The Owlman: Paranormal Creature in Mawnan, Cornwall

Updated on June 4, 2018
kittythedreamer profile image

Kitty has had paranormal experiences her entire life. These experiences have fueled her passion to write about all things supernatural.

The Owlman is said to have eyes as round as this mottled owl's.
The Owlman is said to have eyes as round as this mottled owl's. | Source

The Owlman of Mawnan

How many odd, supernatural creatures are lurking in the shadows? You've heard of the Lochness Monster, and you've heard of Bigfoot. But have you heard of The Owlman of Mawnan? Our fears and fascination with birds take a bone-chilling spin in this little-known Cornish legend.

The Owlman of Mawnan is a cryptid that has been seen on several occasions in the village of Mawnan in Cornwall. From his name, you can probably take a guess as to what he looks like...that's right. He's a terrifying mixture of a giant owl and a man. The folklore of this creature has been circulating Mawnan since the 1970s, but the history of the Owlman could possibly date back to centuries before. Let's explore this paranormal legend: the theories, the sightings, and the potential origins.

A photo of Mawnan Church, the very place of the majority of The Owlman sightings.
A photo of Mawnan Church, the very place of the majority of The Owlman sightings. | Source
The Mawnan Church's Bier House and Lych Gate.
The Mawnan Church's Bier House and Lych Gate. | Source

Sightings of The Owlman

Being that the Owlman is a pretty popular legend in Cornwall, you would think the sightings would date back centuries...but alas, this is just not true. The sightings first started in the 1970s - 1976 to be exact. And yes, you guessed it...two young girls had witnessed The Owlman's frightening appearance while on a leisurely walk (in the dark) by Mawnan Church. The girls swore to their father that they had seen a large creature perched on top of the Church tower. They explained the creature as having wings, and flying about the skies above the Church in Mawnan. This incident was reported via a letter to a paranormal investigator by the name of Tony Shiels. The witnesses were a twelve-year-old and nine-year-old girl. This is not to discredit the sighting, but to draw attention to detail.

Another Owlman of Mawnan sighting occurred that same year, a few months after the first chilling sighting. Again, two young girls reportedly saw a large creature that resembled a man with wings, red glowing eyes, and razor sharp claws. This sighting occurred near the Mawnan Church while the young adolescents were camping. For the record, these two girls knew of the previous sighting as they had read about it in the news prior to their camping trip.

Then after the sightings of 1976, the legend of the Owlman of Mawnan fell off the media stream a bit. Another sighting didn't occur until the late 1980s, and this time The Owlman didn't show himself to two young girls but to two stable-minded adults. Then the last sighting took place in 1995 by a woman who was visiting from the United States. She wrote her story and sent it to a newspaper, and her explanation of the Owlman's features were eerily similar to the other three sightings.

Since the incident in 1995, there have been no reported sightings. Is the Owlman of Mawnan still out there? Does he only show himself on certain occasions to certain individuals? Could he have been just a collective figment of the imagination? Let's explore the theories and potential origins behind this creepy Cornish tale.

The Lych Gate of Mawnan Church...the place that kept a cover over the dead bodies until the priest could perform funerary services.
The Lych Gate of Mawnan Church...the place that kept a cover over the dead bodies until the priest could perform funerary services. | Source
A photo of the road leading from Mawnan Church to town. I can picture The Owlman lurking in the trees here.
A photo of the road leading from Mawnan Church to town. I can picture The Owlman lurking in the trees here. | Source

Theories of The Owlman's Origins

Whether the sightings of the Owlman of Mawnan are legitimate or not, the legend is prominent in the town of Mawnan to this day. Theories on the Owlman's origins abound and probably range from "ghost" to "alien" in nature. After digging into the history of the town of Mawnan and the ancient Celtic people who resided there centuries ago, I have put together some theories of The Owlman's origins. Please vote in the poll to follow.

Well before the reign of the Roman Empire, a large portion of Europe was considered to be part of the Celtic Empire. The ancient Celts were very much residents of what is now known as Great Britain. So if we look back at what the ancient Celts believed, we can see that the owl was considered to be a sacred animal. Some tribes believed that Owls were wise, night messengers or perhaps even a psychopomp of sorts (psychopomp is a spiritual guide to the other-world). They were also seen as guardians of the dead, and were heavily associated with the Goddess in her oldest aspect (the crone). Two Celtic goddesses thought to be able to transform into an owl included Arianrhod and Blodeuwedd. Though these two were Welsh goddesses, it is possible that other Celtic tribes probably had their own form of owl deities. My question and theory is this—is it possible that the Owlman is simply an ancient Celtic guardian deity...there to guard and guide the dead to the otherside? In fact, the sightings of The Owlman of Mawnan take place over the parish church of Mawnan, which also is the site of an old graveyard dating back to the thirteenth century. Often these religious sites were built on top of old Celtic pagan religious or burial sites.

