The Incredible Hulk was a green superhero of the comics. Could someone really have a green coloured skin? Fact and fantasy often weave a magic web in folk myths. Could the green children of Woolpit be a bit of both?
The village of Woolpit (formally known as Wulpet) was named after some ancient cavities, called 'Wolfpittes', so called because the great pits were once used to trap wolves. It was in these pits, that the villagers made a very strange discovery back in the 12th century.
One day, the villagers were harvesting the crops of the nearby fields when they heard frightened cries coming from the pits. The puzzled workers went to investigate and discovered two terrified children.
The children appeared normal except for two striking features. Firstly, they talked in a strange language but by far the most intriguing characteristic of these children was their skin - it was completely green! The children, a boy and his slightly older sister, were dressed in strange clothes of an unknown material.
After recovering from the strange sight, the villagers took pity on the children and took them to the home of Sir Richard de Calne, a local landowner, at Wikes. News soon spread and many people visited his home to see the amazing sight. Although exhausted and nearly starving, the children could not be persuaded to eat.
The next day, a maid brought some fresh green beans, with their stalks still attached, into the house. The children gestured for them and ate the raw beans with pleasure. This was their main food for many months until they learned to eat bread and other local food.
Gradually their colour started to change, to become nearer that of the local children.
The people felt it fitting that the green children should be baptised. They stayed at the home of Sir Richard and were treated with great care and kindness by the knight and his servants.
Sadly, the boy fell ill and died but his sister continued in good health and, as she grew older, her skin's green hue disappeared, so her complexion was like that of any other local girl.
During her years in Sir Richard's household, the girl learned to speak fluent English and what she told of her origins, only deepened the mystery. She said she came from the land of St. Martin, a Christian country with churches to worship in. She explained that it was a place where the sun did not rise but where twilight settled on the land.
The girl was unable to explain how she and her brother were found in the wolf pits. She could only remember that one day, they were feeding her father's flocks and they heard a great sound like bells. They became entranced and found themselves in an underground cave.
They stayed, exploring, until they came out into the daylight and found themselves in the pit and the company of the villagers.
The children's story was written down by William of Newburge. According to some sources, the girl became known as Agnes Barre and eventually married a man from King's Lynn. Today the green children, like the wolves, are long gone, but their memory lives on in the village sign and also on a banner in Woolpit's church. No one knows if the green girl ever had any children, so who knows, maybe the green children also live on, through unknown descendents, and are still part of this world today.