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The Source:

Rev. Charles Kerry:
"S. Modwen and The Devil of Drakelow"
in: "Journal of the Derbyshire Archaeological and Natural History Society" (1895)

The Case

It would appear that the first reference to this story is in Dugdale's "Monasticon Anglicanum" in which he quotes the "Chronica Abbatum de Burton". The only surviving version of the tale can be found in Gaufridus de Burton "Tractatus de Miraculis" which can be found at the end of his "Life of St. Modwenna". If you want to learn more about it, please read the Reverend Charles Kerry's article.

Anyway, this more or less is the story:

Two men from Stapenhull, who were supposed to work for the Abbey of Burton, fled to the neighbouring village of Drakelow and asked for the protection of the Earl, Roger Pictavensis. The abbot confiscated the men's seed-corn, hoping that they would come back. The two however complained and lied to their new master who got so enraged that he sent out a small army and took all the seed that was in the abbey barns at Stapenhull.

The Abbot sent out some soldiers and prayed for the help of St.Modwenna. Needless to say that the Earl lost this battle. His steward died in the fight and most of his men mysteriously died. Visions of bones are mentioned, so I take it this must have been the work of St.Modwenna.

After this Spectres did appear in Drakelowe around the graves of the two men. These hauntings continued until the bodies were exhumed and cremated.

The Date:

The events are reported to have taken place during the abbacy of Galfridus de Mala Terra, who was abbot from 1085 until 1094. So let us file this as "around 1090".

The Place:

Drakelow is a small village that can be found in Derbyshire, to the South of Burton upon Trent.

Personal Comments:

I realise that tThis story may sound rather lame. I have seen later versions that were a lot more exciting. They had the two revenants going around the village, carrying their own coffins and using them to bang on the walls or break down doors. But I am afraid that these may be later revisions with no historical base. So I have stuck to the version by Charles Kerry. If you want to read a more exciting version go have a look at:

Falconer Madan:
"The Gresleys of Drakelowe"
Oxford, 1899

Possible Follow-Up:

I have named various of the older sources. And as I said there are also more modern ones. Go check them out and make your own conclusions.

2014 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed November 2014

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