Sleepy Hollow and the Headless Horseman

24 Oct


31 Days of Ghosts presents another monsterous mystery sure to terrify.

While some may have come here hoping for a wrap of the last couple of episodes of Fox TV’s Sleepy Hollow, I am sorry to disappoint, but no.  I still have to watch episode six, to be honest.

This is actually about the legend of the headless horseman, which dates back further than the 1700’s.

The headless horseman is a story of folklore that dates back to the Middle Ages in Europe.  In Celtic folklore, a dullahan, or dark man, is a headless fairy who rides a black horse and carries their head under their arm.  It was believed that when the dark man stopped riding a person would die.  When the dullahan would call out a name, that person would immediately perish.

In German folklore there are two tales.  One about a woman from Dresden in eastern Germany who goes out to gather acorns one Sunday morning.  At one point she hears a hunting horn.  When she hears it again, she turns to find a headless man in a long grey coat astride a grey horse.

The other tale, set in Braunschweig, says the headless horseman is a wild hunter, and if seen blowing his hunting horn it is a warning to any and all hunters not to go out hunting the next day or an accident will befall them.  In some versions the headless horseman goes after perpetrators of capital crimes.  In others, he has a pack of black hounds that follow him with tongues of fire.

Naturally, most of us are familiar with Washington Irving’s tale, the Legend of Sleepy Hollow, in which a man named Ichabod Crane meets the headless horseman.  In all adaptations of Sleepy Hollow (including the current television series) the headless horseman is a Hessian Soldier (German Mercenary), though how he dies is often up for debate.  In the original story, the soldier lost his head to a cannon shot.  In the movie with Johnny Depp, he is killed by patriots hunting him down, betrayed by two little girls.  And in the television series, he is killed by Ichabod Crane in the field of battle.

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Posted by on October 24, 2013 in 31 Days Of Ghosts, Ghost Stories, Weird facts


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