Barghest, Bargtjest, Bo-guest, Bargheist, Bargeist, Barguist, Bargest or Barguest is the name often given in the north of England, especially in Yorkshire, to a legendary monstrous black dog with huge teeth and claws, though in other cases the name can refer to a ghost or Household elf, especially in Northumberland and Durham (see Cauld Lad of Hylton). One is said to frequent a remote gorge named Troller's Gill. 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.[1] A famous Barghest was said to live near Darlington who was said to take the form of a headless man (who would vanish in flames), a headless lady, a white cat, a dog, rabbit and black dog. Another was said to live in an "uncannie-looking" dale between Darlington and Houghton, near Throstlenest.[2]

The derivation of the word barghest is disputed. Ghost in the north of England was once pronounced guest, and the name is thought to be burh-ghest: town-ghost. Others explain it as German Berg-geist (mountain spirit), or Bär-geist (bear-spirit), in allusion to its alleged appearance at times as a bear. Another mooted derivation is 'Bier-Geist', the 'spirit of the funeral bier'.


The Barghest in popular culture

Many stories, perhaps most notably The Hound of the Baskervilles, feature ghostly black dogs. See Black dog (ghost) for further details. Dogs specifically named as barghests appear in the following:


In the novel by Bram Stoker, when arriving at Whitby aboard the ship Demeter, Dracula takes the form of a big and ferocious dark dog. The barghest is part of Whitby folklore, and may well have been Stoker's inspiration.

In the Harry Potter series written by J. K. Rowling, the character Sirius Black is an Animagus (a wizard that can take the form of an animal) that transforms into a big black dog, the other characters fear it because he resembles a "Grim" (a black dog that is an omen of death).

Also inspired by this legend, the barghest also appears in the children's book The Whitby Witches by Robin Jarvis.

The barghest is depicted as a shapeshifting beast in Sojourn, written by R.A. Salvatore. Most of R.A. Salvatore's literary inspiration comes from the pen and paper RPG Dungeons and Dragons.

In Roald Dahl's The Witches, it is mentioned as always being male.

Nicole Peeler's "Tempest Rising" series references Dahl's the Witches, and features a Barghest who takes on human or demon dog form.

In the novel Forge of the Mindslayers by Tim Waggoner, a Barghest is described as a lupine beast with blue tinged fur, a 'goblin-ish' face, and human hands. It can shapeshift into a goblin.

In Chapter 63 of Theodore Dreiser's classic novel, An American Tragedy, he references the spectre adjectivally, saying, "And at one point it was that a wier-wier, one of the solitary water-birds of this region, uttered its ouphe and barghest cry, flying from somewhere near into some darker recess within the woods. And at this sound it was that Clyde had stirred nervously and then sat up in the car. It was so very different to any bird-cry he had ever heard anywhere."

Steven Erikson's epic fantasy series, the Malazan Book of the Fallen, features a nomadic warrior people called the Barghast. Any possible relation to the mythological canine, aside from the name, is unclear.

In Brom's novel The Child Thief barghest were creatures that lived in the "witch's wood" and served her when needed.

In the Japanese light novel series Magician's Academy, one of the professors has a familiar/maid, Eineus the Varghest- a black dog-demon.

Film and television

The Barghest is the main villain in the children's TV series Roger and the Rottentrolls, which is set in Troller's Ghyll.

The 1978 made-for-TV movie Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell features a barghest named Lucky.

In an episode of the BBC drama series Dalziel and Pascoe, a public house situated on the North York Moors which the episode's plot revolves around is named 'The Barguest', and features a large black dog on its sign.

Role-playing games

Barghests feature in:

Trading card games

Magic: The Gathering

Video games

Barghests, or creatures similar to it, appear in:


Barghests appear in:

  • The song "Oblivion" by Patrick Wolf, which is about a young man searching for the Barghest. Also, first title of this song was "Barghest", but then Patrick edited it to the "Oblivion".
  • The song "Barghest vs. Aged.A" by psychedelic rock band of Arrowe Hill
  • The EP "The Barghest O' Whitby" by the Yorkshire-based doom metal band My Dying Bride
  • The Baton Rouge, LA based black metal metal band "Barghest" take their name from this mythical creature

See also


  1. ^ Jeffrey Shaw, Whitby Lore and Legend, (1923)
  2. ^ Henderson, William (1879). "Ch. 7". Notes on the folk-lore of the northern counties of England and the borders (2nd ed.). Folk-Lore Society. p. 275. 
  •  Chisholm, Hugh, ed (1911). "Barghest". Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.  which in turn cites:
    • Wirt Sikes, British Goblins (1880)
    • Notes and Queries, first series, ii. 51.
    • Joseph Ritson, Fairy Tales (Lond. 1831), p. 58.
    • Lancashire Folklore (1867)
    • Joseph Lucas, Studies in Nidderdale (Pateley Bridge, 1882)

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Barghest — Bar ghest , n. [Perh. G. berg mountain + geist demon, or b[ a]r a bear + geist.] A goblin, in the shape of a large dog, portending misfortune. [Also written {barguest}.] [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • barghest — [bär′gest΄] n. [< ? Ger berg geist, mountain spirit] Eng. Folklore a doglike goblin whose appearance supposedly foreshadows death or bad luck …   English World dictionary

  • Barghest — Der Barghest (auch „Bargtjest”, „Bo guest” oder „Bargest”) ist ein mythischer Schwarzer Hund, an den man im Norden Englands, insbesondere in Yorkshire, glaubt. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1 Merkmale und Herkunft 2 Der Barghest in der Literatur 3 Der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Barghest —  Pour l’article homonyme, voir Barghest (Donjons et dragons).  Le Barghest, Bargtjest, Bo guest ou Bargest est le nom donné dans le nord de l Angleterre, en particulier dans le Yorkshire, à de légendaires chiens noirs monstrueux dotés d …   Wikipédia en Français

  • barghest — /bahr gest/, n. a legendary doglike goblin believed to portend death or misfortune. [1725 35; appar. BAR(ROW)2 + ghest, OE gaest, var. of gast GHOST] * * * ▪ British folklore also spelled  Barguest, or Bargest,         in folklore of northern… …   Universalium

  • Barghest —    From Gaelic mythology, a giant dog that was supposed to have lived around Yorkshire in northern England. The Barghest came out only at night, and anyone who saw him would die soon …   The writer's dictionary of science fiction, fantasy, horror and mythology

  • barghest — noun a) A legendary monstrous black dog with huge teeth and claws. b) A ghost, elf, or spirit …   Wiktionary

  • barghest — n. dog like goblin that portends death …   English contemporary dictionary

  • barghest — bar·ghest …   English syllables

  • barghest —   n. goblin, often dog like, appearing as portent of death …   Dictionary of difficult words