On a random day sometime during the mid of 12th-century, field harvesters of Woolpit village found two mysterious kids coming out of a wolf trapping pit. Bewildered by the kids, the villagers, on carefully observing the children, realized that these were not like the usual children, but an enigmatic boy and a girl dressed in clothes beyond the imagination of traditional fashion. The skin color was green, and they spoke nervously in an alien language when the villagers approached them.

Woolpit is an ancient village in Suffolk, England that got its name derived from the pits dug to lure and trap dangerous wolves. After discovering the children and concerned about their welfare, the villagers of Woolpit took them to the village, where a knight, Sir Richard de Calne, sheltered them. He offered them food, but they did not eat anything for some days until one day when the kids found some green beans in Richard de Calne’s garden and started eating them raw. However, as the children continued to live with him, they learned to eat a diversified diet involving traditional human food. Eventually, they lost their green complexion after some time, but meanwhile, the boy got sick and succumbed to death.

The girl learned to speak English, and Richard de Calne inquired about where they came from and why her color was greenish. The girl talked about St. Martin’s Land, where they do not get sunshine, and it is always twilight. They do not see the sunrise or sunset like the people here do and, a glowing land, not too far from their homeland, can be seen separated by a vast river in between. Also, she does not know how they got here. She recalls that we heard a great sound that day when we were feeding the flocks of cattle in the field. At just another moment, we were here at the bottom of the pit amongst you. The girl also told that the boy was her brother. Another story says the children were overseeing their father’s cattle when they discovered a cavern where they lost their way while finding the way out following the sound of bells. When they came out, the sun rays mystified them, and they found themselves in Woolpit instead of St. Martins Land.

Historians have assembled the story of the green children from the transcripts of Ralph of Coggeshall and William of Newburgh. Ralph of Coggeshall was the sixth abbot (1207–1218) of Coggeshall Abbey, who talked to Richard de Caine himself about the children and wrote about this in his work Chronicon Anglicanum around 1189. William of Newburgh was a 12th-century English historian who narrated the children’s tale in Historia rerum Anglicarum, which was later published. According to beliefs, the girl was named Agnes, she stayed in the shelter of Richard de Caine for many years and then married the archdeacon of Ely, Richard Barre.

Were the children really from some alien land?

There are many theories for the explanation of this tale. One is that the kids suffered from an iron deficiency since they did not eat well, which contributed to a greenish appearance. Another is that the kids were abandoned in the woods near the town, and they suffered arsenic poisoning. However, one apparent theory proposes that they were the children of Flemish immigrants who were persecuted and killed during a battle. Fornham St. Martin was a small village separated by a river from Woolpit, and on this side of the river was Bury St. Edmunds, where bells clanged. Maybe the kids were able to escape the battle and followed the bell sounds, making it to Woolpit via a cave.

Regardless of what truth is, it is always fascinating to think if it might be an imaginative tale that has long survived folklore or any botched versions of actual events in history? However, the alien land version of the story is the most we love.


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