Despite it being the approach to summer, I've been having a lot of conversations lately about East Anglia, folklore, spookiness and just how strange it all is. I said I'd write about it, so let me tell you about the creepiness I'd come across each day… /1
For one year, in 2014/2015, upon moving to the UK, we lived in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. Our house was up towards the town border between Great Yarmouth and Caister. That's where they'd hang the witches in the 16th and 17th centuries, near the dunes… /2
Every day, on the way to school, I'd pass over the tunnel between the churchyard of St Nicholas & the houses on the other side, where they'd funnel grave-robbed bodies for anatomists in the 19th century. Oh, and the pub next door, the 'White Horse', had a poltergeist problem. /3
My first school was walking distance from the ruins of a Saxon shore fort, Burgh Castle. Every April 27, a figure is seen being thrown off one of the walls, believed to be a Saxon prisoner.
The infamous 'Black Shuck', the famous demonic hound, is said to roam the site too. /4
Later, I acted as Head of Humanities at a school in Lowestoft, Suffolk - a forty-five minute bus ride. Each day, I'd pass by the hamlet of Cotton, and the church. On cold nights, a man's suicide from the tower is said to repeat with a scream, should a traveller happen by. /5
Living on Great Yarmouth was, sorry to say, quite depressing - just a really nasty vibe. Therefore, I'd do everything I could to get out.
That usually meant travelling by bus down the Acle Straight, a long expanse of flat road, often wreathed in mist. /6
I used to joke to @PretzelEmpress that if you wandered into the mists, you'd never be seen again, or end up wandering into a Roman encampment.
The road is notorious for hauntings, figures running out in front of cars, phantom horses, etc. Lots of 'unexplained fatalities'. /7
Sometimes I'd get off the bus at Acle. I'd go see the poem written on the wall during the Black Death in the church, or walk about, crossing the bridge where a man slaughtered another in the 19th century for killing his sister. Bloodstains are said to periodically appear. /8
We'd often end up in Norwich, walking past the Augustine Seward house, where the pitiful ghost of a young girl was said to flit. She died during a 16th century plague, but not from sickness. She'd resorted to gnawing on her parent's limbs before starvation claimed her. /9
Sometimes we'd stroll along the Wensum, past the Lollard's Pit pub, where Protestant martyrs were burned alive. Some folks still claim to hear screams.
We'd also pass where Lord Sheffield took a cleaver to the head during Kett's Rebellion of 1549. He haunts the nearby pub. /10
Occasionally, due to roadworks, the bus would take us home via a bypass near Caister, where drivers still report, as recently as 2010, the odd Roman soldier marching along, from the very much defunct nearby fort. /11
The spooky tales were fantastic, and one reason I loved living there, but perhaps even more special was the relative emptiness of it all - ancient landscapes under vast skies. When I wandered on weekends, I wouldn't see anyone for hours. /12
These days, I live on the edge of Luton, with only the site of a gallows, a Bronze Age cemetery & a spectral dog to keep me company in this way.
It's been a tough year, & I often find myself thinking about my walks in Norfolk, past ancient, gnarled trees and silent fields. /14
You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.
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