Merrily, who runs the Dorset Big Cat Register www.dorsetbigcats.org - has researched thousands of sightings of anomalous big cats (ABCs) roaming Britain. Sightings of these mysterious felines, described as being like pumas or panthers, are higher in Dorset than any other county in England.
Meeting or glimpsing a Big Cat could, Merrily suggests, be the nearest we get in Britain to a ‘brush with the unknown’. She discovers that these mystery felines have been with us for longer than we imagine, in folklore and familiar to the Neoplatonists as daimons (not demons) – intermediaries between this world and another. They may ‘at the very least change your view of a landscape that can produce such beautiful and elusive creatures’.
Merrily Harpur is a freelance cartoonist, illustrator and writer and has contributed regularly to many national newspapers and magazines. Living between Dorset and Ireland, in 2002 she created the Dorset Big Cats Register, a gazetteer of locations and eyewitness accounts.
She has written two books on the subject, Roaring Dorset! Encounters with Big Cats (pub 2008, Roving Press) documents some of the closest and most vivid encounters. Mystery Big Cats (pub 2006, Heart of Albion) investigated the big cat phenomena nationwide and received huge critical acclaim.
- Free admission but by ticket only (available from school reception two weeks prior; Tel 01305 266064).
- More information visit www.thomas-hardye.dorset.sch.uk