Hidden East Anglia:

Landscape Legends of Eastern England











Landscape Features





Blood Field


The 1832 Tithe Award for the parish of Martlesham reveals a place called 'Blood Field', which in 1946 was said to be "on the east side of the Rotary Camping Ground" (which would put it at around TM258462.) Local tradition says that here was fought the "last battle between the Saxons and the Danes".


Source: W. G. Arnott: 'The Place-Names of the Deben Valley Parishes' (Norman Adlard & Co, 1946), pp.12-13.





Hulk's Grave


At TM263803 is Hulk's Grave, a spot where three roads and the parishes of Mendham and Weybread meet. At one time Withersdale Street met there also, until it was absorbed into Mendham parish. The grave for which the area around the threeways was named was apparently so large that it was said a giant had been buried there, but road alterations have obliterated it now.  With a ford (now a bridge) close by, it was also the perfect place for a gallows, and vagrants and robbers were both hanged and buried there. Local people used to say the area was haunted, and would urge their children to keep away from it.


A man from Withersdale has told how, when he was a young boy in 1927 or '28, he and his father were returning from Diss in the early hours of Christmas Day. As their pony and trap drew near to Hulk's Grave, the pony refused to proceed, and his father had to lead it on foot until it had passed the spot. He remembered how the hair stood up on the back of his neck, and recalled how he had always been told to avoid the haunted area.


Source: https://heritage.suffolk.gov.uk - Hulks-Grave





The Preaching Stone


The jagged Preaching Stone (TM103658) in Old Market Street near the town sign is where, it is said, mendicant friars used to gather to preach and bless in the 15th century, and 300 years later, the preacher John Wesley.


Source: 'The East Anglian Magazine', Vol.26 (Nov.1966-Oct.1967), p.350.





Mother Lumpkin's Hole


Mother Lumpkin's Hole (TM438677) is a deep hollow in the bed of the Minsmere River near Rackford Bridge in the parish, which, according to local rumour, teems with carp as big as pigs, and pike the size of baby sharks. Here, a complete wagon and horses is said to have vanished into the hole. One who lived nearby has recalled that he was often warned away from the Hole, for fear that he be dragged in by the baleful monster that lived there.


Source: Allan Jobson: 'Suffolk Remembered' (Robert Hale, 1969), p.158.



The Devil's stone


In the stackyard of the home farm of Fordley Hall (TM408669), there was once a huge sandstone boulder where children were in the habit of placing pins in the various cracks and holes, running round it as fast as they could, then putting their ears against it in the hope of hearing the Devil speak.


Underneath it there was said to be buried a hoard of treasure that no one could retrieve, as the stone was immovable. A local farmer once attached a team of horses to it, but failed to dislodge it. In addition, the stone was held to have been the meeting-place for a coven of witches.


Source: Allan Jobson: 'An Hour-Glass on the Run' (Michael Joseph, 1959), pp.55-6.





The Three Hills


The Three Hills round barrows (TL744742 area) used to exist in the heavily-quarried area of Warren Hill. Oliver Cromwell is said to have hidden his valuables, or 'some chests of silver' in them. When one was opened in 1866, a large number of local people are said to have gathered there because of a false rumour that one of the chests had been found.



J. J. Raven: 'The History of Suffolk' (E. Stock, 1895), p.12.

L. V. Grinsell: 'Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain' (David & Charles, 1976), p.137.



Treasure in the field


In 1932, a small Roman building of two rooms was excavated in a field at Thistley Green, north-west of the town but still within Mildenhall parish. Only a few sherds of pottery were found, along with a hypocaust and a shed. Ten years later and about 30m away, the celebrated 'Mildenhall Treasure' was unearthed: more than 30 rare and valuable pieces of Roman silver dishes, plates and bowls. Supposedly, before either of these finds, a local legend existed that treasure was buried somewhere in this particular field. However there seems to be no written record of this tale, and I tend to think it started to be whispered after the real treasure was found.


Source: Sarah E. Doig: 'The A-Z of Curious Suffolk' (The History Press, 2016).





The Boy's Grave


The Boy's or Gypsy's Grave (TL688662) is nowadays topped with green gravel chippings and a simple cross bearing the inscription "Joseph the Unknown Gypsy Boy." When I visited in the early 1970's there was still a slight visible mound, surmounted by a single vase of freshly-cut flowers. Now it's ringed with a low fence of wire hoops, and festooned with artificial blooms and tacky ornaments. It can be found on the grass verge where the Moulton to Chippenham road crosses the old Newmarket to Kentford road. The legend (which may have only developed during the 20th century) tells of a gypsy lad who either lost some of the sheep he was watching, or was accused of stealing them, and hanged himself on a nearby tree, or who simply lost some of his flock and was executed for it. Either way, he was buried at this spot, from which some passing cyclists have claimed emanates a strange, compelling power which forces them to dismount. 


At least until World War Two gypsies were alleged (wrongly) to tend the grave, with fresh flowers (and occasionally coins) left there. It used to be said that if any flowers should appear on the grave during Derby week, then a horse from the Newmarket stables would win the race. And on any racing day, the colour of the flowers foretold the racing colours of the winning horse.


Sources: various, including




Secret tunnel


Many local folk believe there to be a secret tunnel from the cellar in the oldest part of Moulton Rectory to the church of St. Peter (TL700641).


Source: https://heritage.suffolk.gov.uk/media/pdfs/moulton.pdf