Friday, 18 June 2010

Ancroft (NU002451)

Ancroft, a rather desolate-looking affair, sits on high ground above the Dean Burn, 5 miles due south of Berwick. There is not much to see there, but the hamlet harbours a horrid secret in a nearby field formerly known as the Broomie Huts. In 1667, when plague struck the nation, the villagers of little Ancroft thought it best to isolate the victims of the horrible disease in the aforementioned field. There they made shelters for them from sticks of broom (a type of shrub), and left them to die. Afterwards both bodies and huts were burned in an attempt to eradicate the disease – the field in question being, allegedly, the one standing opposite St.Anne’s Church. As a further measure, the old cottages which had been affected by the visitation were burned also, with the village effectively moving a little to the east to its present location. The site of the old settlement can still be discerned in a field of undulating appearance – and the famous line of trees nearby supposedly represent the families that suffered during this horrible episode.

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