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24 September 2014
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Spooky Stories


boulder

The Woodplumpton Witch

The witch was buried in a narrow shaft… like a fence post… head down... so that if she tried to dig her way out she’d be going the wrong way...


There’s a large boulder by the side of the path in the churchyard of St Anne’s in Woodplumpton. A small sign says it marks the grave of Meg Shelton - a local witch in the late seventeenth century. Meg was known as the "Fylde Hag" and apparently got up to all sorts of mischief - stealing the milk from other people’s cattle, transforming herself into animals etc.

It’s said she was killed when a barrel crushed her against a wall. The boulder’s about three feet by two feet - which doesn't seem big enough to cover a grave. But it turns out that Meg was buried in a narrow shaft… like a fence post… head down...so that if she tried to dig her way out she'd be going the wrong way. The boulder was put on top to keep her in the grave.

last updated: 15/12/05
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katie utting
when i first visited the grave we had just come back from the wheatsheaf after a halloween party, and when my mum told me the story i felt really sorry for her. you cant help the way your born, wheather your a witch or a normal person.Its not fair on the poor woman. i think what the people did to her was very very evil.

Grace Amy Johnson
when i walked round it the first time i got a funnytickly feeling on my footlike some one was trying to tickel it

Sundog
People leave flowers there too, which is a nice touch.

elaine
i was driving around that corner when i lost control ov my car for no reason,hey i beleave she still as the power ,i wont be going that way again.

Barry
Michael - I agree with your comments, but I think most people will realise Meg was no more a "Witch" than those unfortunates at Pendle. But that does not mean to say we cannot enjoy the mythology that has grown around such folk, as long as we keep sight of the fact that it is myth making. I do belong to a coven of White Witches myself, and we do like the popular imagery/mythology that has grown around the craft - even if it is exagerrated.

suzi
I live in woodplumpton and its a good place to go when it is dark quite scary but weorth it

SINGLETON MICHAEL
That the site (which I frequented while working as a lad in the late 1940s for my grandfather Brown a Preston Undertaker)is (and in a way rightly so) now surrounded by frivoulous folklore shoud not blind us to the fact that Meg was a POOR OLD ILLITERATE PEASANT WOMAN and not a rich educated town dwelling young man - for witchcraft is basically about coming to terms with cultural difference and social distance: in Meg's case the terms were bad - the authorities, ecclesiastical included, rather than educate, integrate, help out those marginalised through no fault of their own, did just the opposite in victimizing them! But do we afford better terms to our present day marginals - single mothers, unemployed, immigrants, victims of AIDS? Witches in this (sociological non)sense could unfortunately be forever!

dale doutfire
what you do is run around the rock 3 times and spit on it to keep her under it.

joe gowran
last me and my friend visted yhe church because we like looking at old graveyards when seen the grave and heard about the story we found it funny when heard how she tried to get out of the grave i dont think she got out bye herself but i belive it was her fellow coven pals

Barry McCann
Josh - unless you saw the poor old cleaner again. Poor woman must be feeling victimised.

laura
i really want to go and visit megs grace i live near blackburn, does anyone know the postcode of the church?

josh burrows
i have recently been there with some friends and as we walked past i noticed my shoe lace to be untied i bent down to tie it and my friends carried on walking i then stood up to see on the other side of the church wall a gahstly blue figure could this be meg?

Barry McCann
There have been rumours of Meg's ghost being sighted. One boy once ran out of the church claiming a "haggard old woman" had chased him. It was probably the cleaner, poor old soul!Incidently, the pub opposite boasts "Resident Ghost" along with its fine ales and grub. Sadly, the only spirits I have seen in there came out of the optics.

josh burrows
wasn't it said she escape 3 times before been put in head down?

rebecca beetham
i believe in the witch people do not believe but that is up to them

john W
If you stand on the boulder and turn around 3 times, don't fall off or which meg will come and get you that night. I used to visit my grandma who lived on the Orchard across the road from the graveyard and it scared me to death when I was little as we used to push each other off the stone. She never did come and get us tough.

