"Considerable sensation has been caused in the towns of Topsham, Lymphstone, Exmouth, Teignmouth, and Dawlish, in Devonshire, in consequence of the discovery of a vast number of foot tracks of a most strange and mysterious description." (London Times, February 16th, 1855)
9 February 1855, a set of mysterious footprints appeared in the snow of an uncommonly harsh winter in Devon, Southern England. The tracks varied in width between 1.5 to 2.5'' and were seen in regular intervals of 8'' apart, as if "not less than a thousand one-legged kangaroos, each shod with a very small horseshoe, ... have marked that snow of Devonshire"
|An artist's interpretation of the events|
The hoof-like marks became quickly known as the "Devil's Footprints" and caused quite a stir not only in South West England but in the whole of the country. Armed bands gathered together and tried to track down whatever had left the spoor - even "Old Nick" was rumoured to walk the countryside, hence the name - but to no avail.
Various explanations were given as an explanation, from the mandatory weather balloon to jumping field mice and runaway kangaroos, none proved to be satisfactory to this day. According to UK tabloids, the phenomenon reappeared in 2009 in the same area and is still unexplained.
"Fortean Times" author and historian Mike Dash amassed quite an exhaustive collection of material about the phenomenon:
and more on: