W. Hylton Dyer Longstaffe, writing in 1854, says that a spirit known by the name of Hob Hedeless (Headless) haunted the road between Hurworth and Neasham. His haunt was restricted because, like evil spirits, witches, and ghosts, he could not cross running water, in his case the Kent, a little stream flowing into the Tees at Neasham. Eventually, he was exorcized and ‘laid’ for ninety-nine years and a day under a big stone by the wayside. Local tradition said that if anyone sat on this stone, he or she would be stuck there for ever. This was not a sufficient deterrent, however: when the road was altered, the workmen ‘fearlessly’ removed the stone.

According to William Brockie, in Legends and Superstitions of … Durham (1886), before being laid under the stone, Hob Hedeless was last seen by a man called Robert Bone but usually known as Bobby Byens. He attributes a somewhat different fate to the stone, saying that, when Anthony Moss of West Middleton built his garden house near that spot, the stone was smashed up by the mason’s labourer and part of it used as a foundation stone. Neither author mentions repercussions from this breaking of the implicit ban on moving the stone.



Haunted England : The Penguin Book of Ghosts – Written by Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson
Copyright © Jennifer Westwood and Jacqueline Simpson 2005, 2008