The Memory of Place

Are memories of people or events held in certain locations or buildings? Many will scoff, call me suggestible, weird, a fruit loop. Fair enough, I don’t give a cuss about other people’s opinion of me; as the old saying goes, I know what I know. I have witnessed instances of this on many occasions, from awful nights in the company of a deceased stable lad through the voices of the crofters in a long-dead clearance village to the amiable whistling of a wartime airfield guard but perhaps the most chilling was the presence of not a person but something else entirely.

In another life I used to spend many nights of the year sleeping outside. On this particular night I had pitched my basha (a single waterproof sheet hung from two trees in the form of a roof) slightly off the track which ran through an ancient wood. I had been asleep only an hour or two when I was awoken by an unholy rumbling, I assumed a large vehicle was charging through the woods towards me, maybe kids joy riding a stolen Land Rover. I needed to get out of my sleeping bag quickly, I didn’t want to be run over. Of course, in a hurry, in the pitch dark it can be hard to find your torch, boots and work a zipper and inevitably it stuck fast. As I wriggled and cursed the noise grew until I could make out the sounds which contributed to the whole.

There was a rumble, a creaking, a jangling, a drumming and a rattling. It was quite obvious what I was hearing. The rumble of iron shod wheels, the creaking of primitive springs, the jangling of brass harness fittings, the drumming of hooves and the rattling of a carriage. It was unmistakable. I was hearing a horse-drawn carriage careering through the woods at top speed. There was absolutely no doubt in my mind, and there still isn’t.

A footnote to this little story happened the following morning, after my disturbed night (needless to say I slept little afterwards). As I was packing my kit away A figure with a rifle over his shoulder was walking along the track. We struck up a conversation, he turned out to be the keeper and had been for many years. His favourite topic was history and the history of the estate in particular. He stamped a muddy boot on the track.

“Know what this was boy?” he asked in a broad Devon accent.

“No” I replied “What was it?”

“Main London to Exeter carriage road, that’s what.”


About edwardchunter

Hello, my name is Edward Hunter. I sit at home in the Dower House on the Strathnuin Estate and scribble about the adventures of my nephew Archie and his father Magnus, my older brother. Thanks to my gammy leg I don’t get to participate in this exciting world so I must content myself with writing about it. You can find my first book Windigo on Amazon
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