Spooky Stories of Rossendale, Lancashire

As Halloween approaches, I thought it would be appropriate to dig some spooky stories out of the archives where I'm currently volunteering. All stories are said to have happened in my local valley of Rossendale, a little borough tucked away in Lancashire. 

Rossendale Wizard 

One year, local farmers had suffered loss of cattle and sheep had become unproductive.  Creamed soured in its churn, horses mysterious escaped their locked stables and cows seemed bewitched. The farmers tried hanging lucky horseshoes and hanging sickles across beams to counteract the bad luck yet nothing seemed to work.  

Suspicion fell on a local astrologer and fortune teller who resided in Newchurch, Rossendale. It was decided that enough was enough and the farmers wanted to put an end to their ill-fortune so performed the ceremonials for ‘killing a witch’.  

One November evening as the thick fog covered the valley and the winds whistled across the moors, the farmers met at one of their houses whose cows had been bewitched by the suspected wizard. They procured a live cock chicken, stuck it full of pins and burnt it alive whilst chanting magical incantations. The ceremony also required a cake made of oats, mixed with the urine of those bewitched and inscribed with the name of the suspected wizard to also be burnt. Suddenly, the wind rose to a tempest, loud groanings arose from outside filling all those present with a sense of horror. At the height of the storm, the wizard knocked on the door and asked to be let in. The farmers had been pre-warned that this was to happen and refused to yield to their sense of humanity on this dreadful night. By not letting the wizard inside the house, it allowed the spell to take full effect. It is said that the wizard died within a week of the spell being cast.  

Rossendale Witch 

In around 1830-40 it is said that a man in need consulted a famous witch doctor who resided in Wardle.  The witch gave the man a packet containing an unknown mixture and instructed him to hold it over a fire in a glazed earthenware pot at midnight. However, she cautioned him not to drop the packet into the fire for the witch would burn to death.  

That evening, the man bolted his door to perform the spell. He took the mixture and held it over the pot as the witch had instructed. At the moment an unearthly groan was heard outside, startling the man who proceeded to drop the packet into the fire. The mixture then exploded, waking the neighbours and shaking their cottages. The next morning it was reported that the witch was found dead, lying under her bed with her arm burnt to a cinder.  

 The Devil at Crawshawbooth 

One afternoon, a group of young men were playing football in a field lying between Pinner Lodge and Sunnyside House in Crawshawbooth. A gentleman dressed in black stood to watch the young men play their game. As the ball rolled to the feet of the bystander, he could not resist the urge to give it a kick. However, instead of returning the ball he sent it flying until it was out of sight. As the youngsters looked at the onlooker in amazement, the noticed he had cloven feet and a barbed tail. At this moment, the Devil disappeared in a blaze of fire. It is said that the acidic smell of brimstone lingered in the area for weeks afterward.  

Share your local spooky stories in the comments below!


Thomas Newbigging, The History of the Forest of Rossendale, (Rossendale Free Press 1893) 


  1. Is there a story about three witches and some mountains near Rossendale?


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