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In Search of

Screaming Skulls

Placed: 5-15-05, 5-30-05, 6-6-05
Placed By: WWW (Formerly known as Chuck and Molly)
Location: Mansfield, Connecticut, Tolland County

Rated: Moderate. Lots of uphill hiking.

Plan on at least a couple hours or more to do these 4 boxes.

5/28/07-Box moved, clues revised to The Screaming Skull of Burton Agnes Hall.

From the intersection of routes 89 and 195 in Mansfield Center, go north 4/10 of a mile to a blinking yellow light and turn right onto Chaffeeville Rd. Stay on Chaffeeville Road 2.7 miles and take a right onto Wildwood Road. It’s the first right after passing the front entrance trail to Coney Rock Preserve and the site of the old Chaffeeville silk mill. Drive up Wildwood Road 8/10 of a mile and it comes to a T. Turn right onto the gravel Woodland Road. At 4/10 of a mile you pass a parking area and a sign for "David Storrs Chapin" Coney Rock Preserve" Joshua’s Trust".  Keep going an additional 1/10 mile to a wooden sign for "Proposal Rock" Joshua’s Trust" "Mulane Trail" right near the dead end. Park near the sign along the side of the road.

The Screaming Skull of Burton Agnes Hall

Enter the woods by following the yellow blazed trail near the sign. Quickly you will cross the stream over a nice wooden bridge. The trail soon widens to an old abandoned road. Follow it and the yellow blazes going south. You will come to a tree with two yellow blazes. The trail takes a sharp right turn going off the old road at 280 degrees becoming a smaller path again. Follow the yellow. This trail is all uphill. You will pass a broken off tree stump on the right edge of the trail that is at least 15 feet high. Soon you will come to a pile of rocks next to a badly leaning oak tree on the left edge of the trail. From the pile of rocks, take a reading of 310 degrees and walk 36 steps in that direction to a tree with a large hole in it. From that tree take a reading of 305 degrees and walk 27 steps uphill to a rock about 8 feet and the height of a nice seat. Look under the east side to find the Screaming Skull of Burton Agnes Hall letterbox wrapped in black rubber with a flat rock on top of it.

In Yorkshire, England there is a beautiful Elizabethan mansion known as Burton Agnes Hall. It was built for Sir Henry Griffith around 1601 to 1610. While it was being constructed, one of Sir Henry’s daughters, Anne, was attacked by robbers and brutally beaten. She was found still alive but near death. As she lay dying, she told her two sisters that she wanted her skull to be interred in some part of the beautiful hall she loved so much. Anne soon died of her injuries. Her sisters just couldn’t do as Anne requested and Anne’s body was initially buried in the village churchyard head and all. Very quickly ghostly noises and screams disturbed the family and servants. After putting up with this for some time, they just had to believe that Anne’s dying wish was the cause of the commotion. Her body was dug up, her skull was separated from the body, and built into a spot behind one of the walls of the great hall. As soon as this was done, the noises stopped. Today her skull is still behind one of the walls. Ann’s spirit is quiet and tranquility has been restored to the home ever since.

The Screaming Skull of Tunstead Farm

After stamping in, go back to the trail and continue walking north, uphill. There is a big distance between this box and the next. The trail will come to a T with the Chapin trail. Go left here still following the yellow blazes. Stay on this trail all the way up to the Coney Rock overlook. Be careful of the cliffs here. Stay away from the edge. At the cliffs, the trail takes a sharp right and goes away from the cliffs. Be careful not to miss it. You quickly cross over a low stone wall and you come to a T. There you will see the back of a big wood sign. Go to the sign. It Reads "David Storrs Chapin" "Coney Rock Preserve" Joshua’s Trust". Take a reading from here of 320 degrees and walk 46 steps off trail to the corner of a wall. Go on the other side of the wall to that corner. Remove the wooden bars to reveal a cavern and the Screaming Skull of Tunstead Farm letterbox.

Tunstead Farm can be located near Chapel-en-le-Frith, England. The screaming skull of Tunstead Farm has actually been given a name, Dickie. There are two theories as to whom the skull belonged to. One legend says it is that of Ned Dixon who was murdered at the farm by his cousin. The other story says that the skull is that of a young woman that was murdered in the same room where the skull is now kept. The story of the young woman may make more sense since the house is also supposed to be haunted by a woman’s ghost. Dickie is said to rattle things and make noises when strangers approach the house, when the farm animals are ill or about to give birth and if there is going to be a death in the family. It is said that the skull was once stolen and the resulting racket was so bad in both Tunstead Farm and where it had been taken that the thieves returned the skull. The same thing occurred when they once tried to bury it in consecrated ground. In 1863 a railroad bridge was being built near the farm. The plan had to be abandoned due to unstable ground conditions for the foundation. Many locals believed that the real answer was the interference of Dickie. Was Dickie the first screaming skull to stop a train?

