An anecdote from the mid nineteenth century given by Charlotte Burne illustrates the differing ways in which a paranormal occurrence could be explained. A man from Longnor set out one evening to visit some relations at Ratlinghope. As he was crossing the Longmynd, he saw, in a hollow of the road, a funeral procession walking rapidly towards him – the hearse with its bearers and pallbearers, followed by a long line of mourners. There were so many that they quite filled the lane, and he had to stand aside to let them pass. He was surprised to meet a funeral at that hour, and that it should travel so fast, so when he reached Ratlinghope he asked his relatives who it was who had died. ‘There’s no one dead,’ they said, and asked him where he had seen the procession. He described the place. ‘Oh,’ they said, ‘that’s no funeral. Theer’s allays summat to be seed about theer!’
There was a deep and widespread folk belief in the second sight, particularly premonitory visions connected with death; these could be a sign that someone had just died, or an omen that this would happen soon, or a warning of the percipient’s own approaching death. On the other hand, such a vision could be a ghostly repetition of some past event rather than relating to the present or future, and in that case would be linked to a particular site. This ambiguity is the point of this legend.