Hindley, Brady, the Serpent Stone & Ramshaw Rocks.
There can’t be many people in this country who aren’t aware of the Moors murderers Ian Brady and Myra Hindley who in the 1960s killed 5 children. Their victims names were Pauline Reade, 16 who was believed to have been abducted by them on her way to a disco on the 12th of July 1963, Leslie Anne Downey, 10 who the pair lured away from a funfair on Boxing day in 1964, Edward Evans, 17 who Brady was said to have killed with an axe in 1965 and John Kilbride,12 who was abducted in November 1963.
Keith Bennet is the only missing child whose body has not been recovered despite extensive searches of Saddleworth Moor where the other bodies were discovered. Photographs which were taken by Hindley and Brady were originally thought to have been taken on Saddleworth Moor, however a soon to be released documentary regarding the murderers suggests that the photographs were taken on Ramshaw Rocks in the Staffordshire Moorlands. As I have spent a lot of time in this area I decided to see whether I could discover the locations where Brady and Hindley posed for the photographs.
The first photograph I looked for shows the couple sitting on a rock which is known as the Serpent Stone, however the photograph was taken from the rear of the stone and bears little resemblance to the front of it.
This photograph clearly shows the murderers sitting on the Serpent Stone which raises the question of who actually took this photograph? Was it keith Bennet whose body may have been buried in this area, or was it perhaps just a passing visitor to the rocks that day?
If you study this photograph closely it appears at first glance that Brady is interacting with Hindley, however it has been suggested that many photographs taken by Brady are a coded reference system to where the bodies have been buried. In this photograph Brady has the fingers of his left hand splayed, is this a reference to him having killed five times, or perhaps he is saying the fifth victim is buried in this direction where his arm is pointing. Following the latter theory I sat on the Serpent Stone, adopted the same position as Brady and using a compass found that his arm was pointing directly to the south. I followed the direction that Brady was pointing in and it took me down to a lower level of Ramshaw Rocks, it was a narrow plateau, on the left there is a steep drop down to the A53 far below, to my right there is a gritstone rock face around 12 – 15ft in height. I walked along this narrow ridge and came across a carving in the rock of a face which aligned directly with the position that Brady’s arm was pointing in. Could this face be a representation of Keith Bennet carved by Brady as a grave marker? Unfortunately the answer has to be no, because there is a date carved next to the face which suggests it was carved in 1953, outside the time frame when Brady and Hindley were committing these murders, however it nearly ties in with the year that Keith was born, did Brady make an error with the year? I climbed back up to the Serpent Stone with the intention of trying to detect a strong Ley-line which is said to form an alignment between the Bawdstone below Hen Cloud on the Roaches about 1 mile away and the Serpent Stone here on Ramshaw Rocks. Using dowsing rods I intended to walk around the Serpent Stone until I detected the Ley-line, then I would walk around the stone in a wider circle and detect it again, this would give me two reference points to form an alignment hopefully to the Bawdstone. Unfortunately I was unable to detect any Ley-line, however I did detect an anomaly where the dowsing rods kept swinging together, I found there to be a depression in the ground at this point, it was also directly due south in the direction that Brady had been pointing in. Were the splayed fingers of Brady referring to five feet? And is this where the body is buried? Even using just one dowsing rod as a direction finder it still kept swinging towards this location, and it is unlikely that I would be detecting water at a height of around 1500ft above sea level. I measured the distance from the rock and found it to be 3.3metres directly due south. I placed my bag on the depression and took this photograph of it. While moving around the Serpent Stone I did find a date carved into it, could this have been done by Brady and Hindley back in 1961 before they started their killing spree and showing that they were familiar with the area back then ?
In this photograph of Brady holding a dog above his head, presumably taken by Hindley it shows him wearing different clothing compared to the other photographs which suggests they visited this area on more than one occasion.
I took this photograph which seems to replicate where Hindley must have been standing when she took this photograph. It has been speculated that the reason that Brady was holding the dog above his head was that it was some sort of marker code as to where the body may have been buried. I however disagree with this suggestion as to the right of where the photograph was taken can be found the A53 Leek to Buxton road which links the two towns. Even back then in the 60s it would still have carried a fair amount of traffic, making it an unlikely spot to bury a body in full view of any passing traffic.
This grainy photograph shows Hindley resting on a flat rock which I discovered on the path leading towards the Serpent Stone. The couple must have stayed awhile at this location as another photograph was taken immediately behind this shot.
Immediately behind the boulder which Hindley was sitting on can be found a rock formation which I have dubbed the shark as it resembles a sharks head. Hindley took a photograph of Brady who appears to be wearing motorbike gear which suggests that they came here more than once. However it has been discovered that Hindley used a car or van to entice children while Brady followed on a motorbike so maybe two vehicles were used for these visits to Ramshaw Rocks?
This photograph shows Brady dressed in motorcycle gear posing for the camera while leaning against a stone gate post. It has wrongly been reported as having been taken at Ramshaw Rocks when in fact it was taken just off the A53 as it leaves Blackshaw Moor. The location is by a layby between the 50mph and 20mph signs that can be found close to the school. Although I was unable to find the stone gate post the stone wall that can be seen in the original photograph can still be seen in the one that I have taken.
As for this being a possible location for Keith Bennets resting place, it would be doubtful whether Brady and Hindley would have used a farmers field to bury the body in, as there would always be the risk of the farmer ploughing the field and unearthing the remains. However having said that, if you look again at the photograph of Brady leaning against the stone gate post his forefinger of his left hand is pointing to the ground at this spot. Is this another indication of where he may have buried the body? I think the reason that this gate post is no longer there may be because after the 1960s the layby may have been added, which would mean that the spot Brady is pointing at may now be below the tarmac surface of the layby.
I find it unlikely whether the pair would have disposed of the body on Ramshaw Rocks, it is too exposed and being a popular attraction there would always be the chance of being seen.
I think a more likely spot would be on the other side of the A53, a place known as Morridge Moor which is more remote and which has one minor road which follows the old packhorse track along the top of the ridge. The digging would be easier here and there would have been less chance of being seen. Also there can be found a small pond on the top of Morridge Moor which I have written about in the past, this is known as the Mermaid’s Pool which has many legends and stories attached to it. Whether or not this pool has ever been dragged in the past is not known but I would think it would be a good starting point.
Back in 2005 a team which was doing research for a book on Hindley and Brady conducted a geophysical investigation which concentrated on two areas, Blackshaw Moor and The Roches. Simon Moorhead one of the members of the team said,”Although it was not possible to carry out a full geophysical search, the geology of the terrain can provide a lot of clues.”
The team later moved to Blackshaw Moor where Ian Brady had been photographed. In addition to the photograph, an eyewitness from Meerbrook told the team that she had found evidence of digging in the location around the time of Brady’s activities .Another witness claims that he saw a couple digging around that time on the Buxton side of the Roches.