In the twelfth century, fishermen haul in their nets to process their catch. The usual catch of herring, a few mackerel and a bearded man, covered only in hair! If the trauma of being caught in a fishing net and dragged from the North Sea didn’t turn this unknown man wild, the treatment he received next certainly would have.
He was taken, literally kicking and screaming to Orford Castle to be interrogated. His six month ordeal had started with offerings of raw meat and fish to tempt out his secrets but when his silence prevailed, torture became the weapon to get this Merman to talk. He did not! Even when dragged to Orford church to repent before God, the feral man had nothing to say at all, no tongue for language.
His captors, eager to know more of the Wild Man, allowed him access to his beloved sea. Penned in to a small area by reinforced netting, the Wild man took to swimming and proved that the nets were no match for him as he dived beneath them. Astonishingly, the Wild Man returned to be taken back to the castle. This practice continued for a spell until, one day, he dived beneath the nets in the harbour and was never seen to re-surface.
This telling of the story is not alone among many of the Man-Beast of Suffolk and the Wild-Man of Orford. Not surprisingly, then, that the figure is depicted in many ways, in many forms within Orford. Whether it be in village shops, Orford marketplace, pubs, the font at St. Bartholomew’s or even the castle itself, the story of the Wild Man is still popular nearly nine hundred years later.
And the recent discovery of an artefact bearing his image shows that it’s not just a recent trend. Metal detectorists working near Woodbridge in 2013 came across the piece, which would have initially formed the handle of a spoon, and asked the British Museum value it. The spoon would have originally belonged to someone wealthy some 500 years ago and has been declared as treasure.