Roads, crossroads and pathways have always churned up visions of the unknown. The liminal vortex built on Superstitions and superlatives has woven its way into history.

So why do the hairs always stand on the back of your neck when on the back roads of Dorset on late nights?

Why do ghosts end up haunting the roads?

Due to the nature of their crimes and deaths, ghosts are said to be rooted to their roads. Until the Murder Act of 1840, executions were made at the scene of the crime. So, for example, if a highwayman turned over a carriage, his punishment would be befitting of the crime committed and they would be executed there.

The burials of suicide victims were also treated in a gruesome manner, as it was seen as a crime and against the church. Because of this, victims were buried at a crossroads or on parish boundaries with a stake through their heart, capped with iron so that their spirit is confused and can not escape.

Roads in Dorset are sometimes ancient, and all over the county people have reported hearing the marching of a Roman legion.

Examples of ghosts on the roads in west Dorset

There is a track between Old Mapperton and Netherbury known as Dead Mans Lane. The story behind this dates back to the Black Death. The people of Mapperton had buried their dead in Netherbury because their cemetery was not deemed suitable enough. However, this came to an end after the people of Mapperton had succumb to the plague. The residents of Netherbury refused to let the dead be buried for risk of a plague outbreak and a battle commenced. Eventually, a settlement was made and over 80 victims were buried on Dead Man’s Lane, which was marked by a Posy/Cosy Tree.

A story from the seventh century still haunts and lingers over Halstock. It is believed that a Welsh pagan was murdered for falsifying claims that her step-daughter had given birth to a child and thrown it to the wolves. The man reportedly cut off her head, but the woman rose up and carried her head down the lane leading to Abbots Hill (AKA Judith Hill) towards the church where she finally rested her head and died. It is said that on November 1 at 1am, people have seen a lady carrying her head towards the church.

A funeral procession has been seen at Ruscombe Lane between Powerstock and North Poorton. It is believed that if you are lucky, you can see six headless pall bearers carrying a coffin down a road.

The ghostly sounds of a horse drawn carriage have been heard on Stoke Road between Stoke Carriage and Beaminster.

How to track down your own Ghost Road?

The clue is in the name. Many of these ghost roads have names relating to what they were used for previously. For example Gallows Hill would have been the lane leading up to the gallows. Bier, which was an old word for a trolley carrying coffins also appears as a street name, as too does Lych- an old name for a corpse.

Sometimes roads, and particularly crossroads, can be named after the individual that has passed away or was executed there- so do some digging, and who knows- maybe you live near a ghost road?

Thanks to Dark Dorset; Tales of Mystery, Wonder and Terror- written by Robert Newland and Mark North.

If you have any paranormal stories in Dorset, feel free to email me at