Lincoln imp in the Cathedral

Lincolnshire’s spooky folklore

Lincolnshire is steeped in culture and history which dates back centuries, along with this comes tales which have been passed along generations becoming folkloric and part of the cultural character of Lincolnshire. However, not all of these stories are simple gossip, some have a much more sinister origin. Tales of spirits, hauntings and mystical beings are all present in the traditional folklore of Lincolnshire, here are a few of these tales which are sure to bring up thoughts of the upcoming Hallows eve.

Black Shuck

The first tale concerns the spirit of a ghostly dog, a common fixture in folklore across regions of the UK including Yorkshire, Dartmoor etc. Lincolnshire’s own iteration of this spectral hound comes in the form of ‘Black Shuck’ also known as the hellhound of East Anglia. The term ‘shuck’ is thought to be derived from the old English word ‘Scucca’ which means demon or devil. Black Shuck is thought to be nocturnal and sighted in places normally associated with death, sadness, evil all which also have a relation to a transition often from life to death. Some also note that the dog is commonly spotted along pathways and wandering through the moorlands in across East Anglia, described as having eyes as big as saucers and a scruffy mane, it is said that whilst its howl could be heard in the night, its footsteps were silent adding to the spirits menace. In some accounts Black Shuck is considered as a harbinger of death, in others a companion. Sightings in Lincolnshire include Cawthorpe and Haughton, and although descriptions vary, all convey a large ghostly dog-like beast larger than any other dog. Believe what you will but as we get deeper into Autumn and the nights continue to get darker, you too may wearily stumble across the path of the East Anglian hellhound!

The Lincoln Imps

Allegedly the work of the Devil, the Lincoln Imps were sent to cause chaos and disorder in the Cathedral, including destroying the stained glass amongst other things. To stop the Imps an angel was sent, turning the Imps to stone. One Imp however appeared to remain, insulting the angel, the angel responded by turning the single Imp to stone where he sat. The Rebellious Imp can still be seen upon the cathedral, other Imp statues can be seen around Lincoln upon different monuments and even as door knockers. Various version of this story exist including one which sees an Imp blown by strong winds into the cathedral, another follows a similar pattern as the original but the angel gives one of the Imps a second chance only for the Imp to escape with the help of a witch on her broomstick!

Nanny Rutt

A story out of Thurby Lincolnshire, a girl is alleged to have gone alone into Math Wood only to be taken by a figure known as Nanny Ruth. The girl was thought to be meeting a lover in the woods, however on her way she was met by a figure in a dark shawl who warned the girl of the wood at night but also about the dangers of her clandestine meeting. The girl realises her lover is not coming, upset she wonders into a clearing with a small stone dwelling only to see the ghostly figure of the woman in the doorway. The girl freezes in fear, the woman falls upon her and the girl is never seen again. The tale is often attributed to a preventative effort by parents to stop their children from entering the wood after dark. Whatever the true meaning of the story, would you go into the wood if Nanny Rutt was hanging about in her hut? Thought not.

As is the case with the majority of Britain, folk stories have persisted through generations each with their own meanings and origins, here are examples which are especially spooky and worthy of a suggestion this Halloween season.

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