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The Wild Man of Orford

The Wild Man of Orford

Orford in England is a quaint medieval style town that attracts tourists only really for its castle which has stood for over 800 years! It was built in the year 1165 by King Henry II to protect the East Coast of England from invasion, and was the grandest castle in England at the time. Like most old castles it has a few legends to tell, but this is one of the most unusual stories I’ve heard! Do you believe in mermaids and mermen? This tale might make you!

Shortly after the completion of the castle two Orford fishermen were out fishing and felt a very heavy tug in their net. Assuming to have caught a big fish they pulled with all their might until they were able to drag the net on board the ship, only to find a man covered head to toe in hair caught in their net! He is said to have looked as human as any of us except that he had an incredible amount of hair, covering his entire body, almost like a cross between a human and an animal. The startled fishermen asked what on earth he was doing in the sea but found that the man could not speak and merely grunted. Not knowing what to do the fishermen tied the poor wild man up and took him to the castle where the brutish knights sent him to the jail, not caring for his inhuman and ‘savage’ ways. He was treated poorly and they questioned him relentlessly on where he had come from and how he lived but the man would not or perhaps could not say anything. Even when he was whipped he still said nothing and the people in the castle became increasingly curious over this wild man. They were most fascinated by the way he ate the food he was given; you see he was most interested in fish above bread or meat or cheese and he would eat it raw or cooked without hesitation. Furthermore he did not readily drink water from a cup but drained it from the fish into his cupped hands and drank it like that! This man was truly adapted to life in the sea, but how could he have survived?

One day two guards took him for a swim in the local bay and to allow him to bathe but managed to overlook the fact that he was adapted to life in the water and an excellent swimmer. They put up a barrier of netting so that he could not escape but it only went down a certain way and he simply swam underneath it and away, jumping through the water, happy again. The wild man swam away after a moment of rejoicing and was never seen again. This legend may or may not be true or perhaps is exaggerated and without gills or a fish tail it is unlikely that a human could ever survive in the water. Although his body had grown abnormal amounts of hair to deal with the temperatures he nevertheless was able to live and breathe on ground which would defy all logic; then again so would his being a merman! Ultimately we cannot know how much of the tale is truth. Wild men have been found before, babies left in the wild that have been nursed by animals and grown as animals, but for a man to live in the sea seems incredibly strange! What’s your opinion? Do you think he was a merman or was the story made up or is there another explanation? Leave a comment below the article and let us know!


IMAGE: - Reprint of a Medieval tapestry image of the fishermen capturing the wildman.

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