Weird Norfolk: Dare you visit Ghost Hill Woods and Blood Dale in the Norfolk countryside?

A path leads through Ghost Hill Woods

How did Ghost Hill Woods get their name? - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Their names suggest spirits and hauntings, battles and bloodshed. But do the names given to Ghost Hill Woods in Taverham and Blood Dale in Drayton stem from supernatural sightings or fields running red with blood?

Well, it seems that perhaps they do.

Ghost Hill Woods stretches between Shakespeare Way and Eastfield but it was once known as Ghost Hill Plantation and was a much larger area of woodland.

It has had its name for at least 125 years, if not longer, and records show that it was known as Ghost Hill Wood in 1891.

A man who lived in Drayton in the 1980s told reporters that the name had been passed down through the generations and referred to the ghosts of soldiers who died in battle close to the spot.

On misty nights, as the fog rolled in from the river valley, the sound of clashing Viking swords striking Saxon shields coud be heard in the distance from the wood.

Perhaps the sound was the echo of a battle fought nearby, at Bloods Dale in Drayton, just 1km from the wood.

Weird Norfolk
Blood Dale
Byline: Sonya Duncan

Did Blood Dale get its name from a bloody battle on the site? - Credit: Sonya Duncan

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Bloods Dale was first mentioned in a 15th century document as being land owned by Walter Nich of Taverham.

Between the A1067 – Drayton High Road and the B road that leads from Drayton to Hellesdon (Drayton Low Road) there is a gentle valley that leads to the River Wensum. This is Blood Dale.

In William White’s History, Gazetteer and Directory of Norfolk 1845, it said: “In a plantation near the road, are traces of an entrenchment; and at a short distance, is Blood's Dale, said to be the scene of a battle in the Saxon era.”

According to legend, the Vikings attacked the Saxons in this river valley, fighting close to their boats on the river and the name given to this area refers to the tragic bloodshed that led to many deaths.

This is where an early Saxon cremation cemetery was unearthed in the mid 19th century and just west of Blood Dale is where another grisly discovery was made.

As the Midland and Great Northern Joint Railway was built from Norwich to Cromer in 1882, a station was created at Drayton along with a railway bridge.

When workmen came to excavate the ground for footings, they discovered 13 skeletons buried there, thought to be victims of the Blood Dale battle.

In 869, Edmund, the King of East Anglia, was killed by invading Danes – there are accounts in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and an account called the Passion of St Edmund, written by a monk called Abbo.

Could Bloodsdale be where Edmund met his death