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Headless Goat

Headless Goat

This ghostly tale is a fairly recent one and concerns a lady who had spent the day riding with the local hunt on Dartmoor. At the end of the day she found herself in the vicinity of Sherril and darkness was beginning to fall. In the dimpsey she could just about recognise her path, it took her over a little bridge which spanned the Walla Brook and up a narrow lane lined with huge beech trees. As she trotted up the lane her horse developed a case of colic and so the woman dismounted and began to slowly lead it up and down in an attempt to relieve the cramps. By this time dimpsey had turned to night and the grey light had given away to a black pall. A gentle breeze shivered and shimmied the copper beech leaves which crunched like dry bones. Suddenly the rustling grew louder and it was obvious that whatever was happening was not the result of the wind in the high, talon-like branches. The noise sounded like someone or something was charging through some dense undergrowth and was heading straight for the horse and its rider. Without warning a huge white shape burst out of the bushes on the hedge bank and dropped into the lane, the rustling sound changed to that of the clatter of cloven hooves on a stony surface. To her horror the woman saw that the white shape was in fact a headless goat, blood was still trickling down its neck from where the head had been severed. The horse shied and kicked, its eyes bulging with fear the rider, struggled to calm the animal and by the time she had the apparition had disappeared. As things began to settle down the woman realised how dark it was, this begged the question that if it was so black how come she could see the goat in such detail?

For months after the encounter the woman would detour around the spot where she had met the headless goat, on some occasions going a good few extra miles. One day she decided enough was enough and after another hunt on the moor returned back via Sherril. The horse crossed the brook and headed up the lane, ahead she could see the tall avenue of beech trees and her heart began to thump. The horse whinnied and pulled at the bit, silently the woman prayed that the animal was not coming down with another bout of colic. She pulled the reigns and slowed to a trot, thankfully it kept going albeit very nervously. Like a bolt from the blue the woman saw a large white figure with a bloody stump of a neck charge out of the hedge bank, it was in the exact place of the previous encounter. This time the horse was not recovering from a bout of colic and so it span around and bolted back down the lane at full gallop, sparks flew from its metal shoes like a knife on a grindstone. Once again the woman was so engrossed with staying on the bolting horse that she never saw what had happened to the grisly goat.

Later enquiries revealed that the locals had either seen or heard about the headless ghost but apart from that they were saying nothing. A while afterwards there was a report of some people coming out from Exeter to sacrifice a white goat on Bel tor. The significance of this is that there are those who believe the tor was named after the pagan sun god Belus and so just maybe the headless goat is the spectre of the Bel tor sacrifice.

 

About Tim Sandles

Tim Sandles is the founder of Legendary Dartmoor

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