Betty’s Grave is a crossroads in the Gloucestershire countryside with an ominous history and a vengeful ghost, writes RICK HALE
“I went to the crossroad, fell down on my knees
“Asked the Lord above, ‘Have mercy, now, save poor Bob if you please’.”
Crossroad Blues, Robert Johnson
Throughout British history, crossroads have been regarded as places of supernatural dread and foreboding.
At one time, very few dared to tread on these crossroads for fear of encountering the ghostly entities said to lurk there.
While others believed if you stood in the very centre of a crossroads at the stroke of midnight, the devil himself would appear and make a wager for your soul.
Historians believe these superstitions began during the dark ages because criminals and heretics were hung and buried at crossroads.
These superstitious people believed that doing so would confuse their angry, vengeful ghosts and keep them from returning to their village and raising hell.
Today,these irrational beliefs have been widely abandoned in our more rational times. But of course some still hold on to these beliefs and regard crossroads as cursed places. Places to be feared.
What is Betty’s Grave?
Located in the Gloucestershire countryside just outside Poulton can be found of these feared crossroads. A crossroads known simply as Betty’s Grave.
This is a crossroads with an uncertain history as to how it received its ominous name. Nevertheless, there are stories how it came to be known as this. And a vengeful ghost to go along with it.
No one can say with any certainty how this crossroads came about its name.
The name Betty’s Grave was first mentioned in an ordnance map in 1830. However, locals would argue the name goes much further back in history.
Most agree that Betty was more than likely a real person, but it’s what she did that has brought about several dark legends concerning its origin.
The Sickle Challenge
Perhaps the most innocent story portrays Betty as a tough as nails, hard-working farm girl.
One day, she bet a friend that she could clear an acre of corn with her sickle faster than any man twice her size.
After taking that bet, Betty grabbed her trusty tool and went about the task of clearing the field.
When she was done, exhaustion overcame Betty and she dropped dead where she stood. She was then buried at the crossroads and it was named Betty’s Grave to commemorate the girl’s amazing accomplishment.
A second story of how the crossroads came to be called Betty’s Grave is much darker than the tragic and untimely death of a simple farm girl.
This story paints Betty as a witch in league with the devil.
According to this story, when the moon cast its pallid glow over the fields, Betty could be found there dancing nude and reciting spells and chants to her internal god.
Anyone who dared to approach her watched in horror as the diabolical Betty regurgitated sharp needles and crows that would fly off into the night.
Betty also was a much feared highwaywoman who would use her magic to lure travellers to their doom and rob them of their belongings.
Overcome by anger, the locals ended Betty’s reign of terror by driving a sword through her dark heart.
And due to her many crimes and blasphemies, Betty was buried in an unmarked grave at the crossroads.
She Won’t Stay Dead
Our third and final Betty story is perhaps the weirdest of them all.
It details how Betty, a mystery woman, wanders into a local village both naked and unable to communicate with those who came up on her.
Disconcerted by Betty’s scandalous lack of attire and inability to speak, the villagers took a leap of logic and accused her of being a witch.
They immediately placed her in chains and hanged her at the crossroads. After swinging for a full day. Betty was buried where she lived out her final moments.
With the unpleasant affair behind them, the villagers went about their business. But strange things were afoot. And I can’t help but think there’s a joke here.
The next day, Betty was once again seen in the village, completely naked, gibbering unintelligible words.
So they did the only thing they could think of, they strung her up again and put her back in the grave.
Deed done, or so they thought. She returned once again, but this time she could speak.
She warned the villagers that unless they adorned her grave with fresh flowers, she would return from the grave and make things as difficult as possible for the villagers.
Not wanting to incur the wrath of this witch they did as she asked, and Betty returned to her grave.
The practice of putting flowers at Betty’s Grave lasted until the 1970s, when it inexplicably stopped.
And why, you ask? They simply felt the practice was useless. And sadly, the people paid the price for their hubris. Betty once again arose from her grave.
A Vengeful Ghost
When the flowers stopped coming, Betty was freed to once again roam the crossroads and terrorise unwitting travelers.
The wispy apparition of a crazed woman was seen standing in the middle of the crossroads screaming at people as they drove by.
And people refused to walk through Betty’s Grave late at night for fear of being attacked by the vengeful, angry spectre.
And then one day, the attacks stopped and Betty’s ghost was no longer causing problems.
And the reason why, some unknown person, undoubtedly wise beyond their years, placed flowers at the crossroads.
Betty was placated and once again laid to rest never to return again.
Betty, may very well have been a real person at one time. But these age old legends probably not so much. But are you willing to take that risk?
I suggest that if you find yourself at this legendary crossroads known as Betty’s Grave, leave the flowers where they lay.
Have you been to Betty’s Grave? Tell us about it in the comments section below!