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Dartford Heath, near Dartford, Kent
The Paranormal and Ghost Phenomena of Dartford Heath.
Photograph of Haunted Dartford Heath
Paranormal Dartford Heath
Ghosts and the Paranormal on Dartford Heath
Once a great asset to the Dartford area, now a hotch-potch of small areas of remaining heathland but much has returned to scrubland and wooded areas. The main cause of its demise was the construction of the 6 lane stretch of the A2 trunk road that effectively cuts the heath in two.
The heath borders Dartford to the North East, Bexley to the West and the village of Wilmington to the South and East. It covers some 300 plus acres and has neolithic barrows and Bronze Age settlements recorded there. The Dartford Warbler was discovered in the area and the first cricket match ever recorded, took place on the heath in 1723.
Apart from its long history, there are many stories and reports of strange and unexplained, seemingly paranormal, happenings taking place - both in the past and still occuring. The whole span of Heath's timeline seems to echo through to the present day, with reports of the area being haunted by figures from the ancient past, through to the ghosts of the medieval period ... to Victorian and modern ghostly apparitions. Not only human in form either. And no real apparent hot-spot or circumstances, it appears that the heath was generally used and so, is generally haunted. Having said that, the Heath Lane area might be worthy of future paranormal investigation.
The non-human variety of phenomena include numerous sightings of big black cats. Not one, on one occasion, two were seen together. Prior to compiling this article, the latest sighting of such a cat appears to be in June, 2010 when one was sighted by a motorist, just after dawn, crossing the open and grassy area in front of the Horse and Groom public house in Leyton Cross Road. Other sightings have occured all over the heath but these big cats must have road sense as the A2 is an exceedingly busy and fast road and none seem to have been found as 'road kill'. Foxes - hundreds - big black cats - none!
Not to be outdone species-wise, big black dogs have also been sighted but as the heath is a dog walkers's paradise, there is excuse enough for big black dogs to be there anyway - especially as it is not unknown for the odd lurcher to be out at midnight with its rabbit hunting master. But ... there are reports that do ring quite Black Shuckish - one near Bracton Lane in particular.
There are at leat two phantom horses without riders and several with riders, as well as ghostly horses drawing phantom coaches. One ghost horse was once reported as carrying the corpse of a 'cavalier' laid over its back. Regarding the riderless ghost horses, one is said to be black and the other is said to be ... white. The ridden horses have riders of several different ages, the most historic being that of a Saxon or Norman knight that rides the Leyton Cross part of the heath, appearing to come in from the Birchwood Road area. Another ghost of a knight is said to be the"Black Prince" and is seen towards Bexley, near to the old Rochester Way. Yet another phantom horseman (perhaps associated with the dead cavalier) appears to be of the English Civil War period and rides slowly from the East of Heath Lane towards Wilmington.
The most notable 'horse and carriage' report was quite a recent one (2005) when horses were heard that seemed to be trotting up Oakfield Lane. This was heard by a couple who were walking past the A2 area, next to the mini roundabout and near to the Horse and Groom pub. The horses passed them by, heading towards Bexley, along with the noise of carriage wheels and clanking. Nothing was seen though. Along with that event, there are various witnessings of ghost horses pulling their spectral coaches at differing speeds around different areas of the heath.
The above does not include the numerous sightings of Dick turpin's ghost, riding Black Bess across the heath, following a route across Shepherd's Lane towards Bexley. Or the inevitable 'headless horseman' accounts.
It would appear that ghosts of people are equally numerous, again dating back into pre-history and seemingly up to the almost present. These can range from solid forms to the merest whispy outlines, as well as accompanying aromas and noises. There also are groups of night haunting ghostly figures that have been witnessed, ranging from a witch's coven that is in full ritual; their coven sited into the heath, just south of Shepherd's Lane. Another group appears around what was once know as the 'Hills and Hollows' area, near to Leyton Cross. The actual composition of this ghostly group cannot be made out because of the whispyness of its members, simply seen as 'misty' shapes.
As there were grand houses surrounding the area, it can be imagined how many ghosts and apparitions of gentlemen and phantom, spectral ladies are reported in the area. These will hopefully be documented, along with other information on them, which relates to the source place of their haunting. However, a couple that appear to involve haunting the heath itself as their origin are the 'Mad Ghost' and the 'Falling Boy'.
