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The Witch’s Finger

Part One

Start as you mean to go on, so they say, so I am starting a brand new year, with a shiny new two part blog post, I'm going to try really hard to add a lot more content across all of our channels this year, including podcasts, more videos, and a lot more to read on here.

So, where to start?

Recently, I have noticed an awful lot of new paranormal content being posted across the various social media channels. The current lockdown situation has meant that quite a few of us are stuck indoors, without much to do, and we have taken to social media, to share our interests in the world of the Paranormal.

Of course a lot of this content is quite interesting, well worth reading or watching, and a lot of it, is, well ,to be brutally honest, its a bit crap!!

Why do I say its a bit crap? Mainly because its rehashed old tales, thrown together again, with the same repeated mistakes, and a little added gloss. This is especially obvious on some of the investigation videos I have seen, where nothing new is offered, no new research, no new approach,, just another look, at the same old story, at the same tired old sites.. I will hold my hands up here, and admit, that we have been equally as guilty, Out There have tried to be a bit different when we investigate, we have however, revisited the old sites, and repeated the same old ghost tales, and not taken it any further.

Now this gave me this rather strange idea for a blog post, which as you know, can be a very dangerous thing!

What if I picked a local haunted location, had a dig around to see what information I could find, first of all, by just a very simple google search for historical or folklore information, then by looking at a few investigation videos,, to see how groups had gone about their investigations and finally by simply asking on some FaceBook groups, what experiences, and evidence investigators had come across at the venue.

By studying what information I had garnered from the above exercises, I could then see how the experiences matched the historical and folklore facts I had already found, and look to see whether any of the groups I had looked at, had also matched their experiences with the historical or folk lore record.

Does that make sense? I often get these random ideas, that make perfect sense in my own head, but look completely mental when I write them down!!

So, with this plan in my head, I decided to look at one local site, its very local, being only a couple of miles away from where I live, and its a popular venue for investigators as its easily accessible, and has the right kind of "haunting atmosphere", especially when its dark.

St Marys Church Ruins at East Somerton

So here it is, St Marys Church at East Somerton in Norfolk, Lets implement the first part of my plan, and have a dig around the net, and see what folks say about it, first of all, freshly nicked from the Countryfile webpage

"The ivy-clad ruin of St Mary’s church is one of Norfolk’s best-kept secrets, tucked away in the tiny village of East Somerton between the shallow waters of Martham Broad and the coastal town of Winterton-on-Sea.

The building, which was abandoned sometime in the 17th century, is normally hidden in a wooded grove. Yet, as the autumn foliage falls to the ground, the ruined church, half-wrapped in evergreen vines, reveals itself. Only the tower and the nave remain – the chancel is completely missing"

English Heritage gives us this

. "East Somerton, Ruins of Church of St Mary. 25.9.62

Ruins of parish church. Knapped flint with ashlar dressings, the flints of nave becoming whole. West tower and nave. 3 stage tower, belfry stage now missing. Diagonal buttresses. Set-off at ringing chamber. West window represented by a hole. Pointed lancets to ringing chamber. 3 very tall nave windows to north and south, between which are remains of stepped buttresses. No tracery in windows and 2 western bays have large holes made in walls. Chancel arch with roll and sunk hollow mouldings. No trace of chancel. Listing NGR: TG4808219721"

After undertaking my own painstaking research, which basically amounted to following what appears to be standard ghost hunting group procedure, I googled St Marys Church, East Somerton, and clicked on the first three links!!

Undertaking this in-depth process, I managed to find out a few more things.

The tower is probably older than the rest of the main church, it may have been built in the 13th century, whilst the nave dates to the 15th century. The church itself is built in the perpendicular style

Its not been used for ages, probably stopped being a proper church in the latter half of the 17th century, and was most likely used as a chapel of ease, by the people in The Hall...this "Hall" is quoted everywhere else, as being Burnley Hall, as the church lies on land that may have belonged to this building.

With the historical research done, its time to look at the folk lore that goes along with this site

and of course, there is the fabulous little folktale attached to this church, the first two links I clicked on in my Google search, both mention it, so without further ado, I best relate it to you all.

You have all noticed, that in the middle of the nave grows a large oak tree, which is known by the locals as The Witch's Finger, or The Witch's Leg.

Now the Folk Tale goes that an local witch was sealed into a box, and buried alive on the spot. The church was then built on top of her, to seal away her wickedness, and keep the locals safe!

As they threw soil onto the box, her voice was heard to curse the people, and their church.

Ok folks, here's the twist, this nasty witch just happened to have a wooden leg, and as the years went by, an oak tree started to grow from this leg. This oak tree hastened the destruction of the church, so the Witch finally had her revenge on the people, and their church. This is just one version of the tale, there are others, but all pretty much along the same lines.

In addition to the story, it is also said that if you circle the tree three times, whilst calling out the witch's name, then you can summon her spirit from its grave beneath the tree.

. If you dig around the various paranormal and ghost hunting groups, that have run investigations at this site, you will discover that ghostly monks and whispering voices have also been experienced here, along with people being poked or pushed.

OK, so there you have it, a nice little folk tale, and an atmospheric ruined church, that attracts a fair number of paranormal groups.....

Time for phase two, have a look at some investigations so I hit YouTube, and watched a few investigation videos filmed at the was both an enjoyable, and somewhat painful experience!!!

I also read a few blogposts, and paranormal group investigation "reports" to find out how the various groups ran their investigations, what they had experienced , and how much information they had gathered through research, and if any of it was presented.

Time to break it all down, and have a good look through what I found..The groups I looked at mostly followed the same sort of investigation standard, which appears to be the most popular format, and is quite commonly seen on various TV paranormal shows

They would have a walk around the location to see what they could sense by way of spirit, some of the groups went through a short historical introduction of sorts, more on that later.

They would deploy or use various pieces of equipment, that included the usual array of gadgets REM pods, EMF meters, Voice recorders, spirit boxes and the like, some of the groups used mobile phone apps too...One group did use a candle as part of their investigation kit, which made a welcome change

Most of the groups tried calling out to spirit. A few of the groups had Ovulus type devices, or phone apps, and would look to see what words came up through these..and spirit boxes were used as well, to see if any spirit would contact them through that particular device.

The historical facts, and research discovered, was all basically the same, and the experiments that were attempted on the back of this, were limited to walking around the tree three times to see if the wicked witch appeared, as already mentioned in the folktale earlier, and calling out to see if she responded at all.

The final phase I needed a little more info, so I enquired on a couple of FaceBook groups, just asking simply what experiences investigators had come across at the site

I got a few very useful replies, so let’s have a look at what extra information I was given.

Monks have been heard chanting, one investigator even sent a short video clip that included the chanting, now that was quite interesting.

Children have been both seen, and heard at the site

Clear names have been heard on ITC equipment.

A cackling voice was picked up as well

You also had your standard orbs, and light anomalies too.

Ok that’s the first part almost over, we have looked at a site, got a little bit of history and a great back story.

We looked at a few investigations to see what they did, and have a few examples of paranormal phenomena experienced there.

Of course the question now is, what is he trying to prove with all of this nonsense?

and that my friends, will all be revealed in Part Two!!

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Ian Liston-Smith
Ian Liston-Smith
22 janv. 2021

Ah yes. The curse of research revealing repeated or rehashed errors, from multiple sources - sometimes even with the same typos! As I learnt at work, just because something appears to be confirmed by two or more sources, it's no guarantee of accuracy. They might all have got it from the same erroneous source. It can be time consuming to unpick it, so some researchers don't bother and the errors get repeated. I've come a cropper too in my time... Looking forward to The Witch's Finger part two.

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