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Tales of Curses from Around the Isles

Do not underestimate the ghostly lepus.

White Hare

Location: Airdrie (Lanarkshire) - Area which was once known as Lover's Leap, on the road towards Faskine
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Eighteenth century?
Further Comments: The manifestation of a white hare would warn the Kerr family of impending doom. The site known as Lover's Leap marked the spot where a Kerr woman was found dead (along with her lover) shortly after this magic white hare was spotted.


Location: Alloa (Clackmannanshire) - Alloa Tower
Type: Curse
Date / Time: 1500-1800
Further Comments: One long, detailed curse resulted in the Erskines' losing their home (amongst other personal disasters), and now the castle remains empty.

Cursed Bottles

Location: Alnwick (Northumberland) - Ye Olde Cross public house
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Still present?
Further Comments: A collection of bottles on display in the pub are reportedly cursed - the last person to touch them died soon after, and now they are covered up to avoid further mishaps.

Family Curse

Location: Anwoth (Dumfries and Galloway) - Cardoness Castle
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A curse placed on the castle ensured its ultimate ruin - three owners went bankrupt, and a fourth owner and his family were drowned in the nearby loch when the ice cracked whilst they skated in winter.

Granite Stones

Location: Aviemore (Highland) - Rothiemurchus churchyard
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Still present?
Further Comments: A legend says that five cylinder shaped stones mark the spot where the last of the Comyns family is buried. The stones vanish and reappear depending on how the House of Rothiemurchus is fairing, but if moved or taken by a human hand, that person is doomed to die. One story says the stones where stolen by a group of people who were later found dead in a car, the stones discovered standing upright nearby.

Curse of Ballinacourty

Location: Ballinacourty (County Waterford) - Ballinacourty house (no longer standing), and general area
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A mother whose son was hanged by a local sheriff for being 'lazy' cursed all who lived in the area to endure the heartbreak she felt.

No Ploughing

Location: Ballylusk (County Laois) - Old burial ground
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A farmer who tried to plough this sacred land died after falling and banging his head. The two horses drawing the plough died the following day.

The Laidly Worm, from the 1895 book English Folk and Fairy Tales by Joseph Jacobs.

The Laidly Worm

Location: Bamburgh (Northumberland) - Spindlestone Heugh (aka Spindlestone Crag)
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Sixth century?
Further Comments: This area was, for a brief time, home to a large slimy serpent - it turned out to be the daughter of the king, transformed by a curse from her evil stepmother. The king's son discovered the truth, saved his sister, and turned his mother into a toad. Another variant of the story says a dragon held the king's daughter hostage until she was saved by a knight who came from overseas.

Animal Sickness

Location: Bantry (County Cork) - Farm near old Danish fort
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Pre 1938
Further Comments: A local story claimed that any disturbance to the fort would result in livestock death, although the farmer's wife disbelieved the tales and dug out an old well on the site. Cows soon fell ill, and calves died. The warning heeded, the woman filled in the well, and as the last stone put in place, a dreadful, disembodied laugh could be heard. The sick cows recovered.

Druid's Curse

Location: Bingley (Yorkshire) - Ryshworth Hall
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Circa 1990
Further Comments: A sixty centimetre stone head, thought to be Celtic, was deemed to be cursed after several people who encountered it became bankrupt, ill or died.

Gypsy Curse

Location: Birmingham (West Midlands) - St Andrews, Birmingham City Football Club
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A local legend says that a community of gypsies were evicted from the land many years ago, enabling the construction of the stadium. St Andrews is one of several football grounds around the country that claims this gypsy curse is responsible for any bad luck they encounter.

Cursed Giant

Location: Blackgang Chime (Isle of Wight) - Cave in the area (no longer present?)
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: The chime was once a lush area, rich in vegetation and the hunting ground of a giant who feasted upon children. A holy man cursed the giant and the area, ensuring nothing would ever grow there again.

Woman in Black

Location: Blackpool (Lancashire) - Ripley's Odditorium
Type: Curse
Date / Time: 1970s
Further Comments: When the skull of a local girl was displayed here, several people reported seeing a spectral female figure standing by it. The skull's owner was convinced the item was cursed and died a week after finally giving it away.

