The most famous of witches in my general area is that of the Pendle Witches. However through my love for myths and legends, last summer I discovered a legend of a witch a little bit closer to home.
The Witch of Woodplumpton is that of a legend of a woman named Meg Shelton. Who was accused of witchcraft and buried in a local churchyard.
The “Fylde Hag” that was Meg Shelton was accused of stealing milk and transformation of herself into objects. She was seen as a nuisance to the local farmers, as she would often transform herself into objects on the farm in order to avoid detection. There is one story of her changing herself into corn sacks, as the farmer noticed the sacks – where there should be none. He poked the sacks with a pitchfork and stabbed the bags. One of the bags let out a scream and changed back into the witch.
There is another story of a farmer noticing a goose in one of his fields with the cows. It’s said that from the goose bill there was milk dripping. The farmer saw the oddity in this and kicked the goose, changing it back into a bucket. Enraged at the spilling of the milk she was trying to steal Meg flew off in anger.
One of the stories around her death is said that she was crushed to death between a wall and a rolling barrel that was pushed in her direction.
Some of the other stories revolve around Meg not actually being a witch but a scorned mistress. Said to be having an affair with the local lord of the manor and the possibility of even an illicit child involved, there was cause for this lord wanting Meg out of the way.
Was Meg murdered or was her death merely an accident?
There is also the question of why a witch would be buried on consecrated grounds.
But the tale doesn’t end at Meg’s death. After she was buried it’s said that Meg rose from the grave at least three times. Resulting in her body being buried at midnight, vertically with her head facing downwards so that if she tried to scratch her way out again she would be scratching deeper into the Earth. A heavy boulder was then place on top just for good measure.
Apparently the spooky apparition of Meg can still be seen floating about the graveyard and an appearance of an old hag has been seen on a number of occasions.
There’s lots of folktales revolving around the boulder where Meg is buried beneath. It’s said walking around the boulder three times will make Meg appear, or that if you touch the boulder it will bring you bad luck.
Blessed Be )O(