British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain

Barrow Hill, Mersea

Barrow Hill

A large barrow mound in West Mersea, listed as an ancient monument and called 'Mersea Mount' is said to be haunted.  Some attribute it to a Roman Centurion but a more popular and well-told story is of a tragic love triangle from the time of the Danish occupation of the area.  It is said that all three lovers are buried under the Barrow and haunt there still.

In the late 19th century a rector of the nearby church, Sabine Baring-Gould,  wrote down the tale in his novel Mehalah.  In the novel he speaks of the great barrow with Scotch Pines growing on the top.  He calls it 'Grim's Hoe'.  The tale of it was thus rendered;

A long time ago with the Danes were marauding across the coast, twin Danish brothers wintered in Mersea.  In the spring they sailed up the creek to St. Ostyth and slew him, but carried away his beautiful sister.  By the time they got back to Mersea, they both loved her and wanted her for his own.  Their love for each other turned into wild jealousy and drew their swords then and there and both fought each other to the death, hacking and slashing the whole night until they both fell dead.

Right then the other Danes showed up, found the dead twins and the live maid and buried them all together, the living and the dead, in the Barrow.

Baring-Gould wrote;

"When the new moon appears, the flesh grows on their bones, and the blood staunches, and the wounds close, and breath comes back behind their ribs... and if you listen at full moon on the hoe you can hear the brothers fighting below in the heart of the barrow. You hear them curse and cry out, and you hear the clash of their swords. But when the moon wanes the sounds grow fainter, their armor falls to bits, their flesh drops away, the blood oozes out of all the hacked veins, and at last all is still."

At the new moon it is said that you can hear the woman weeping until the moon appears - then she goes silent as the twins revive to resume the fight.  This will continue forever in eternity until one conquers the other.  But that will never be for the brothers are the same age, size and strength and most important of all, equally resolute.