Lair of the Beasts: The Weird Weekend -

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Lair of the Beasts: The Weird Weekend

A Conference of Monsters

By Nick Redfern     August 13, 2011

A Monstrous Conference
© N/A


For three days and nights of each and every year, the tiny North Devon, England village of Woolsery becomes just about the weirdest locale in the entire land. That’s right: the largest gathering of scholars of esoteric natural history in the English-speaking world is set to take place in the rural English countryside next weekend. The Center for Fortean Zoology’s annual conference, the Weird Weekend, will see speakers from all over the country gathering in ancient Woolsery to discuss their work and discoveries of a very mysterious nature before a packed audience.
The Weird Weekend - covering August 19-21 and now in its 12th year - is just about the largest convention of its kind. This year’s speakers include one of the world’s leading geneticists: Professor Bryan Sykes. Professor Sykes will be speaking on the Yeti, as well as samples of hair he has tested. Continuing on a similar theme, British cryptozoologist Richard Freeman will be talking about the Center for Fortean Zoology’s latest expedition that took them into the Garo Hills of northern India, hot on the heels of the legendary Abominable Snowman.
Last year at the convention, scientists announced that hairs found in local Devon woodland were those of nothing less than a leopard – a creature hardly indigenous to the United Kingdom! These extraordinary and ground-breaking findings were later confirmed by DNA analysis, no less. And a true world exclusive this year comes from Dr. Darren Naish from Portsmouth University, and Max Blake from Bristol University, who will produce conclusive proof that more than 100 years ago there were indeed large and mysterious cats prowling around the Devonshire countryside.
Other speakers at this year’s Weird Weekend include Fortean researcher Matt Salusbury who has been on the track of pigmy elephants in India, entomologist Nick Wadham on giant-sized spiders, cryptozoologist Adam Davies on the Orang-Pendek (the legendary and mysterious ape of Sumatra), and Glen Vaudrey on the water-horse, a sea serpent that hails from ancient Scottish legend, history and folklore.
As well as monstrous creatures, an abundance of other esoteric subjects are set to be covered at this year’s Weird Weekend. Retired English police officer John Hanson, for example, will be describing UFO cases reaching back to the 1940s. Other subjects include Ronan Coghlan on the labors of Hercules, and Henry Hartley on mysterious aspects of the modern Mayans. And as well as all that, there will be a series of talks on a wide variety of other paranormal, supernatural and zoological topics, book-stalls, workshops and numerous additional events.
The Weird Weekend raises funds for village charities dealing with children and for the Center for Fortean Zoology, the only full time organization in the world dedicated to the investigation of mystery animals.
The Weird Weekend takes place from August 19 to 21 at Woolsery, Devonshire, England. For further details visit: Or telephone: 01237 431413.
Nick Redfern is the author of many books, including the recently published title, The Real Men in Black.


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InnerSanctum 8/13/2011 8:39:43 AM

 Is there an anything like Weird Weekend state side?  Comic Con is weird in a different right.  : )

karas1 8/14/2011 7:26:23 AM

There may have been a leopard in the Devonshire woodland but I doubt it is a survival of an ancient species which prowled the area in prehistory.  It was more likely an escaped or released exotic pet, like the python and crocodile you spoke of a few weeks ago.  England has just been too thickly settled for too long a time for large animals of unknown species to live there.  If you were to tell me they had discovered a new species of insect or minnow or even mouse there, I might believe you.  But a large cat?  Not likely.

NickRedfern 8/14/2011 7:56:01 AM

Inner: Unfortunately, no there really isn't. Most S-based confs seem to be geared to just one thing - like UFOs, or ghosts. wherears the WW covers just about everything odd. Maybe one day someone will be ablw to do a States-side WW.

NickRedfern 8/14/2011 7:59:02 AM


Yes, I think everyone agrees that there is no large type of cat roaming the UK that has been around since prehistory. And the likelihood is that most of these are escapees of some sort or another. It's possible too that the present day sightings have nothing in common with the 100 year old cases at all, aside from broadly the same location. In other words, we might not be seeing breeding. We might be seeing small pockets of animals that (for various reasons) were released/escaped into the wild etc, survived a while then died, etc. Then, 50 years later, another one escapes etc - so it looks like an ongoing population (which is less likely), but actually may not be.



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