Chanctonbury Ring (West Sussex, England)

From: Anonymous
To: obiwan@ghosts.org
Subject: Chanctonbury Ring
Date: Thursday, November 13, 2003 9:19 AM

Hi,

Would you be so kind as to submit my story on your website? I have no preference where you include the story, although it would probably fit in on the “Haunted Places You Can Visit” section. I’ll leave this up to your own discretion.

I have previously submitted this story to the Fortean Times Messageboard:

http://www.forteantimes.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=3152&perpag…

If you do decided to submit my story, I would prefer it if my contact information was not displayed.

By the way, this is a true account of what happened to me at Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs, West Sussex, England.

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The following incident happened to me at Chanctonbury Ring on the South Downs, just west of Brighton in the UK. Something scary happened to me there, of which I shall now recount:

A few years ago I had taken a day off from work, and as my girlfriend had to work that day, I had some spare time to myself. It was a bright, crisp February morning and I decided to drive over to Chanctonbury Ring and explore the area with my dog. I had driven past the spot a couple of times and it looked like a pleasant place to walk.

Anyway, we arrived and amiably walked up the footpath towards the Ring. There was a thick layer of ground mist at the base of the Downs but the sun could faintly be seen trying to break through and as we reached the summit we had risen above the stratum of mist and the sky was clear and blue, the sun was shining and the surrounding view was magnificent. From above I could see a vast expanse of low-lying hazy mist partially obscuring the surrounding landscape. In some places the tops of trees would break through the haze, giving the surrounding terrain an ethereal, mystical ambiance… all in all it was glorious.

We walked a few miles along the South Downs Way, taking in the isolation, silence, fresh air and sights, and enjoying the uncommon but exceptional sunshine before turning back. When I got back to the Ring I took a breather before attempting the descent back down the hill to the car park, and I sat down on a tree stump beside the perimeter of the Ring.

Being an excitable but diligent thing, Bonnie, my dog (Heinz all-sorts – partly German Shepherd, partly Collie, and a bunch of other breeds for luck), whined impatiently. I took it to be an indication that she wanted to partake in a quick game of tug-o-war with branch, but unable to find anything at hand I asked her to, “Go find sticky!” To which she pricked up her ears and ran around attentively trying to find a sufficient enough stick to play with.

After a while, and noticing that she was unable to find a stick, I looked around and noticed a few appropriate size branches lying on the ground within the Ring. I motioned for her to go and get one, but she appeared to not notice, and continued to search along the clearing away from the Ring.

Getting impatient, I got up, stepped over a broken piece of fence that was encircling the ring (I guess the fence was there to prevent interlopers from damaging the recent saplings that had been planted there), picked up a branch and beckoned for her to come over and play…

Instead she sat down, and did that quizzical look that dogs sometimes do – ears pricked up, head tilted to the side. I called her again but she didn’t budge – just whined a little and still sitting, did a little side shuffle as if to say, “I ain’t moving”.

As I made a step out of the ring towards her, she instantly stood up, heckles raised, and half-heartily ran away with her tail between her legs. Plainly distressed, she ran for about ten meters before stopping to look back at me. (I must emphasise; Bonnie is usually a very obedient dog, habitually stays close at heel off the lead and has never run away from me before.)

I made a few more tentative steps towards her, whereupon she suddenly scampered off northwards towards some woodland clinging to the side of the hill and a steep narrow tree-lined animal-trail leading down the hill. I dropped the branch, and made a dash at her in the hope of intercepting her, but failed and I continued on after her down the trail.

The trail was steep, wet and lined with a scree of loose flint gravel, which could be described as treacherous – rivulets of ice, which despite it being a fairly warm day, was still noticeable on the ground… And before I knew it I lost my footing and I found myself slipping down the embankment on my backside. I slid down a few feet before grabbing hold of a tree to halt my fall.

Still lying on the ground, I composed myself for a few seconds, then hollered out for Bonnie… I couldn’t see or hear her and held my breath hoping to isolate the sound of her scuttling about… Apart from the usual sounds of breeze grazed trees and the occasional droplets of moisture dropping to the ground, it was silent… Then I started to get what I can only describe as tinnitus. My ears hurt, my head felt like it was in a vice, the air suddenly felt like it was denser – similar to that experienced in an airplane when the cabin pressure changes during landing. I remember being aware of this sloshing type of heartbeat sound in my head.

