Dering Wood – Pluckley, England - Atlas Obscura
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Dering Wood

Pluckley, England

A woodland close to England's "most haunted village" has been the site of many unexplained events and deaths. 

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The woodlands that surround Pluckley, allegedly the most haunted village in England, have been the subject of much local folklore about ghosts for centuries. Amongst other apparitions, the ghost of a local highwayman robber who was captured, lynched, and decapitated by angry villagers in the 18th century is said to wander the woodlands and is often claimed to have been seen by visitors. 

However, the most terrifying stories about this woodland are undoubtedly the modern ones and do not involve ghosts but instead very real and disturbingly unexplained deaths, murders, and disappearances that have occurred here during the latter half of the 20th century.  

On Halloween night in 1948, locals reported lights and sounds were seen and heard emanating from the woodlands. The following morning, a dog walker discovered the bodies of over 20 people lying in piles amongst the leaf litter. The deceased were identified as villagers from the nearby Maltman’s Hill area. Their bodies showed no visible wounds or signs of struggle and an autopsy failed to determine a clear cause of death, which led to the police labelling the deaths as caused by carbon monoxide poisoning and closing the investigation (a decision for which they were heavily criticized).

In the late 1990s, the Dering Wood was once again the scene of a mysterious occurrence when four college students who had gone camping in the woods went missing. Despite an extensive police investigation, neither bodies nor whereabouts for the students were never ascertained. It remains a missing persons cold case with no obvious answers.

Nevertheless, in spite of the dark and sinister reputation that surrounds the woodlands they still attract visitors who come to walk dogs, “hunt ghosts” or to watch wildlife.

Know Before You Go

The woodlands are free to visit and as a managed nature reserve open to the public contain many public footpaths which visitors can use to see local fauna and flora. 

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