See caption
Boulder over the supposed grave of Meg Shelton, at St Anne’s Church in Woodplumpton
Wikimedia Commons

Margery Shelton, also known as Meg or Mag, was a reputed witch who lived in Singleton, a village on the Fylde coastal plain in Lancashire, hence she is also commonly referred to as the Fylde Hag.[1] Meg was crippled, and became an outcast from her community, accused of causing cattle to become ill and turning milk sour among other misdemeanours,[2] but her modern-day claim to fame perhaps lies more in the apparent difficulty her neighbours had in keeping her dead body in the ground.[1]

A rather “unconvincing”[2] late 19th-century account of Meg’s death says that she was found lifeless in her cottage, crushed between a barrel and a wall, believed by locals to be a sign that the Devil had come to claim his own. After her burial in 1705 at St Anne’s Church in Woodplumpton, her corpse reappeared on the turf beside her grave the following morning, and when it was reinterred it appeared again. Eventually a priest performed an exorcism, and to be safe, a boulder was also hauled over Meg’s grave.[3] But at just three feet (0.9 m) by two feet (0.6 m) the boulder seems too small to entomb a determined witch,[4] so it is said that Meg was buried in a narrow shaft head down, so if she she tried to dig her way out of her grave again she would dig herself deeper and deeper into the ground.[3]