Myths and Folklore Wiki

In Cornish Folklore, the Owlman, sometimes referred to as the Cornish Owlman, or the Owlman of Mawnan, is an owl-like creature said to have been seen around mid-1976 in the village of MawnanCornwall, UK. The Owlman is sometimes compared to Mothman; however, a Eurasian eagle-owl is likely the source of the legend.

Myths & Legends

According to legend, Owlman was first seen by two girls, named June and Vicky Melling, in April 17, 1976 who were on a family vacation in Mawnan. This sighting was initially investigated and released by the claim of Tony "Doc" Shiels. The two girls had seen a large winged figure hovering above the tower of St Mawnan and St Stephen's Church, Mawnan and in most versions of the story, the girls were so scared that their father Don immediately called off the vacation after hearing their tale. According to Sheils, one of the girls provided him with a drawing of the creature, which he dubbed "Owlman". The story was subsequently related in a pamphlet entitled Morgawr: The Monster of Falmouth Bay by Anthony Mawnan-Peller, which circulated throughout Cornwall in 1976.[1]

According to Shiels, "Owlman" was reported again on 3 July that year by two 14-year-old girls identified as Sally Chapman and Barbara Perry, who had been camping at the time when they were confronted by Owlman. They were previously aware of the "Owlman" tale.


Owlman has been described as a "feathered bird-man" which would linger around church towers. He is also described as looking like "a big owl with pointed ears, as big as a man" with glowing eyes and black talons.[2]


Beyond the initial sightings by the girls in 1976, there have been sporadic claims of "Owlman" sightings in the vicinity of the church. These sightings circulated in 1978, 1979, 1989, and 1995, and according to legend, a "loud, owl-like sound" could be heard at night in the Mullion church yard during the year 2000.[3]

Scientific Explanation

According to author Joe Nickell, church towers are common nesting places for barn owls, which were likely the source of the sightings.[4][5] 

Author and Fortean TV presenter Reverend Lionel Fanthorpe also identifies the sighting of a Eurasian eagle-owl as a likely source of the legend.[6]

Occult historian Gareth Medway suggested that the whole thing may have been a hoax by Shiels, who had a reputation for hoaxing. Medway noted that witnesses claiming encounters with the legendary monster "were either Doc Shiels, or friends of Doc Shiels, or relatives of Doc Shiels, or reported their sightings to Doc Shiels (and to no one else), or else wrote letters describing what they had seen to newspapers and were never interviewed by anyone."[7]

Modern Depictions


  • Downes, Jonathan (1997). The Owlman and Others. Corby: Domra Publications. p. 239. ISBN 0-9524417-6-4.
  • McEwan, Graham J. (1986). Mystery Animals of Britain and Ireland. London: Robert Hale. p. 224. ISBN 0-7090-2801-6. (pp150–153)

Films & Animations

  • "The Owlman Feeds at Midnight" is an episode in Season 1 of the popular children's TV show The Secret Saturdays. The plot of the episode involves a town terrorised by a cryptid Owlman.
  • A cult worshipping the Owlman in a rural Cornish village is the central focus of the 2014 play Owlman by Emily Brownell and Exploding Fish Improv.
  • The Owlman is depicted in the Scottish independent horror film Lord of Tears directed by Lawrie Brewster. In this film, The Owlman represents the semitic god Muloch.



  1. Tony Deane; Tony Shaw (1 March 2009). Folklore of Cornwall. History Press. pp. 109–. ISBN 978-0-7509-5652-9.
  2. Peter Grego (15 July 2013). Cornwall's Strangest Tales: Extraordinary but true stories. Pavilion Books. pp. 139–. ISBN 978-1-909396-43-2.
  3. Janet Bord; Colin Bord (1980). Alien Animals. Stackpole Books. ISBN 978-0-8117-0088-7.
  4. "Nerve gas and a winged spectre... it's just an everyday story of country folk". Western Morning News.
  5. Joe Nickell (29 September 2010). The Mystery Chronicles: More Real-Life X-Files. University Press of Kentucky. pp. 57–. ISBN 0-8131-3707-1.
  6. "This Spectred Isle - The Owlman of Mawnan Wood"Countryfile MagazineBBC. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  7. Medway, Gareth. "Monstrous Tales"Magonia Magazine. Magonia. Retrieved 18 January 2017.