The Ghostly Warriors of Wigston
Wigston is a suburb of the southern edge of the city of Leicester. Once a separate town in its own right before being absorbed into the sprawl of the city, the name has interesting origins. It was either named directly after the Anglo-Saxon prince Wigstan, allegedly murdered by his uncle after declining the kingship of Mercia and becoming a monk, or the name means “Viking Town”, as it has been spelt as “Wichingstone” and “wikingeston” at various times in its early history.
The area was definitely overran by Danes, as the Great Heathen Army is known to have occupied the area, and this is a possible explanation as to why we are here at Wigston Cemetery. The cemetery site was excavated by amateur archaelogists, or antiquarians to be exact, during the late 1700s with a great deal of Anglo-Saxon and Danish artefacts being unearthed, and more discoveries were made as the burial site was expanded during the Victorian era.
Gravediggers have told of more and more objects being found as they worked, including a broken sword, smashed skulls, pieces of helmets and “oddly shaped stones”, all of which seem to have slipped away between their discovery and the safe custody of Leicester Museum. “It was as if a battle had taken place” remarked one gravedigger, and it is told locally that one or two of these men kept a skull in their shed as a mascot. Not a good idea, as we shall see...
Tales of strange “warrior” figures standing in the cemetery have long floated about but in 1981 a woman was travelling with her son from Nottingham to London when they stopped in Wigston due to engine trouble. They were towing a caravan that they had just bought and pulled into the cemetery car-park to spend the night in their new acquisition as spare parts for their car were going to take some time in coming. After the first night the woman told a local man “this place is evil...” and described the sounds of clashing metal, shouting and screams of pain. The next morning the man went to check up on the pair again only to be told that while the lady had slept better, she was woken in the night by somebody screaming at her to “waken”. Assuming this to be her son, she looked across the caravan at him but an apparition of a young man appeared next to her, clad in a white tunic and glowing with a dim light. He walked right through her, and her son slept through the whole thing. When their car was ready the woman repeated that the place was evil and “we can't get out of here quick enough...”
A local resident once looked out of her window onto the cemetery and saw a bank of “glowing fog” rolling across the graves and within this mist were men armed with spears and shields, in “ancient costume”. The cemetery itself isn't the only place to have had a haunted reputation, as both of the local churches have been associated with unexplained spectres and sounds while as late as the 1990s a family walking home from the Navigation pub by the canal claimed to have seen a cloaked man carrying a sword!
The cemetery seems a peaceful enough place today and I most certainly would not want to encourage anyone to disrespect the place by “investigating” as this is still very much the resting place of people's family members...but perhaps with the old gravedigger quietly placing the skull back into the ground some of the older spirits have been laid to some kind of peace?
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