Creepy Small Villages

colpepper1

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I gotta theory that places with a lot of earth disturbance are creepy - ex-mining villages, ironstone extraction, china clay, quarrying. They don't get any better when slagheaps are reassimilated into weirdly smooth grass hills.

Strange villages got worse since they lost their railways IMO. New ideas and bloodlines arriving at the station always helped. Strangest places I've been, bearing in mind you can move 5 miles and get a totally different atmosphere are:

The Isle of Sheppey
Keighley
Mansfield
Redruth
Neasden
 

MistyMisterWisty

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This incident is in no way supernatural, but it was so odd that it has stayed with me since it happened in, I think, 1989. Unfortunately, it being quite a long time ago, I cannot quite recall the name of the village, but it was Corsby or Corbslie or something very like that, and if you're driving along the A68 between Lauder and Earlston, it's about halfway along that bit of road and a mile or two to the east. It's so tiny that it's a hamlet rather than a village - really just a farm and a row of cottages, and Google Maps don't seem to recognise it as a place in its own right. I don't live in that area any more, but perhaps somebody who does will confirm that it actually exists (if it doesn't, this story gets a lot more Fortean).

Anyway, I was out walking on a Summer day, and I chanced to pass through this place. Suddenly, out of each cottage rushed an almost identical alsatian, all wearing those scary collars with spikes, and formed a circle around me, growling menacingly. Then out of each cottage came an almost identical man. They were really big burly blokes who looked a bit like Rod Steiger, only more so. They called the dogs off, smiled in what they presumably thought was a reassuring fashion, and said something along the lines of "It's all right, the dogs won't hurt you", but I could barely understand a word they said. The normal Scottish Borders accent isn't very broad - far less so than what you'll hear in Glasgow or Yorkshire. But these guys were just: "Fargly arfgle gargly gargle gahurr!"

And then their wives came out, and guess what - they were clones too, but looked nothing like the men - they were all skinny blonde waifs a bit like Sissy Spacek, only more so. So I said something politely meaningless, and left at a fast walk. It was about a quarter of a mile to the next bend in the road, and the whole time, they all stood motionless in the middle of the road watching me leave! Though possibly that was because their entertainment for the week was seeing me attempting to ignore the alsatian puppy (also with spiky collar) that followed me all the way, barking its little head off and trying ineffectually to eat my ankle. I'm afraid that once I was out of sight, I kicked the little brute. I don't normally kick dogs, but this one didn't respond to being shouted at, and it might very well have followed me forever being horrible (until it met my cat Demon).

I tell you, if somebody had started playing the banjo, I would have had a trouser accident while praying for a miraculous manifestation of Burt Reynolds with a bow! Or at least Ned Beatty to distract them while I ran away.
 

ginoide

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i am not doubting your story, but the general tone sounds so much like a dream. i mean, if i had a memory like this i would wonder, duid it really happen or did i just dream it'?
 

IamSundog

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Weird ! Sounds like the setup for a creepy movie. All you need next is to hear children chanting in the fields around you....
 

Mystereaux1

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In the scenario you describe I can imagine the farmer having a dog which had puppies and the few neighbours each adopting one or two. I can imagine the men all looking Rod Steigerish because they worked on the farm, which is hard work. I can imagine them all shopping for clothes in the same place. I can't imagine where they found wives who all looked the same unless one of their mothers also had a litter and shared them out too :shock: . Sounds like it'd be a close-knit community, which may explain the dialect but on the whole the experience itself sounds like a lucky escape.
 

MistyMisterWisty

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I promise you that this was NOT a dream! I lived for some time in the Scottish Borders, and it's an odd place. It's so insular that in Lauder they tell racist jokes about Oxton, a village a mile away. Example: "Q: Why is there no AIDS in Lauder? A: Because all the a**holes live in Oxton." I have personally experienced having two huge farmers stand next to me in the pub and discuss in very loud voices what they would do if they caught outsiders from the vast, incomprehensible metropolis of Edinburgh (about 25 miles away, and therefore basically on Mars) selling heroin to their children. Because obviously the entire population of Edinburgh are depraved junkies. What they would theoretically have done involved shotguns.

