The infamous Pendle witches were executed on Gallows Hill. They died in the traditional manner of executions on the hill; first made to stand on a cart, wait while a rope was fastened around their neck and then die as the cart was moved away.
A hanging, done well, kills when the drop instantly breaks the neck of the unfortunate. A bad or deliberately slow hanging leaves the victim twisting on the end of the rope while they are slowly strangled. The death sentence “hanged, drawn and quartered” begins with a slow hanging from which the victim is ‘saved’ before they’re next drawn through the streets and finally quartered.
Ten Pendle witches died on Gallows Hill on the 20th August 1612. Members of both the Demdike and Chattox families where hanged on the hill. Owd Demdike (Elizabeth Southerns), leader of the Demdike family, escaped the executioner by dying in her cell in Lancaster.
Therefore, the names of the Pendle witches who were hanged on Gallows Hill are: Anne Chattox (Anne Whittle), Anne Redfern, Elizabeth Device, James Device, Alizon Device, Jane Bullock, John Bullock, Katherine Hewitt (Mouldheels), Alice Nutter and Isobel Robey.
Jennet Preston, who lived in Yorkshire, was hanged in York.
There’s no record of what happened to the bodies of the Pendle witches after Gallows Hill.
Is Gallows Hill haunted?
On October 29th in 2009 the TV program Most Haunted Live visited Gallows Hill. While the cameras were recording they gave the impression of the presence of some spiritual entities and perhaps the Pendle witches.
Despite some of the Pendle witches actually admitting to witchcraft it is now widely believed that none of them were. Alice Nutter, in particular, was a soft spoken and well off lady and probably guilty of practising the (at the time) unpopular Catholic faith. The Most Haunted crew, however, have allegedly been harassed by entities claiming to be or giving the impression of the Pendle witches before.
It is rumoured that Most Haunted Live may return to Gallows Hill for a live broadcast on Halloween 2009.
In Pure Spirit
What do you think? Is this site more or likely to be haunted by the ghosts of the witches than Pendle Hill itself?
Did you watch Most Haunted Live? What did you think of the team’s encounter with apparent spirits?