|This round barrow (unusual for Staffordshire with its bank and ditch) is on a little hill called 'The Roundabout', just outside Norbury. It overlooks the 'High Bridge' over the canal, which I believe to be the location for the following story (the other bridge near Norbury looks too near buildings to be scary). I wonder if its presence added to the uncannyness of the location. I'd like to think so.
A short distance from the village there is a bridge over the Birmingham and Liverpool Canal which is always regarded as rather an uncanny place at night. A labouring man who had to cross this bridge with a horse and cart about ten o'clock one evening in January, 1879, arrived at home in an extraordinary state of fright and agitation, and related that just as he passed the bridge a black thing with white eyes sprang out of the hedgerow on to his horse.p368 in
The terrified horse broke into a gallop; the man tried to knock off the creature with his whip, but the whip went through the Thing and fell from his hand to the ground. How he got rid of the intruder or reached home at last he hardly knew, but the whip was picked up the next day just where he said he had dropped it.
The story of his strange encounter quickly spread, and this was the explanation that was offered by a local wiseacre: "It was the Man-Monkey as always does come again on the Big Bridge, ever since the man was drowned in the 'Cut'."
Staffordshire Folk and Their Lore
C. S. Burne
Folklore, Vol. 7, No. 4. (Dec., 1896), pp. 366-386.
She has a longer version in 'Shropshire Folklore' in which it's not a 'wiseacre' but the policeman!
Posted by Rhiannon
13th April 2007ce
Edited 8th May 2011ce