It’s a tale of strange twin stone heads discovered buried in a garden, a half-man half-beast appearing in bedrooms, and archaeologists appearing to become distressed or possessed: this is the strange mystery of ‘The Hexham Heads.’
One February afternoon in 1972, 11-year-old Colin Robson was playing
in his garden at the family home of 3 Rede Avenue, Hexham. He was having a go at weeding when he
looked down at a lump in the ground that appeared to be a large stone approximately
the size of a tennis ball. As he looked closer, he saw that there appeared to
be a conical protrusion on one side of the object. Clearing away the grass and
earth around it, he reached down to pick it up, and he saw that it appeared to
have human features on it, like a face. The young boy was filled with excitement
at his unusual find and he shouted for his brother Leslie to come and see what
he had discovered. Leslie was astonished at his brother’s discovery and not to be
outdone, he frantically started to dig the ground. It was not long before
Leslie too had found a second strange head.
One of the heads appeared to be a ‘boy’ and the other the girl. They were a pale, greenish stone colour. The boy had short hair carved into his head. Both of their faces were carved too. Neither of the stone faces were pretty – but the girl’s was the worst. She would go on to be given the name ‘the Hag’ or ‘the Witch,’ for she had a large hook nose and what was described as ‘wild bulging eyes.’ It seemed that the protrusions that stuck out at an angle, were their necks.
The discovery of the two strange heads was to see the start of a chain of inexplicable events that involved local folks, academics, scientists, historians and fortean investigators. Mrs Dodds, who lived next door to the boys, suddenly woke one night startled to find a half-sheep half-man creature standing in her bedroom. When it saw that she was awake and staring at it, she said it then turned and “padded” downstairs and went out of the front door!
Scientist Dr Don Robbins, a chemist who became involved in the investigation into the mysterious heads, on hearing of this strange night-time visitor, drew a tentative parallel between the half-man half sheep seen in Mrs Dodds bedroom and a creature from Norse mythology called ‘The Wulver;’ a powerful and dangerous creature, he said.
Dr Anne Ross said that after much investigation, these heads were of Romano-Celtic origin and part of the Pagan ‘Head-cult’ tradition. The Celts had settled in North East England and they were known to revere the human head as a gruesome charm. The practise of the Celts was such that they would set the severed heads of their vanquished enemies over the doors of their houses and barns. This practise had been particularly rife in West Yorkshire and Northumberland, where Hexham was. However, local lorry driver Des Craigie said he had made the heads for his daughter to play with! They were not ancient he said!
The story has many twists and turns, and the ending could be right out of a Fairy Tale….