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Quest for the Hexham Heads

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However, nobody could have foreseen what happened next. A man named Desmond Craige came forward who claimed that he had made the stones. He said that in 1956, while he was living in the house that the Robson family occupied later, he made three of these stones for her daughter to play with. Interest in the local legend of The Wolf of Allendale was rekindled by this event and the stone heads became associated with the possible re-appearance of the wolf. It may well have all been an elaborate hoax and the age of the heads was never conclusively identified but people with an interest in the paranormal are still fascinated by the Hexham heads. Redcaps Ross had the heads examined at Southampton University, where they concluded they were made from “very course sandstone with rounded quartz grains”, indicative of the heads being carved from natural stone, supporting the theory that they were of Celtic origin. However, upon further examination in Newcastle University, it was discovered that the heads had indeed been made from artificial cement and moulded, rather than carved. It soon became apparent that they startlingly resembled their departed sisters; Jennifer had a white line on her forehead where Jacqueline had had a scar and bore the same birthmark as Jacqueline! As the twins grew, Florence and John saw increasing similarities and became more and more convinced that the two girls were their late sisters reborn. The family left Hexham when the girls were still babies but returned to the town when the girls were aged four. On their return, both girls were able to identify landmarks such as the school their sisters had attended and were able to name dolls and toys belonging to their sisters. They even had nightmares about being run over by a car. Jennifer also looked to be older than Gillian, despite being a twin; Joanna had been five years older than Jacqueline. Then, as they turned five, all memories of their former lives faded away.

He kept the Heads for some analysis until early 1978 during which time his dog got excited and bit one of the Heads. Robins recounts various rather weak experiences he had that might have been connected to the female Head such as his car electrics dying. Once he thought this Head’s eyeballs were watching him. But he seems to have been unable to connect the objects with the poltergeist activity, and then he passed them onto the final character in the story, a ‘dowser’ called Frank Hyde. The elusive Hyde was delivered the Heads in February 1978 to do some ‘dowsing experiments’ with them – and they have never been seen since. One of the Hexham Heads looms over the cover of Robins’s book


Assuming that it can — for some reason — still be carbon-dated though, after years of being passed down from one scholar to another, the Heads and whoever they were last given to seemed to have faded into thin air — with their whereabouts, unknown even to this day. Shortly after the story gained some traction a man named Desmond Craigie came forward and claimed he was the creator of the heads. He had made them originally for his daughter in 1956. He even made some re-creations of the heads to prove his connection - however, when the heads were examined by Professor Dearman, he noted that the items hadn’t been carved, but moulded artificially. On the rather bizarre platform of the BBC TV early evening news magazine Nationwide, Anne Ross made some amazing claims about the Hexham Heads that were not fit for academic publication. She recounted that her home in Southampton was being haunted by a huge werewolf that seemed to have followed the Heads all the way from the NE of England; the Heads had been brought south with Ross for analysis at her own institution, Southampton University, and she had taken them home. Big mistake! A man named Desmond Craigie reported that he was the creator of the heads, making them in 1956 for his daughter while he was living in the house later occupied by the Robson family, along with a third head which became damaged and had to be thrown away. Craigie, who worked for a company that dealt in concrete at the time he allegedly created the heads, made some replicas to demonstrate his claim. The original heads were analysed by Professor Dearman of the University of Newcastle, who concluded that the items had been moulded artificially rather than carved. Descriptions of the heads – from those who had held them – varied wildly, but generally were regarded as being palm-sized, a little smaller than a tennis ball.