James
Louise, are you related to Arran Stamper??

chanz-south africa
my great grand mother was a farmer in Lancashire.She told us a story bout mag shelton. She used to give mag shelton all the left over pig slop till one winter , she did not have enough pig slop to give away. She told mag shelton that she would not have enough slop, the witch then asked to see the pigs. she walked around touched each pig on the back with her stick saying how fat they were and that they should not eat to much. My great grand mother then told everyone how her pigs stopped eating their slop from that day on. That she was sure mag shelton had cursed her farm.My family were glad at the death of Mag shelton, the witch. And could then get back to raising healthy pigs with a good appetite.

Mike Savage
I visited the grave last week & took some photographs. I've also read the chapter in Graham Dugdale's book 'Walks in Mysterious Lancashire'. Meg did live at one time in Cuckoo Cottage, Wesham, as well as at Catforth according to Dugdale.It's amazing how people in the past were persecuted for being just a bit different from the norm. When I visited the grave, there was a small wreath of plastic flowers there.

gina
I live right next to that graveyard,if you go on halloween on a full moon and walk around it 3 times then run to the postbozx of te church,you see a MONK

Arran Stamper
Let's say she died... upside down... in hole... but she didn't die because people still say she is alive so say if she thought up was down and she kept digging, then eventually she would melt or explode or die of the exhaustion of digging, or the logical reason... she would suffocate...

bill
they have had to reburry here sevaral times as people have claimed tht she has been scratching and people claimed to hav seen her hand i once found a weird lil rock next to the grave wich had incarved faces thanx for reading billy shorrock 13

destiny
that is just really scary

Brittany Simmons
i've seen that rock and i felt weird when i touched it

Victoria Cowling
Its true , its true!!!! I go to woodplumpton school and visit the church often I've seen it and its really real

Kandi
Omg! i recognise this! My frends dad is the vicar at the church where this stone is! My friend had her party in the church hal, and then we all went outside and started messing around- loads of us kept standing on this stone, and were teasing each other saying things like "the witch'll get u b careful!"

Megs Shelton
I googled my name and look what I found! Ah, the internet... Ps. I haven't seen any signs of witchery in myself... yet. ;D

Jilly
Apparently she was originally called Marjorie Hilton and her name got changed over the years, my research showed that she was from cottam, a village just up the road from woodplumpton. But yes heres for you Mally - its all true!!!

Annie from Ashton . preston
I've only visited the grave once with my Dad as I have always been scared! he told me that when he was a boy he and his friends would cycle up there and would run round the stone three times then spit on it three times. they were told that if they did this the witch would rise from her grave and get them. Of course, they did it but ran to hide behind the church!!! i have never done it as I am really scared!! Also I belive my mum is a witch (a nice one fo course) becasue she has a sixth sense but thats another story. heehee

Jan King
I have visited Meg's grave a few times, and I always feel very sad. I do believe she was a herbalist, who was treated very cruelly before she was buried upside down in that tiny grave. I shall be visiting her again and will take flowers.... RIP, Meg

G Taylor
Iwas told as a chlid that Meg was buried therr times on the third time she was buried head first time has she and dug herself out twice before.

samii
i have just gone to see the meg's stone today...i was told if you stand there for a while you can here her groaning :s

Ellice
I went to visit meg sheltons grave stone and my auntie said that she was burried twice faced upwards but she scrached her way out. so the third time she was knocked out and burried face down and they put that boulder ontop just to make sure that she couldnt get out. by Ellice age 10

Stephanie Smith
I think there is such thing as a myth but don't really know if i beleive this one or not

Arran Stamper
If she was still alive then all the blood would have rushed to her head and killed her anyway,again.

