Weird Norfolk: Can you solve the mystery of Shrieking Woman Grove in Brooke?

PUBLISHED: 18:00 01 February 2020

The site of the Shrieking Woman's Grove near Brooke for Weird Norfolk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The site of the Shrieking Woman's Grove near Brooke for Weird Norfolk. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2020

If you go down to the woods in you know why the ghost of a shrieking woman has been spotted between the trees?

Sometimes it's all in the name - and in the case of Shrieking Woman Grove, the name is said to be linked to a grisly death and a haunting shadow from the past. In Brooke, there used to be a long wood which stretched to Bergh Apton and beyond - half the wood has been lost to time, but there are still trees in Shrieking Woman Grove, and a footpath where the brave can walk. It is said that here, the ghost of a woman can be seen - and there is a suggestion (noted on Norfolk Heritage Explorer's website that a "fearful crime" had been committed in this area. But unless a reader can enlighten us, here the trail goes cold.

Could the story be linked to a nearby discovery in Bergh Apton? In the village, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery was unearthed in 1973 and 63 graves were found - buried next to the skeletons was a horde of personal possessions such as weapons, shields, spears and jewellery: buried alongside one body were the remains of a lyre similar to that found at Sutton Hoo. Twelve of the graves were for children under the age of 12 - no settlement was found close by.

Or could it be linked to similar tales told at Aylmerton and Northrepps of Shrieking Pits? Just like them, the site was once home to a pit, albeit a gravel pit, and there is the suggestion that it might once have been an area where iron was extracted. The medieval pits, created by digging for iron ore used in smelting, are said to be haunted by the desperate souls of wronged women - at Aylmerton, a wailing woman searches for the baby her husband murdered before killing her. Tall and willowy, the woman is seen wringing her hands and uttering piercing cries as she searches the pits: she has been seen during the day, at dusk and at night time and those that encounter her remark on her heartbreaking cries for her lost child.

At nearby North Repps, just south of the wonderfully-named Hungry Hill, is a track which leads to several tree-shrouded and water-filled hollows which also bear the name of the Shrieking Pits, this time named for another wailing woman, whose change of heart after a suicide attempt fell on deaf ears.

Whatever the reason, the story persists - as does the screaming.

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