Review of ‘Supernatural Peak District’, by David Clarke

This review is by Julie Bunting, and was published originally in The Peak Advertiser, the Peak District's local free newspaper, on 19th February 2001, and is reproduced with Julie's kind permission.

by David Clarke
ISBN 0-7090-6512-4 (hardback)   ISBN 0-7090-6814-X (paperback) (2001)

After years of making reference to the old supernatural legends of the Peak, I found this book totally refreshing and diligently researched. The author is after all a journalist with degrees in Archaeology and Medieval History and a PhD in British Folklore.

David Clarke takes a dispassionate look at his subject and by dispensing with rows of exclamation marks and personal judgments, gives the reader a strong thread of credibility to hang onto. For his part he has gone out on missions chasing phantom lights and ghost bombers, staked out spectral hitch-hikers and discussed 'weird pagan leftovers' with people who will never allow their identities to be revealed. One informant who can trace his Peakland roots back to the 14th century will strike a chord with many readers in saying: 'You go away and become more sophisticated and educated and all the rest but ... the stuff that I have inherited was old and it was just the sort of thing which makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up. It still does with me ....'

Front Cover

Supernatural Peak District investigates a high number of recent tales of the supernatural and therein lies its worth as a book with a difference. It uses evidence from numerous first-hand witnesses of sightings as recent as the late 1990s. The story of a man who paid £6,000 above the asking price for a haunted house is less than two years old. And the ongoing mystery of our own 'Twilight Zone' is right up to date in utilising a Webcam - it attracted 180,000 visitors over just one six-month period. Another thought-provoking example of living folklore uses quotes from construction workers, security guards and police officers whose experiences took place on the Stocksbridge bypass, where a bridge is already firmly known as the Ghost Bridge.

Coming from twenty years earlier, the activities of the 'phantom black-pudding thrower' are still a mystery to the local population. No human culprit has ever owned up to hurtling black-puddings, legs of mutton, loaves of bread, tomatoes and eggs at doors and windows in Castleton. All has been quiet since, whereas the headless spectral horseman who patrols Butterton Moor is condemned to wander the earth 'until the crack of doom', or so he conveyed to clergymen who endeavoured in vain to lay his spirit. David Clark's intriguing book contains many more timeless ghostly happenings which resurface still - and long may they continue to do so.

Supernatural Peak District has 192 pages with 16 pages of colour photographs. Published by Robert Hale.

Review by Julie Bunting

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