The Hexham Heads
It was 1972, and at the Robson family home in Hexham, only ten minutes walk away from where the legendary Wolf of Allendale had roamed the woods, the two young Robson brothers dug up two small, carved stone heads whilst they were tending the garden.
Several nights after the discovery of the stone heads, neighbour Ellen Dodd and her daughter were sitting up late one evening when both of them witnessed a “half-man, half beast” entering the bedroom. The pair screamed in terror but, the creature seemed indifferent to them and simply left the room, heard to be “padding down the stairs as if on its hind legs” . Later on, the front door was found open. It has been thought that the creature had been in search of something, and had left the house to continue searching elsewhere.1
Interest in the local legend of The Wolf of Allendale was rekindled by this event and the stone heads became associated with the possible re-appearance of the wolf.
The two stone heads, each about the size of an orange, were thought to be Celtic in origin and collector Dr Anne Ross took possession of the heads, as she had several other stone heads in her collection and wished to compare them to the Hexham pair. A few nights after taking possession of the heads, Dr Ross awoke at 2am one morning, feeling cold and frightened. Looking up, she saw a strange creature standing in her bedroom doorway:
“It was about six feet high, slightly stooping, and it was black, against the white door, and it was half animal and half man. The upper part, I would have said, was a wolf, and the lower part was human and, I would have again said, that it was covered with a kind of black, very dark fur. It went out and I just saw it clearly, and then it disappeared, and something made me run after it, a thing I wouldn’t normally have done, but I felt compelled to run after it. I got out of bed and I ran, and I could hear it going down the stairs, then it disappeared towards the back of the house.”
Living and working in Southampton, Dr Ross knew nothing of The Wolf of Allendale legend and the association of The Hexham Heads with the possible return of the wolf and, she attributed the experience to a nightmare. Dr Ross came home with her archaeologist husband Richard Feacham one day, only to find their teenage daughter Berenice in a distressed state. Berenice explained that she had used her key to unlock the front door and entered the house that afternoon to witness a large, black shape rushing down the stairs; halfway downstairs the creature vaulted the bannister, landing with a soft, heavy thud like a large animal with padded feet.
Believing the presence of the stone heads to be responsible for these events, Dr Ross passed on her whole collection of stone heads, along with the Hexham pair to other collectors. The Hexham Heads found their way to the British Museum for public display, though were soon removed from display and mothballed, amid reports of unsettling events associated with the heads.
There have been claims that The Hexham Heads were not Celtic in origin and had simply been carved as toys by the previous occupants of the Robson family home only twenty years previously, and had subsequently become lost in the garden. It has also been said that the heads were examined by the Universities of Newcastle and Southampton for dating. For now, the current whereabouts of The Hexham Heads remains unknown. Despite this, the legend of The Hexham Heads and its association with The Wolf of Allendale has become a cornerstone of the local folklore of the area.
Author Neil Boothman