Tragic story behind murder stone that marks haunted spot next to busy road

A memorial "murder stone" paying tribute to a woman who was brutally beaten to death with a hedge stake, lies next to a stretch of the A60, and few will have noticed it.

Legend says that Elizabeth Sheppard, known as Bessie, haunts the A60 road between Ravenshead and Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, where she died.

Many spooky tales have been recalled, with some locals calling it the "Bessie Stone," while others may never have heard of it or the tragic story that unfolded in July 1817, NottinghamPost reports.

The 17-year-old from nearby Papplewick had gone looking for work as a servant in Mansfield and was on her way home when she was attacked.

The killer was Charles Rotherham, who was believed to have fought in the Napoleonic Wars.

He had been drinking in the nearby Hutt pub, and bumped into Bessie by chance on Mansfield Road – now the A60.

After dumping her body, the 33-year-old made off with her new shoes and distinctive yellow umbrella and returned to the Hutt where he tried – and failed – to sell the stolen goods.

Heading towards Nottingham he tried to sell them in the long-gone Ginger Beer House and later at the Three Crowns, where he had been staying.

After an unprecedented manhunt, he was found by police loitering in a canal bridge in Loughborough. Rotherham, from Sheffield, went before a court in Nottingham and, as was the law at the time, was sentenced to death.

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His public hanging at Gallows Hill, three weeks to the day of the murder, drew a large crowd.

Bessie was buried at St James' Church graveyard in Papplewick.

Shocked locals were so appalled by the crime that they clubbed together to have a murder stone erected in 1819 at the spot where Bessie died.

The inscription reads: "This stone is erected to the memory of Elizabeth Sheppard, of Papplewick, who was murdered while passing this spot by Charles Rotherham, July 7th, 1817. Aged 17 years."

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