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Ghosts, Folklore and Forteana of the Sea

An old postcard showing Aberdovey in Wales.

Lost Town

Location: Aberdovey (Gwynedd) - Off coast
Type: Legend
Date / Time: Summer (reoccurring)
Further Comments: Swallowed by the sea, church bells belonging to a town lost off the coast here can still be heard on quiet evenings. They say that at low tides one can see sunken tree trunks.

Swallowed Sounds

Location: Aberdyfi (Gwynedd) - Off coast
Type: Legend
Date / Time: Weather Dependent: Calm nights
Further Comments: The bells of a church which was swallowed by the sea can sometimes be heard when the weather is right.

Gwennon Gorn

Location: Abergele (Clwyd) - Sea off the coast
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Summer, 1967 or 1968
Further Comments: One legend says a phantom vessel, the boat of Prince Madoc, has been sighted just off the coast, vanishing just as quickly as it materialised. One witness said that she had seen it one summer; a ship containing several men, not dissimilar to Vikings, disappeared moments after being seen.

A ghostly fishing boat in the mist.

Nellie Flemming

Location: Ardmore (County Waterford) - Whiting bay to Glencairn Beach
Type: Other
Date / Time: 1940s
Further Comments: Two groups of fishermen half a mile out to sea observed a large fishing boat heading towards them. Even though the boat made no sound and did not create any waves, the fishermen pulled back their nets fearing that the vessel contained customs officers and hid in the nearby coves for the boat to pass - but it had vanished. A fortnight later, a huge storm hit the area and a local schooner named 'Nellie Flemming' was lost without trace, and the fishermen became convinced that the 'Nellie Flemming' was the strange boat they had seen.


Location: Atherfield (Isle of Wight) - Stretch of coast between Atherfield and Blackgang
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Twentieth century?
Further Comments: Thought to be the ghost of either a smugger or a shipwrecked sailor, this figure has been seen wearing a long black jacket walking out to sea. Night fishermen sometimes hear footsteps crossing the single, though cannot see anything.

Vanishing Island

Location: Ballycotton (County Cork) - Off coast
Type: Environmental Manifestation
Date / Time: 7 July 1878
Further Comments: Local fishermen awoke to see a strange new island out to sea, covered with trees and rocks. As dozens climbed into their boats and set off towards it, the island faded from view.

Great Fish

Location: Ballycotton (County Cork) - Somewhere between Ballycotton and Old Head of Kinsale
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: Circa May 1906
Further Comments: A fishing vessel reported being attacked by a dark fish the size of a whale. The fish rammed the boat several times, only ceasing the assault when the captain ordered the engines to be killed; after half an hour, the fish disappeared.

Long Serpent

Location: Banff (Aberdeenshire) - Off coast
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 1896
Further Comments: Eight crewmen of a lugger reported seeing a sea creature three hundred feet (ninety metres) long, with three huge humps. The beast made as much noise as a steamer while moving.

Snake-like Creature

Location: Barmouth (Gwynedd) - Menai Straits
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 1805
Further Comments: A ship was attacked by a sea serpent, which wrapped itself around the ships mast until the crew hit back - it fell back into the sea but followed the vessel for two more days before disappearing.


Location: Belfast (County Antrim) - HMS Caroline
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Currently undergoing refit as a museum, HMS Caroline is reputedly home to a phantom stoker who is said to have committed suicide on the ship.

Cantre'r Gwaelod

Location: Borth (Dyfed) - Off coast
Type: Legend
Date / Time: 1770
Further Comments: To the west of Borth, off the coast, lays the lost land of Cantre'r Gwaelod, a walled country which sunk after a prince forgot to close the flood gates. The bells are said to ring in times of danger, and the lost land was reputedly spotted under the sea in 1770 by William Owen Pughe.

Tolling Bell

Location: Boscastle (Cornwall) - Smugglers Cottage
Type: Crisis Manifestation
Date / Time: Last heard late twentieth century?
Further Comments: The tolling of a phantom bell said to either foretell a shipwreck in the area, or the sound itself comes from an old sunken ship.

Off the coast of Bouldnor, Isle of Wight.

