Location: Washers Pit, Ashmore
The Terrors of Ashmore
There was once a fairy barrow at a place called Folly Hanging Gate at Washers Pit in Ashmore, which was believed inhabited by strange fairy-like spirits called 'Gabbygamies' or otherwise 'Gappergennies.'
It was said anybody who visited the barrow and put their ear to the top would hear the hypnotic sounds of the fairies within.
However, in 1840 the barrow was levelled to make way for a new road. Some human bones were found in the heart of the mound and these were later buried in the churchyard. With the barrow gone, the uncanny sounds of its inhabitants were never heard again.
Edward William Watson, in his 1859 publication "Ashmore, Co. Dorset: a history of the parish with index tothe registers, 1651 to 1820" writes an account of the Gabbergennies and the ghost of a Woman in White (see related page - Filly Loo).
"There are, as in all the down parishes, several barrows in Ashmore. There is one at Gore, one at Mudoak copse, and two large ones on what was Broadridge Common. When the common was broken up, the plough was taken over these, and a number of brass buttons, or what passed for such, were found under the surface of one of them. Concerning another barrow, which has now disappeared, there appears this entry in the parish register : — "Part of a human skeleton — whether that of a man or of a woman is uncertain — shaving been found on Broadridge Common in this parish, was buried according to the rites of the Church of England, 14th Nov., 1864. William Darby, Curate." There was another barrow, over which the road to Fontmel now runs, by Folly Hanging Gate, near Washer's Pit. In this lonely place, till within living memory, strange sounds were made by creatures in the air called Gappergennies, or however else the name may be spelt.(Otherwise called Gabbygammles. The late Mr Stephen Hall, of the Manor Farm, who had often heard the sounds, thought they were made by badgers.)
Of the nature of these sounds I have not been able to learn anything, except that they could be successfully imitated by human lips. When, perhaps fifty years ago,a metalled road was made to Fontmel instead of the old cart-track, this barrow, which lay close to the old road and on the line of the new one, was dug up, and the bones it contained buried in the churchyard. As there is no entry of the fact in the register, this was no doubt done without the burial service. On the down, by the roadside, a cross had always been kept cut, opposite the barrow. This has been neglected since the reinterment; and since then, also, the strange sounds have not been heard. The low mound and the cross on the turf are well remembered. On the common below Sandpits Field is a line of small barrows, which seem to have been opened at some remote date. No exploration of any of these Ashmore remains has in recent times been attempted; and I cannot be sure that the list here given is complete, even of those which an inexperienced observer would notice.
But if the occupants of the barrows did not live on the site of the present village, and there is no evidence that they did, population must early have been drawn there by the one advantage which the place possesses.