26 Jun: The Real Pied Piper

What happened to the 130 children that went missing from the town of Hamlein, Lower Saxony on 26th June, 1284? According to legend, a vindictive ‘Pied Piper’ took revenge after the town had failed to stump up for his magical pest control services. But numerous sources corroborate that, fairy tales aside, the town’s children really did disappear. 

An inscription on the facade of a timbered house in the city, dating back to 1602, commemorates the strange event, and notes the Piper’s role in leading the children away (though it makes no mention of rats). And church records and stained glass windows depict a Piper leading away ghostly children. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly compare hypotheses on this centuries-old mystery; consider whether the kids were deliberately groomed to settle new communities; and reveal why the current-day Piper paraded for tourists is wearing the WRONG clothes…

Further Reading:

• ‘The grim truth behind the Pied Piper’ (BBC Travel, 2020): https://www.bbc.com/travel/article/20200902-the-grim-truth-behind-the-pied-piper

• ‘The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning’ (Poetry Foundation): https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/45818/the-pied-piper-of-hamelin

• ‘Faerie Tale Theatreseries: The Pied Piper of Hamelin’ (Showtime, 1986):