Fortean Times

scotter road


I’m an archaeolog­ist and, in July 2022, I had to carry out a walkover survey of land at Brumby Common West, just off Scotter Road, Scunthorpe, for a pre-excavation desk-based assessment.

When I got home, the latest FT had arrived, with a photo of the Scotter Road viaduct taken from the junction of Scotter Road and Brumby Wood Lane [FT421:43] – precisely where I’d got out of the taxi from Scunthorpe station a few hours before. Now, a couple of months later, FT423 included a story about an archaeolog­ist who felt “impending gloom and dread” while digging on Brumby Common West and there’s a photo of the gate into the woods that I’d used when making the site visit [FT423:43]. Coincidenc­e? Yes. Strange? Definitely!

I do a lot of walkover surveys, so I’m used to being alone in the middle of nowhere and I didn’t feel anything amiss during that site visit, other than the stench of decay from a dead deer in the edge of the wood. However, the background research for the site turned up 18th- and 19thcentur­y references to ghost lights in the marshes that were on Brumby Common West before the field drains were dug, while one of the prehistori­c causeways across the Common terminated less than a mile away on the east bank of the Trent, at a place that was called ‘Boggard Hall’ on an 1822 OS surveyor’s plan. One 19th-century account described the Common as a very marshy area where “blown sand forms low hills and mounds and occurs in a labyrinth of irregular patches of swampy ground”. Not difficult to see how strange things might happen in such a desolate place.

Mark Stenton

Sheffield, South Yorkshire

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