Ghostly horse­man rides again

Country Life Every Week - - Letters To The Editor -

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

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