Hickleton Skulls

by MJ Wayland

The Hickleton Skulls, sadly missing the third after a theft

Hickleton on the outskirts of Doncaster is a pretty village that once stood as an oasis in the middle of countryside marked by coal mines. It’s an ancient village and its stories revolve around its Norman church.

In its Lychgate, three skulls are embedded into the wall with the motto “’To Day for Me, Tomorrow for Thee’ which probably means enjoy today as it may be your last!

Hickleton crossroads is a place of ghostly activity and was once on a very ancient trackway and possible roman road. At crossroads it wouldn’t be unusual for the locals to bury suicide victims or even erect a gibbet to dish out punishment.

At Hickleton it is believed that there once stood a mighty gibbet that hung three highwaymen. The local vicar at the time decided to keep the rotting skulls and embed them in his church entrance as a warning to those who wish to break the law.

However after recent further research it likely to be the result or request by Lord Halifax as a form of “Memento Mori” – a symbolic gesture that you are going to die.

It was at Hickleton’s crossroads ghost investigator and author Terence Whitaker witnessed a ghostly figure on horseback.

“I cycled up the tree-lined road towards the church, I could see between the trees on my left, the road which would cross my path outside the church. I was surprised to see a figure on horseback, trotting quite leisurely towards the junction.

The horseman came to the crossroads and stopped, looking down the road up which I was cycling, suddenly the horse shied and I was able to distinguish quite clearly a billowing cape and tricorn hat…then to my absolute terror both horse and rider vanished.”

Terence researched the area and several people in the village reported that they too had seen the figure on horseback. One theory was that it was the ghost of a man ambushed by troops and killed on that spot. In 1977 a lorry driver reported braking hard at the crossroads when a figure on horseback suddenly appeared from nowhere and vanished just as quickly.

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