Scary shadow of a hanged man in Dartmouth where criminals went to the gallows

A road sign in Devon has for years cast a haunting shadow.

At certain times of the day, the shadow cast by the signage in Dartmouth resembles a man hanging from a gallows.

It’s aptly called Dead Man’s Cross – a place where criminals went to the gallows 600 years ago.

The illusion found between Milton Lane and Waterpool Road, can only be seen at a certain time of day when the sun is shining on the road sign which casts a shadow on the walls of a white cottage behind.

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The image is so haunting that it continues to circulate on social media with many people refusing to believe it’s real – or that the crossroads is really called Dead Man’s Cross.



Shadow at Dead Man’s Cross

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Local historians have confirmed that hangings were common at Dead Man’s Cross in the 1400s. Author Ray Freeman wrote in his book Dartmouth and His Neighbors about how hanged bodies were left chained at Dead Man’s Cross for centuries. days to have a deterrent effect.

It was not the only site in Devon. Public executions were extremely popular at one time. Huge crowds gathered to watch the hangings.

Gallows Gate on the bypass between Torquay and Paignton once had a gallows (another word for gallows) so people could see the remains of executed criminals as they rotted. Like Dead Man’s Cross, he was high on a hill.



Deadman’s Cross near Dartmouth Academy and swimming pool

The location is almost 500 feet above sea level and is where the four parishes of Cockington, Marldon, Kingskerswell and St Marychurch meet.

Large crowds could be accommodated and the action could be seen clearly, with the gallows standing high on the hill.

A spokesperson for the Dartmouth Museum said hangings were common at Dead Man’s Cross in the 1400s.

She added that a book by Ray Freeman titled Dartmouth and His Neighbors described hanged bodies left chained at Dead Man’s Cross for days to deter as a deterrent.

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