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The Screaming Woods

Pluckley Uncovered
The Screaming Woods is more properly called Dering Woods after the local family . We will examine the details of the story, any facts or witnesses, and determine their credibility, giving our thoughts on the likelihood of there being any truth in the stories.
The Story

The original version has remained consistent in the main and states that the screams can be heard of people who have got lost in the woods over the ages and perished.

Versions exist that link the Screaming Man of The Brickworks which is nowhere near the woods and also The Highway Man who's alleged haunted location is near the woods but not in them. We will go on to stem other urban myths as we go through.

The Sightings

Being a publicly accessible place Dering Woods has been featured in many ghost hunters investigations over the years and hoards of thrill seeking teenagers still descend upon it for an evening of frights..

The History

No time frame is given for the alleged events that produce the phenomena here.

The 'legend' of Screaming Woods' is now established fact if you believe the internet. The caveat here is never believe what you read on the internet. Stories of this location are poached and pasted from one site to another.

The site has remained unchanged pretty much through the centuries.

The Historical Figures

There are no named people featured in this story but all we can say is that there is no recorded missing persons who have never been found after venturing into Dering Woods.

Exploring the Possibilties
There are substantiated sightings since the original published account of Frederick Saunders from 1955 recounting childhood memories from the 1920's.

Natural phenomena may be responsible for any original sighting. It is possible that some low lying mist in the autumn months, reflections of the witnesses own torch, shapes caused by flora and fauna's shadows has caused such sightings especially given the location within a thick wood.

The area is inhabited by foxes, deer, pheasants and peacocks. All of these have calls which, if you are not familiar, can be spooky or scary to the unwary in the dark already hyped up on the mystery of the place.

Have we said stop calling it Screaming Woods! It's Dering Woods and always has been! There that's got that out of our system.

The whole thing could be a story and nothing more.

Conclusions
Many stories get diluted and altered over time and this one seems to have had lots of embellishment.

It could be a pure work of fiction based on nothing at all.

Any sightings could be an example of pareidolia based upon previous knowledge of the story whilst experiencing natural phenomena at the location.

Addendum
Just to further illustrate the point that this place has progressed to flagrant sensationalism here are two newspaper articles that appear to have got conspiracy theorists and 'keyboard warriors' hot under the collar and all excited and have spread like wildfire.


Reportedly a newspaper from 1948 describing a Halloween Massacre in the woods. Careful study reveals a web address for a facebook page under the photograph. When an image search is conducted on the photograph alone it has also been used to purportedly illustrate a multiple murder in Philadelphia in 1949. Even this isn't true. The army officer centre is a Soviet officer with Lithuanians after exhuming the bodies of Jews from a woodland grave near Utena after the liberation in 1945. Details of this horror can be found http://www.iajgs.org/cemetery/lithuania/utena.html (no images on this site).

Following on from the 1948 'Dering Wood Massacre' it is said that 50 years later in 1998 four students went missing in the woods never to be seen again.



On the face of it this one looks a little more convincing until you read the text under the photograph of the 30mph Pluckley sign. The text on the whole article is poor and may be deliberately blurred but darkened and sharpened some can be read. The text under the image reads '….......... from Durham University'. Then we can read some of the text of the article. The article does not mention Dering Woods or Pluckley even once as it is in regard to new businesses flourishing on Kings Hill Business Estate near Maidstone, probably 45 minutes from Pluckley.

So two hoaxes that have only served to perpetuate the legends of a beautiful woodland in a lovely part of rural Kent.

   
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  By Dave Godden

 

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