Gabriel's Hounds

Or Gabriel-ratchet. A name popularly assigned to a pack of spectral hounds who are supposed to foretell death or misfortune to all who hear their sound. In Durham and parts of Yorkshire they are described as monstrous human-headed dogs.

According to a tradition in Cleveland, the Gabriel-ratchet originates "with the ill deed of a gentleman who once lived in the district, and who was so inordinately fond of the pleasures of the hunt, and so jealous about the hounds who had ministered to them, that, on his deathbed, he gave orders that they should all be killed and buried with him, that no one else should benefit by them as he himself would be no longer able."

See also gabbleratches.

The yelping sound heard at night, resembling the sound made by a pack of dogs, is probably caused by flocks of wild geese.



  • Wright, J. (1900). The English dialect dictionary. Vol. 2. London: H. Frowde.