Bloody Bones

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For the Laurell K. Hamilton novel, see Bloody Bones (novel).

Bloody Bones is a bogeyman feared by children, and is sometimes called Rawhead and Bloody-Bones, Tommy Rawhead, or Rawhead. The term was used "to awe children, and keep them in subjection", as recorded by John Locke in 1693.[1] The stories originated in Great Britain where they were particularly common in Lancashire and Yorkshire,[2] and spread to North America, where the stories were common in the Southern USA.[3] The Oxford English Dictionary cites approximately 1548 as the earliest written appearance of "Blooddybone".[4]

Bloody-Bones is usually said to live near ponds, but according to Ruth Tongue in Somerset Folklore, "lived in a dark cupboard, usually under the stairs. If you were heroic enough to peep through a crack you would get a glimpse of the dreadful, crouching creature, with blood running down his face, seated waiting on a pile of raw bones that had belonged to children who told lies or said bad words.” [5]

In Pop Culture[edit]

In the novel "Cold Days" in The Dresden Files series a Rawhead is a creature native to the Never-Never. It appears as a large, skinless creature with a gaping many-jawed mouth. Its form is made from the discarded remains of pigs and cows, the bodies of children, and grown adults if it gets large enough to consume them.


  1. ^ John Locke, Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Cambridge University Press, 1902 edition, pg 117.
  2. ^ Wright, Elizabeth Mary, Rustic Speech and Folk-Lore, London:H. Milford, 1913, p. 199.
  3. ^ Frederic Gomes Cassidy, Joan Houston Hall, Dictionary of American regional English, Harvard University Press, 1985, p. 486.
  4. ^ "Bloody Bones, n.". OED Online (Oxford English Dictionary Third Edition, March 2012). Oxford University Press, March 2015. Retrieved 15 April 2015. 
  5. ^ As quoted in Katharine M. Briggs, The Fairies in Tradition and Literature, London:Routledge, 1967, pg. 68.

External links[edit]