Skriker aka Trash

author - malyfred / 2005-11-06

The Barguest, or Barn-ghaist of the Teutons, is also reported to be a frequent visitor in Lancashire. The appearance of this sprite is considered as a certain death-sign, and has obtained the local names of "Trash" and "Skriker." He generally appears to one of the family from whom Death is about to select his victim, and is more or less visible, according to the distance of the event.

I have met with persons to whom the barguest [bar-ghaist, i.e., gate-ghost] has assumed the form of a white cow, or a horse; but on most occasions "Trash" is described as having the appearance of very large dog, with very broad feet, shaggy hair, drooping ears, and eyes "as large as saucers." When walking, his feet make a loud splashing noise, like old shoes in a miry road, and hence the name of "Trash." The appellation "Skriker" has reference to the scream uttered by the sprite, which are frequently heard when the animal is invisible. When followed by any individual he begins to walk backwards with his eyes fixed full on his pursuer, and vanishes on the slightest momentary inattention.

Occasionally he plunges into a pool of water, and at times he sinks at the feet of the persons to whom he appears with a loud splashing noise, as if a heavy stone were thrown into the miry road. Some are reported to have attempted to strike him with any weapon they had at hand, but there was no substance to receive the blows, although the Skriker kept his ground.

He is said to frequent the neighbourhood of Burnley at present, and is mostly seen in Godly Lane, and about the parish church. But he by no means confines his visits to the churchyard, as similar sprites are said to do in other parts of England and Wales.

[Lancashire Folklore (1867), edited by T. T. Wilkinson, John Harland]

I’ve chosen the name of this web “skriker” as the first random word from Swedish dictionary that sounded good enough:

skriker skrek skrikit skrik! skrika verb
cry, call out, shout, scream, shriek

and I was surprised by the sprite called Skriker few days ago on (Excellent project! Unfortunately, you need to have Google account to be allowed to use it. That sounds like good old manners of our beloved Microsoft!:(.

I like the idea of screaming, hairy dog with huge eyes that announces the death and an obvious connection between Swedish skriker and English scream, squawk, skreak, skreigh, screech, etc. could be found by those who know the Old Norse skrćkja/skrika and Middle English skricken. Therefore the screaming Skriker from Lancashire is our official mascot since now!

Those who could be interested are encouraged to send me a drawing of our new mascot;-)


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