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The Witches of Garway Hill

Garway Hill is one of our favourite spots not just for its beautiful location but also for its Folklore. A common saying is “There’ll be nine witches from the bottom of Orcop to the end of Garway Hill as long as water flows.” The Witches of Garway Hill are etched in Herefordshire folklore and were seen as wise women to be revered.

Death and the Veil of Grief

Now with that in mind the tale we tell you takes us back to the Middle Ages. There was a man said to be a member of the Mynors family whose wife had passed away. Her death hit him deeply and he mourned her loss for a number of years. His friends were concerned for his welfare as he he didn’t seem able to move forward with his life. Not sure how to help him they suggested that he visit one of the old ladies on Garway Hill. Perhaps there was a way that the misery he was experiencing could be lifted.

A Shocking Revelation

Although the man was both sceptical and apprehensive he climbed the hill and met with one of the woman. As he explained to her about the loss of his wife, she looked very intently into his eyes. Making him feel slightly uncomfortable. But as she did so she said, “Your wife is not dead even though you buried her. That which you buried was but a simulacrum made by the fairies. Your wife has been taken by them”. Shocked and incredulous the man gasped at her revelation. He continued to listen to the old woman who told him how he could get his wife back but insisted that he must not waver from her instructions.

It was May Eve the next day and the man as instructed hid himself by the spring next to Garway Church. Dusk approached and in that moment he heard some enchanting and mystifying music. It was like nothing he had heard before. Before him in the distance he saw a group of dancers appear. Everything felt so surreal to him.

A Mission of Life and Death

As he concentrated his gaze on the group his eyes were drawn to one particular figure. There before him was his dead wife. In an act of desperation and without thinking he rushed forward and grabbed hold of her. He then picked her up and ran as far as he could away from the group and the church up Garway Hill. His heart was beating so fast it almost burst out of his chest. Behind him all he could hear were the blood curdling sounds of those who were chasing him. As he ran his wife pleaded with him to let her go which made him hold her even tighter as he continued to run.

As every part of the man’s body was screaming in agony and it looked like he could run no more, the moon came out from behind the clouds and a silence descended. Those who had been chasing him vanished and he finally cast his eyes over his wife. Confused and as if she had just awoken from a bad dream, his wife began to cry. She held tightly onto him, unsure of what had happened to her. She cried in disbelief as the man recounted what had happened.

In years that passed the man and his wife would retell their tale much to the astonishment of those who listened. Apparently their children became known as ‘the sons of the dead woman’ to the locals. It is thought that their ancestors still live in Garway today.

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