Robert Surtees in his History … of Durham (1816–40) writes of Stob-Cross, near Cornforth:

And here Stobcross ‘brings on a village tale.’ A few fields to the South stands a ruined dove-cote, shaded by a few straggling ashes, and haunted by a brood of wood-pigeons. Here a poor girl put herself down for love, in the homely phrase of the country, on the very spot of her appointments with her traitor lover; and her spirit still hovers round the cote, the scene of her earthly loves and sorrows, in the form of a milk-white dove, distinguished from its companions by three distinct crimson spots on the breast. The poor maid was laid in the churchyard … The traitor … drowned himself some years after in the Floatbeck, and being buried where four roads meet with a stake or stob driven through his body, left the name of the transaction to Stobb cross.

An old farmer told Surtees he had seen this dove twenty times and added that she was (unusually among bird omens) always a harbinger of good weather and a fruitful harvest. For other traditions of the transmigration of souls into birds, see MARAZION, Cornwall, and TROUGHEND, Northumberland.



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