Investigated on May 25th, 2008.
Jay's Grave is probably Dartmoors
most interesting legend. It has it all - an unfortunate story,
a tragic death and a legend of haunting. Following the extremely
positive experience of a past investigation there by a friend
of the group, Chris and Mike decided to venture up there on
their next endeavour to see if anything similar would occur...
The story begins in the late 18th century when an orphaned
girl was brought into the Newton Abbot Poor House. This girl
was to be named Jay to keep in with custom with new arrivals
being named after the letter progressed to. Unfortunately
Jay was, at the time, a slang word for a prostitute and so
was given the Christian name of Mary.
After her upbringing in the
Poor House she was sent to work at Canna farm in Manaton.
It was here that it's said that she received her nickname
of Kitty. Mary soon became the focus of the farmers son, and
fell for his charms. The farmers son soon had his way with
her and Mary became pregnant. In those days it was a huge
scandal for a baby to be born out of wedlock and, after the
farmer and his wife accused her of 'throwing herself at their
son' she was kicked out destitute, pregnant and branded a
She had nowhere to go, a victim
of a town's shun. All conceivable avenues had been closed
and her two remaining options was to live on the streets or
return in disgrace to the poor house. Unfortunately it appeared
suicide was the better option and she was found hanging in
a barn at Canna farm.
As was custom back then people
who committed suicide were refused burial in consecrated ground.
People feared that, once buried, a suicide victim would return
to haunt those who had driven them to take their own life
and so Mary Jay was buried at a crossroads; the reason being
was so that her spirit would be confused and not be able to
find its way back to the town.
Sometime in the mid to late
18th century a farmer said to have been called James Bryant
discovered what were later revealed to be the human bones
of a young female at the crossroads. James had the bones placed
in a box and re-interred into the spot. He then created the
mound and gravestone as we see it today.
Today the site has become a
pilgrimage of the moor, with many visitors stopping by to
place their own little offerings onto the grave.
A full history about 'Kitty'
Mary Jay including her upbringing, scandal and suicide can
be found here: http://www.legendarydartmoor.co.uk/kitty_Jay.htm
|The most famous story is that every day
fresh flowers are said to appear on the grave. It is 'unknown'
as to who are placing them there and several reports in
the past have said that a figure in a heavy, black cloak
stands at the grave at night to watch over it. Some reports
say that the ghost has no feet. It has been suggested
that this may be the spirit of the farmers son, forced
to spend an eternity watching over the grave to see what
his actions had resulted in.
||The reports by Into the Night regarding their personal
experiences at Jay's Grave can be found on their site:
Equipment We Used
Because of the outdoor nature, not many pieces of equipment
was used. Mike had taken up with him his camcorder, digital
camera and film stills camera.
Walking along this ancient pathway is truely uplifting
for it has more that its fair share of energy. The amount
of energy that is there is an indicator of the age of
this trackway. My first encounter was with a man who
was on the left hand side of me. He appeared to be quite
tall but I am not sure whether I was sensing him from
the trackway or from the higher level of the mound that
runs along it. He seemed to have a lot to say and was
telling me about a female that he seemed to be quite
upset about. All the time I could sense him he seemed
to be looking across the trackway into the wooded area
on the right hand side. He did not like it and most
certainly did not like the spirit which could be felt
quite strong there.This other spirit appeared to be
that of a woman. I felt that she was an older woman
and that something had happened to her which was very
traumatic. I later sensed that she was connected to
a hanging that took place in an area near the grave.
After continuing along the trackway I sensed two brothers
walking along. They were dressed similiarly in grey
with grey hats on which were similiar to flat caps but
fuller. They walked side by side up the trackway towards
us and then the link was lost.
I had a sensation of something firm pulled across my
throat which made me feel like I was being suffocated
and also a very sharp, searing pain in my right temple
as though I had been struck by something very firm this
stayed with me for a little way and then subsided.
As we walked further I sensed a very large chestnut
horse with cream hair over the front of its hooves.
It appeared so suddenly that I almost asked the others
to move out of the way to let it through. It was pulling
something made of wood at the back of it which at first
I felt was like the stretchers that Indians used to
use to pull a person along. It had a very solem feel
about it and moved slowly along and I was not sure at
the time what it symbolised.
My attention was then drawn to a young girl of around
10/11 years of age in the wooded area to my right. She
looked like she was playing hide and seek and there
was a dog which had long legs and wire hair which was
stood near to her. I felt that there was another spirit
with her but was not sure what it was.
There was the sound of a woman crying, sobing, and as
I could hear it I wanted to curl up. I did not feel
that I could stand up straight and was crouched over.
