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 popular 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.

In the television series Supernatural Season 1, Episode 12 "Faith", Dean and Sam rescue two children hiding in a cupboard in the basement of a house. Sam leaves with the children just before Dean is attacked by the Rawhead and thrown to the ground. Despite the fact that they are both in a puddle of water, Dean uses his taser to electrocute the Rawhead, killing it and severely injuring himself.

Siouxsie and the Banshees recorded a song called "Rawhead and Bloodybones" on their album Peepshow, which starts out, "Bad words or bad deeds/unpunished invite grief."

Rawhead and Bloody Bones appear in a Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. story in England.


  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]