“Queer, primeval, dangerous spirits, breathing pestilence”.
Study a map from the 19th century and the old settlements of North Lincolnshire follow the high ground. Chains of Old Norse homesteads stretch in a chain across ancient ridges, and the market town of Brigg (from the Old Norse “bryggja”, meaning ‘jetty’) marked narrow point in the sodden marshland that spilled out from the banks of River Ancholme.
Once called the Lincolnshire Carrs (from the Old Norse “kjarr”, meaning ‘swamp’), this isolated wetland in the shadow of the rolling Humber marked the southern boundaries of the Anglo-Norse world of the Danelaw, leaving their place names, dialect words and log boats behind them, and the boundaries between the world of spirit and the world of men.
These dark lonely waters drew hermits, Anchorites, and the Gilbertine priory of Newstead on Ancholme, and birthed tales of dead men’s voices and cold sepulchral fingers grasping at the ankles of the unwary, dancing…
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