Daily Archives: September 11, 2016


The Black Stones, and Other Ghosts of Beeston Regis

Tens of thousands of people follow this blog, direct and through facebook and twitter. I believe they mostly do so because of the posts I write which present facts the mainstream media elides, or a commentary designed to open up radical ideas for discussion. I am always very grateful that so many people are prepared to consider alternative ways of considering news and politics.

But it is also just an intensely personal blog, where sometimes I work through my own thoughts and experiences in life from a variety of motives, and in the hope that they may strike a chord with some people. Recent events have caused me to think back over my own childhood, and frankly I do not expect this next to be of much interest at all to the large majority of habitual readers. I am recording this because I want the knowledge to survive me, from a feeling that folk tradition is important.

I was looking up the postcode for Beeton Regis church to tell somebody how to get there, and in doing so came across the wikipedia entry for Beeston Regis. It includes this passage:

The strange story of Farmer Reynolds’ stone[edit]

Within the churchyard is a large stone being used to cover a grave. It is approximately 4 feet (1.2 m) long x 2 feet (0.61 m) x 18 inches (460 mm) high, being a rectangular block of granite, with circular depressions on the uppermost surface. On each side is inscribed the names of the grave’s occupants. This is originally one of a pair which stood at either side of a pathway in the yard of the farmhouse, in the grounds of the ruined Beeston Priory. The path itself led to what is now known as the Abbot’s Freshwater Spring Pond.

A local tale says that about 1938–41, when both boulders were in place, a farmer named James Reynolds often drove his horse and cart along this pathway. Several times, a hooded grey ghost would hide behind two boulders and would leap out from behind one of the stones at sunset, and try to grab the horse’s reins before vanishing. This, although terrifying the animals, seems not to have perturbed the man unduly. However, he ordered that the stone in question be laid upon his grave after his death, in an attempt at ‘laying’ the apparition. James Reynolds died in 1941 and, in accordance with his wishes, the boulder now lies atop his grave, his wife Ann Elizabeth also being interred there in 1967. There is no record as to whether or not the ‘exorcism’ was successful, and indeed, a local woman who knew the Reynolds could not confirm the story. The other stone of the pair can now be seen lying against the north wall of the churchyard.

In fact these stones were not originally in any of the places stated. The priory farm had a massive old tithe barn, right on the main Cromer road. The ancient road had become depressed through use below its hedgerows, and there was a grass verge bordering the barn, about a foot high and a couple of feet wide to the road. There in the grass and part embedded in the verge were these two large black granite boulders.

In the early 1960s we used to walk past them twice every day as we walked the mile to and from Sheringham Primary School. Legend was that they were haunted, and that after dark they would roll across to the other side of the road. This was associated with ghosts in some way that was not entirely clear, but linked to the monks of the priory. I therefore recognise the lines of the Wikipedia story. We were always scared walking past them at night and used to run past the spot.

At some point the stones were removed from the highway onto the farm itself – I believe about the time the tithe barn was demolished. At first the façade wall and great wooden doors of the tithe barn were left standing as it was contiguous with the farm wall. By the time the stones were removed from the highway I was either an adult or had an adult understanding, and was angry that these stones – which were an important part of community folklore – had been removed from the highway into the farm, as I was convinced they had been part of the highway and not on land belonging to the farm.

You have to know Norfolk to understand why these boulders had this mystic reputation. There are no boulders in Norfolk. The houses and churches are built out of flint beach pebbles. There is no source of granite for hundreds of miles. A primary school teacher whose name I remember as Donhau explained to 10 year old me that they are glacial erratics, left here by the receding last ice age, and it is undoubtedly true that the North Norfolk ridge is its terminal moraine. He also said that the apparently man made depressions in them were erosion by the ice. All of which makes sense, and it would make even more so if there were anything else remotely like them scattered around. But I see no contradiction between them both being glacial erratics and being used by the local Iceni for the sort of rituals Celts did with stones with depressions elsewhere. If they held the aura they did for the entire local community in 1960, how much more did they 2000 years earlier?

The legend of Black Shuck as recounted on the Wikipedia page is correct, although it misses out the universal belief that if you saw it you would die shortly after. But it misses the legend connected to Orban Beck. This was reputed to be bottomless, and the legend was that at night you could see a horse and cart being driven into it by a dead man. This again I am inclined to suspect was a folk memory of a Celtic chariot burial or ritual.

What I am struggling to explain to you was how, in what was then a very small and tight knit rural community, these legends were part of the everyday reality we lived in. I have been trying and failing to recall how I first learned them, but I think they were passed from child to child rather than taught us by adults, though they certainly were subsequently confirmed to us by adults. Of course they did not believe in them. But nor would they lightly scoff at them.

I am happy I recorded all that – I am still unsure of my own point, but I find the idea that this remembrance is now indelibly out there on the internet strangely reassuring.

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BBC Quietly Owns Up to Blatant Propaganda Lies

Nine months after a massive propaganda campaign based on outright lies, the BBC quietly sneaked out an admission on its website tucked away in “corrections and complaints”. As the BBC went all out to galvanise support for bombing Syria, the meme was pumped out relentlessly that opponents of bombing Syria were evil and violent misogynist thugs, bent on the physical intimidation of MPs. Leading the claims was Stella Creasy MP.

9 months after the propaganda had its effect – run on every news bulletin of every single BBC platform – the BBC published this correction, carried on zero news bulletins of any BBC platform.

Two listeners complained that the programme had inaccurately reported that a peaceful vigil in Walthamstow, in protest against the decision to bomb targets in Syria, had targeted the home of the local MP, Stella Creasy, and had been part of a pattern of intimidation towards Labour MPs who had supported the decision. The claim that the demonstration had targeted Ms Creasy’s home, and the implication that it was intimidatory in nature, originated from a single Facebook posting which later proved to be misleading (the demonstration’s destination was Ms Creasy’s constituency office, which was unoccupied at the time, not her home, and it was peaceful).

The BBC response goes on further and get increasingly mealy-mouthed, the essence of the excuses being “the other media were all doing it and we just joined in.” They also say they did eventually report – across a much more limited spread of news platforms – a more accurate version of events. But they then go on to admit that, even after this, Nick Robinson went on to repeat all the original lies in an aggressive high profile headline news interview with John McDonnell.

Former President of Oxford University Conservatives, Nick Robinson has form as a liar. The new documentary London Calling, forensically examining the appalling BBC bias during the Scottish referendum campaign, calls Robinson out as a liar in claiming on BBC News that Alex Salmond had failed to answer Robinson’s question, where the documentary has the footage of Salmond answering Robinson in great detail. Robinson’s replacement, Laura Kuenssberg, has of course continued the theme of tendentious reporting of fabricated violent intimidation by the left wing.

That the BBC took 18 months to admit to its lies is astonishing, because the information was immediately available, and indeed reported by me at the time. This article includes footage of the peace vigil outside Ms Creasy’s office which led to the BBC story – a vigil of some very nice people led, I kid you not, by the local vicar. In a delightfully circular argument, Ms Creasy complained that my article pointing out that her allegations of intimidation were false, itself was “offensive.”

UPDATE It has been pointed out to me that Stella Creasy did tell the Guardian the report was false that the peaceful demonstration had gone past her house. I apologise (infinitely faster than the BBC) for missing out that info, which I had not come across.

As for the BBC, remember whatever lies they are putting out today are likely to be very quietly disowned about next July.

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