Paula
I agree with Annette. Many women who were herbalists and midwives were considered a threat by male doctors. Calling them witches was a convenient way to get them out of the picture. If that was the case with Meg then at least she is still remembered - i doubt the man who buried her is!

Annette
Considering Meg lived in the 1600's when herbalists were considered witches, she may well have been a poor and sick lady. I feel that its high time Meg Shelton's remains were given a civilised burial despite a plaque and boulder being a curious tourist attraction. It makes me wonder who is sicker to keep her buried like that!

Miriam
I have lived in Lancashire and never visited Megs grave until today that is. I honestly thought the story was a myth and that the grave didnt exist? Well...it DOES, ive just been there which is why im trying to look up here history and found this place. Felt sorry for Meg really.

victoria
i live very near and i go to the school and church i look at it alot and wonder

James
I dont really belive this myth because there isnt a picture of the witch of woodplumpton. or is there?????

dan cottam
i went to the grave site. last week. i though it was wicked. love to go again

Robert Dickinson
Everyone's forgotten the story about the Dun Cow which roamed around Grimsargh and which Meg milked through a sieve!. It's probably the least likely of the stories about Meg, but do we really know the rib over the door at Dun Cow rib, Halfpenny lane Longridge, is actualy a whale and not an giant cow?

amy
when im grandma died i alway got this stange feeling weneva i walked up the staires as if some one was eaither waching me or following me and wen my pet rabbit died she died of shock i alway used to see her sat at the bottom of my bed watching me it was well freaky

Stephanie
i live quite closs to the church and i always keep my eye on the wicthes grave also i herd a rumour that every halloween she comes out at night and sometimes you can see her. But i dont know if it is true

dave
meg actually lived in a small cottage near singleton church and not woodplumpton as bill clayton states

Dave Lyn & Nicky
Just coincidence? I told my daughter about this when she was doing witchcraft in history and she wanted to visit it so we did. Lyn sat on the witches boulder on the Saturday and I joked about the bad luck she'd get, before the following Saturday, our washing machine brokedown, house had flooded, (not connected)Lyn had to go to hospital via ambulance due to illness, we suffered a credit card scam & got our front gate nicked! now of course we dont believe, do we?

Nikky
This is one weird story.i heard that shes still digging and is going to get her revenge when she comes out in Australia...shes reckoned to be arriving at sydney now,although the locals are blaming it on moles!!!

me
wow this is fab ilove theinfo xox

i cannot say
wow the info is fab

Josh Ethier (Shelton)
I am related to her :-P

Alan
what wonderful stories about the witches

barbara
I was told about the witch as a child and visited her grave lots. My friends and I used to run 3 times round the grave then run like mad home. I live in bristol now but my kids know of her. We visit when up north,bless her. Dave laraways comment is funny!

Dave Laraway
I Married her

Jade Darby
Is that stone really in life

Peter Shuttleworth
Contrary to popular lore, Mag actually lived where Raikes Farm now stands in Catforth and not in Woodplumpton.

Steve Mc
went to Woodplumpton primary school 27 years ago. During that time, we were shown round the church by the vicar of Woodplumpton. He claimed that the stone had been brought down during the ice age and that it had no links to a so-called 'witch' at all. Mind you, he did throw black board erasers at us when we talked during his 'lessons' so I don't know if he can be trusted.

Dave Tierney
I lived in Ingol when I was younger and on one cycle trip with friends we stopped at the witches grave to take a look. An old fellow in the graveyard at the time told us if we walked around the grave three times and then declared "I don't believe in witches" Meg Shelton's hand would appear and grab your leg. Out of the four of us nobody went round more than twice!

Arthur Tate
Anyone that knows about so called witches knows that they are not buried in a church yard unless they are a good witch other wise they are buried at a cross roads with no sign posts so the cannot find their way back to where they came from.

