Obscure Modern Monsters: The Freybug

Hound“Now wait a darn minute!” you may find yourself asking. “The Freybug isn’t a modern monster, even if it’s obscure. It’s the Norfolk black dog. It got itself a starring role in William O’Connor’s Dracopedia series (which you should review) and even got name-checked as a Hound in Final Fantasy (pictured). It even got its own Wikipedia entry!” You’d be right as usual, good reader. But I would like to draw attention to the dearth of information regarding this Freybug. What is it? Where did it come from? Why was it used in the Dracopedia and Final Fantasy?

It’s all about the name really. Final Fantasy needed another black dog name, and the Dracopedia needed something fancy and frightening for the letter F. Besides, it has the words frey and bug. Two great tastes that taste great together.

As with many obscure creatures, Giants, Monsters, and Dragons is the ultimate source. What does GMaD tell us?

This is the name of a monster in the medieval traditions and folklore of England. It took the form of a monstrous black dog that patrolled the country lanes at night terrifying late travelers and making them flee in horror. It is mentioned in an English manuscript of 1555.

There is only one reference provided, which hilariously is Rose’s other book, Spirits, Fairies, Gnomes, and Goblins. And SFGaG says the following.

This is the name of a demon of the roads in English folk beliefs of the Middle Ages. It was described as a Black Dog fiend and referred to in an English document of 1555.

References? None whatsoever. Dead end. I know I’ve complained about it a lot but I’ll say it again.

Source.

Your.

Damn.

Creatures.

This is the only freybug reference I can consistently find. I have no idea where the Norfolk thing came from, considering Shuck is the Norfolk black dog. And Shuck wouldn’t take well to competition, I’d wager.

As things stand we have only Rose’s word for it that the freybug is from an “English manuscript” from 1555. One that’s conveniently uncited. Unless further evidence surfaces (and I have no doubt Rose has access to all sorts of cool manuscripts) I’m inclined to consider this a Borgesian literary in-joke. And if it is, it certainly would be a modern creature. Quod erat demonsterandum.

6 Comments

  1. The 1555 ref of the Fray-Bug comes from the writings of Lawrence Saunders which were brought together in “The Fathers of the English Church: Or, A Selection from the Writings of the Reformers and Early Protestant Divines of the Church of England. -, Volume 6”. It is unclear what exactly Lawrence was writing about when he says “It fantasieth forsooth much fear of fray-bugs…” but he was being held in a notorious prison at the time and was due to be burnt so it does sound like it was used as a metaphor for his own doubts and fears.

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