I hollered her name again, but there was still no sign of her… The tinnitus was beginning to distress me quite a bit, and I was starting to feel a bit disorientated… And then suddenly from behind me I registered a continuous, rustling noise. I looked behind and above, expecting to see Bonnie bounding towards me, but she wasn’t there! I looked around trying to pinpoint were the sound was coming from and noticed a small tree about twenty meters up the hill shaking violently from side to side then stop suddenly. I got up, carefully holding onto a branch to stop me from falling again, and called out to her, expecting to see that she had somehow got herself tangled up in it.

But there was no sign of her! Then I heard the rustling noise again, this time louder. I looked around to my right, facing slightly down hill this time, and saw fairly close to me, about ten meters away, another tree shaking violently. This time, it was evident that the tree was doing this by itself, it seemed without any external intervention! It did this for what seemed about 10 seconds, and then stopped. It was then that I sensed this “watching” presence, as if something had its face close to mine, scrutinising my features. The only way I can describe it was like it was busy and fly-like, evil, ubiquitous and all invading. I could feel a slight discernible vibrating around me, like a faintly perceivable white noise, not really a sound, more like a quivering in the air.

Obviously at this point I started to panic, and began running and stumbling down the hill. My head was still throbbing badly – so much so that I found myself grinding my teeth. The ground was still fairly unstable so I made most of the descent erratically on my backside, snagging myself on branches, occasionally standing, running, then slipping over again – all the while, with this leaden, eerie, buzzing presence surrounding me.

As I got to the base of the hill the presence suddenly disappeared, leaving me with a gloomy feeling, like a dark cloud had moved overhead, but the sun was still shining, the mist had practically abated and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. My head still hurt, and I was still conscious of me grinding my teeth. I was aware that I had come out of the woods, scratched and muddy, into a clearing beside what I assumed to be a pumping station situated a few yards away from the car park. Ashamedly, I had completely forgotten about Bonnie so half walked half ran towards the car in the hope that she would be waiting for me. Luckily she was – plainly distressed, sitting diligently by the car, shivering with fright.

As I got towards her she stood up, waged her tail coyly, then started dry heaving, vomiting a small amount of phlegm-like sick. So, with her still trying to vomit, I picked her up and dropped her in the car, got in, locked the doors, then drove out of the car park, glancing over towards the hill to see if anything was following, which thankfully there wasn’t. I then pulled onto the main road and made my way back home to Brighton, still shaken but glad to be on the road away from there. The tinnitus and headache stopped about 10 minutes later, but that ominous feeling remained with me until I fell asleep that evening. Bonnie fell sound asleep throughout the remainder of the day without any other signs of sickness.

To this day I can’t explain what happened to us at Chanctonbury Ring, and hope someone could provide an explanation as to what occurred.

I’ve never suffered from tinnitus before or since this occurrence, and on the rare occurrence that I do get a headache, it’s never painful enough for me to warrant gritting my teeth. I’m aware of the possibility that I may have suffered some sort of migraine, causing me to hallucinate, but that doesn’t explain why Bonnie behaved the way she did.

Despite trying to kid myself into believing that we suffered some sort of physiological problem or that a rare geological phenomenon had somehow affected our psyche, I still can’t shake the feeling that we encountered some sort of paranormal entity.

I did some investigations on the local area and I found this intriguing extract on the Sussex Archaeology & Folklore web site (http://www.homeusers.prestel.co.uk/…anctonbury.html

Many people have been unable to stay the night near the Ring giving up after a short time of feeling uncomfortable. In the 1930’s, Dr. Philip Gosse of Steyning declared in his book “Go To The Country”:

“Even on bright summer days there is an uncanny sense of some unseen presence which seems to follow you about. If you enter the dark wood you are conscious of something behind you. When you stop, it stops; when you go on it follows.”

In 1966, several members of the Southern Paranormal Investigation Group decided to camp within the Ring. Arriving around 9.30pm and lighting a fire, they also talked with a group of motorcyclists who were camped there. Things were quiet until after midnight when a strange crackling sound started followed by the wailing voice of a woman emanating from a form that moved around outside the Ring. There was a period of quiet until 2am when there was the sound of a church organ and feelings of intense pressure from people within the group. At 2.30am the motorcyclists left complaining of “Something really evil” but feelings of pain within the group persisted until they left the Ring in the morning.

Other physical ailments have been felt such as sudden paralysis of all the limbs in a group of people and a levitating force that picked up a person and then dropped him, injuring his back. A similar force, in later years, knocked someone to the ground and ripped a crucifix from around his neck. The crucifix when found was red hot.

The area around Chanctonbury is rife with strange goings on, and the other nearby hill fort of Cissbury Ring and the haunted woods of Clapham have similar spooky histories. These places seem to be connected by a grid of lay lines.

The following links provide more information about the area:
http://www.mysteriousbritain.co.uk/occult/clapham.html
http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/833
http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/831

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