The Bloody Berwick Vampire Attacks

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Berwick-upon-Tweed, on the England-Scotland border, has been under siege many times, including from two vicious vampires, writes ROB KIRKUP

Berwick Vampire

The historic border town of Berwick-upon-Tweed is the most northerly town in England. Few towns in Britain have experienced such a turbulent past. Between 1018 and 1482, Berwick was besieged on more occasions than any other town in the world with the exception of Jerusalem, changing hands between England and Scotland 13 times.

Berwick has also been home to two vampires over the years. The first story dates back to the end of the 12th century and was first told by the highly respected Canon William of Newburgh

The First Berwick Vampire

A wealthy merchant living in Berwick was a victim of the plague. He had been known as a good man, but in death a rumour spread that he was in league with the devil. And when two children vanished, the Vampire of Berwick-upon-Tweed was blamed.

The merchant’s body was dug up and moved from consecrated ground into an unmarked grave. Things got worse. He was rising from his grave every night in search of blood and flesh. Townsfolk were being found dead with their throats ripped out, and more children were vanishing.

A meeting was called and a decision was made to destroy the remains of the evil creature. Ten brave men were selected and at dusk they made their way to the unmarked grave. The corpse, which showed no sign of decomposition, was lifted out of the grave and the men immediately began cutting the vampire to pieces with pitchforks and spades.

A fire was lit and the hacked off body parts were thrown onto the fire. The men watched the fire dutifully; it was now dark but the men were at ease knowing that the Vampire of Berwick-upon-Tweed was now no more than ash.

Berwick’s Second Vampire Attack

Berwick’s second vampire dates from the early 1900s Betty Hough was engaged to Colin McFaddon, a farmer. They were very much in love and Colin saved every penny he earned so they would be wed. They met every weekend at a local public house, their routine was always the same – they would have a drink and a sing-song, and then head to the barn at Colin’s farm to make love in the hay. 

One fateful Friday night at the public house, Betty excused herself and headed to the outdoor netty, a primitive toilet consisting of a plank with a hole in it in a small wooden hut. Colin was worried when Betty had been away ten minutes.

A couple of women came into the bar saying that they’d been waiting to use the toilet but the door was locked and the person inside wasn’t answering. Colin went outside and charged the door with his shoulder. Betty’s throat had been ripped open and blood was still gushing from the wound.

Word spread, Berwick had a vampire. Colin was devastated and made a promise to track down her killer and bring them to justice.

Farm animals across Berwick were being mysteriously killed at night, with the animals seeming to have been drained of their blood. This strengthened the vampire theory. 

A few weeks later a 16-year-old girl was out picking brambles from a farm track. With the town fearful of another vampire attack, the girl’s mother had told her to be home before dusk.

But she lost track of time and dusk was upon her, she started to make her way home when she saw a dark figure up ahead walking towards her, a tall man of well over six feet, dressed in dirty clothes. As they passed each other the man turned around and jumped on the young girl. He opened his mouth to display two extremely large canine teeth, resembling fangs, he tried to bite her and she screamed out.

Two farmers heard the screams and rushed to help. They wrestled the man to the ground and managed to restrain him. The man was taken to the magistrate who said that the man was not a vampire, but he was a madman and would face trial for the attempted rape of the young girl.

As he was being led away he bit one guard’s throat out and made his escape as the other guards looked on in horror. Sniffer dogs were brought out and quickly picked up a scent.

Colin McFaddon had been told about this man resembling a vampire and was convinced that this was the killer of his beloved Betty. He rounded up some of the locals keen to rid Berwick of the vampire, and they joined the hunt. 

The scent led into woodland and a small makeshift camp with the remnants of a fire and a number of small dead animals appearing to be drained of their blood. Next to a huge tree was a large hole leading underground, this was where the man’s scent ended. One of the men put their arms down the hole and felt a foot, recoiling in horror. Colin led the mob in for the kill.

The dozen or so men quickly dug down and found the man. He was being arrested, but Colin swung his shovel at the man, almost completely severing his head. Others started slashing out at the man, beating him to the ground before hacking away at him with their shovels until all that remained was blood and gore.

A fire was lit and his remains thrown on, so that the vampire would be destroyed completely, never to return to harm their women.

Tell us your thoughts on the Berwick Vampire cases in the comments section below!

Rob Kirkup is a ghost hunter, author and podcaster from the north-east of England. His most recent titles include Illustrated Tales of Northumberland and Paranormal Northumberland. His popular weekly podcast “How Haunted?” is available at all of the usual places and he has a big Halloween spooktacular lined up. Check him out at www.how-haunted.com

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