Ghostly horseman rides again
FURTHER to the list of special features in Dorset (July 19), the county may also claim the UK’S oldest ghost. This was a phantom Bronze Age horseman seen at Bottlebrush Down between Cranborne and Sixpenny Handley by Dorset archaeologist Dr R. C. Clay in the winter of 1927–8. Driving along what today is the B3081 road, Dr Clay became aware of a horseman galloping across the downs in the same direction. He recorded: ‘The rider had bare legs, and wore a long, loose coat and the horse had no bridle or stirrups.’
The man seemed to brandishing a weapon of some kind and, after keeping parallel with Clay’s car for about 100 yards, suddenly vanished exactly at the site of a round barrow.
Interestingly, Clay was returning from Pokesdown near Bournemouth, where he had been conducting excavations at a prehistoric site (in Old English, Pokesdown means Puck’s Hill or the hill of the goblin).
Dr Clay’s sighting and those of others who witnessed the apparition were included in A Ghost Hunter’s Game Book (1958) by James Wentworth Day, whom older readers will recall as a well-known writer on country matters, and Guinness World Records later recognised this phantom. Alan Murdie, Chairman, the Ghost Club, Bournemouth, Dorset