Another of my theories involves the idea that the church itself might indeed be haunted by various ghosts. Take for instance the Mawnan Church's Lych gate pictured above. A lych gate was a place where people would bring a recently deceased corpse to shelter from the harsh weather while waiting for a priest to perform funerary rites. These lych gates were connected to lych roads (corpse roads) and are connected to many frightening hauntings throughout Europe. Is it possible that The Owlman is simply a long-since-dead ghost who is able to manifest itself into the shape of an owl at will?

If you don't believe that ghosts can manifest in various forms, perhaps you might believe that The Owlman is in fact a demon of some kind? My grandmother used to say that ghosts were actually demons playing tricks on us human beings. Could it be a demon instead of a ghost? Or is The Owlman an extraterrestrial from another planet?

Modern day pagans might be inclined to say that The Owlman is in fact none of these things. He is most likely an ancient spirit that guards the land, known as an "elemental". These spirits were helpers of sorts to the ancient gods and were guardians of nature. And now that we as human beings are knocking down trees to make way for technology and large buildings, these elementals can be angered and manifest to try to scare away intruders. In fact, some believe that a lot of "poltergeist" cases might actually be attributed to ancient elemental spirits. They aren't out to hurt us, but they will do what it takes to guard their ancient sacred places.

Or maybe none of these are correct, and The Owlman of Mawnan is merely a figment of our overactive imaginations. But if this was the case, and logic wins the race, at least we had fun in the meantime, right?

Well, what do you think?

Please Vote in the Poll:

Which origin of The Owlman is most likely?

See results

Logic or Belief?

In many supernatural cryptid cases, we might be inclined to judge the people who believe in such whacky things...until we experience or witness these things for ourselves. That's where logic transforms into belief of the unknown and misunderstood. In a world that criticizes people for believing in God, angels, ghosts, and the like...we can't expect these same people to believe in such things as The Owlman. But perhaps these same people will get the surprise of a lifetime when they see a huge birdman themselves!

Questions & Answers

    © 2014 Kitty Fields


    Submit a Comment
    • newbizmau profile image

      Maurice Glaude 

      4 years ago from Mobile, AL

      I'm reading the Beautiful Creatures series. I haven't gotten to Dangerous Creatures yet.

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      4 years ago from Summerland

      Thanks, Moonlight Owl! I agree, they are similar in appearance and sightings.

    • Moonlight Owl profile image

      Sarah Sweet-Lensing 

      4 years ago from Haslett

      Interesting, I had never heard of this before, but it reminds me a lot of Mothman. Very cool to read about.

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      4 years ago from Summerland

      CMHypno - Wow, thanks for sharing! Very good idea that it might have something to do with the radioactive earth. I wouldn't think they are making it up, I just like to look at stories from all sides of the spectrum. :)

    • CMHypno profile image


      4 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      I grew up just over the border from Cornwall. It is a very atmospheric place where there are many stories of the fairy folk, King Arthur and the paranormal. The only people who know the truth about the Owlman are the people who witnessed the sightings. Yes they may have made it up or were mistaken in what saw, but why would they? One thing that may have an impact on the high levels of paranormal phenomena is that both Dartmoor and a lot of Cornwall is mainly granite which is slightly radioactive?

    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      4 years ago from Summerland

      Eddy - And to you! Thanks for reading!

      FlourishAnyway - Thanks so much! Gotta love a spooky story...even if Halloween is months away. Hehe.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      Very creepy. I enjoyed this spooky tale and pinned it to my Halloween and Spooky Stuff board.

    • Eiddwen profile image


      4 years ago from Wales

      A great read so vote up, across and shared.

      Here's wishing you a great weekend.


    • kittythedreamer profile imageAUTHOR

      Kitty Fields 

      4 years ago from Summerland

      Ellie - Yes! In fact, other people have compared The Owlman to the Mothman. Creepy stuff! Thanks for reading. :)

    • Ellie Shay profile image

      Ellie Shay 

      4 years ago

      Oo very interesting! This kind of reminded me of the mothman creature reportedly seen in Point Pleasant, WV.


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