Archaeologists and geologists spent quite some time poking and prodding the Heads, taking chunks from the objects and each other. There was a good deal of dispute as to whether they were genuinely ancient or modern fabrications (with most opinion tending towards the latter). And there was the small matter of apparent poltergeist activity and a curse following the little Heads around. Don Robins at the Rollright Stones while working with The Dragon Project The two stone heads, each about the size of an orange, were thought to be Celtic in origin and collector Dr Anne Ross took possession of the heads, as she had several other stone heads in her collection and wished to compare them to the Hexham pair. A few nights after taking possession of the heads, Dr Ross awoke at 2am one morning, feeling cold and frightened. Looking up, she saw a strange creature standing in her bedroom doorway: The objects made the papers as it was thought they could be a significant prehistoric find - but it's the paranormal stories which surrounded the objects which have lasted longest in people's memories. Later on, there were claims that the heads were made in the late 1950s by the previous owner of the Robson's house in Hexham as toys, and had been lost in the garden - however the myth had taken root. They were also reportedly examined at Southampton and Newcastle Universities for proof of their age, but for now the artefacts have disappeared from public knowledge and their current whereabouts are unknown - just like that of the 'Wolf of Allendale' and the strange half-wolf/half-man.This academic was the recently deceased Dr Anne Ross, a well-known Celtic scholar whose interests straddled the worlds of archaeology, history, and art history, with a bit of dabbling in folklore and Celtic mysticism thrown in. Her best-known and quite well respected publications hint at her proclivities: The Pagan Celts and Pagan Celtic Britain have both run to multiple editions. It would be fair to say that Anne Ross has a somewhat ambiguous reputation amongst early medieval archaeologists, a nice person but with some strange side interests. The heads were no masterpieces, being basic humanoid approximations of a face with little pointy noses. However, despite this simplicity, many people interpreted the barely expressive heads in curious gender-centric ways. Language used around the female head is particularly unpleasant, especially when contrasted with the other, ‘male’ head (although how one can attribute a gender to two small stone balls is another mystery.) The Simonside Dwarfs are crafty creatures linked to the folkloric tradition of bogles, mythical creatures or ghosts who pop up in stories throughout Scottish and Northumbrian folklore. As they retreated to their upstairs bedrooms at night, poltergeist-like encounters started to manifest in the living room — the place where they left the Heads. The original heads were later given to another man, but he and the heads vanished and their whereabouts are still unknown.

I made them – about 16 years ago. I made the heads from bits of stone and mortar simply to amuse my daughter when she was a little girl. I actually made three but one appears to have got lost. They were out in the garden for years. I definitely made them. I have been laughing my head off about these heads and I cannot understand why all this attention is being paid to them’. But, along with it, she also believed that the carvings were “ evil” and might even be a part of a death cult of some kind, at one point in the past.As stated by Dr. Ross, the eerie incidents at their home only ceased when she got rid of both of the Hexham Heads. The boy's ghost haunted the castle crying out 'I'm cold' until he was given a hood and cloak by a cook who worked in the castle. There have been claims that The Hexham Heads were not Celtic in origin and had simply been carved as toys by the previous occupants of the Robson family home only twenty years previously, and had subsequently become lost in the garden. It has also been said that the heads were examined by the Universities of Newcastle and Southampton for dating. For now, the current whereabouts of The Hexham Heads remains unknown. Despite this, the legend of The Hexham Heads and its association with The Wolf of Allendale has become a cornerstone of the local folklore of the area. Whatever the origins of the Hexham Heads, we know they were unearthed after decades underground. Is it possible that an inhuman spirit – by that I mean an elemental or nature spirit, rather than your stereotypical demon – became attached to the heads through their connections to the land? Perhaps the presence of this entity would have faded in time, returning to the ether as the heads became accustomed to their new home, wherever it may be.

What most of us know is that in the garden of the Robson family’s 3 Rede Avenue home in Hexham, brothers Colin and Leslie found — what looks to be — two odd-looking stone carvings of heads. The story goes that people lost at night follow torches being carried by the dwarfs but are led into marshland and sink to their deaths. The best known is the Beast of Bolam Lake, a yeti-like figure a group of fisherman claimed to have spotted in Northumberland.Several nights after the discovery of the stone heads, neighbour Ellen Dodd and her daughter were sitting up late one evening when both of them witnessed a “half-man, half beast” entering the bedroom. The pair screamed in terror but the creature seemed indifferent to them and simply left the room, heard to be “padding down the stairs as if on its hind legs”. Later on, the front door was found open. It has been thought that the creature had been in search of something, and had left the house to continue searching elsewhere.

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