With Hertfordshire’s ancient history and Roman roots, it’s not surprising that residents have reported paranormal activity across the county.
Datchworth is considered to be the most haunted village in Herts, but is there anything more chilling than encountering a shadowy castle on a cold night?
From decrepit ruins to the stately Hertford Castle, these places have been long associated with ghostly phenomena.
And with Halloween just around the corner, it might be worth a visit – if you’re brave enough.
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Hertford Castle and an apple-loving monk
This Norman castle has a rich history. The Grade I listed building was once home to royalty and a fair few prisoners.
Perhaps the ‘ghosts’ that reportedly float along its corridors are ex-inmates seeking revenge?
Hertford Castle was built around 1066, just after the Norman invasion. In other words, it is old, with a capital O.
Among its long history of prisoners were the Templars, a group of devout Christians during the medieval era, James I of Scotland, King John of France, David II and Protestant martyrs in the 1550s.
According to the ghost hunting site The Spooky Isles, legend has it that a monk-like figure has been spotted gliding across the grounds carrying an apple.
A former mayor claims that lights in the building would turn on and off seemingly by themselves and the sound of a dog barking on the grounds was heard, though a dog was never found on the premises.
Hertford Town Council, which now owns the castle, once reportedly heard repeated tapping on the walls during one of their meetings.
But they never found the source of the sound.
Berkhamsted Castle and Oliver Cromwell’s troops
You easily miss these spooky ruins if you didn’t know where to look.
While it’s now a mound of broken stone, Berkhamsted Castle was once considered to be one of the most important early Norman castles because it controlled the northern approach to London.
As reported by Adam May for HertsLive, Berkhamsted Castle was first built as a timber motte and bailey castle in the late 11th century and was occupied by key figures of the Middle Ages, such as Thomas Becket, Richard Earl of Cornwall and the Black Prince.
It fell into ruin some time after 1580, when Sir Edward Carey built a new house to the west – Berkhamsted Place – which has since been demolished.
However, legend has it that it was actually Oliver Cromwell who was responsible for the destruction of Berkhamsted Castle and his troops still allegedly haunt the place.
It’s said that if you look towards Wigginton, Hertfordshire, on a summer’s evening as the sun is setting you can see the sun glinting off their armour, pikes and helmets.
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Anstey Castle and the buried blind ghost
Only a moat remains of this motte and bailey castle, but this eerie site of East Herts history dates back to the 11th century and includes a curious tale of Blind George the fiddler and the Devil’s Hole.
The Devil’s Hole is a tunnel rumoured to run from a chalk pit called Cave Gate to the castle. Herts Memories noted that, as legend has it, no one dared enter the tunnel.
That was until two centuries ago when a blind fiddler called George was drinking at the Chequers pub. George declared that he, his fiddle and his dog would venture into the tunnel and find out the truth of the matter.
As he entered the cave, led by his dog, he called to the villagers to follow his progress above ground by the sound of his fiddle. The villagers followed the fiddler’s tune across the field until they were halfway from the castle.
As the tale goes, a shrieking sound spurted out of the fiddle and then all went silent. The villagers rushed back to the entrance of the tunnel and saw George’s dog race out, with its tail allegedly missing and fur singed.
George was never seen again. The entrance was sealed to “prevent George’s ghost from escaping”. But it’s said that when snow falls on Anstey, the first sections to melt are always a straight line from Cave Gate to the castle.
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