This woman was in a small building which stood on its
own. I also heard a female call out as if trying to
At one point my head and neck became very sore and I
physically had to move my head from side to side. I
then had the sensation that my head was not connected
to my body. Jen noticed me doing this and asked me to
tell her what I was experiencing. I told her and she
said that she had experienced the same thing earlier
I also experienced a metallic taste and felt as that
I had a 'bit' in my mouth which was holding my tongue
down in the same way that a horse's bridle does. It
tasted horrible and I also felt as though whatever it
was was connected to some sort of harness or restraint.
Jen asked if I felt as if I was connected to female
or male or animal. I could not connect to human and
thought it may have been animal connection but have
to say that I am not sure what or who I was (if you
know what I mean!!)
I was also given the name of Martha Skelern and the
christian name of Jacob.
THE WOODED AREA.
In here I felt very strongly the presence of a woman
hanging from a tall tree. I looked up and could see
her legs kicking. She had what looked like thick woollen
looking socks which were long, no shoe's and a long
skirt/dress with a type of underskirt, but definately
not modern clothes. More like late 1700's atire. She
was really kicking and struggling and it looked like
she had a small sack tied over her head. Her spirit
was very angry. Both Jen and myself felt that this woman
may have been decapitated at some point during her death.
In the gateaway to the wooded area I saw a young girl.
She was stood looking at us when we were stood by the
van. When I asked out for her name I was given the name
Amy. Jen also was given the same name. I was also given
the surname of Dawes or Dawkins. I am sure that this
was the girl I saw playing in the woods earlier that
evening with the dog.
In this area there is the presence of Old Magic. I felt
that this was resided over by a female but not a female
from our earth-plane. I also feel that she was fey and
was quite an energy to be reckoned with but not willingly.
Fey are not governed by the same civilised pleasantries
that we humans are. They are both good and bad. They
favour none and you have to be very careful how you
deal with them. She was there in the wooded area most
of the evening just watching us and I think that we
were lucky that she didnt intervene in our activities.
If she had the night might have turned out very differently
but at this point I am not sure which way it would have
gone. I dont think she meant us any harm as we didnt
overstep the mark, but as with nature itself she is
not something that you can control at will. I feel very
intrigued by her and will think about approaching her
when I return.
As I was thnking about the woman who was hanging I was
given an image of her small house. It had earthen floors
and walls. There was no colour involved just earth with
some sort of whiter colour on the earthen walls. There
was a fire place which spanned almost the whole of the
end wall with a wood and woven chair at the side of
it, a wooden table centrally in the room. It had a very
small window and there didnt appear to be any other
rooms. There was a very pungent smell and whatever was
burning on the fire was giving off smokey fumes which
made your eyes sting. It was as though the chimney was
getting blocked and some of the smoke floated into the
room. I felt very anxious and dizzy and held onto Brians
arm to keep steady. I was feeling what the woman was
feeling. I had chest tightness/pain and felt quite unsettled
and scared. There was a dog who wandered into the room
and then went out of the door. As it walked away its
form changed and it became something else. I think that
this was the womans guardian. She had connections with
the wicca/pagan ways, perhaps a hedgewitch of some kind.
I didnt feel that she was easily scared but at this
moment in time she was terrified. Men were coming. I
saw a sack like the one that I spoke of earlier and
they pulled it over her head.
FRONT OF THE GATE TO THE BRIDLE PATH.
Here I felt very strongly the presence of a man who
seemed to respond to the name given by Jen of William
Bryant. We were stood in circle and I turned to look
at the side of me and was startled by a man stood there,
very close. Unfortunately I think I started Brian at
the same time. I just didnt expect him to be there.
We also made contact with a spirit that was given the
name of William Nosworthy by Jen. He seemed to be very
distraught and inconsolable and would not enter the
circle. I then got a sharp pain in my left wrist which
caused me to squeeze Jens hand painfully tight. My hand
was in spasm with the pain. It felt like a nail was
being pushed through my wrist. I am sure that this was
William Bryants work (one of the brothers who I saw
on the Bridle path earlier). Jen put more gatekeepers
in place and asked William to stop which he eventually
did. (thank God!!) A group of spirits then came forward
forming a circle around us and William was gone.