Cursed Stone

Location: Boat of Garten (Highland) - River Spey
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Still present?
Further Comments: When the waters are low, an inscribed stone can be seen in the river - it is believed cursed, and anyone who meddles with it is doomed. Adding to the treachery of the waters, a white horse is said to patrol the river, looking for people to drown.

Smuggler Curse

Location: Bognor Regis (Sussex) - The Old Vicarage, Sudley Road
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: A curse was placed on this building after the vicar attempted to stop local smuggling activities. The building no longer stands, but the area (which now has shops built on top) is still said to be unlucky and haunted by the sounds of footsteps.

Sir Thomas Boleyn Drives Headless Horses

Location: Breckles (Norfolk) - Breckles Hall
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: The father of Anne Boleyn is said to be cursed with driving his coach over forty (or eleven) Norfolk bridges. One of the passing points is Breckles Hall, where the spectre once scared a poacher to death (another version states that the poacher was taken by the Devil because of his constant law breaking). Locals say that anyone who views the coach is dragged down to hell.

Cedar of Lebanon

Location: Bretby (Derbyshire) - Tree on the grounds of Bretby Hospital (no longer standing)
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Tree felled during 1950s
Further Comments: A local legend said that Lady Margaret had thrown herself off a tower here, her blood spilling on the tree which resulted in it being cursed. If a branch fell from the tree, a member of the family residing at the hall was said to die soon after.

Cursed Cranium

Location: Brougham (Cumbria) - Brougham Hall
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: The cursed skull created havoc whenever removed from the property, so a solution-focused individual finally walled it up in a room of the hall.

Cursed Skull

Location: Browsholme (Lancashire) - Browsholme Hall
Type: Curse
Date / Time: 1850s
Further Comments: When the skull was last removed from the hall (as a joke), it was blamed for spontaneous fires and family deaths. The skull was quickly returned and has not left since.

St Mary's Churchyard, Bury St Edmunds.

Maude Carew

Location: Bury St Edmunds (Suffolk) - St Mary's Churchyard
Type: Curse
Date / Time: 24 February, 23:00h (reoccurring)
Further Comments: Cursed by a monk after Maude murdered the Duke of Gloucester in 1447, her shade is now said to appear once a year. The alleged ghost often brings dozens of people to the area in the hope of seeing her.

Petrified Sack of Corn

Location: Caistor (Lincolnshire) - Fonaby Top
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Still present
Further Comments: The large rock on top of the hill was once a sack of corn owned by a selfish farmer. The farmer refused to give a handful of grain to a passing holy man, who turned the sack into stone as punishment. A curse is said to fall on anyone who tries to move the stone - this was experienced by Gentleman John Walls, who used four shire horses to move the rock to his front door at Corn Sack Farm after taking a liking to it. Misfortune soon befell him, and he moved it back soon after (only requiring one horse for the return trip).

Open Window

Location: Cambridge (Cambridgeshire) - Eagle public house
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Window still present, poltergeist late 1970s?
Further Comments: One story says a window in the upper part of the pub is cursed; if it is ever closed then ill fortune follows. Like so many other pubs, the site was also once home to a poltergeist, and is also said to be haunted by the ghosts of two Second World War airmen.

Unlucky Art

Location: Carlisle (Cumbria) - Cursing Stone, Carlisle Museum
Type: Curse
Date / Time: 2001 onwards
Further Comments: Since the installation of artist Gordon Young's sculpted granite 'Cursing Stone' inscribed with a 16th century curse in one of Carlisle's museums in 2001, misfortune has plagued the city - local farm stock were wiped out by foot-and-mouth disease, a devastating flood occurred, several factories have closed, a boy killed in a local bakery and Carlisle United football team dropped a league.

Don't Talk

Location: Caterham (Surrey) - Tree on High Street
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Tree still present
Further Comments: Local legend says a witch was executed on this tree, cursing it while dying. Something untoward is supposed to happen to the loved ones of those who talk beneath the branches, while highly superstitious folk hold their breath while scampering past.

Toppling Tower

Location: Chelmondiston (Suffolk) - St. Andrew's church
Type: Curse
Date / Time: Varies (see below)
Further Comments: St. Andrew's church tower was cursed by a local witch. First it burned down, and when rebuild was struck by lightning and burned down again. To prevent this from happening a third time, a large square tower was built, only to be hit by a bomb during the Second World War.

Records 1 - 25 of 104

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