Although the North York moors boast a plethora of haunting ghosts and foul beasts that lurk among its heather there aren’t many tales that are as harrowing and horrifying as the story known as the Gytrash of Goathland.
In Julian Park once stood a castle built by Julian de Mauley. The date of this tale is uncertain, but it is believed to have been before the Norman conquest, maybe even going as far back as King Arthur, but still this is just speculation.
The castle itself was small, and lacked anything wondrous about it, in fact the town’s people ignored it until Julian began following old pagan beliefs; one being that if a virgin was walled up in the castle it would stand forever. Julian was so obsessed by trying to make his castle stand the test of time that he ventured into the village to find the most beautiful maiden he could find.
The obsessed Julian laid his eyes on Gytha, the most beautiful virgin girl in the town and daughter of a mill-owner called Gudrun. The idea of having Gytha cruelly bricked up alive in the castle was hideous to the townsfolk and they protested as much as they could to stop the torture, but Julian ignored all their pleas.
In an act of further evilness Julian ordered that Gudrun, Gytha’s heartbroken father, would be the one to build the wall around his daughter. When he refused he was tortured until he could no longer take no more and eventually agreed to construct his daughter’s tomb.
Gytha was given a tumbler of water and a loaf of bread as she sobbed as the bricks got higher and higher above her, before the last two stones were placed a spinning wheel was given to Gytha and some yarn as Julian said “she must be kept busy, even in her final moments.” And in that castle Gytha slowly died as she pleaded for her life.
Exactly one year to the day that Gytha was bricked up within Julian’s walls, Julian was laying on his bed when he suddenly found himself unable to move, and could hear a piercing waling which grew closer until Gytha appeared in the last pieces of clothes she had ever worn. With her Gytha carried the spindle and yarn, she floated to the foot of the bed and stared down at the snivelling Julian in complete silence, and began slowly tying his legs with yarn and then suddenly she left. But Julian was unable to move his feet, where she had woven them with, what was now invisible, thread.
Every year on the anniversary of her cruel fate Gytha would appear to Julian and thread his legs more, each time the more his legs got paralysed, and then it moved onto his body. When he was fully paralysed he died, and on that night the Gytrash first appeared, it is believed to be the spirit of Julian and it is believed that if you ever see the spirit it means chaos is about to ensue. The Gytrash appears in the shape of white or black dog.