Green Children of Woolpit: An Enigmatic Historical Mystery


In the heart of the English village of Woolpit, during the year 1150, a peculiar incident unfolded that would baffle generations to come. Imagine an otherwise ordinary day when the residents stumbled upon a remarkable discovery on the outskirts of their town – two young children with distinctly green skin. These green children of Woolpit not only appeared strange in their appearance but also spoke a language unknown to the villagers, showing a profound aversion to most food.

The Mysterious Arrival

The Green Children of Woolpit’s story is strange, yet it could be credible. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The story of the Green Children of Woolpit has been handed down through the ages, recorded by two different chroniclers: the 13th-century historian William of Newburgh and the 12th-century abbot Ralph of Coggeshall. Both accounts share a similar narrative of how these enigmatic children suddenly appeared in Woolpit.

The children were found in the vicinity of a pit, originally designed for trapping wolves and thus giving the village its name, “Woolpit,” which translates to “wolf pit” in Old English. Most astonishing of all, these children were inexplicably green.

William of Newburgh’s Historia rerum Anglicarum from 1220 recounts, “During harvest, while the reapers were employed in gathering in the produce of the fields, two children, a boy and a girl, completely green in their persons, and clad in garments of a strange color, and unknown materials, emerged from these [wolf pits].”

These children weren’t merely green-skinned; they were also garbed in unfamiliar clothing and spoke a language unintelligible to the villagers. Sir Richard de Calne, a local resident, kindly welcomed them into his home, offering them food. However, to the villagers’ astonishment, the children refused to eat anything.

Transformation and Revelation

Here’s a wolf pit, similar to the one in Bavaria, Germany. Source: Wikimedia Commons

After several days, the Green Children of Woolpit discovered green beans growing in Sir Richard de Calne’s garden, which they devoured with great enthusiasm. Gradually, they began to accept the villagers’ offerings, and their greenish hue started to fade away. Sadly, the little boy fell ill and did not survive, but the girl thrived under the care of the villagers.

This girl, known as Agnes Barre according to Ancient Origins, eventually revealed her story. She and her brother, she explained, had come from a place called “St. Martin,” although they were uncertain how they had ended up in Woolpit.

She described their homeland as a Christian country with churches but entirely distinct from England. “The sun does not rise upon our countrymen; our land is little cheered by its beams; we are contented with that twilight, which, among you, precedes the sunrise, or follows the sunset,” she shared, as per Newburgh. “Moreover, a certain luminous country is seen, not far distant from ours, and divided from it by a very considerable river.”

Yet, the exact origin of the Green Children of Woolpit remained an unsolved mystery. Some accounts suggest that Agnes led a relatively ordinary life, while others claim that she became “rather loose and wanton in her conduct” in her later years.

Unraveling the Enigma

These are the remains of an abbey in Bury St. Edmunds, a nearby town whose bells the Green Children of Woolpit remember hearing.

The Green Children of Woolpit’s tale has captivated imaginations for centuries, sparking various theories about their green skin, clothing, and language. Some proposed explanations include:

  • Arsenic Poisoning: Their green skin may have resulted from arsenic poisoning, and their refusal to eat could be attributed to this poisoning. As they adjusted to a healthier diet, their skin color normalized.
  • Chlorosis: Another possibility is chlorosis, which occurs due to malnutrition, offering a plausible explanation for their initial green hue.
  • Flemish Origin: Historic UK posits that these children might have been the offspring of Flemish immigrants killed during the reign of King Stephen or King Henry II. What the villagers perceived as “gibberish” might have been a form of Dutch.
  • Extraterrestrial Origin: A more unconventional theory suggests that the Green Children of Woolpit may have come from outer space. This idea emerged as early as the 17th century when Robert Burton wrote that they “fell from Heaven.” While evidence is scarce, parallels with modern descriptions of “little green men” from outer space exist.

Of course, there are skeptics who argue that the Green Children of Woolpit may never have existed at all. However, as William of Newburgh aptly put it, “Let every one say as he pleases, and reason on such matters according to his abilities; I feel no regret at having recorded an event so prodigious and miraculous.”


In the village, there’s a sign erected in honor of the Green Children of Woolpit.

The enigma of the Green Children of Woolpit endures, a testament to the mysteries of history. Their story, while centuries old, continues to intrigue and perplex those who encounter it. Whether a product of poisoning, malnutrition, or something more otherworldly, the legend of these green-skinned siblings remains firmly etched in the annals of historical curiosity.


1. Did the Green Children of Woolpit ever exist?

The existence of the Green Children is a subject of debate among historians. While the story is well-documented, it remains a mystery.

2. What could have turned their skin green?

Theories range from poisoning to malnutrition, but no definitive explanation has been found.

3. Where is Woolpit located?

Woolpit is a village in Suffolk, England, known for the intriguing tale of the Green Children.

4. Could the Green Children have come from outer space?

Some theories suggest an extraterrestrial origin, but evidence is scarce.

5. What happened to the Green Children after their arrival in Woolpit?

The boy sadly passed away, but the girl, Agnes, adapted to her new life, learning English and living with the villagers.

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