Ghostly and ghoulish place names in the UK

Thursday 01 January 1970

Britain is arguably one of the world’s most haunted places. Rich in history, legends and spooky locations, it stands to reason that there would be some ghoulish place names. Here are a few, maybe you know of some more – please tell us in the comments! Devil's Punch Bowl, Surrey Legend has it that the devil spent his time tormenting the god Thor by pelting him with enormous handfuls of earth. The hole left behind by one of these missiles left the great crater in Surrey that visitors can see today.

Devil's Punch Bowl by MAClarke21 Devil's Punch Bowl by MAClarke21


  While the truth of that particular story may be difficult to verify, the Devil’s Punch Bowl is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, home to beautiful vistas of its green and wooded recesses and all kinds of wildlife. It’s a great area for a walk with plenty of footpaths to guide you down to the bottom and back up again. Devil's Dyke, Brighton Just north of Brighton among the South Downs is the picturesque Devil’s Dyke. At nearly a mile long, the Dyke valley is the longest, deepest and widest 'dry valley' in the UK, and legend has it that the devil dug it in an attempt to drown local parishioners.

Devils Dyke by Globalism Pictures Devils Dyke by Globalism Pictures


Despite this macabre story (we don’t know if any parishioners were actually drowned – we suspect not as it’s a dry valley) Devil's Dyke is actually rather beautiful. Artist John Constable certainly liked it, calling it “the grandest view in the World”. Coffinswell, Devon Just south of Newton Abbey in Devon, this little village was named after Hugo Coffin: Lord of the Manor here in the 12th Century. It’s surrounded by rolling green farmland and there are plenty of footpaths for a stroll to the neighbouring village of Daccombe.

Coffinswell by Paul M Hutchinson Coffinswell by Paul M Hutchinson


With its traditional cob and thatch buildings it’s an idyllic little place, full of historic charm and well worth a quick stop on your travels, especially for a swift pint or a bite to eat at its traditionally thatched pub, The Linny.  Gorebridge, Midlothian and Gore Glen Woodland Park A former mining town just a few miles south of Edinburgh, its gruesome-sounding name comes from the bridge that crosses the River Gore. So, quite innocent really. Nearby is the Gore Glen Woodland Park and Arniston Country Estate.

Gore Glen by Sleipnir's Master Gore Glen by Sleipnir's Master


Gore Glen has a number of trails and is open year round, there’s plenty to explore, with waterfalls, caves and the Arniston Country Estate nearby which is open to visitors May – September. Entry is by guided tour. Lower Slaughter and Upper Slaughter, Cotswolds Together, these two villages are known by the locals as The Slaughters. You might think that they were famous for their butchers, or an abattoir, but in fact ‘slaughter’ has no connection with blood at all. The word is actually derived from the Old English word ‘slohtre’ meaning ‘a muddy place’.

Slaughters by stephendl Slaughters by stephendl


Thankfully, it’s not that muddy here anymore either and today The Slaughters are just two famously beautiful villages. Lower Slaughter has remained utterly unchanged for more than a century — there’s been no building work here since 1906 —so enjoy a stroll, a bit of shopping and marvel at two pristine Cotswolds destinations. Bury, near Manchester Bury (also earlier known as "Buri" and "Byri") is an early form of the modern word ‘borough’, and comes from an Old English word, meaning "castle", "stronghold" or "fort".

Bury - Thomas' Picsrs Bury - Thomas' Pics


The town of Bury itself is only a few miles from Manchester and is well known for its bustling open-air market as well as the East Lancashire Railway, a steam railway that takes you through nearby historic towns and villages, and through some lovely  countryside . Some notable place names that didn’t quite make the cut


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