Exploring the Hauntings at Pendle Hill

Pendle Hill

The Haunted History of Pendle Hill

Ghost hunters and enthusiasts who visit East Lancashire will find a fascinating location at Pendle Hill. The area’s history is known for the witch trials in 1612.

The rich history and rumours of spooky sightings have made Pendle a popular spot for seeking a supernatural encounter. And its demand increases around Halloween time.

Pendle Hill’s history of witchcraft centred around allegations against a local family. Unexplained illnesses and deaths of locals and livestock were blamed on the family. Resulting in a trial and execution at Gallows Hill.

A “witches’ cottage” was discovered in 2011, further fuelling speculation about the area. The bones of cats were found in the walls, which added to the macabre spectacle.

Other crucial historical events include a burial site from the Bronze Age being unearthed. Richard Towneley conducted barometer experiments in 1661. And a visit from the Quaker Movement’s leader, George Fox, in 1652.

The Ghosts of Pendle Hill

According to some, Pendle is the UK’s most haunted location! The dark history and discovery of burial sites and witches’ cottages have increased speculation and popularity in the ghost community.

Visitors experience various emotions when walking at the top of Pendle’s Hills. And several have recounted tales of spooky or unexplained phenomena occurring.

Pendle Hill witch trials have been the subject of many TV shows, documentaries and books. They also seem to be the source of hauntings, with many attributing the potential spectres to being some victims of the trials.

The desolate hillside provides visitors with a true taste of Gothic Britain. Other ghosts (not connected to the witch trials) have also been reported to haunt the area.

Shadowy spirits are said to roam the hills at night. Surrounding villages and buildings are also affected. The atmospheric location is the ideal spot for ghost hunting and investigation.

Many amateur and professional ghost hunters have visited the area. To see whether they can capture evidence from beyond the grave. Our great selection of recording equipment and radio frequency meters may help. And our other ghost-hunting equipment will help you identify any strange happenings.

The Witches of Pendle Hill

We’ve already mentioned the Pendle witch trials in 1612. But we decided to go into more detail for you because it is a notable part of the local area’s history.

At the start of the 17th century, the fear of witchcraft was commonplace in the UK. Stoked by religious fervour, accusations were often thrown about if illness or unexplained events occurred. Accusing people of witchcraft could also be used by people with feuds.

The Pendle Hill witch story begins at Malkin Tower. Malkin Tower was a limestone tower inhabited by a local peasant family, including Elizabeth Southerns and Anne Whittle. Locals believed them to have a deal with the devil, which granted them powers.

Sadly, a catalogue of deaths and unexplained occurrences in the local area turned suspicion towards these women. The fear of witchcraft gripped the community. A local magistrate named Roger Nowell took advantage of this fear to investigate the claims. And it led to the arrest and trial of the two women.

Shortly after their arrest, several other accusations were levelled against people accused of witchcraft. These included:

  • Elizabeth Device
  • James Device
  • Alizon Device
  • John Bullock
  • Jane Bullock
  • Alice Nutter
  • Alice Gray
  • Katherine Hewitt
  • Jennet Preston

The trials took place in 1612 at Lancaster Castle. Charges included consorting with the devil and murder.

Child witness testimony, fear, and superstition were motivating factors in the conviction of 9 accused. Alice Grey was the only one to be found not guilty, while Elizabeth Southerns died before the trial.

The events shook the local community, and this influence can be felt today. The legacy turned from fear to pity over time. As people began to understand the part that fears and power played in witch trials in the UK.

Pendle Hill still attracts many visitors who want to learn more about the area’s rich and fascinating history. It is popular among those interested in this dark chapter in England’s past. And an enduring fascination with witchcraft and the supernatural.


Are the Pendle witches buried in the area?

One of the accused, Alice Nutter, is believed to be buried at St Mary’s Church in Newchurch. The grave is located at the south wall of the graveyard, and the carving on the gravestone is of a skull and crossbones.

Were the Pendle witch trials the last in the UK?

There were many witch trials after the famous 1612 Pendle Hill trials. The last execution by hanging of someone accused of witchcraft was of Alice Molland in 1684.

The last witch trial in the UK occurred in Dornoch when Janet Horne and her daughter were tried for witchcraft. She was the last executioner and was burned to death in 1727.

The Witchcraft Acts were altered in 1736, stopping the execution of anyone accused of being a witch.

Have the Pendle Hill witch trial victims been pardoned?

The Pendle Witches have never been officially pardoned. Many petitions across the UK are demanding this for victims of witch trials up and down the country.

A Scottish MSP launched a bill in 2022 to pardon those accused of witchcraft. Stating that the legacy prolongs misogyny. While many men were tried and executed for witchcraft in the UK, most were women.

Do I have to pay to visit Pendle Hill?

Visitors can invest in several ghost tours to enjoy the history of the area. However, Pendle Hill is free to visit and walk. You may be charged for parking as the walk from the nearby village of Barley has pay and display car parks.

The popular route is around 5 miles in distance and will take the average walker around 2 and a half hours. It has medium difficulty because of steep sections and rugged terrain.

When is best to visit Pendle Hill?

Visiting Pendle around Halloween is excellent for people looking to link up with fellow ghost enthusiasts. You will enjoy spooky, darker evenings around this time of year. But, the weather in the UK is erratic during the Autumn, so it may be windy or wet.

Visits during the summer provide visitors with better weather. And make getting out during the day an appealing option. Our ghost hunt lighting blog is perfect for helping those who want to explore during dark evenings.

Sam Ashford
Sam Ashford - Author

Hey, I'm Sam Ashford! I'm a ghost-hunting expert, writer and founder of SpiritShack. My mission is to help people like yourself learn about spirituality and how to hunt ghosts!