Seriously, there was a local fellow notorious for doing certain things to sheep, and a farmer so drunk that he used to drive to the pub in his tractor across his own land, never venturing onto the public highway, then drive home in the same way, leaving totally random tracks all over the fields. And they were the normal guys. Several people owned cars so decrepit that they were visibly illegal, and drove everywhere on back roads where they were unlikely to encounter any cops - one fellow I knew personally had bought two cars from a scrapyard and combined the relatively OK chassis of one with the engine of the other. The problem was, the car with the usable chassis was quite short and squat, whereas the engine was from I think a Volvo - anyway, some great long car, therefore the engine stuck out of the front of it, and the fan whirled visibly like something from Mad Max 2. He actually drove this thing on public highways!

It gets weirder! I lived in a caravan on a farm which I got rent-free in return for looking after the chickens. There was a fellow I never saw close-up who sometimes used to appear on the far side of the field next to where I lived and stare fixedly for a very long time at the small herd of Welsh mountain ponies in that field with really large binoculars. Shortly after I left, the person who replaced me in the rent-free chicken-tending capacity heard the horses making a commotion in the middle of the night and went to investigate. A man who was clearly up to something suspicious slashed him with a knife and ran off. It turned out that what he'd been doing was painting the horses white, using ordinary household emulsion. Go figure.

The owner of the farm was an ancient colonel who was one of the last people in the British army to have been trained to use a lance in combat. He was a founder member of various bygone esoteric clubs, including the Ouspensky Society, so he knew some curious people. One time I was invited to Christmas dinner with, amongst other people, a woman who was absolutely convinced that she was King James IV, sent back to campaign on behalf of Scottish Nationalism to make amends for losing the battle of Flodden.

And there's more, but if I cough it all up in one lump it'll just sound as though I'm making it up, because nowhere can be quite this concentratedly weird. I assure you that it is! Anyone who has ever lived in the Scottish Borders will probably back me up on this. Completely weird things happened on a fairly regular basis, until I just took it for granted that the whole place was a bit Lovecraftean, and I was far less surprised by totally bizarre events than I would have been if they'd happened elsewhere. I wouldn't exactly recommend it as the friendliest area on Earth unless you're a huge fan of Straw Dogs, but it was kind of interesting.

The best comparison I can come up with is a little-known novella by H. G. Wells called The Croquet Player, which basically has no plot at all because he couldn't think of one, but at the same time evokes the weirdness of certain remote parts of Britain so well that he couldn't resist writing it. There's an old Scottish proverb which says "God made the country, man made the towns, and the Devil made the country towns." I have a nasty feeling it's true.
 

MistyMisterWisty

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PS - James_H2, your post was so short that I missed it first time round, but yes, that's the place! If you move a bit to the left, you can see the cottages these people came out of.
 

paranoid420

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MistyMisterWisty said:
I have personally experienced having two huge farmers stand next to me in the pub and discuss in very loud voices what they would do if they caught outsiders from the vast, incomprehensible metropolis of Edinburgh (about 25 miles away, and therefore basically on Mars) selling heroin to their children. Because obviously the entire population of Edinburgh are depraved junkies. What they would theoretically have done involved shotguns.

.
Maybe hes never been there and based his opinions on the film trainspotting.
 

jessbob

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From the google map - if you go along the road to the cottage to the left the farm entrance it is clear from the front that there is only one door - its not a row of cottages. Is this the place you mean?
 

Dingo667

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It's a great story, well written and creepy. I can also imagine that there are some weird farmers about but I don't get the esoteric angle, about the place being odd and strange things happen. Also I'd love to know if the Google Maps link is the hamlet you are writing about?
 

Stormkhan

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I'd also wonder how many Google employees "disappeared" while taking their streetview pictures.
I mean, it's a big project and you couldn't stay in an albeit low-key-decorated transit van with any form of satellite connection without stepping out for a pee-break, a bacon roll or a breath of fresh air. You can imagine one team, stuck in the middle of a drizzle-drenched lane, complaining to each other ...

"And we're doing this for what? So some twerp can view his own house on the internet?"
 

MistyMisterWisty

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I've just had another look at Google Maps, and I think that is indeed the place, though there is a possibility that it isn't. In that area there are clusters of nearby places with extremely similar names, which can cause confusion. For example, not far away is a tiny village called Blainslie, surrounded by farms all called something including the word "Blainslie", and I think that to this day - it certainly used to be true - just about every map in existence has the names muddled up.

