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The Gypsy's Grave

A local myth I'd never heard of until yesterday...

Apparently, at a crossroads just the other side of Newmarket, there's a small unconsecrated grave by the roadside. It's well-maintained, supposedly by Gypsies, and the story goes that the grave is that of a Gypsy boy who was given a job looking after a local farmer's sheep, but he lost one and was so worried that the farmer would punish him he hanged himself from a tree. Being a suicide (or perhaps because he was a Gypsy, and they probably had to deal with even more prejudice in those days than now), he was buried at the crossroads rather than in consecrated earth. According to legend, cyclists find it becomes increasingly difficult to keep pedalling as they approach the grave and, despite the road being flat have to get off and push until they've passed by.

Published by John Techno at 10:40pm on Tue 21st February 2017. Viewed 3,225 times.
This topic has been edited, last edit at 10:51pm on Tue 21st February 2017.

What's the map ref Mr Techno, there's a few hills round newmarket, especially the one along side the race course, that get me everytime....

Published by Priority 23 at 12:09pm on Wed 22nd February 2017.

This one?

https://www.hiddenea.com/suffolkm.htm

The Boy's or Gypsy's Grave (TL688662) is nowadays topped with a simple cross bearing the inscription "Joseph the Unknown Gypsy Boy." Well-tended and ringed with a simple low fence of wire hoops, there was still a visible mound when I visited in the early 1970's. It can be found on the grass verge where the Moulton to Chippenham road crosses the old Newmarket to Kentford road. The legend (which may have only developed during the 20th century) tells of a gypsy lad who either lost some of the sheep he was watching, or was accused of stealing them, and hanged himself on a nearby tree, or who simply lost some of his flock and was executed for it. Either way, he was buried at this spot, from which some passing cyclists have claimed emanates a strange, compelling power which forces them to dismount.

Published by Wrongfellow at 3:18pm on Wed 22nd February 2017.

Ah, I know that crossroads - it's on one of the local cycling club time trial routes. They don't seem to slow down along that stretch though!

(And that was just confirmed by my mate Ferg who knows every single time trial course in East Anglia, so it must be right)

Published by John Techno at 3:24pm on Wed 22nd February 2017.
This reply has been edited, last edit at 3:27pm on Wed 22nd February 2017.

I love stories like this.

Published by bigmal at 11:52pm on Wed 22nd February 2017.
This reply has been edited, last edit at 11:52pm on Wed 22nd February 2017.

I love this one especially because it's such a good excuse.

"Why are you pushing your bike, you fat bastard?"

"Must be a gypsy's grave round here."

Published by John Techno at 11:50am on Thu 23rd February 2017.

a strange, compelling power which forces them to dismount

We could really use a few of these dotted around Mitcham's Corner, or the end of the Coldham's Lane cycle bridge.

Published by Wrongfellow at 2:29pm on Thu 23rd February 2017.

There were some workers digging a hole at the end of Coldham's Lane bridge last week. If only we'd thought of this (and had a dead gypsy) then!

Published by John Techno at 4:48pm on Thu 23rd February 2017.

Today's bit of folklore research has turned up another East Anglian (and specifically Fenland) legend I hadn't heard about today - the Toadmen.

To become a toadman, a person had to catch a male toad and hang it on a thorny bush or impale it on a stick stuck into an anthill, then collect the bones once all the flesh had gone. These would then be thrown into a stream where all but one of them would be washed away, with the remaining bone being retrieved. This then granted the prospective toadman an audience with the Devil who, either as part of a pact or following a fight, would bestow the ability to control horses provided the toadman kept the bone about his person for the rest of his life. Due to their association with the Devil and because they tended to extract revenge on those who crossed them by stealing horses or preventing them from working, toadmen were hated and feared by others. The legend seems to have existed for centuries, but for some reason it suddenly became very popular between the two World Wars and there are supposed to be several stories about them dating from that time (which I'm trying to find)

Published by John Techno at 8:26pm on Mon 6th March 2017.

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