story 6 story 5 story 8 story 9 story 10 story 11 story 12 story 7 home story I story 2 story 3 story 4 St Anselm College
British Museum MS. Royal 15 A. xx. fo. 143 a

VIII. Item de alio spiritu sequente Willelmum de Bradeforth et vociferante how how how. ter. per tres vices. Contigit quod quarta nocte circa mediam noctem remeauit ad nouum locum de villa de Ampilford, et dum rediret per viam audiuit vocem terribilem clamantem longe post se quasi in monte, et paulo post iterum clamauit similiter sed proprius. et tercia vice vociferabatur per viam compendii vltra se. et demum vidit pallidum equum, et canis eius latrauit paululum, sed valde timens abscondit se inter tibias eiusdem Willelmi. Quo facto Willelmus prohibuit eundem spiritum in nomine domini et in virtute sanguinis Ihesu Christi quod discederet et non impediret viam eius. quo audito recessit ad instar cuiusdam canvas reuoluentis quatuor angulis et volutabat. Ex quo colligitur quod fuit spiritus desiderans magnaliter coniurari et efficaciter adiuuari.

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Story VIII involves a shape shifting ghost who repeatedly haunts one William of Bradforth. William, invoking the Lord's name, orders the spirit to leave him alone. Despite its needs remaining unmet, the ghost complies, shifting shape one last time. (LR)

8. Likewise, concerning another spirit following William from Bradeforth and shouting “Hoo! Hoo! Hoo!” three times over three nights. It happens that on the fourth night around midnight he turned back to a new place from the village from Ampliford, and while he returned on the road he heard a terrible voice shouting a long way behind himself as if on a mountain, and a little after again it shouted in a similar manner but nearer. And a third time it shouted over the road a short distance beyond him. And finally he saw a pale horse, and his dog barked a little, but greatly fearing, the dog hid between the legs of this same William. When this happened, William restrained the same spirit in the name of the Lord and by the virtue of the blood of Jesus Christ that he depart and not impede his way. When this was heard, the ghost withdrew into the likeness of a certain revolving canvas with four corners and rolled away. From which it was inferred that the spirit was longing greatly to be conjured and to be helped efficaciously.

  A notable aspect of “Twelve Medieval Ghost Stories” is that the ghosts seem to shape-shift. In story 8, the ghost is first heard from afar, calling “Hoo, Hoo, Hoo.” Then the noise grows closer, then a ghost appears as a “pale horse.” It then shape shifts into a “wine-vat.” Encountering the ghost at a crossroads and the frightened dog are two common motifs. (Ghosts in Medieval Yorkshire, Simpson)

line 1 Bradeforth Bradford is a city in Northern England, of West Yorkshire.

line 4 Ampilford Ampleforth is a village in North Yorkshire, England. It is also the name of the Benedictine Abbey about a mile from the village.

line 7 per viam compendii vltra se 'at the cross-road ahead of him.' For three nights William of Bradford had heard the cries. On the fourth night he met the ghost. And I suspect he must have been imprudent enough to answer the cries, for there are many tales, Danish and other, of persons who answer the shrieking ghost with impertinent words, and the next moment they hear it close to their ear. Note the touch of the frightened dog (MRJ)

line 11 canvas Du Cange gives the forms ' canava ', ' canavis ', and ' canvoys'. (MRJ)

line 12 colligitur since the ghost was not conjured, it was unable to speak. After his dog was frightened, William assumed that the spirit was evil and so did not try to help it by conjuring it. Thus the ghost's motives can only be inferred.

     Story VIII occurs in Bradeforth, which is, like most of the locations in the Byland Abbey stories, is part of Yorkshire, England. Ampleforth, too, is in a more northern part of Yorkshire. Like many of these stories, the spirit does not appear in a dream, but rather while the subject, William, is awake. This spirit does not speak; rather, it follows William and eerily shouts “hoo! Hoo! Hoo!” as it grows closer. It is remarkable to point out that this spirit does not come in human form. First it appears as a horse, then it turns into a rolling canvas with a light in the middle. According to Simpson, “Yorkshire had plenty of these dramatic shape-changing phantoms.” (Simpson, 27). Although this shape-shifting, itself, does not appear to have any Christian background,  Simpson suggests that the rolling haystack probably insinuates Purgatory, which is Christian place for the dead who were not completely absolved of sins before they had died and, therefore, cannot yet reach heaven. This purgatory reference is further emphasized when it is later inferred that the spirit wanted to conjure. Although there is not a great deal of character development, the one human does have a name, comes from a specific town, and has a dog, so that information tells a bit about William. Moreover, this story begins with “Item” (“likewise”) to connect it to story seven.