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7 Haunted and mysterious locations in North East England

7 Haunted and mysterious locations in North East England

You often hear "it's grim up North", but you might just encounter the grim reaper himself if you dare to venture to any of these seven haunted and mysterious locations in North East England 

The ferocity of the North Sea, whipped up by icy winds, is matched by the savage deaths suffered by the spirits that haunt this rugged region, from a slaughtered wedding party to a rebellious lord.

1. Farne Islands 

Farne islands and sea in Northumberland Credit: Philip Openshaw

Cuthbert, Bishop of Lindisfarne, came to live on Farne Island in the sixth century, and had to evict the spirits that frequented the place. They retreated only as far as the outlying islands, where their screams could be still be heard. 

"Hideously deformed, dark-featured wraiths have been reported on the islands"

Hideously deformed, dark-featured wraiths have been reported on the islands, usually riding on goats—a beast favoured by the Devil. Some people believe they are the ghosts of drowned sailors. 

2. Alnwick 

Close by the historic town of Alnwick is the now disused Shilbottle Colliery, where one miner, working alone, had a terrifying experience. 

It was the man's job to check the mine's ventilation points. Working one day in a far corner of the mine, he went past a spot where, decades earlier, men had died when part of the roof collapsed. Suddenly his lamp went out.

As he stood alone in the dark, he heard a man’s voice say clearly, "Have you got a light, mate" and just as quickly, the lamp came on again—but no one was there.

Terrified, he raced back to the pit-head, white with shock and exhaustion. So marked was he by the experience that, to the end of his working life, he would only venture into the mine when others were with him. 

3. Dunstanburgh Castle 

Dunstanburgh castle from the shore Credit: Pixabay 

The imposing ruin of Dunstanburgh Castle, northeast of Alnwick, is haunted by its first lord, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster, who led a rebellion against his uncle, Edward II. The revolt failed and Thomas was imprisoned at Pontefract Castle before his execution. 

His end was horrific—it took an inexperienced executioner 11 blows to sever his head from his body. Thomas' ghost has been seen walking amid the ruins of the great castle he built, carrying his mutilated head. 

"Thomas' ghost has been seen walking amid the ruins of the great castle he built, carrying his mutilated head"

Chillingham Castle’s modern masters live alongside a host of spirits, including  John Sage, who was renowned for his brutal torture of prisoners in Edward I’s wars against the Scots.

When the tide turned against him, Sage was hanged in the grounds of Chillingham and the crowd took souvenirs from his body, cutting off his toes, fingers, testicles and nose while he was still alive. He has been seen wandering the castle many times since then.

In the Pink Room, a boy—known as the Blue Boy or the Radiant Boy—was walled up alive for apparently trying to aid the Spanish at the time of the Armada. When his body was found, the fingers had been worn away from trying to scrabble his way out. His cries of pain and fear have sometimes been heard around midnight and the figure of a boy has been seen.

4. Alnmouth 

The Schooner Hotel in Alnmouth has been twice voted Britain's most haunted hotel by the Poltergeist Society. 

Over the years, 60 individual supernatural entities have been glimpsed there, with around 3,000 sightings in total. These include glowing orbs, a young boy on a tricycle, a uniformed man and a phantom chicken. 

Ghostly whispering and screams have been heard, and visitors have reported sensations of being watched in certain rooms, accompanied by feelings of dread, dizziness and even sickness. 

5. Rothbury 

Cup and rings in rocks in Rothbury Credit: daverhead

Prehistorical carvings on stone are common in Northumberland, with about 950 examples of rock art in interwoven cup and ring shapes recorded on stone outcrops.

However, a more recent find near Rothbury has baffled experts. It comprises a heart shape and the stylised carving of a face, along with a more complex pattern of lines and circles. The carvings seems to be much younger than the usual cup and ring designs—perhaps only 100 to 300 years old. 

6. Featherstone 

The ghosts of members of a wedding party, including the bride and groom, are reputed to haunt the grounds of Featherstone Castle near Haltwhistle. They were waylaid in the woods of Pinkingscleugh Glen and murdered by the bride's rejected lover. 

During the terrible massacre, the victims' blood flowed into a hollow rock that became known as the Raven's stone. Legend does not record the date, but the bride was the daughter of a former Baron Featherstonehaugh, who never recovered from the loss of his child. The wedding party is said to ride again on the anniversary of the ambush. 

7. Elsdon

Elsdon, Winter's Gibbet Credit: Phil Thirkell

Just outside the village of Elsdon is a gibbet from which hangs a sinister head. It has a curious history. 

On August 10, 1792, a notorious criminal, William Winter, and two sisters, Jane and Elanor Clark, were executed at the Westgate in Newcastle. They were alleged to have murdered an elderly woman, Margaret Crozier, at Raw Pele near Elsdon. The women's bodies were sent for dissection but Winter's was hung in chains on Whiskershields Common. 

"The women's bodies were sent for dissection but Winter's was hung in chains on Whiskershields Common"

When the remains were eventually cut down, Winter's bones were scattered and his skull dispatched to a Mr Darnell in Newcastle. A reason for this was never reported. 

Some 75 years later, in 1867, the story was resurrected when, for some reason, Sir Walter Trevelyan had a replica of the gibbet put up on his land with a wooden body swinging from its arm.

During this time the gibbet was viewed with considerable superstition, with people even claiming that chips taken from it had the magical ability of curing toothache. The head that now hangs there today is made of glass fibre. 

Banner credit: Neal Rylatt

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