Into the valley of the Demon.
A strange isolated valley can be found in the hills outside the town of Macclesfield in the county of Cheshire, something evil is said to lurk in this place where the wind seems to constantly blow, for this reason when I entered this valley to take the photographs which appear on this web page, I went suitably armed with an amulet given to me by a friend who is a psychic healer, and I made sure that I was out of the valley before darkness fell.
Award winning local author Alan Garner has spent many years researching this valley and area and has used his findings to create a fictional novel called “Thursbitch” after the name of this valley. The novel centre’s around the strange death of John Turner back in 1733, a salt Jagger who was found dead in mysterious circumstances along with his pack horse team close to the valley of Thursbitch, his memorial stone can be found on the side of the road, on the front of the memorial stone can be read, “Here John Turner was cast away in a heavy snowstorm in the night in or about the year 1755″ on the rear of the stone can be read ,”The print of a womans shoe was found at his side in the snow where he lay dead”.
Alan Garner’s research uncovered the fact that the name “Thursbitch” means in Old English ” Demon Valley” and also he was told by one of John Turner’s descendants that his death took place in 1733 so why was 1755 placed on his memorial stone?
Entering the “The valley of the Demon”
Alan Garner goes on to theorise that the strange standing stones which can be found in this valley align with the Pole star which points to the fact that ancient rites were taking place in this valley many years ago.
During his research Alan interviewed farmers who live in the area and was able to learn that burials had taken place in unconsecrated ground in the valley in the past, along with the pagan practice’s which have taken place here maybe it is this that has released something evil? The following is an account taken from Alan Garners web site in which he has a conversation with the local vicar about the valley : In 1999, I telephoned the vicar. Despite the twenty-six year gap, he remembered me. I told him that I now had a clearer picture of Saltersford and that there were some questions I’d like to have his opinion on. I asked him for his thoughts on Thursbitch; and I am now speaking from my notes made during the conversation. He said that he had no personal experience of the place, because he’d never been there. He said that, at his induction in 1972, his Church Wardens had told him that it would not be safe for “a man of the cloth” to enter the valley. One of them had said that he himself never went there, because it was “not a healthy part”. The vicar followed the advice because he respected the men who had given it. He also said that the people of Saltersford think of it as “no good place”, “not right”, “not safe&vrdquo;. He explained that this attitude was spiritual, and said, “I wouldn’t like to go up myself. I think the valley needs feeding.”
In another conversation Alan had with one of the locals whose identity remains hidden it revealed more fears that the locals have regarding this valley :I went to see Mr. Y, a farmer born and reared at Saltersford Hall, the home of John Turner. I needed permission to drive along the western ridge of Thursbitch. He said that he wanted me down by dusk and he wanted me to let him know that I was down. I thought that Mr. Y had no high opinion of my ability to drive a Land Rover. But he continued. “You see.” Pause. “There isn’t a farmer in all these hills around.” Pause. “As will open his door after dark.” Pause. “Not even to cross the yard.” Pause. “Without he’s got his gun.” “Not that it would be of any use.” “But it makes you feel better.” “Somehow.”
They built their Jenkin Chapel. At first, it lacked both bell tower and chancel. The men knew how to build farms, not churches. There’s even a domestic fireplace. But whom, or what, did they worship? The date stone is clear: St. John the Baptist June 24th. 1733. Where the uncanny creeps in is that the Bishops of Chester, for sixty-one years, refused to consecrate, and then, eventually, only on condition that the dedication be changed to that of St. John the Evangelist, whose Feast Day is on 27 December, half the year away.
St. John the Baptist frequently accumulates folkloric and mythic and pre-Christian baggage. He’s often mixed up with spirits of the wild, the man of the wood, the wodwo, and, in Southern Europe, even aspects of Dionysos. Is this why Chester refused to consecrate?
Walter Smith, a local historian, records in 1932: “We do not know . . . what use the chapel was put to . . . we do not know whether any services were held there or not.” Even today, Jenkin Chapel is called “the place where they marry the odd.”
After having visited the valley I went to see my friend and local author Frank Parker to see whether he could shed any more light on this mysterious valley. It transpired that he had written about it in his new book “Ancient Pathways” which can be found on the noticeboard of this website. He goes on to say, “the name of the area known as Thursbitch may be derived from the old Celtic take on the Phoenician original of Baal, the Thunder God, and Astarte. When the Anglo Saxons took over, Baal would have become Thor, the Thundergod, and the Lady, his bitch, Thor’s Bitch (Thursbitch).
He went on to tell me it is his belief that John Turner was a ritual sacrifice to these Gods which were worshipped in this isolated spot, and he went on to tell me that he believes Jenkin’s Chapel was built by the Christian Church to try to stamp out the pagan practice’s which took place back then.
My personal belief is that in certain places where pagan sacrifices were practised, evil spirits through receiving homage gained control, and still hold control, unless driven out by excorcisms.
Photographs by Gary Tacagni.
More information can be found at: http://alangarner.atspace.org/votd.html