Colin
I went to school in Singleton at Singleton Hall, a boarding school for disabled children. I heard and read stories of Meg Shelton, that she pinched milk from the cows in the farmers fields and took eggs from the hens. One day the miller from the village saw Meg in the field and chased her to the flour mill. On entering found no one there, he looked around and saw his bags of flour and counted them, he knew he had 12 but counted 13 and so the story goes, he took a pitch fork and stuck it into every bag of flour, till he got to the 13th and with a screech Meg turned back into herself and ran with her arm bleeding from the pitch fork wound. Folklore or truth? You decide.

J. Woods
There is a short story about Meg Shelton in Lancashire's Fair Face by that wonderful raconteur Jessica Lofthouse. It is unlikely she was buried alive, but probably face-down, rather than head down. When investigating the story I met a lady in the churchyard who told me when her father was a young lad, he was helping the sexton one night digging a grave. They were both down in the hole when the sexton had to get out to go and get a certain tool. The lad kept working down below and thought he heard his father's clogs on the hard frosty ground above. When he looked up, however, he saw an old woman in white, looking down at him! He scrambled out pretty damn quick. They found out later that she was a local lady, slightly mentally disturbed, who had left her bed in her nightie to take a turn round the churchyard.

Bill Clayton
The ruins of Megs house can be found in a field just down from the church. There are just a few stones now, all grown over, but when I was a boy, my father and I went metal detecting in that field but when he got near to the site of megs house, the metal detector stopped working. He stepped back a few paces and the detector started working again. My father then found something, no more than a stones throw away from the ruins. It was a lead idol of a figure on a cross. The features on the characters face were all twisted. "My father took the idol home and my mother went mad at him. She wouldn't have the thing in the house, so he took it to the Preston museum, where I believe it still is. "The spooky thing was, that at the moment my father found the idol, I fell in the adjacent brook and nearly drowned that day...

Dennis M. Skeet
I am from Suffolk but my wife Dorothy is from Woodplumpton. She has told me about the witch who was known locally as Mag Shelton or the Fylde witch. The story goes thus: a farmer caught the witch stealing corn from his barn. He set his dog on her. Now if she raced to her cottage in Catforth before the dog she could stay in the cottage. The dog bit her on the heel as it chased her through the door. However she stayed in the cottage but always walked with a limp. Because Mag Shelton was a witch she was buried alive. She managed to get out so they buried her face downwards and placed the stone on her. She did not get out again. As a child my wife carried out this ritual, handed down by her father who did the same thing when he was a boy some eighty eight years ago: walk around the grave three times and stand on the stone. Look to the North, then East, then South and finally West. Make your wish. Now run round the church three times and if you see the devil through the keyhole of the church door - run like hell! Make of this what you like. I married a Lancashire lass and have visited the grave at Woodplumpton. Seems true enough to me.

Tom Martin from Penwortham
My Father told me about the Witch when we were passing the Church, must be about 65 years ago I was only a lad. He asked me to come and look at the stone but I declined. He remarked that she had been buried head downwards and she was scatching her way down and in time would come out in Australia, after all this time she should be there by now.

Steve Roberts
She did exist. Her real name was Marjorie Hilton.

John Campbell from Woodplumpton
Seemingly if you walk round the stone three times at full moon and make a wish it comes true. And there’s somebody who keeps putting flowers on her grave… someone local.

Charles Wimpenny
Meg died in 1705 but caused more skulduggery in death than when alive, to such an extent, that a Cottam priest was called to perform an exorcism. Most of the comments above are reproduced in a book by Graham Dugdale (1999), Walks in Mysterious Lancashire.

Meg Shelton
I am the Woodplumpton witch and I find it rather amusing to read everyone's opinion of me. When I rise from the grave I will be able to tell my story if the price is right.

Brian Philbin
I think she must have reached Australia she's a member of my wife's Bowling Club

Louise
If the witch would have scratched down to Australia then before she got there she would be dead because there is lava in the middleof the earth or she would of died of being face down.

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