THE history of the village of Calverton goes back over 1,000 years. Its Saxon name means ʻthe place where calves are keptʼ.
That history is pushed back a further 1,000 years with the evidence of late Iron Age settlements and farmsteads in the landscape around the village. The Romans were here too, replacing the settlement at Dorket Head with a large ʻmarching campʼ or fort, and the farmstead/hill fort at Foxwood, to the east of George’s Hill, with a smaller but more substantial fort
It is of no surprise then that one of the ancient roads into the village — Georgeʼs Lane — is supposedly haunted. Without doubt the focus of the haunting is the stretch of road beginning at Dorket Head and ending in the village. There appears to be hot-spots, at Dorket Head and the junction with Spindle Lane, where the haunting seems more intense.
The haunting is one of omnipresence which manifests itself in the form of a figure with a broad brimmed hat, a hooded figure and an old woman. This kind of haunting is not unusual and there are several examples recorded in other parts of the country. Reculver Lane in Kent has an almost identical haunting to Georgeʼs Lane.
Like the Calverton haunting, a phantom hooded figure has been seen on the lane by motorists and, on several occasions, as a back-seat passenger seen only through the rear-view mirror.
Other motorists have encountered a nondescript male figure, running across the road, or reported actually colliding with such a figure. Reculver Lane, like Georgeʼs Lane, runs for much of its length through open country. However it does not terminate in a village but the ruins of a priory built within the earthworks of the Roman fort of Regulbium.
What of the enigmatic figure in the broad-brimmed hat encounter on Georgeʼs Lane by Mr Bardhill? A closer look shows that, with minor differences, this phantomʼs appearance is as widespread as the hooded entity, to the extent that he has been given the name of ʻHat Manʼ.
However, I will go one step further and reveal what I believe to be his true identity. His image is identical to an aspect of the Saxon god Woden, who the Norse knew as Odin. Woden/Odin is a powerful god with many names, each one reflecting a different aspect. In his travelling or wandering form he is seen as a tall man wrapped in a long black cloak with his broad-brimmed hat pulled down over his sightless right eye.
In this form his role is to wander the land keeping watch on humankind. Another of his roles is that of the psychopomp, carrier of the dead. He is also a trickster and shape-shifter. In a terrifying form he is Grimnir, ʻhooded, masked oneʼ, or simply Grimr or Grim, masked. Traces of the name Woden are to be found in the English landscape in the form of place names such as Wodnesbeorg in Wiltshire and Wensley in Derbyshire.
Wodenʼs other common name Grim appears as Grimsditch in 11 counties, including Nottinghamshire. More importantly, the area of land to the east of Georgeʼs Hill, above Bonner Hill, is known as Grimes Moor
WHO or what are the terrifying hooded apparitions? Are they the ghosts of long dead monks?
We may believe this to be the case where the haunted site has strong associations with extinct religious houses but this is certainly not the case at Calverton.
The hooded entity is an archetypal figure deeply engrained in western human psyche. For many thousands of years our ancestors have recognised a presence at certain sites within the landscape.
The Romans called this presence ʻthe genius lociʼ – the spirit of the place — and even went to the extent of placating such spirits with sacrifice, as is believed to be the case at Regulbium.
They were regarded as demi-gods, servants of the great goddess, guardians of these special sites, and perhaps the reason why the site was considered sacred.
Genius loci were seen to take many forms. To the native British Celts the genius was known as the ʻcucullatiʼ — ʻthe hooded onesʼ — and a carved alter, dedicated to the genius loci from a site on Hadrianʼs Wall depicts the genius as three hooded male figures.
The genius as the cucullati is an aspect of our very own Robin Hood, ʻRobin in the hoodʼ. Again, a guardian spirit (of the forest).
Can the hooded ghost seen at Bramcote and Rufford also be counted as cucullati?
Although Rufford is the site of an ancient priory, the monks who lived here are known to have worn white habits and so why should the spirit of a dead monk appear dressed in black?
The tall, skeletal figure at Rufford compares more to the guardian of the door to the underworld, a psycopomp, than any ghostly monk and as such is a genius.
The old Bramcote St. Michaelʼs church has no historical connection with any religious house or order of monks and yet a hooded figure has been seen on at least two occasions haunting its former graveyard.
Hill top churches, as in this case with such a dedication, are often found to have been built over the site of a former pagan site. My research shows that this may be the case with Bramcote. The site of the old church is linked to the nearby Hemlock Stone and a prehistoric trackway from Avebury in Wiltshire to Mam Tor in Derbyshire.
Article by Frank E Earp. Originally Published in The Topper, November 9, 2011.