Fiddler’s Hill

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Picture from TourNorfolk.com

The villagers of Blakeney, in Norfolk, were proud of their Guildhall, and had been for hundreds of years, so the legend goes.

It had its beginnings as the house of a rich merchant, perched there near the Quayside, but was taken over by the guild of fish merchants by the 1500s.

And no-one can quite pinpoint the time they discovered the tunnel.

A tunnel, it is said, which ran between Blakeney Guildhall and Binham Priory, a religious establishment founded in 1091, and dissolved by Henry VIII to continue, partly, as Binham Parish Church.

Spooky.

Now: bear in mind that we are talking of a time when candles and lanterns were the main weapons against the night, or to battle subterranean gloom. The villagers found both ends of the tunnel, but no-one could sum up the courage to make the exploratory journey, under the ground from Blakeney to Binham.

The Fiddler was just as scared as the rest of them; but there was a fat fee to be had from appraising the Mayor and the Corporation of the route. We will never know what bribes were extended to the musician in question. But whatever the perks, the Fiddler agreed. He and his dog could go down, he said. And he would play his fiddle all the way along the tunnel.

A fiddle plays piercing and true. The villagers felt sure that his playing would vibrate through the layers of soil, and they would be able to follow the fiddler’s route to map the tunnel.

So: they all gathered. The Mayor. The Corporation. Onlookers. Lollygaggers, dawdlers, idlers; street vendors, interested parties, the odd dog.

There was a festive feel as the fiddler played a few defiant practice-jigs. A few people even danced. What fun. A secret tunnel: could it be haunted: by prehistoric ghosts or some other creature who made the tunnel?

The Fiddler called his dog to heel. And lighting his way by a small lantern suspended on a rod, so his hands were free for playing, he and the dog disappeared into the hole in Blakeney Guildhall.

The villagers could hardly contain their excitement. Would they hear him? Children rushed outside to listen, and sure enough, muffled but clearly discernible, was the sound of the fiddler.

And so the strange procession set off inland, in the direction of the Priory.

The music continued, clearly audible, and the villagers marvelled that their cunning plan had worked so well. They tracked the sound with care, and any babbling from the crowd was kept to a minimum.

And then, suddenly, the music stopped.

The villagers looked at each other in consternation. Why would he stop? Maybe he was just taking a rest. They waited, but the sound never returned. There was talk of digging down, but it would take time, and this could be an emergency.

Eventually, after hours of waiting, there seemed nothing left to do but to wait at the Priory entrance to the tunnel. He would come out, and if he didn’t, a rescue mission could be launched.

But he never emerged. His little dog came out, shocked, upset, whining and shaking; but the Fiddler never, ever emerged, and was never found.

The story goes that they made a great mound of earth to mark the place he disappeared.

And they called it, and call it to this day: Fiddler’s Hill.

On dark nights, on the fields between Blakeney and Binham, it is said that you can hear a solitary violin playing.

Perhaps the fiddler does not know that time has passed him by.

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21 thoughts on “Fiddler’s Hill

  1. there are a lot of such tunnel legends – the church in trimdon village (there are 3 trimdons in co durham) is said to ahvea tunnel leading all the way to durham cathedral – which would be one hell of a long tunnel!

  2. Very good, Kate. You have a love of spooky stories, and Norfolk can produce them ad nauseam. We had a doctor and his wife, who was by chance manager of his hospital trust, as clients on one of our courses. During dinner one evening the conversation turned to acronyms which led the doctor’s wife to enquire the meaning of the acronyms that she often found on patients’ notes, such as NFN and E14. The doctor happily revealed that NFN stood for Normal for Norfolk and E14 is the post code for Barking:-)

  3. Fantastic post, Kate. One of your best hair raising, spine tingling tales yet. And, of course, as luck would have it, I read it just before I planned to turn out the light. 😯

    Any ensuing insomnia is on your head! πŸ˜›

  4. You have a knack for finding the spooky tales! This is a good one and shows we’ve “forever” had a love of ghostly mystery. And I have wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed “To Hear the Dead Proclaim.” EVP messages completely freak me out…so your story…well done!

    1. Debra, thank you so much. As always I really enjoyed writing it. Half was written flying across the Atlantic towards New York! Thank you so much for downloading and reading πŸ™‚

  5. This story was used as the basis of the folk song ‘Fiddlers Hill’ CHORUS: “On the dark way, the deep way, a way beneath the ground,
    And down that way there went one day a fiddler and his hound” Used to hear it at the Bury St Edmunds Folk Club.

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