British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain
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Helvellyn & Blencathra

Helvellyn and Blencathra

Helvellyn and Blencathra have traditional reports of a spectral army marching over their passes.  Some relate to the eve of the Battle of Marston Moor, which was fought on July 2, 1644.  On Souther Fell near Blencathra, there have been numerous sightings of a spectral army crossing over the land.  It was almost always on Midsummer Eve and one even was witnessed by 26 people, right before the 1745 Scottish Rebellion.  They were so convinced it was a real army the next day they went to look for hoof prints.  The villagers later just believed it was an omen for the Rebellion.  Two years later another account was recorded in the publication Gentleman's Magazine, who had an interview with a witness to one of these supernatural spectral army scenes.

blencathra 2018 ©jennifer bailey

He told a story of spying a large army, 5 men deep in each rank, marching across Souther Fell.  He called to his family and they witnessed the phenomenon as well, and all agreed on what they saw.  One man in the regiment would occasionally quit rank and seem to count his men, then fall back into rank.  They watched the procession until nearly sundown when the behavior of the army marching tended towards lassitude instead of orderliness.  They said that it "rather had the appearance of people riding in from market, than an army."  The man and his family watched until there was no light left to see them.