The Blue Bell Hill Ghost

Crash on Blue Bell Hill

The explanation put forward for the appearance of this tragic phantom is a crash that occurred on Friday November 19, 1965, when three of four women travelling in a car were killed when it crashed on Blue Bell Hill. One of the fatally injured women was due to be married next day, though it is believed locally that the Hitchhiking ghost actually represents the bridesmaid rather than the bride. According to local newspapers, in November 1992 there were further incidents involving the ghostly hitchhiker reported by motorists who believed they had run over a young woman on Blue Bell Hill, only to find no trace of the supposed victim when they looked on the road. As in the previous sightings, searches of the surrounding area by the police proved fruitless, a common outcome in such folkloric tales.

Although the Vanishing Hitchhiker is believed by folklorists to be nothing more than an urban legend, some researchers, Michael Goss for example, believe that there may be something more to the tale than mere fiction. Nevertheless, as Jan Harold Brunvand notes in The Vanishing Hitchhiker: Urban Legends and their Meanings (1981), the majority of people are not aware of the large amount of variants on the Hitchhiker story. And, as all folklorists know, and as Brunvand states “multiple, varying texts in oral tradition are good evidence against credibility”.

With this in mind perhaps the Vanishing Hitchhiker legend is best understood in the context of ghost lore as a whole, where it fits in well with the tradition of the ghost who returns briefly to the land of the living in order to settle unfinished business, to continue an activity they were known to pursue during their lifetime, or, most relevantly in terms of Vanishing Hitchhiker stories, to escape from their in between, liminal state and find rest. Whatever its true origin, the fact that the Vanishing Hitchhiker is still discussed and reported today indicates the motif still has meaning and relevance in the folklore and urban legend of modern 21st century society.

Further Reading

Brunvand, Jan Harold. The Vanishing Hitchhiker: Urban Legends and their Meanings. London. Picador, 1983.

Goss, Michael. The Evidence for Phantom Hitch-Hikers. Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, U.K. Aquarian Press, 1984.

Westwood, Jennifer; Simpson, Jacqueline. The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England’s Legends, from Spring-heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys. London. Penguin Books Ltd, 2005.

Sean Tudor. “The Ghost of Blue Bell Hill”. Road Ghosts website.

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