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Black dog in a graveyard
Source: Wikipedia

The church grim is a spirit that guards churchyards from witches and the Devil. It usually takes the form of a black dog, although in some Scandinavian countries it may appear as a lamb, or “grave-sow”.[1]

The first person to be buried in a new churchyard was obliged to guard it against the Devil. To avoid the need for a human soul to perform this onerous duty, a black dog would be buried in the north part of the churchyard as a substitute.[1][2] According to a related belief in Scotland, the spirit of the person most recently buried in a churchyard had to protect it until the next funeral provided a new guardian to replace him or her.[1][3]



Briggs, K. M. (1976). An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogeys and Other Supernatural Creatures. Pantheon Books.
Gregorson Campbell, J. (1900). Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. James MacLehose.
Tongue, R. L., & Briggs, K. M. (1965). County Folk-Lore Volume VIII. Folk-Lore Society.