Magic & myth: Five places to get scared in the South Downs this Halloween
With the remains of Bronze and Iron Age forts, a Roman temple and its distinctive ring of beech trees, Chanctonbury Ring is said to be the most haunted site in the South Downs. Stories vary but walking seven times around the ring might summon up the devil, a druid, a lady on a white horse or Julius Caesar and his army.
Who lies beneath Kingley Vale? Tales of hauntings in the dark and silent grove of ancient yews will come as no surprise to those who know this spot. But are the ghosts marauding Viking warriors, left to rot until the trees grew over their bodies, or do the gnarled trees take human form by moonlight?
Stories suggest that the South Downs hills are filled with magical riches. The Golden Calf on the Trundle was claimed to have been made by Aaron whilst Moses was on Mount Sinai. The Devil guards this prize jealously, keeping it well hidden from any treasure hunters.
Long Man of Wilmington
One local legend claims that the Long Man is a memorial outlining the figure of a giant from Windover Hill who fell and broke his neck. Another talks of a fight between the Long Man of Wilmington and another giant from Firle Beacon, which ended in the death of the tallest man to have ever lived in England.
The story tells that the Devil was enraged by the Christian conversion of pagan Sussex and swore to split the Downs in one night and let the sea in to drown the Christian folk and their churches. His furious digging created Devil’s Dyke and sent clods of earth flying in all directions to form Chanctonbury, Cissbury, Rackham Hill and Mount Caburn. But he was foiled by an old woman who lit a lamp at her window – tricking him into thinking that the Sun was rising.