In Northern English folklore, the Barghest or Barguest is a mythical monstrous black dog with large teeth and claws, though in other cases the name can refer to a ghost or household elf, especially in Northumberland and Durham, such as the Cauld Lad of Hylton.
"Ghost" in Northern England was pronounced "guest," and the origin is thought to be of the combination burh-ghest, "town-ghost." Others explain it as cognate to German Berg-geist, "mountain ghost" or Bär-geist, "bear-ghost". Another mooted derivation is Bahr-Geist, German for the "spirit of the funeral bier".
One notable case is said to frequent a remote gorge named Troller's Gill in the Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire, England. A ballad entitled "The Legend of the Troller's Gill" can be found in William Hone's Everyday Book (1830). It recounts the tale of a man who ventures forth "to the horrid gill of the limestone hill" in order to summon and confront the Barghest in an act of ritual magic. The man's lifeless body is discovered soon after with inhuman marks upon his breast. There is also a story of a Barghest entering the city of York occasionally where, according to legend, it preys on lone travellers in the city's narrow Snickelways. Whitby is also associated with the spectre.
In the 1870s a shapeshifting Barghest was said to live near Darlington and was said to take the form of a headless man (who would vanish in flames), a headless lady, a white cat, a rabbit, a dog, or a black dog. Another was said to live in an "uncannie-looking" dale between Darlington and Houghton near Throstlenest, and yet another haunted an area of wasteland between Wreghorn and Headingley Hill near Leeds.
The Barghest often serves as an omen of death. At the passing of a notable person the Barghest may appear, followed by all the other dogs of the local area in a kind of funeral procession, heralding the person's death with howling and barking. If anyone were to get in the Barghest's way it would strike out with its paw and leave a wound that never heals.
Besides taking the form of a large black dog with fiery eyes, it may also become invisible and walk about with the sound of rattling chains. It may also foretell the death of an individual by laying across the threshold of his or her house, and like the vampire the Barghest is unable to cross rivers.
In another shocking account, another platoon was also overrun by large numbers of the creatures. In 1966, a highly strategic location known as Hill 868, in Quang Nam Province, had allegedly been the site of a battle between the Marines and a large group of Rock Apes. In the account, Marines operating in the area called their Captain to report movement in the brush which they believed to be a large force of Viet Cong headed their way. The Captain then radioed back saying that they should stay in place and that no one was to fire in order not to give away their position. The patrol soon radioed back to say that it had turned out that it was not Viet Cong after all, but rather a large group of hairy, bipedal humanoids all around them. The Marine patrol was commanded again not to open fire, but instead to throw rocks at the creatures to scare them away. This would prove to be unwise, as the Rock Apes then began hurling the rocks back with great force, all the while screeching and growling all around them in the jungle; an estimated hundreds of them.
Despite the assault of rocks and numerous requests for permission to open fire, the Marines were nevertheless told not to shoot, but rather to use bayonets instead. Shortly after, the Captain could hear screeching and screams of pain from both Marine and ape alike over the radio, as well as the frantic message “We’re going hand to hand!”. Shortly after that, the hill erupted in a roar of gunfire, screams, and screeching. When the Captain sent men to go investigate, the war-torn area was found to be littered with injured men, as well as allegedly the bloodied bodies of several of the mysterious Rock Apes. No Marines had died, but several were seriously injured and had to be evacuated by helicopter. The alleged battle became so infamous that it was called the “Battle of Dong Den.”