It does indeed appear that the "row of cottages" I mentioned seems to be only one dwelling, but on the other hand, this was over 20 years ago, and that cottage is quite oddly proportioned in a long, thin way. It looks as though maybe structural alterations have taken place, and it used to be more than one home but they've been knocked into one. People who commute to Edinburgh often do such things, and maybe the odd characters I mentioned were so close-knit that they all moved out together, so at least two tiny homes were simultaneously up for sale (I remember it as being four, but it was a while ago). Then again, most of the farms in that area look pretty similar, and it's not certain that Google Maps haven't gotten the names a bit jumbled, so it could be the wrong place (though if so, the right place is almost certainly within a mile of it).

But I do think that is very probably the right place. Look at how far it is from the house to the next bend in the road - they all stood in the middle of that road the whole time I was walking that far, as if they wanted to be absolutely sure that I'd gone because they didn't want any witnesses for whatever they planned to do next (possibly involving Edward Woodward). Very creepy indeed!

Oh. by the way, good call on Trainspotting - yes, they probably assumed it was a documentary. Though apart from being a male caucasian, I don't resemble the characters at all. Especially when it comes to anything involving heroin and/or toilets. Personally, for somewhat more logical reasons, I strongly suspect that Straw Dogs is a documentary...

Yes, the Borders are very odd. Part of it is just because nowadays travel is so easy that all the go-getters move to the cities, and you're left with a disproportionate number of individuals who are for whatever reason under-achievers. Even in the time of Sir Walter Scott this was true. According to him, a typical evening's entertainment in the Borders consisted of watching the legendary Black Dwarf (a local mutant who wasn't actually black, just swarthy enough to be blacker than anybody else the pasty locals had ever seen) do his act. Which was that if you bought him enough booze, he'd break the door down. With his head.

But there are some genuinely strange things taking place. I have a story about this location http://www.ancient-stones.co.uk/borders/041/050/details.htm which I will tell presently. I'd just like to find out first if anybody else has anything to say about this place.
 

Mythopoeika

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MistyMisterWisty said:
It does indeed appear that the "row of cottages" I mentioned seems to be only one dwelling, but on the other hand, this was over 20 years ago, and that cottage is quite oddly proportioned in a long, thin way. It looks as though maybe structural alterations have taken place, and it used to be more than one home but they've been knocked into one.
Yeah, this was my first thought when I saw it. It's definitely several small cottages (perhaps for farm labourers) knocked together into one residence.

MistyMisterWisty said:
But there are some genuinely strange things taking place. I have a story about this location http://www.ancient-stones.co.uk/borders/041/050/details.htm which I will tell presently. I'd just like to find out first if anybody else has anything to say about this place.
I don't really have any thoughts about that, other than to say that I think the standing stone looks quite recent (it shows little sign of weathering). The blurb says 19th century, which sounds about right.
 

emina

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Mythopoeika said:
MistyMisterWisty said:
It does indeed appear that the "row of cottages" I mentioned seems to be only one dwelling, but on the other hand, this was over 20 years ago, and that cottage is quite oddly proportioned in a long, thin way. It looks as though maybe structural alterations have taken place, and it used to be more than one home but they've been knocked into one.
Yeah, this was my first thought when I saw it. It's definitely several small cottages (perhaps for farm labourers) knocked together into one residence.
There's no way that was ever 3 houses. It's quite clear from the brickwork that no doors have been closed up and more to the point there's only one chimney!

However if you follow the road a few hundered metres WNW, there's a row of houses which fits the description perfectly.

Click here for the street view
 

Mythopoeika

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emina said:
It's quite clear from the brickwork that no doors have been closed up and more to the point there's only one chimney!
If you zoom in to the wall just to the right of the door, there is a lintel still in place (presumably left over from a doorway). Where the other doorway was is probably hidden underneath the climbing plant. You need to zoom into the wall and look at the patterns, to see that there have been some changes made to that property.
As for the chimneys, well - they could have been removed to create more room in the house. One was left 'for character'.
 
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I think the row of cottages MMW is speaking of are just a little farther west along the road from the original streetview image - seems to be a good long row of them along the north side of the road. You can see them off in the distance of the original image with a white caravan beside them.
 

