I did not remember the story of the “green children” of Banjos, Spain until I read about them in Jacques Bergier’s Extraterrestrial Visitations, but a quick Google search finds that these mysterious beings are apparently a mainstay of the alternative history and mystery-mongering genres. They appear in The Big Book of Mysteries by Lionel and Patricia Fanthope (2010), Charles Berlitz’s World of the Incredible but True (1992), Colin Wilson’s Enigmas and Mysteries (1976), and John Macklin’s Strange Destinies (1965). The story concerns the appearance of two children, green in color, who were found near the village of Banjos in Catalonia in 1887 speaking a strange tongue and refusing to eat anything but beans.
They also appear in Karl Shuker’s The Unexplained (1996), a book I read when I was fifteen, so I must have read the story and promptly cared nothing for it, probably because Shuker provides a correct (though incomplete) solution to the mystery—one we will get to anon.
“There is only one, well established case of a green child,” Bergier wrote, referring to the 1887 incident. This, though, is not even close to true. Rather than belabor the point, here’s the reason it isn’t true. It’s a point-for-point duplicate of a medieval legend of the Green Children of Woolpit recorded by Ralph of Coggeshall and William of Newburgh:
The Banjos story appears first in Macklin’s Strange Destinies, but not only is it inspired by the Woolpit story, it is a very close paraphrase of Thomas Keightley’s version from The Fairy Mythology (1850), with the geographic details changed. For example, Keightley writes that “when some beans just cut, with their stalks, were brought into the house, they [the children] made signs, with great avidity, that they should be given to them.” Macklin writes that “beans cut or torn from stalks were brought into the house, and they [the children] fell on them with great avidity.” Garth Haslam discussed this on an older version of his Anomaly Info site, preserved here.
The long and short of it is that the evidence shows that Macklin fabricated the 1887 encounter from a medieval fairy story, and later authors simply repeated him point for point without bothering to check the source. (It is possible that Macklin merely copied from another hoaxer, but no earlier version of the Banjos story has emerged.) Ridiculously, when some alternative writers discovered the earlier medieval version, they then concluded that the Macklin account must be true because the aliens were repeatedly testing humanity! Suffice it to say that there are no records of any children being found in Catalonia in 1887, or for the existence of Banjos at all.
It does, however, make me wonder what Jacques Bergier thought "well established" means.
terry the censor
5/22/2012 06:52:53 pm
5/25/2012 10:23:34 pm
Nice blogs about the children.Thanks for the blog post.I admire your views.
7/1/2012 09:25:00 pm
Many thanks for the exciting blog posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you are a brilliant writer. I actually added your blog to my favorites and will look forward for more updates.Great Job,Keep it up..
3/20/2013 07:39:36 pm
I have read both green children and Extraterrestrial Visitations. Both are really nice books and written in simple language, that is the reason it became a big hit. Thanks to you for reminding about those good books and giving a nice review.
8/21/2014 03:45:13 pm
Hey don't write like that about Sarah Palin, now Robin Williams knows where she came from. As for that loud noise and going thru the portal the children took a lot of effort consuming those bags of beans, Who wouldn't turn green?
12/19/2014 03:08:56 pm
Since prehistory copper has been mined in the UK. High concentrations of copper in the water can turn the hair green. I saw this phenomenon on a fair-haired person who had lived in the Appalachians her entire life. Copper toxicity is even more likely the cause in the Woolpit story since the children's skin cleared to white after they were in their new environment. It would have taken them some time, also, to gain any sort of appetite, and their eyes may have looked quite strange. Many of the copper mines were in southwestern Britain, a few days' hike from Woolpit, so the children could have spoken Welsh or Cornish, and the copper would have put the boy at high risk for testicular cancer and possibly impaired the girl's mental/emotional well-being. "Slut" in the 12th century could mean she was gang-raped and her accusers simply said she asked for it. Women had horrifyingly little voice and little choice back then. That said, I do agree that the Banjos story is either a rip-off or an augmentation of some similar tale circulating on the Iberian peninsula. Interestingly, copper has also been mined in Spain since prehistory. Spaniards, of course, are dark-headed for the most part, so copper toxicity would not have been so visible, but the sickliness would still have been blaring.
4/2/2015 01:32:20 am
Found this site while reading up about the green children of Woolpit. From what I have read there might be a bit more truth to the original English story than a straightforward myth or fairy story - though nothing to do with aliens. At the time when the children appeared there had been a large influx of Flemmish immigrants to England whose language and clothing would have seemed very strange to your average English man or woman. As these immigrants were persecuted at the time, it is possible that these children had escaped from some sort of attack which had separated them from their parents or possibly left them orphaned. Their green skin could be explained by the fact that there is a particular vitamin or mineral deficiency which can cause the skin to take on a noticeable green colour (I cant remember the proper name but it was known as Green Skin Disease or sometimes the Virgin's disease.) If fed on a normal diet, as the children were, once they were taken in by the village, their skin would gradually return to a normal colour. I suspect that this was possibly a true story about two Flemmish refugees which took on a magical element because of the association of green with fairies in the middle ages and the fascination with extra terrestrials in modern times.
8/23/2016 05:44:44 am
Na I don't believe your account I'm sorry. Something weird could have occurred back in the middle ages and I don't think trying to shoe horn some contrived explanation really solves anything. It's just another 'rent a theory'.
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