Black Meadow Phenomena

Over the next few years we will be building a catalogue of phenomena for you to explore.

A small portion of Black Meadow phenomena is touched on in "Tales from the Black Meadow" (a collection of short stories) but there is so much more.

As we begin to gather more information to help with the research for the next collection (due in  2016) we will share this with our readership to give them greater insight into this dark and dangerous place.

Below you will find a taste of some of the phenomena, beasts and legends from this strange place. Click on the link below to find information about your chosen phenomenon.

The Village
The Mist
The Rag and Bone Man
The Horsemen
The Meadow Hag
The Black Dog
The Land Spheres
Standing Stones
The Bramble
Apple Trees
The Coyle
The Hob-Men
The Meadow Bird
The Wandering Maiden
Houses of Fog

The Village

The village, that lies (or lay) (depending on whether you are lucky (or unlucky) enough to get caught in the mist), is (according to folklore) cursed either by the Devil to sink into hell or to be dissolved by the mist that leaks from the opened coat of the Rag and Bone Man (see below). More modern lore suggests that it is the victim of a time-slip or a government conspiracy. One thing is certain: "When the mist rises the village comes."

Those who have visited an unnamed village on the North York Moors (near RAF Fylingdales) have talked of the warm welcome, of the strange haunted looks on the faces of the inhabitants and of the strange clothes and lack of technology that pervades.

The Mist

The mist on the moor is mentioned in poem and song. The ancient hymn that was sung in village halls, taverns and tolerant churches at certain times of year begins with the two lines:

"Mist and heather call us soft
Over bramble meadows."

For some the mist is sacred and acts as a medium between man and the land. It seeps from the earth and coats tree, flower, animal and man. It is comforting, a white blanket of night caressing a desolate and barren landscape.

For others the mist separates the seen from the unseen. Within its smoke creatures hide and hell spits out its detritus. It swallows people whole and they are not seen again. It is the cause of much grief and distress. This traditional ballad explores the heartache of one man seeking for his lost love.

"The devil has a wicked way
Of keeping lovers parted
But none more than the blackberry mist
That makes me broken hearted
For your love lasts long but I see you not
Though I know that you are so close
Come out of the mist my love
Come and will you tarry?"
You can listen to an original recording from the 1940s here.

For some the mist is intangible, coming and going. For others it is solid and dangerous causing death and injury. For all it is a mystery coming as it does from the centre of the meadow and not from the natural world.

The Rag and Bone Man

The sad tale of the Rag and Bone Man has moved people for centuries. According to legend it is the sorrow and anger of this creature, who, so abused in life, forces all others in the Meadow to suffer with him. When he opens his coat the mist escapes and swallows the village whole.

If you hear the cry of the Rag and Bone Man then stay away.

You can hear the full tale on the lost Radio 4 documentary "Curse of the Black Meadow".

The Horsemen

It is said if October is warm then the horsemen will come and the horsemen will dance. If they do, if they call you to join them - do not dance. Do not dance with them, for we shall not see you again if you step among them.

This old saying highlights one of the many mysterious traditions of the North York Moors. In the villages surrounding Black Meadow if October is warm for more than three days the people play instruments and sing from their windows. Church bells ring. They do not leave their homes. It is said that this is a tune for the Horsemen.

The last known occurrence of this was in 1927, though some have reported Horsemen Nights as recently as October 2012 in Sleights.

In 1968, several witnesses passing RAF Fylingdales on October 7th reported loud music being played from the tannoy system across the moor. This was denied by the MOD who stated that the tannoy system was used for emergencies only. Interestingly it was reported that a young civil servant who was seconded to RAF Fylingdales was listed as missing on October 17th 1968. Weather reports of the North York Moors did indicate that the temperature recorded between the 1st and 9th October rarely dipped below 23 degrees Centigrade.


The Meadow Hag

We normally associate the term "hag" with witches. While there is something rather magical and wicked about these old women they are not witches. Indeed it is more than likely that they are not even human.
What is key about the stories of the Meadow Hag is how these figures appear to be benign in every respect. If anything they appear kind and helpful, blessing houses, healing the sick and protecting individuals. A closer look at the folklore available indicates that they are devious parasites. Clinging to individuals and households and constantly seeking ways of taking control.
There are three accounts of Meadow Hag activity in Roger Mullins notes. The tale "The Meadow Hag is published in "Tales from the Black Meadow" whilst "The Meadow Tree" appears in "Christmas on the Black Meadow" out later this year. The final of the three "March of the Meadow Hags" is the most harrowing and shows how relentless these creatures are in their pursuit of the vulnerable and naïve. This will be available in "The Black Meadow Archive" next year.

The Black Dog

There are many myths and fables about black dogs. The North York Moors has played host to the Barghest for centuries. The terrifying black dog, the harbinger of death, guardian of hell has been seen in Whitby only a few miles from the Black Meadow. The Black Dog of the Black Meadow could well be a Barghest although it may be something else more malign. On the other hand it may be totally misunderstood massive dog.
The black dog is said to appear when someone has died (often someone notable - though quite why the Barghest can distinguish between people of different classes or income streams is unknown). There are reports that walkers have had their ways blocked by these enormous dogs. They are often seen when the mist is high. Some say they are protecting the mist from us, others say that they are protecting us from the mist.
Until one is caught then it is unlikely that the answer will be found.