Three-masted Ship

Location: Bouldnor (Isle of Wight) - Off coast
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1978, summer
Further Comments: Two people out night fishing spotted an old ship with three masts sailing towards them. The vessel appeared to be illuminated by several lanterns across its masts and bow. As the ship neared the witnesses, it slowly faded away.

An old postcard showing the shoreline of Bridlington in Yorkshire.

St John

Location: Bridlington (Yorkshire) - Sea and general area
Type: Other
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: St John was the Prior of the local church, with several miracles attributed to him during his life. He once spotted a fishing boat in trouble in Bridlington Bay - he walked out on the sea and pulled it to safety.

An old postcard showing Bridlington's south beach.


Location: Bridlington (Yorkshire) - South beach - sea
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Early December 2014, morning
Further Comments: A couple walking their dog spotted an old sailing ship anchored off the coast. One of the witnesses, a ship enthusiast, thought it to be a modern replica. Periodically looking back at the vessel while walking away, as the witnesses stepped off the beach, they realised the ship had vanished. The enthusiast used ship tracking websites to try to identify the ship, but no such vessel was in the area.

Off the coast of Brighton.

The Good Ship Nicholas

Location: Brighton (Sussex) - Off coast
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Unknown
Further Comments: Returning from Constantinople in the 1100's, the Nicholas sunk with all hands on board. She is still occasionally seen on the horizon.

Captain John Gray

Location: Bristol (Somerset) - SS Great Britain
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1993 onwards
Further Comments: While on a work placement in 1993, Sonny Graffo encountered a ghostly, middle aged figure who matched the description of Captain John Gray who vanished in 1872. Other people on the ship have heard disembodied footsteps close to them, though nothing is seen.

An old postcard of Bude in Cornwall.

Sea Serpent

Location: Bude (Cornwall) - Off coast
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: October 1883 and/or October 1911
Further Comments: This creature was reported by the vicar of the local parish - he reported it moved at around 25 miles per hour and left an oily wake.

Smelly Creature

Location: Burra Haaf (Shetland) - Waters in the area
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 1900s
Further Comments: Several reports of a creature with a sail-like body and a flipper on the end of its nose exist in this region of water off the Shetland Isles. A fishing crew who encountered it stated the beast destroyed several of their nets and came so close to their boat they could detect a pungent stench.


Location: Burton Bradstock (Dorset) - Stretch of water behind beach
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Twentieth century?
Further Comments: An outdated, ghostly sailing ship was spotted here, looking as if it had been beached.

Norse Raider Looking for a Ship

Location: Canvey Island (Essex) - Canvey Point, mudflats
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: 1920s
Further Comments: On the occasional late night, a misty figure has been observed walking along the mudflats. Legend says it is a Viking waiting for a boat to take him home.

Pointy Humps

Location: Chapel St Leonards (Lincolnshire) - Off coast
Type: Cryptozoology
Date / Time: 16 October 1966
Further Comments: Two witnesses reported seeing seven pointed humps coming out of the sea, together with a serpentine head.

Glowing Woman

Location: Chapel St Leonards (Lincolnshire) - Seafront between Trunch Lane and Vickers Point Ingoldmells
Type: Haunting Manifestation
Date / Time: Late 1990s
Further Comments: A glowing woman dressed in white was observed by four people here. The radiant figure walked towards them before turning towards the sea and vanishing. A local legend says the woman had been spurned by her lover and walked into the sea (which before then was further inland) to drown herself.

Off the coast of Christchurch.

Cloud of Cobwebs

Location: Christchurch (Dorset) - Off coast
Type: Other
Date / Time: 28 October 1988
Further Comments: The crew of a trawler off the coast of Christchurch reported their boat being covered by a huge cloud made of sticky cobwebs - they estimated its diameter to be thirty square miles.

Off the coast of Christchurch - one of the sites of a dragon attack.

Sea Dragon

Location: Christchurch (Dorset) - Skies above and off coast
Type: Dragon
Date / Time: Circa 1113
Further Comments: The third abbot of Saint Martin of Tournai documented the arrival of a five headed dragon in Christchurch. The dragon was said to have emerged from the sea and taken flight towards the town, destroying the church and many of the surrounding houses (but not those occupied by the abbot and his entourage). The dean of the destroyed church tried to escape by boat, but the vessel was also incinerated (although the dean escaped harm).

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