Last Orders & The Lost Cemetary...

Some additions to 'Spirits In The Public Bar', the hauntings experienced in a pair of hostelries in the historic market town of Masham (pronounced 'Massum') in lower Wensleydale seems to stem from the lost Saxon cemetery discovered extending beneath the cobbles of Masham's pair of market squares.

In the 1930's two skeletons were unearthed during the installation of the cobbled drainage channel around the main Market, with accounts of further skeletal remains found when footings for the flag pole went in, and children reportedly seen playing football with a skull! However the real discovery came when work to extend the cellars of the Bruce Arms public house (overlooking Masham's Little Market Place) in 1985 revealed a portion of what turned out to be significant burial site.

The Bruce Arms, Masham, North Yorkshire
The Bruce Arms, Masham
Plaque commemorating Masham
Plaque commemorating Masham's Lost Cemetary

The North Yorkshire County Council Archaeological unit was called in to recover the disturbed human remains, ultimately totalling 57 individuals radiocarbon dating to a burial period between 679 AD to 1011 AD clearly indicating a well used cemetery of over 300 years and in all probability still holding many further former residents of Masham. It was from this time that reports of psychic activity in the Bruce Arms took somewhat of a more serious turn... Before the discovery the pub had always been home to a host of relatively benign door opening and curtain blowing entities, one former landlady reporting frequently hearing noises and thinking that a customer had mistakenly been locked gents after closing, only to find on investigation that the lavatory was entirely empty. However, clearly as a consequence of the disturbance prompted by the cellar extension, psychic activity escalated on the site to the extent that guests were known to leave in the middle of the night, room keys and payment dutifully left a the closed reception desk. Please note though dear reader, that as a result of the re-internment service and reburial in St Mary's church on a wonderfully sunny day in October 2009, the former Anglo-Scandinavian inhabitants of Masham (the original orientation of the graves indicating Christian committal) seem once more be at rest.

The gravestone in St Mary
The gravestone in St Mary's churchyard commemorating the reburial of the bones discovered in Masham's lost cemetery

The other of Masham's five pubs to experience ghostly goings-on is the Kings Head Inn, facing the main square and where fragments of a cranium were uncovered from beneath the threshold, perhaps at one time attached to the makeshift 'football' so enjoyed by the children in the 1930's? And perhaps accounting for the mischievous presence responsible for the concealing activity centred around the pub's cellar, namely the hide and seek game played with the cellar keys and the turning on and off of the gas line to the bar.

The Kings Head, Masham, North Yorkshire
The Kings Head Inn, on Masham's main Market square, the largest in Yorkshire

Whatever the catalyst for the various supernatural activities attributed to the occupants of Masham's lost cemetery, it's comforting to know that their remains now rest with honour within their own community.


Silent Stones

Some Ghostly Ladies...

Horse Drawn Phantoms...

Spiritual Stock-take

School Days

More Masham Manifestations...

Mary James


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