MistyMisterWisty

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Yes, I think that other suggestion is probably correct. It was a long time ago so my memory is not perfect, but that looks very much as though it's the place. As I said, precise locations in that area are a bit jumbled, so google maps may not be correct in saying where everything is to the nearest half-mile. But that row of cottages looks about right.

Anyway, I promised you an odd tale concerning that standing-stone, so here it is. Incidentally, you can find that location very easily indeed because it's clearly visible from the main road if you look to your left just before you you drive into Lauder (or your right if you're going North). The whole place is sheep country, and for commercial reasons, nearly all of those sheep are female. If you ramble around the countryside, you very seldom see a ram. So one day in the Spring c. 1989 (same time-frame as previous tale), I was walking up that hill, just because it's a nice gentle hill to walk up, and you get a good view. As I approached the top, I heard a peculiar noise. It sounded like somebody banging in fence-posts with a sledge-hammer, but it was curiously irregular. I assumed that a farmer was doing that very thing, but irregularly because he was tired. What it in fact turned out to be was every ram for many miles around - dozens of them. They had all toiled up that hill and formed a circle around that incredibly phallic stone to do their head-butting thing! The only ewes present were the usual number I'd expect to see there randomly, and they looked distinctly unimpressed.

It was an amazing sight which I didn't appreciate for long because the rams were so into it that I was afraid they'd have a go at me just because I was there. And in those days, we didn't all have phones that took pictures, so I can't prove it - I was hoping that somebody else might have witnessed this same implausible sight at that location. But it really did happen, and possibly it happens every Spring, though I'm afraid I can't give you a precise date. The fact that the standing stone is not particularly old just adds to the mystery - it seems that sheep, despite being famously stupid, are going with pure Freudian symbolism! There's another even more peculiar tale told about that immediate area, but I cannot personally vouch for it. But the ram thing around the monolith? I saw it. I don't live there any more, but if somebody does, they could very likely get video of this round about March. Honestly, male sheep climb up that particular hill with a phallic symbol on top to do something incredibly macho! I'm not making this up! I would be absolutely delighted if somebody who lives in the area could prove it!

This is of course not strictly supernatural, but it does strike me as distinctly Fortean. Maybe there is some biological reason why rams climb a hill every year, and the monolith is coincidental. Or maybe they coincidentally climbed that hill that one particular year because they're too stupid not to. But I think there's a very good chance I've just given you a location where something seriously odd occurs every year! I ask nothing apart from a name-check if anybody actually films this. Plus official confirmation that the Scottish Borders are downright odd.
 

MistyMisterWisty

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Well that's my exact point. I'm not an expert on sheep, so probably they do all sorts of things that I would find surprising. In the unlikely event that a sheep-farmer is reading this, perhaps he'll tell us that rams routinely do once-a-year macho ram things at the top of the nearest hill. I can't imagine why they should, but if they do, fair enough. But if they don't, I've just given you all a location where something verifiably Fortean may quite possibly happen on camera in about 6 months.

I should add that the type of sheep involved is the Scottish Blackface, a fairly small breed which is rather primitive and incredibly tough. They can live on absolutely anything, including heather. There's a herd in the Western Isles which survives entirely on seaweed. They also recognise breeds of dog fairly similar to wolves as potential enemies and have a go at them if at all possible. It is standard practice in those areas to put a young dog in a field with a blackface ewe who realises that her lambs may be endangered by this creature, and let her do her worst. Her legs are too short to actually catch the terrified puppy, but she'll chase it relentlessly for hours, and it will never, ever contemplate harming a sheep again!

The funniest thing about living in the Borders is having visitors from town who can see plainly that out there a sheep is worrying a dog, but they don't like to point this out because it's so obviously wrong that they must be hallucinating or something. So we're talking about seriously atavistic sheep here. I look forward to further comments, and if at all possible, a video (a sheep worrying a dog would be a good stop-gap if you don't have film of rams doing weird things around a monolith).
 
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I don't know about sheep, but goats are excellent climbers. And I suppose they are quite closely related, so maybe when they are having a get together they instinctively choose the highest point they can see so that any predators advancing can be easily spotted.
 

