Spooky Stories
Things that go bump in the night.....

Folklore index

The Anorak is not learned enough to explain quite what it is in the human psyche that makes human beings create stories.  But any anthropologist will acknowledge that the myths and legends of a culture will say much more about people than the material goods left behind. In the final examination most goods serve a purpose. We may not always know what that purpose was -particularly in the case of ancient civilisations or those that were very different from our own - but often an item's form gives a clue to its function so we have a starting point.

But stories are different. They have no practical function but they are probably more universal to mankind, across continents and down the ages, than any other aspect of human behaviour. A particular type of story is that which explains some unusual phenomenon, whether it is a feature of the landscape or a local character. Many of that type have something else in common - they tend to be scary stories!  The following collection can be described at best as 'eclectic'.  Most will fall into the timescale of this site (roughly 1750-1914) although not all will.  Some are here just because they are fascinating examples of the human imagination.

 1758    The limestone gorge at Winnats Pass in Derbyshire was the site of a double murder of a pair of runaway lovers.  At the time the Peak Forest was an area with a relaxed attitude to marriage and couples could tie the knot at anytime of day or night so runaways often made their way there. The couple, Henry and Clara, were set upon by a group of lead miners, murdered and buried together in the pass. Their skeletons were found many years later.  The culprits were never found but, years afterwards a local lead miner confessed to the murder and said his accomplices had all died in hideous accidents, one in a rock fall, one hanged himself and the third went insane.  It was said to be a "striking instance of Divine Judgement".  Top of page

1812    Highwayman Anthony Lingard - the last man to hang from a public gibbet in Derbyshire - was hanged at a crossroads at Wardlow Mires after being found guilty of killing the widow who kept the local tollgate. His corpse proved such a popular sight that the local preacher was forced to move his services to the crossroads because no-one was going to church!   Top of page