Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Ghost of Lydford Castle, Devon

The straggling village of Lydford runs for hundreds of yards along the high street. It is, today, a quiet and peaceful little place, but a thousand years ago it was a flourishing centre for the tin mining industry and a bustling town.

It was the money generated by the mining which brought much government activity here. There was a royal mint in the town and the smelting of lead and silver was carried on on an almost industrial scale. There was also a royal court which handed down severe sentences for those who transgressed the stannary laws, which imposed hefty taxes on the mining and smelting industries. A local ditty runs:

I oft have heard of Lydford Law
How in the morn they hang and draw
And sit in judgement after.

At least two of the three ghosts in this village owe their sad existence to the notorious Lydford Law. Dominating the centre of the village is the massive bulk of Lydford Castle. This square, granite tower set on a high mound of earth was always more of a prison than a castle. Its walls plunge as deep below the ground as they stand above, and hide dank, dark dungeons where all manner of terrible deeds may have been done.

It is within these grim walls that the first ghost is to be found. It is reported to be a dark, opaque cloud shaped something like a man, but which sometimes seems more like a pig. Whatever this is, it exudes a feeling of deep evil and malevolence. Few who have seen it care to stay around to look too closely.

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