Iris

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My daughter's house has a steep slope on one side which is hard to mow so they bought two shedding sheep, a female and once was a ram. They love to sit behind the wire fence at the top to see if any cars are coming down to visit and they race to the side door to see if there are any treats to be had. They eat anything, even wandering jew and at the moment are visiting an elderly neighbour who has trouble keeping his weeds down.
 

Pietro_Mercurios

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MistyMisterWisty said:
...

Anyway, I promised you an odd tale concerning that standing-stone, so here it is. Incidentally, you can find that location very easily indeed because it's clearly visible from the main road if you look to your left just before you you drive into Lauder (or your right if you're going North). The whole place is sheep country, and for commercial reasons, nearly all of those sheep are female. If you ramble around the countryside, you very seldom see a ram. So one day in the Spring c. 1989 (same time-frame as previous tale), I was walking up that hill, just because it's a nice gentle hill to walk up, and you get a good view. As I approached the top, I heard a peculiar noise. It sounded like somebody banging in fence-posts with a sledge-hammer, but it was curiously irregular. I assumed that a farmer was doing that very thing, but irregularly because he was tired. What it in fact turned out to be was every ram for many miles around - dozens of them. They had all toiled up that hill and formed a circle around that incredibly phallic stone to do their head-butting thing! The only ewes present were the usual number I'd expect to see there randomly, and they looked distinctly unimpressed.

...
If you've ever handled a ram's fleece, you'll know they stink to high heaven, Wool saturated with a mixture of oily lanolin and smelly pheromones. Probably, that standing stone, at the top of the hill, was a great place for rams to rub up against and mark their territory, broadcasting their scent for miles around. Apparently, a much disputed boundary marker.
 

MistyMisterWisty

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No, I have never handled a ram's fleece, but that reply makes a great deal of sense! I think maybe we have the answer right there. All the same, if that's true, sheep do something that looks incredibly odd in that very spot every year, so it should be possible for some enterprising person to obtain video of rams doing an incredibly symbolic thing unintentionally. I never thought that sheep actually worshipped standing-stones, because how un-supernatural is yer average sheep? But I know for a fact that this happens, and now we have a sensible reason for it. All the same, wouldn't it look bizarre on camera? Seriously, they really do go to the top of that hill and try to bash each other's skulls in right next to a huge stone penis! I would suggest trying to film this in March or April, but what with the changing seasons and everything, I'm not offering any guarantees. Though I will tell you that the location is very easy to find, and a very gentle climb if you're reasonably fit. And hey, it's a nice walk and a lovely view, so you haven't wasted your time even if the sheep are being entirely normal.
 

MistyMisterWisty

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The other story? That was told to me by somebody who is now deceased, but who was both a tremendously nice person and a member of the House of Lords, so I tend to assume that she had no reason to make it up. Then again, she was also a direct descendant of somebody who 900 years ago allegedly created an underground vault in the village of Duns with the help of the Devil. How Fortean is that?

Anyway, the story is this. On the A68 between Soutra Hill ( famous in Britain as one of the two places that automatically becomes impassable the second it snows, just after the Cockbridge to Tomintoul road) and Lauder, there is a lay-by. Last time I passed by, it was a popular truck stop with a van selling burgers and coffee. Round about 1960, a police car was driving along that road, and they saw a trailer in that lay-by. Naturally they had a look. When the cop lifted the canvas. he was more than surprised to find himself face-to-face with a fully grown Bengal tiger! It turned out that a passing circus had stopped for a break, and somehow forgotten their tiger! As I said, my informant was an extremely reliable person, so I have to assume that she was telling the truth. But how, exactly, do you forget a tiger?

One other point. If you examine that stretch of road - the A68 between Soutra Hill and Lauder - on satellite view, you will see that there are precisely two houses anywhere near it. One is a farm some way off the road, which need not concern us. The other is The Darned House. It's right by the road, and although it's structurally sound, it obviously hasn't been lived in for a very long time - local sheep-farmers use it as a supply dump, but nobody dares to live there because it's The Darned House. Yet I never heard any explanation as to what was wrong with it. The locals are all scared of it, but they don't have the slightest idea why! That's another location that you can find very easily, because it's literally about 10 feet from the main road. And I can give you no clue what is supposed to happen if you spend the night there. I just know that nobody who lives there would, and they don't have the slightest idea why. Make of that what you will.
 
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