The Mysterious Children With Green Skin

“I think it’s safe to assume it isn’t a zombie.” —Ash, Alien (1979)

In A Nutshell

In the 12th century, two children were reportedly found in Suffolk, England with green skin. The two, a boy and girl, could not inform their rescuers about the place they came from or even tell their names because they did not speak any known language. To make the situation even odder, it was discovered that the children rejected all foods except for beans, and initially survived on a diet consisting only of the plant seed.

The Whole Bushel

According to historian William of Newburgh, the children were found standing at the entrance to a large wolf pit during harvest time by a group of townsmen. They spoke no known language, their skin was green, and they wore unusual clothing. Reports say they were taken to the house of a local landowner, Richard De Calne, where they were allowed to live.

Oddly, when presented with food, the children did not eat anything for days until they were given beans, which they quickly consumed. They survived off of beans for months until they grew accustomed to bread. Soon after, both children were baptized, but the boy died shortly later. However, the girl grew up, lost her green pigmentation, and learned to speak English.

She explained that she and her bother had come from a land without sunlight, and that light was very dim. Differing accounts of the incident claim that they referred to their home as St. Martin’s Land, and that the entire area was green. They noted that they had no recollection of coming to the “new land” and that they had merely been tending to their cattle when they heard a loud noise and suddenly found themselves by the wolf pit. The girl was allegedly given the name “Agnes” and married a Royal official named Richard Barre. These accounts come from two historians: William of Newburgh and Ralph of Coggeshall.

Varying explanations have been put forth to explain the story. Some say the Green Children came from a secret subterranean world, the entrance to which is the wolf pit. Another theory is that the wolf pit was a door to a parallel universe that somehow transported the children from their world to Suffolk, England. Others say they two were aliens who somehow, whether purposely or accidentally, arrived on our planet from a malfunction of a matter transmitter.

The most popular theory today, if the story is accepted as fact, is the following. The date of the incident would have to be pushed forward to 1173, during the reign of Henry II. During this time, Henry II persecuted Flemish immigrants, and numerous battles occurred (resulting in many Flemish deaths). Paul Harris, the scholar who originally presented this theory, believes the children lived in Fornham St. Martin, a village located a few miles from Woolpit. Harris explains that after their village was raided and their parents killed, the children fled into the Thetford Forest, and stayed there enough time without food to develop anemia, which would help explain the unnatural pigmentation. He elaborates that they probably heard bells of Bury St. Edmunds and wandered into an underground mine passage that was a part of Grimes Graves. The passages are remnants of flint mines dating to the Neolithic Era about 4,000 years ago. Eventually, the children emerged in Woolpit, only to be discovered by the men reaping the harvest. It would seem logical that the children, under-nourished and speaking a language unfamiliar to the Englishmen would seem like alien creatures.

Although Harris’ theory is mundane, it definitely solves a few enigmas in the story. Even with that, we’ll never fully know the truth.

Show Me The Proof

Myths and Legends: Origins of the Green Children
The Green Children: Folklore

  • inconspicuous detective

    man, i’m really enjoying the speculation that one can delve into from these little tidbits of knowledge today. well there isn’t much “knowledge” to them so much as a few facts with no real conclusion. at any rate my initial thoughts upon reading this were that the children were living in a cave or underground, and the cave caved in and they wandered over to the hole which was the wolf pit. i wouldn’t say they were from a secret subterranean race though, however possible that might be (or improbable, depending on your open – mindedness).

  • Brp Goyo

    It could be Shrek’s kids

    • Tinesh Maverick

      Seriously dude that was the first theory to hit my mind albeit it sounds absolutely comical!

  • Exiled Phoenix

    Usually the most mundane explanation is the most likely.

    • Limesy

      Spot on, ol’ chap.

    • Dill!#

      when you hear hooves, think horses not zebra

  • Jessikah

    I’ve read into this story and studied it intensely because I find it really intrigueging. This article doesn’t explain what the material was that theirs clothes were made out of but many references indicate they were made out of some sort of metallic or shiny silvery material. I’ve also read that some sort of “loud whirlwind” picked them up and then dropped them in the cave. And many references indicate that this even happened in Spain, NOT England. This is the first time I’m hearing about it happening in England.

    • Jared Kulak

      Upon further research, I’ve found that the first instance of th story taking place in Spain was published after the initial publication with the story taking place in England.

  • bobafetish

    So… the kids say they were from St. Martin’s Land… There’s a town called Fornham St. Martin… THEY MUST BE FROM UNDERGROUND OR SPACE! ????

  • bob mcbobberson

    Does a fantastical story that has only one second hand account even require an explanation?

  • Don_cos

    Rejected all food except beans?
    No wonder they were green.

  • Amanda Brady

    Their parents were probably poor, and could only afford certain foods, which would explain rejecting other food. They probably didn’t know what is was, and malnutrition obviously would make their skin turn a funny color. Diseases and conditions like scurvy or jaundice would cause their skin to be abnormal. Liver failure, etc. As far as the funny clothing, it was probably a material that was not yet globally distributed and during this time period everything unexplained was aliens and witchcraft. Think of the time period guys, where religion was the rule and not many were educated, nor were they allowed to be. If you crave interesting read (which I personally do) do some research on the “black eyed children”. Its very bizarre and intriguing. I think you will find yourself wanting more.

    • Hillyard

      The Black Eyed Kids has been totally debunked. The Black Eyed Peas are still creeping people out.

      • Joseph Wilson

        I just lmfao! Thank you!

    • honey

      eating a certain kind of food does not change your skin color. it explains nothing bro

  • Errkism

    I think it’s pretty obvious that they were human. Not only did they have the anatomy of a human, but the green pigmentation went away showing it wasn’t permanent. There are still many things that need solving about this though.

  • Babakott

    Maybe they had hypochromic anemia.

  • TA

    I would love to see DNA results on this families bloodline.

  • Liz

    This is an interesting myth.

  • Quixotepr

    I read that this story happenned in the town of Banjoz in Spain. It is almost the same word for word, except the fate of the girls is not known and ends saying that she became a maid of a wealthy family. It is possible that other countries also have the same or a very similar legend?

    • ZacEckstein

      The story was originally reported in England, and then changed to Spain some time later for various reasons. Either way, an old wife’s tale at best.