Tuesday, July 25, 2017
The Horsingdon Transmissions No.206: 'Rebels towards God, enemies to mankinde'
A pamphlet published in 1592 purports to detail incidences of witchcraft in and around Harlow Hill, focusing specifically on one Mother Atkins, who was ultimately ducked in the pond near the crest of Burn Hill before being hanged there, on account of her - and, indeed, all of her sex - being considered (as one male commentor at the time put it) 'rebels towards God, enemies to mankinde'.
Specifically, Mother Atkins was charged with consorting with various spirits of the earth and air, and of possessing a familiar in the form of a great black dog still said to haunt the cemetary of the church atop Harlow Hill.
It is not certain whether Mother Atkins was actually a part of the coven which operated (and which some say remains active today) in and around Harlow, Horsingdon and Burn Hills respectively; but the cruelty and injustice of her fate resonate down to the present: local folklore recounts various manifestations of the ghost of a witch, accompanied by a great, black, spectral hound, up to the present day. These tales tell of how the phantom witch and her hound only ever appear to the men of Harlow - specifically to those men known to have maltreated the womenfolk of the parish. The tales also tell of how the men who bear witness to these apparitions soon after meet a slow, sorrowful, and agonizingly painful demise...