during the scare. Many townspeople armed themselves and attempted to track down the beast responsible, without success.