'I could see that he was no ordinary horseman, for he had bare legs, and wore a long,
loose cloak. His horse had a long mane and tail, but I could see neither bridle nor stirrup. His
face was turned towards me, but I could not see his features. He seemed to be threatening me
with some implement, which he waved in his right hand above his head.
'I now realized that he was a prehistoric horseman, and I did my best to identify the
weapon so that I could date him. After traveling alongside my car for about one hundred yards,
the rider and horse suddenly vanished. I noted the spot, and found the next day, when I drove
along the road in daylight, that it coincided with a low, round barrow which I had never noticed
'Many times afterwards at all hours of the day, when I was weary, and when I was alert, I
tried to see my horseman again. I tried to find some bush or other object which my tired brain
could have transformed into a horseman. I had no success.
'I made inquiries in the district, and after a few months, Mr. Young, the well-known iron
craftsman of Ebbesbourne Wake, told me that he had asked many of his friends in Sixpenny
Handley if anyone had ever seen a ghost on the downs between the village and Cranborne, and
that one old shepherd had replied:
''Do you mean the man on the horse that comes out of the opening in the pinewood?'
'A year or two later a friend of mine, a well-known archaeologist, wrote to me as
''Your horseman has turned up again. Two girls, cycling from Handley to a dance at
Cranborne one night lately, had complained to the police that a man on a horse had followed
them over the downs and had frightened them.''
This record is of the first importance. Not only is it vouched for by a highly qualified
eye-witness, but it has the additional value of being corroborated by other witnesses. In short, it
is probably the best and, possibly, the first example of a Stone Age or Bronze Age haunting in
Two significant points emerge from the evidence. The first is that Mr. Clay saw the man
and horse both suddenly vanish near 'a low, round barrow.' The second is that the old shepherd
apparently knew the ghost well and had often see it come 'out of the opening in the pinewood.'
We may deduce from this, first, that the horseman had probably been mortally wounded whilst in
the woodland - the eternal haunt and hiding-place of the enemies of his race and time - and
secondly, that he lies buried, with his horse, 'in the low, round barrow.' Thus his spectral ride
from the pinewood to the barrow probably signifies his last living journey on earth.
There is no doubt that men of the Bronze Age, probably chieftains, were often buried not
only with their horses, but with a pig to give them pork, deer to give them venison and goats to
give them milk in the life hereafter. Frequently they were incinerated before burial. When, for
example, the Money Hill Barrow on Therfield Heath on the Cambridgeshire-Hertfordshire
borders was excavated by Mr. Beldam, the local squire, in 1861, he found a cist cut in the chalk,
2 feet long by 18 inches in depth and width, containing the cremated bones of a child aged about
two years, placed in an elaborately decorated cinerary urn. The barrow, which was 15 feet high
and 100 feet in diameter, was apparently a family 'vault' of the Bronze Age, in which numerous
people, presumably of a noble of chieftainly family, had been buried. When the diggers got
down through successive layers of clay, charcoal, ashes and decayed turf, they found not only
clear evidence of other human burials, but the bones of pig, horse, roe deer and goat. Similar
evidences of domestic animals and deer, including horses, being buried in Bronze and Iron Age
barrows are by no means uncommon. The chances are, therefore, that if Mr. Clay's low, round
barrow were excavated today we should discover the remains not only of the spectral horseman,
but also of his horse.
Now comes a very different sort of haunting, but equally well authenticated, from more
or less the same wide, bright country of chalk downs and fertile plains.
Not far from the village of Langley Burrell, a few miles from Chippenham in Wiltshire,
there stands on a hill a remarkable monument. It is a tall, stone column, topped by the stone
figure of a little old lady, with a basket of eggs and lace beside her. It is the visible memorial of
Maud Heath, a village higgler, who died more than a century ago.
She walked each week to Chippenham market, sold her eggs and home-made lace, and
walked home again, in winter dark and autumn rainstorms, to her cottage in the village street.
More than once she waded through swollen brooks. So towards the end of her days this
indomitable old woman made a vow that, should she leave any money, it should be spent on
making a good footpath from her village to Chippenham, so that other poor persons like herself
might walk to market in winter in comfort.
Maud did, in fact, leave a small fortune. The footpath and the monument are the results.
Now comes the up-to-date story of this little old lady who died when the last century was
very young. Mrs. V. Carrington of Biddlestone, near Chippenham, widow of the late Brigadier
Carrington, D.S.O, O.B.E., has kindly sent me a cutting of an article which she contributed to a
local journal some little time ago. It concerns Maud Heath. Mrs. Carrington wrote:
'Not so very long ago I returned from an excellent day's fox-hunting, and as the fox had
been a good one, we had all enjoyed a splendid run-almost to the Wiltshire Downs.
'I was not one of the more fortunate ones who could telephone for my horse-box to bring
me home, and I turned my weary horse towards Chippenham in which neighborhood we then
'Alas, my horse was very tired, to say nothing of its rider. Night coming on and it was
getting darker and darker.
'Down the hill we almost stumbled, past Maud Heath on her monument and on along by
'Soon the good and faithful friend who had carried me well got so tired he could only go
at a walk, and I began to think we'd never get home.
'Suddenly, to my astonishment, he snorted and began prancing across the road.
'I thought this strange, knowing how very tired he had been only a few minutes before.
'Could it be a car coming up behind?-for there seemed a strange light shining on the very
quaintest of old women walking a few yards ahead of us on the footpath. But no, there was no
car in sight, neither could I hear one.
'On looking at the strange old lady, I wondered at her old-fashioned dress.
'Was it some eccentric old village woman walking with her basket to shop?
'The dress that I could see by the quite mauvish-yellow light on her was of a strange
coarse material not made nowadays. Her headgear was unusual; her shawl...those odd little steps
'But, above all, the basket at her side. I could see large, white eggs and thick, heavilymade
lace hung out from the basket.
'After a good deal of cross words and rough handling I at last got my horse to trot.
'I tried to overtake the strange lady, but to my utter astonishment the figure in front kept
exactly the same distance away.
'On coming into the high road, the old lady became one long, shining shadow, and
disappeared over the hedge opposite.
'My horse, although in a 'muck sweat,' as the grooms say, became again the weary
animal he had been before, and the groom told me afterwards that the horse kept breaking out in
a sweat all night.
'Had it been myself alone I might have thought I was mistaken, but my horse that night, I
know, was convinced there was someone not human just in front of us.
'Had I seen the ghost of Maud Heath, or was this just one of those optical illusions
sometimes experienced in certain conditions by tired persons?'