One of the traditional motives for a ghost to appear is to reveal the fact that it had been murdered. This is well illustrated by an anecdote recorded by Roy Palmer about a carpenter at Upton St Leonards who was found lying dead in his garden. People were surprised at this, for the man had been healthy and there was no obvious cause of death; it was rumoured that his wife had murdered him, but, if so, how had she done it? After this, the churchyard began to be haunted by a dark, shapeless spectre which even appeared to the parson ‘as big as a woolpack’, but this did not help to explain the mystery.
Time passed, and some twenty years later the sexton was digging a grave when the parson came to tell him that the dead carpenter’s ghost had appeared to him in a dream that night, saying something would happen next day to cast light on his death. As he dug the new grave, the sexton began uncovering bones from an older one, including a skull, which he recognized as the carpenter’s. This, when examined carefully, was seen to have a long brass pin driven into the back of it. The carpenter’s widow confessed to the murder, and died soon after.