When I spoke to Dennis about this today he asked if
it was my left hand that had been painful and I said
that it was. He said that when he was in bed the night
of our vigil he had a really bad pain in his left hand
and actually mentioned it to Betty. A strange co-incidence.
on any photo for an enlargement.
of the group Sharkey had previously spent two nights
up at Jay's Grave with his friend Jenny and, on both
occasions, had reported unexplainable phenomena. Hopefully
this would in some way repeat itself for both me and
Chris when we joined them for their third investigation
at the site.
arrived around about 7.45pm and introduced ourselves
before setting off down the Bridleway path. During our
walk down there Chris stopped a few times to say what
she was picking up on, pretty much all of which Jenny,
a member of the group we were with, had spoken before
during their previous visits to the place. This was
encouraging and Sharkey did show surprise with each
hit - mainly because he had already heard Jenny say
it before and knew there had been no cross-talk before
then. Unfortunately for me I had to take this at face-value
since I was not there to hear the earlier information.
unusual thing did happen whilst we were down the Bridleway
path, and that's when we were stood looking into an
adjoining area to the path. As we stood there I suddenly
heard a rustle in the trees and a footstep as if someone
had just moved from behind a tree to walk off. This
occured as we were stood still asking out for a spirit
that was apparently being sensed nearby. Unfortunately,
since this was
an outdoor location it is impossible to rule out the
possibility that these sounds may have been caused by
an animal, especially since in neighbouring fields sheep
evening weatherwise had started very nicely with a clear
blue sky and a respectible temperature. However, as
we were starting to slowly make our way back up the
Bridlepath to the grave I noticed on the horizon a thick
mist rolling in over the hills. We arrived back to the
grave and I took some generic photos of it (see above)
before we set off to try and see if we could venture
into this neighbouring area but sadly with no luck.
By the time we had come back from there the mist was
almost upon us and I took the last mist-free photo of
the night (see left).
then it hit. It was a thick, eerie mist and along with
it came a plummeting temperature and a big increase
in wind. It cast a shadow over the area and I was unable
to see more than about 6-10 meters away in any direction.
know it sounds cliché, the typical "It was
a dark and stormy night..." introduction to a good
ghost story... Listening to such a story is good fun.
Encountering it is not. It was bitter with the cold
wind blowing right through you. My hands were cold and
spent most of the night watching the grave from within
Jenny's van whilst the others spent time down at the
gate to the Bridleway path. During the whole time I
had my gaze fixed on the grave, anxious to see if the
'heavy-cloaked figure' stories about the place were
actually true. Unfortunately, if they did make an appearance
on the night the heavy mist obscured him from my view.
I watched the grave, both inside the van and outside,
I frequently looked around to make sense of my surroundings.
I contemplated what it must have felt like to be lost
on the moor in these conditions - something that is
very easy to do. At midnight I decided to take some
35mm film photographs of the grave. The wind before
then had been constant but slight but when I went to
out to say I was about to take a photo the wind suddenly
howled up loudly and stalled me for about 10 seconds.
This, I figure, was just the result of unfortunate timing
but did add to the eerieness slightly.
nothing untoward happened on the night despite the efforts
of the others. The cold did get to me somewhat but I
always believe that during investigations that all bases
should be covered. As the others were focusing on the
Bridleway path I kept my attention onto the grave itself
in case the heavy-cloaked figure decided to make an
appearance. Sadly however, the figure decided to have
a night off.
I would like to try and offer potential alternative
explanations as to the recorded phenomena that has been
recorded there in the past. The flowers are by far the
most known legend regarding the grave. In the past this
had been connected to a prolific Dartmoor writer named
Beatrice Chase who lived
nearby. However, after she died in 1955 the flowers
continued. So who could be doing it? Well, any visitor
to the grave today will see that it has become something
like a shrine. When we were there dozens of wooden crosses
had been placed over the grave as can be seen in the
photo on the left. It would be logical that since the
grave is visited innumerably every day by the curious
who's to say that it isn't some of these people deciding
to leave a small flower on the grave before departing?
As for the stories of figures appearing by the grave
at night, I'm sure the people in the cars who drove
by and saw us all standing around the area will now
be reporting similar phenomena. Because the site is
seen in such high regards to paranormal investigators
there is every possibility that these figures that have
been spotted through the years are just interested individuals
who're spending the night there to see if they'll encounter
anything spooky. It's pretty ironic when you think about
in all it was an interesting night and one I'm sure
hundreds of people would have given their left leg to
do. If the weather hadn't have turned so badly against
us I'm sure it would have been much more enjoyable and
perhaps something may have happened. It's definitely
an adventure that's best done in a clear, moonlit night
in the middle of Summer. With the weather as it was
nothing photographic could have been captured because
of the possibility that any anomalies photographed were
just being created by the mist.
the 35mm film photographs are yet to be developed, but
when they are anything interesting will be added to