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Reigate Heath

Barrow / Cairn Cemetery


Ok this isn't exactly connected with the barrows, but with the nearby brook and a stone there. It was said to be haunted by the Buckland Shag, "a four footed beast with a shaggy coat." Sounds like one of those big black dogs to me - and they often like barrows too. The actual story refers to where the Shag Brook crosses the main road, which would be at TQ228508.

"By the side of this very stream laid a large stone for I know not how many years - perhaps for centuries." The lane here was the place where the owner of the manor house of Buckland used to take a local girl courting. But although he swore 'eternal fidelity' the cad was just trying to.. well you know the name of the stream. When he suggested this the poor girl was so shocked that 'her pure spirit escaped' from her body and she dropped down dead. This must have been a bit of a shock because the poor man then felt the need to stab himself with his own dagger, and fell dead next to her.

The next morning someone (probably walking their dog) spotted a lovely untainted pure stream and a dark stone, dripping blood into it - the implication, you see, being that they had been transformed into these emblems of Innocence and Hardened Wickedness. Well, "this legend has, perhaps naturally, raised a local spectre. At the dreary hour of midnight a terrific object has been seen lingering about the spot." It used to be seen on the stone, but some interfering descendent of the manor owner moved the stone to his own place. But "the stone, however, still continued to bleed, and I believe it oozes forth its crimson drops even to the present day. Its removal did not remove or intimidate the spectre."

There is some more on the beast, but unfortunately the scan on Google Books misses this page out.

From p485 of The Gentleman's Magazine, Dec 1827 (v97).

On the high road between Buckland and Reigate the devil is popularly believed to amuse himself with dancing, sometimes in the shape of a dog, and at others in that of a donkey.. He has been shot at repeatedly, but his Satanic Majesty turned out as might have been expected altogether bullet-proof. One old fellow, who was bolder than his neighbours, then ventured near enough to run a pitch-fork through him, but he danced on as merrily as ever.. Some unbelievers, however, who have a wonderful propensity for explaining everything by natural causes, have hinted at the presence of marshy grounds in the neighbourhood as being likely enough to have originated certain meteoric illusions, which by the usual process of exaggeration might grow into a dancing devil.. the people choose to believe their own eye-sight, and will not give up their Buckland Hag, as they call this apparition, let philosophy say what it pleases.

p207 in 'New Curiosities of Literature' by George Soane (1849).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
11th April 2007ce
Edited 30th October 2007ce

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