The 'Mad Ghost' appears to be of 20th century origin and is very much associated with the asylum that once occupied the area around Bracton Lane. Seen around the Bexley end of Oakfield Lane and appearing as a semi-solid ghost, it is a man who stares at those sighting him and gibbers on about "No food ... No food " - he then does a jumping up and down routine, cackles a lot and disappears. Harmless, it seems - but totally unnerving.
The other ghost, the 'Falling Boy' is probably even more unnerving to witness!! This is a first hand account of the ghost being encountered and happened prior to the construction of the A2 -
"At about 10pm, I was riding my bike home from the Dartford Air Cadet HQ. I always rode down the track that runs between Heath Lane and the junction of Oakfield Lane and Parsons Lane. It was very dark but I saw the figure of a boy around my age (16) walking up the track towards me. I thought I knew him so I stopped to talk. When he was only a few feet away, I realised that I didn't know him and felt a bit stupid as I'd called out and said 'Hello' and the name of who I thought it was. He was quite thin and tall, had glasses and was wearing jeans and a 'windcheater' type jacket. Even though the only light was my bike's lamp, he was quite clear to make out. He looked at me and said "I'm not well, I feel sick." I thought he might be sick over over my A.T.C. uniform if we just stood there, so I said for him to sit on the side of the track. I asked him if I could get help or someone for him but he didn't say anything. He looked at me, then turned towards the edge of the track, took some steps onto the grass - fell straight down onto his face and he suddenly wasn't there any more. I shone my lamp at where he fell but he had vanished."
There has been at least one other similar report. It also might tie in with a boy who died while crossing the heath a few years earlier, although that happened half a mile from the above sighting.
A lot of paranormal activity around the Dartford Heath area seemed to coincide with the contruction of the A2 dual carriageway through 1968 - 1970. On one occasion a string of orb-like lights were seen dancing across the heath during a night-time concrete pour on the Heath Lane bridge. These were put down to being headlights from the vehicles but it is reported that the lights appeared as glowing balls dancing across the tops of the bushes and gorse. On another occasion, two drivers, one driving a bulldozer which was pushing the other driver's 'Terex' vehicle, while scraping up soil saw the same thing - but this time in broad daylight but just off of the actual heath area, towards where the Oakfield Lane bridge now stands. These were orb-like glowing balls moving along the top of the 'cut'.
A gang of men were putting in sheet piling, near to the Heath Lane bridge, when they broke for lunch. Three of them went and sat on the embankment while the other three went off to the site office about half a mile away. Those going to the site office got into a Land Rover and were just starting off when the vehicle was shaken by some force - not another vehicle within the vicinity. Those settling on the bank saw the Land Rover veer completely off line - then they heard a thump and saw the top of the piling shake. The ground where the Land Rover was 'moved' was perfectly flat. Nothing was seen to hit the sheet piling.
On bridgeworks construction, concrete shuttering supports have to be repeatedly checked that they are still firm and aligned - especially the ones that will hold the bridge deck. This is because of the vibration of heavy equipment passing under or near them. Usually the movement, if any would be less than a millimeter. On one occasion, again on the Heath Lane bridge, half an hour after a check was done, a line of the supports were visibly clear of the decking ... even though an engineer and others had been standing there and nobody could have tampered with them. One had been lowered by three inches and pushed out of line. The supports were metal 'acrows' and it would have taken a large amount of force to move it out of line as it was linked into the support framework - the acrow was bent at the top.
Although it could be put down to local lore, there had been stories about the haunted heath (that seem to date right back) of some odd wind or force that seemed to disturb areas of the heath, as if something was passing through. (This is not unique to the Dartford Heath area, as there are similar reports in the surrounding countryside.) But there do not appear to be any recent reports of this phenomena occuring.
Whether it is the type of soil or the kind of area that it is ... or due to paranormal causes ... the heath does contain areas that are definitely cold to walk through. Small areas as well as larger ones. These spots come and go and there is no definite evidence that any are tied to any event ... they do exist there though.
Any area, such as Dartford Heath, will generate its own legends. By only including some that have supportive backing - it appears that there is something more substantial in the way of paranormal phenomena going on than simply stories. If anyone has more details on the ghosts or other paranormal activity on the heath - and that can be supported - please let us know so we might add to this article.
Reference started by - Perception9 Paranormal Team
Perception9 Paranormal Team
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