The four Handsel sisters were of Danish origin who had moved to Wilton, Wiltshire at the same time of an outbreak of smallpox in 1737 killed 132 people. The local people became convinced that the sisters were responsible for the deaths and accused them of witchcraft and an alliance with the devil. Without an official hearing the sisters were taken to Grovely Wood, murdered by being bludgeoned over the head, and buried a little way apart from each other so that they could not conspire against their murderers. There are four gnarled beech trees associated with the sisters; because either the trees were planted to mark their graves or they mysteriously grew on top of the unmarked graves to remind the locals of their dreadful deed. Sightings of the sisters have been reported over the years. There is a hollow at the back of the largest tree where people leave offerings. Grovely Wood is one of the largest woodlands in southern Wiltshire. It is situated on a chalk ridge above the River Wylye to the south of the village of Great Wishford, within the Cranborne Chase and West Wiltshire Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
Posts tagged ‘folklore’