Tuesday, November 1, 2011 Bacton Wood: Local Legend Tripping

Bacton Wood, also known as Witton Woods is a wonderful place for an after lunch stroll. Thought to have had tree cover since Saxon times, the wood is home to mighty oaks considered to be more than two hundred years old and over thirty species of tree.

Like all medieval woodland however, there is dark history lurking amongst the trees... Gibbeted criminals, murder and possible infanticide are just a few of the elements that make for a potentially paranormally active location.

Two crossroads straddle the north east and south east corners of the wood, at least one of which is thought to have been an unmarked grave. On the western side runs the North Walsham and Dilham canal.
It is generally considered that the flow of water and it's proximity to a location can have an effect on the activity that occurs. Many religions consider water to have a cleansing power over the supernatural as well as being believed to be a barrier to some types of entities. Some claim that flowing water can act as a channel for energy causing paranormal phenomena along the banks of rivers and lakes.

There is also a large amount of history surrounding the canal, as well as a lot of energy expended creating and working the canal. It is also true to say many deceased locals will have had strong emotional ties to the area and some may have even died working the canal and local mills. Not far from the south west corner of the wood is the foreboding presence abandoned Ebridge Mill which once produced flour and provided much cargo to the wherrymen that would deliver goods to and produced by the various mills along the canal.

The eastern side of the wood is marked by road with a crossroad at each corner of the wood. The north eastern cross has a western fork leading off into the wood down the old coach road. This crossroad could have been a burial site. Many such locations were used as unmarked graves for criminals and suicide victims. Slightly further up towards Edingthorpe is another crossroad known on old maps of the region as "Dead Man's Grave" which was indeed known to have been a mass grave.

The wood itself has one particular point of interest; Gibbet Piece. This part of the wood toward the north western side near the old coach road is known to have been the location for the gibbeting of a notorious criminal; "Bloody" Will Suffolk.

On Friday 17th March 1797 William Suffolk sentenced to death for the murder of Mary Beck a young woman with whom he was having an affair. After an argument he struck her a blow to the head, killing her. He then dragged her into the nearby cart-tracks to make the murder look like an accident. William Suffolk also stated in his confession that a child had been conceived as a result of the affair but had been murdered during birth by William and Mary in the isolated countryside. William was hanged at Norwich castle before being taken to Bacton Wood to be gibbeted at the location still know as Gibbet Piece.
The body was displayed for six years before being taken down in 1803 and buried in a unmarked grave very near the gibbet. Many locals visited the site during the six years William was displayed, some even stealing parts of the body as it decayed to keep as souvenirs.

Needless to say the events surrounding the death of "Bloody Will" and the six years his body was displayed in the wood must have created a lot of negative energy. The area seems to have absorbed this as dog walkers have reported strange and uneasy feelings while wandering this part of the wood, some dogs also act strangely with one I myself walked refusing to enter the darker part of the wood. It is also said that the sounds of the gibbet's creaking can sometimes be heard on the breeze.

It is true to say Gibbet Piece has a very creepy atmosphere; with a dense patch of pine trees to the north of the coach road blocking out most of the light and dampening the calls of the birds. It is easy to imagine something watching from behind one of the many tall trunks. Gibbet Piece itself is an over grown patch of brush, with brambles and tree roots to trip up the unwary wanderer.

On the southern side of the wood is an ancient tumulus (burial mound) dating back to the bronze age which I have yet to investigate...

All of these factors conspire to make for an interesting location for paranormal investigation. 


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