Is Chanctonbury Ring really haunted?
Chanctonbury Ring has, for many years, been a site of great archeological and historical interest.Neolithic finds at the site include a polished flint axe, an arrowhead, some early Bronze Age pottery, late Bronze Age copper-alloy gouges and a sword-hilt fragment. But it has also been a site that young people have visited late at night in order to scare the Bejeezus out of each other!
Chanctonbury Ring is a large hill-top enclosure or hill-fort, which has far ranging views from the north edge of the South Downs across the Weald to the North Downs, and the sea to the south. It’s a popular spot with walkers, cyclists and horse riders too for its stunning views.
Yet some visitors to the Ring have told of phantom horses, fairies, an old bearded man, a druid searching for lost treasure, a Saxon killed at Hastings, and there have been UFO sightings galore. In addition to this, running around the ring in different directions for a variable number of times has its consequences.
For instance, it is said that the Devil can be summoned by running around the clump of trees seven times anti- clockwise and will then offer you a bowl of soup in exchange for your soul. There’s no conclusive evidence of the type of soup offered, or if a bread roll is part of the deal. If you’re not feeling so energetic, then a three circle walk offers the comparatively paltry reward of a lady on a white horse.
The stories have dried up since 1987, when the copse of Beech trees was devastated by the Great Storm. This would suggest that spirits, apparitions and alien beings who have travelled through space and time to be here prefer a certain amount of tree cover. It was the trees, planted in 1760 by Charles Goring within the earth bank of the fort, that brought fame to the Ring, and the replanted trees are still some way off restoring the ring to its former glory. Perhaps soon though, a new generation will be able to let their imagination run away with them under a new blanket of healthy beech trees.
Until then, we are left with stories of old. Chanctonbury Hill has been frequented for thousands of years, but archaeology has yet to reveal a coherent story. You could argue that the same could be said of those that have attempted to unearth evidence of paranormal activity on the hill in the past 50 years. In 1967 a group of university students who had planned to spend the night there making tape recordings and taking photos were frightened away.
A year later, the Sussex Sky Watchers began an all night vigil at Chanctonbury. Most of the night passed without incident, but in the early hours of Sunday morning one member of the group, who was walking among the trees, suddenly lost the use of his arms and legs and fell to the ground screaming for help. Other members of the group were soon suffering similar affects. This lasted about five minutes after which they all
recovered with no apparent after effects.
Reports continued to be made of UFOs and ghostly images and then in 1974 the Ghost and Psychic Investigation Group was formed and they dared to spend the night on Chanctonbury Ring. On 24th August 1974 four members of the group, including Charles Walker, settled down for a night under the stars. At about 11pm, whilst walking through the centre of the Ring, one member of the group, Mr Lincoln, was lifted several feet off the ground.
The group reported: ‘He remained suspended in mid-air for several seconds, although at the time it seemed like hours. During this he was crying out 'No More! No More!' and was obviously in some considerable pain. He then dropped to the ground landing heavily on his back. “He was very shaken by his experience, as we all were, but unlike the rest of us Mr Lincoln refused to visit the site for further studies."
Was Mr Lincoln lifted up by a phantom spirit, or could it have been something to do with aliens? There’s been plenty of UFO sightings over the years. In 2005, BBC Southern Counties published two pictures taken by Jerry White and his family while walking on the Ring. Both appeared to show an unidentified object in the sky.
Back in the Ring’s haunting heyday in 1972, Mr Simpson of Worthing was out walking with two friends along a muddy track towards Chanctonbury when they saw what they thought were flames from a bonfire flickering among the trees on top of the hill. But upon closer inspection, it appeared that it was in fact a UFO hovering above the trees. The top was illuminated by a blue light and there were four small windows in the side of the object. When the UFO reached the outskirts of the trees it hovered for a very short time and then shot up in to the sky and was lost from sight within a very short time.
However, seeing as this had happened late on bonfire night, and the trio decided not to tell anybody about their close encounter until some weeks later, eyebrows may have been raised!
I’m afraid though, that our trip was uneventful. We took along our ghostbusters proton packs but there was no need to use them. It was cold so we had a bit of a run around the ring before settling down to some lovely soup courtesy of a stern and awfully sunburnt man with a gruff voice. That was before a lovely but awfully quiet lady gave us a ride on her white horse. We passed out after a big blue flash lit up the sky and woke up in Roswell, New Mexico.