Joanna Cowell from Cotgrave, has published a book titled Travels with the Reluctant Ghost Hunter, featuring a collection of her own experiences travelling around Nottingham and the UK visiting various mysterious or haunted locations.
This month we are travelling way back in time to two historic places, both situated perhaps surprisingly in the town of Stapleford.
First to discover is the enigmatic “Hemlock Stone”, which originated from the Triassic Period more than 200 million years ago.
It’s formed out of rock known as Nottingham Castle Sandstone, which also underlies most of the city centre and forms the cliffs of Castle Rock.
It’s tantalising to imagine that the Druids once worshipped here, and although there is no hard evidence it is still thought that they did.
The Celts first came to to Britain from Europe around 500BC, and their Celtic priesthood (known as the Druids) would have certainly appreciated a natural altar such as this for their ceremonies.
The magical combination of the Hemlock Stone, a nearby “sacred spring” (unfortunately now lost), and surrounding Oak woodland all add substance to the idea.
A fire still used to be lit here until the early 1800s to celebrate Beltane’s Eve, which heralds the start of Summer.
The second place to explore for a window on the past is the Anglo-Saxon “Stapleford Cross”, standing in St Helen’s Churchyard.
Thought to date from between 800 and 850AD, one panel depicts what is thought to be Archangel Michael, complete with halo, wings, spear and a serpent.
The cross was found lying in the churchyard in pieces in 1760, but was thankfully reassembled and is another beautiful reminder of our sometimes turbulent but always fascinating past.