The latest article in the 'Weird Creatures' section of Uncanny UK is about Woodwoses: wild, hairy people who feature in medieval myth. Some think they may be a race memory of pre-Homo sapiens homonids still to be found living in deep, remote forests when prehistoric man first began his intensive cultivation of the British Isles.
Apparitions of hairy, half-humans are occasionally reported to this day. In the Uncanny UK article I refer to such a case reported from North Wales a few years ago but this will have to wait until I've interviewed the witnesses and made sure they are happy for me to quote them. In the meantime, though, here is an interesting little story from Elias Owen's 'Welsh Folklore' of 1896 that may have some bearing on the phenomenon:
'Richard Roberts, Coederaill, Bylchau, when a young man, worked in Flintshire, and instead of going to a place of worship on Sunday he got into the habit of wandering about the fields on that day. One fine autumn Sunday he determined to go a-nutting. He came to a wood where nuts were plentiful, and in a short time he filled his pockets with nuts but perceiving a bush loaded with nuts, he put out his hand to draw the branch to him, when he observed a hairy hand stretching towards the same branch. As soon as he saw the hand he was terribly frightened, and without turning round to see anything further of it, he took to his heels, and never afterwards did he venture to go a-nutting on Sunday' (p. 152).
Mr Roberts was convinced that the Devil had come to him for not attending church (there are many tales of apparitions appearing to frighten 'Sabbath-breakers' into mending their ways) but his rector tried to convince him 'that a monkey was in the bush'.
Perhaps it was a 'manimal', or the spectral appearance of one. Or perhaps it was just some unfortunate, homeless individual living wild - the origin, I suspect of many other accounts, and accounts of werewolves, too.
To read more about Wild Men of the Woods, visit: www.uncannyuk.co.uk/article.php?id=51