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Creatures, Myths & Legends

The strange case of the Cornish Owlman

By T.K. Randall
April 19, 2020 · Comment icon 9 comments

The sightings have centered around Mawnan Church. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 Tim Green
Back in 1976, several reports of a large owl-like creature sparked a legend that continues to endure to this day.
One of the most bizarre creature legends to have arisen out of the south of England, the Owlman (or the Cornish Owlman) was originally reported back in 1976 in the village of Mawnan, Cornwall.

The origins of this mysterious denizen are as questionable as the creature itself, but according to reports, the first to see it were two young girls who had been on holiday in the village on April 17th when they witnessed a "feathered bird-man" hovering over the nearby church.

On July 3rd it was seen again - this time by Sally Chapman and Barbara Perry - two 14-year-olds who had been aware of the previous sighting. They described "a big owl with pointed ears, as big as a man" which also had glowing eyes and pincer-like claws.

Further sightings of the Owlman would continue sporadically over the next few years and even now, over four decades on, there are still new cases of people who claim to have seen the creature.

But could such a beast actually exist or is there an alternative explanation ?
Some skeptics argue that the involvement of paranormal researcher Tony "Doc" Shiels, who claimed to have investigated the original sightings in 1976, casts doubt of the legitimacy of the reports.

Shiels has gained something of a questionable reputation for his paranormal monster endeavours having previously produced a number of hoaxed images of lake monsters and other things.

Several academics and researchers have also suggested that the most likely explanation for sightings of the Owlman is the Eurasian eagle-owl - a huge bird with a wingspan of up to 6ft.

Even so, the legend of the Owlman has now become so firmly entrenched in the local culture that it is likely to endure regardless of its questionable origins.

It is also likely that people will continue to report sightings of the creature well into the future.

Source: Cornwall Live | Comments (9)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by Jon the frog 4 years ago
When a great horned owl want to tear your head off in breeding season, it look big, scary big!
Comment icon #2 Posted by Carnoferox 4 years ago
The "owlman" was an invention of hoaxer Doc Shiels; all the original reports came directly from him and not the alleged witnesses. I don't see why anyone takes this seriously.
Comment icon #3 Posted by openozy 4 years ago
What a HOOT!
Comment icon #4 Posted by kel_kel 4 years ago
I take it seriously because I saw something in the seventies as a child in the United States and it haunts me to this day. Nope it wasn't a giant humanoid owl and it did not have red eyes and I saw it in the daylight I've never seen anything like it before and I'm not really going to get into it but it was really big and it was black and possibly demonic I don't know what else to think or say about it, I noticed most people here don't even respect what other people have actually seen and are overly cynical.. don't even really listen to you.. they make up their minds without even seeing what yo... [More]
Comment icon #5 Posted by Carnoferox 4 years ago
What relevance does this have to the owlman? It's a complete non sequitur and doesn't change the fact that the owlman is likely a hoax.
Comment icon #6 Posted by freetoroam 4 years ago
The Cornish story is not real. I will say your American one is close behind. If we can not see what you saw, we have to go by what you tell us, sometimes to the person who did not see what you saw, they only need listen to what you are saying to realise it could not actually be true.  The intelligent people fill their minds with knowledge, not woo.
Comment icon #7 Posted by openozy 4 years ago
With these in your face encounters most people are reluctant to say much about them,the genuine people.I take these people seriously but I tend to make jokes about everything and anything.
Comment icon #8 Posted by oldrover 4 years ago
I beg your pardon. A hoax by Tony Doc Shiels? I don't think so. 
Comment icon #9 Posted by Carnoferox 4 years ago
Yeah who would've thought he'd been behind the whole thing... 

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