I ran into this creature while reading a novel and wanted to know if it was invented or based on folklore. It turned out to be the latter.
Rawhead and Bloody Bones / Tommy Rawhead
Rawhead and Bloody Bones
Steals naughty children from their homes,
Takes them to his dirty den,
And they are never seen again.
– Children’s rhyme (Yorkshire/Lancashire)
Bloody bones lives near places of water, sink pipes, under stairs, in cupboards, or in closets. He punishes naughty children by drowning them, or changing them into jam or trash (that gets thrown out by their parents), or eating them. Descriptions vary depending on the telling: sometimes a hairy creature with long claws, an old man covered in scabs, a razor back hog with head yellow eyes and bones for a body, or possibly a shape shifter.
Stories of bloody bones originated in Ireland, spread throughout the UK, and into North America where the belief is more prevalent in the south.
- Jimmy The Fool – A folktale from Ireland involving Rawhead and Bloody Bones
- Raw Head and Bloody Bones – An folktale from Missouri
Related Creatures: boogeyman, Krampus
Region of Origin: Ireland
It seems like parents around the world like to threaten their naughty children with terrifying monsters. Perhaps it is just a small sampling of stories that I’ve found but descriptions of the Bloody Bones seem to be more frightening in North America than in the UK. Did your parents ever threaten you with monsters when you were naughty?