The Screaming Skull of Wardley Hall

When you are done stamping in, take a reading of 240 degrees and walk over to the trail. Follow this white blazed trail at 300 degrees downhill. You will pass a small white triangle stating that this is the "White Oak" trail. The sign is about 9 feet up a tree on the right and you may not see it. While following this trail, the trail will curve and you pass a very big old oak tree on the left. 16 steps past that, is a tree on the right with 3 white blazes. 14 steps after that you come to an upside down Y. Go right heading north at 350 degrees on the white Olsen Trail. You will come to twin sister stumps on the left edge of the trail. Take 35 more steps to a 2 foot high rock. At that rock take a reading of 310 degrees. You will see the end of a stone wall. Further down along the wall you may see a hunters tree stand. Go to the edge of a stone wall at 310 degrees and about 6 more steps at 310 degrees to a big maple tree. On the southwest side of the tree is a hole. Inside the hole wrapped in black rubber is the Screaming Skull of Wardley Hall letterbox.

Although there once was a more popular story of whom the skull at Wardley Hall belonged to, the story proved false. The skull at Wardley Hall seems to belong to Edward Ambrose Barlow, a catholic Benedictine monk who was hanged, drawn and quartered for his faith in 1641. His skull was impaled and left out for everyone to see. The skull was secretly removed and taken to Wardley Hall, which was owned by a catholic sympathizer. The skull was put in a box and walled up in Wardley hall and forgotten. In the mid 18th century the skull was accidentally rediscovered. A servant took the skull and threw it into the moat. That same night a terrible storm arose and struck Wardley Hall. The owner of the house believed that the skull was screaming to be put back into the house. He had the moat drained and the skull recovered. The skull remains in the house today. Wardley Hall is located a few miles from Manchester England.

The Screaming Skull of Bettiscombe Manor:

After you stamp in, go back to the trail and continue the same way you were going. You come to an upside down Y where the Olsen and Chaffee trails meet. Continue on the Olsen trail at 60 degrees. Keep following the white blazed Olsen trail until you get to the intersection of the White Olsen Trail and the Yellow Chapin trail. It’s a bit of a tricky intersection. Be sure not to miss it. From this intersection, take a reading of 190 degrees to the corner of a stone wall. At the corner of the wall go right along the south side of the wall 23 steps just past a couple trees. Look low in the wall for a wooden door that reveals the Screaming skull of Bettiscombe Manor letterbox.

The traditional story of this skull takes us back to 1685. In 1685 Azariah Pinney was banished to the West Indies for supporting the Duke of Monmouth. Upon his eventual return to England he brought back a black slave. Some say the slave became ill. Some say he was murdered. His last request was that he be buried in his native homeland but instead he was buried in the local churchyard. It is said that this is when the screams and noises started. They continued until the skull was dug up and placed in the manor. This story was shattered however when an expert examined the skull and pronounced it that of a girl who lived over 2000 years ago. It is believed that the skull was found around Pilsdon Pen, an Iron Age hill fort not far from the manor in the 1690s and brought into the house. Later on, the story of how and where the skull came from was forgotten. Over the years many attempts to get rid of the skull have been made only to find soon after it's removal that screams and other strange phenomena would soon follow it's removal and not cease until it was placed back inside the manor. No matter which story you believe, it is said that if the skull is removed from the house, screams, noises and strange happenings will take place. On one occasion the skull was taken by the owner of the house and thrown into a pond. The resulting screams and moans soon made him retrieve the skull and place it back in the house. This incident is the basis for the 1958 movie The Screaming Skull. There were supposedly other attempts to get rid of the skull but the same screams resulted until it was returned. Bettiscombe Manor is located in a village of the same name, near Lyme Regis in Dorset, England. The legend of the screaming skull continues to this day.

This was your last letterbox. Go back to the intersection and take the Chapin yellow blazed trail going north. You will come to a Y intersection with the Woodland Road Trail. Don’t take it. Bear right and stay on Chapin. The next intersection you come to is where the Mullane trail joins Chapin. Turn left here at 90 degrees and follow the Trail and yellow blazes downhill back the way you came to your car.

To visit websites about the screaming skulls go to the following links.

Bettiscombe, Burton Agnes, Tunstead Farm, Wardley Hall:

Bettiscombe and Screaming Skulls in general:


Burton Agnes Hall:

Wardley Hall:

Before you set out, please read the waiver of responsibility and disclaimer.

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