Two Green Children Claimed to Have Appeared in 12th Century England – And Their Origins Still a Mystery

In the 12th century, the English village of Woolpit witnessed an enigmatic event that has perplexed historians for centuries — the appearance of children with green skin. This peculiar tale unfolds around 1150 when villagers stumbled upon two small children with not only an unusual appearance but also a mysterious language and a distaste for regular food.

The Green Anomaly Unveiled

The children, as recounted by chroniclers William of Newburgh and Ralph of Coggeshall, emerged from wolf pits clad in strange garments and completely green in their persons. Their gibberish language and refusal to eat confounded the villagers until they discovered green beans that miraculously transformed their skin tone.

Unraveling the Land of St. Martin

The surviving child, Agnes Barre, shared an extraordinary tale. She claimed to hail from a place called St. Martin, a land where sunlight was a rare encounter. Describing a Christian country with churches, she detailed a realm distinct from England, where twilight held more significance than sunrise or sunset.

Despite living a seemingly normal life later on, the origin of the Green Children of Woolpit remains shrouded in mystery.

Unveiling Possible Explanations

While the existence of these green-hued children remains uncertain, various theories attempt to elucidate their peculiarities. One hypothesis suggests arsenic poisoning, explaining the green skin that faded with improved nutrition. Alternatively, their unintelligible language might have been Dutch, as they could have been Flemish immigrants affected by historical conflicts.

Extraterrestrial Intrigue

An example of a wolf pit, this one from Bavaria, Germany. | Image Source: Georg Waßmuth/Wikimedia Commons

A more fantastical theory proposes extraterrestrial origins, linking the children to outer space. This notion, dating back to the 17th century, echoes Robert Burton’s assertion that the Green Children of Woolpit “fell from Heaven.” Despite little evidence supporting this idea, the parallels with modern depictions of aliens as “little green men” add a captivating dimension to the mystery.

The Controversy and Legacy

Ruins of an abbey in Bury St. Edmunds | Credit: Tuli/Wikimedia Commons

Debates persist about the authenticity of the Green Children of Woolpit. To William of Newburgh, chronicling their story, the truth is secondary to the miraculous event itself. He invites speculation and diverse reasoning, emphasizing the prodigious nature of the occurrence.


The enigma of the Green Children of Woolpit endures, leaving us with a captivating historical mystery. Whether a result of poisoning, malnutrition, immigrant origins, or extraterrestrial encounters, the tale challenges our understanding of the ordinary and invites contemplation on the extraordinary.

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