Danny Robins Dives Into A Cryptid Case With Take Of A Beast Roaming France's Loire Valley

May 31, 2023 1:00 AM ‐ PodcastsParanormalRadio
Château de Langeais
In the latest instalment of the second series of 'Uncanny' we meet two witnesses from Northern Ireland, Ian and Dermot, who share their chilling encounter from their teenage years. 'The Beast Of Langeais', the ninth episode of the series, is available to listen to now on BBC Sounds.

On a special episode of Danny Robins' BBC Sounds podcast Uncanny, we were treated to a thrilling tale of an unexpected encounter by two witnesses, Ian and Dermot from Northern Ireland. Back in their teenage years, the duo won a school bursary which took them on a journey to France that they would never forget.

Ian, now a retired senior police officer, towers above most with his grey hair, a testament to years of service. Dermot, the sandy-haired man with glasses, heads a department in a prominent Belfast school. Their story took us back to the year 1983, when as 17-year-old A-Level students, they participated in an academic project competition set in France. Dermot, driven by a thirst for knowledge, saw it as more than just a free vacation; an opportunity to enrich their minds while exploring a new culture.

Leaving the troubled cityscape of 1980s Belfast behind, the pair embarked on a remarkable adventure to the lush landscapes of the Loire Valley. Sleeping in unconventional spots to save money, like a big top of a circus tent. Their journey took them to Langeais, a quaint historic town with a dominating castle that bears the same name. Choosing to tour the fairy-tale-esque chateau one day, the friends found themselves stranded as they missed the last train out. The initial amusement of their predicament led them to plan an adventurous overnight stay under the castle's drawbridge.

However, their laughter quickly turned into palpable fear as the night drew on. As they lay under the drawbridge looking up at the starry sky, an unusual sound approached. Described as an animal with hooves, the sound grew louder and closer, ultimately climbing the castle steps and crossing directly above them. The silhouette they glimpsed through the slats of the drawbridge seemed like a goat but the chilling walk and unsettling presence indicated otherwise.

Danny probed them on their fear, questioning why an animal would evoke such a response. Ian explained that it wasn't the creature but the circumstances, particularly the repugnant smell that accompanied it, that instilled terror. As a former officer who had dealt with numerous unpleasant crime scenes, Ian attested that the smell was the most disgusting he had ever encountered. Dermot agreed, stating that it was the odour that haunted him the most.

In a rush of fear, they fled from the moat and looked back at the drawbridge, only to find the mysterious creature had vanished without a trace. The absence of any possible exit for the creature further heightened their fear, prompting them to leave the area immediately. They did not speak of the incident, the bizarre and frightening nature of the event leaving them speechless.

Reflecting on this encounter, Dermot shared his belief that the incident had something to do with the devil. While the statement might sound far-fetched, it came from a place of conviction rather than religious inclinations. Ian shared a similar sentiment, stating that they had stumbled upon something dark and inexplicable, an encounter he would never want to repeat.

Despite his long career as a police officer dealing with violent incidents and disturbing crime scenes, Ian confirmed that no other experience ever frightened him as much as that night under the drawbridge. Their encounter, which they termed the 'beast on the drawbridge', continues to haunt them, serving as a chilling reminder of their brush with the uncanny.

What The Experts Think

As always, Danny is joined by two guests to share thier expert opinions on the case. Deborah Hyde, former editor of the Sceptic Magazine and specialist in supernatural folklore, highlights the influence of the castle's turbulent history and the impact it could have on the perception of supernatural phenomena. She discusses the association of the castle with conflict, particularly its rebuilding during the French wars of religion, an unsettling period that might evoke thoughts of ghosts and folklore.

Drawing attention to the fear that the two men continue to experience, even decades after their encounter, horror novelist and Fortean Times columnist Reverend Peter Laws suggests that this feeling of dread and evil is as real and undeniable as their version of the encounter itself. He thinks that the trauma associated with this event should not be undermined, regardless of what the beast might have been.

Deborah also explores the connections between goats and supernatural folklore. From ancient mythologies that represented goats as lustful, powerful beings to the modern depiction of goats as potential manifestations of the devil, she provides a fascinating insight into how these perceptions have evolved. However, she makes clear that these connections are social constructs rather than factual reality.

Speaking about the foul smell that accompanied the beast, Peter Laws mentions the recurrence of such phantom odours in paranormal experiences, which are often associated with the presence of something evil. Deborah, on the other hand, highlights the natural repulsion to foul smells as a warning signal, a defence mechanism against possible danger.

The analysis of the case ends with the experts talking about the idea of trauma and its connection to the supernatural. Both Peter and Deborah agree that the incident has profoundly affected Ian and Dermot. Peter goes so far as to suggest that their personal backgrounds and experiences during the Troubles in Northern Ireland may have influenced the encounter. He proposes an intriguing theory: that the mirrored history of conflict may have attracted the entity to them.

More episodes of Radio 4's 'Uncanny' are available on BBC Sounds now and will also be broadcast on Saturday nights at 11:30pm on Radio 4.

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