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Ghostly Monks, Underground Passages and Skinned Shepherds at Bruern Abbey

25 February 2021 (Updated 4 February 2024)

Bruern was the site of a Cistercian monastery, founded in 1147 and dissolved in 1536.

There is said to be an underground passage leading from Bruern Abbey to a hall four miles away, the route of which is traced on the surface by a ghostly monk.

Skinned alive

Katherine Briggs recounts a grizzly story that is said to have taken place at Bruern Abbey. A group of sheep-stealers were planning to attack the abbey while its owners were away but were overheard in their planning. The word got back to the servants at the abbey, who caught the thieves in the act and after a violent confrontation, managed to send them packing.

However, the sheep-stealing gang returned the next night for revenge. The servants were alerted by screams from outside and ran out to find the sheep-stealers in the act of attempting to skin an unfortunate shepherd alive!

The shepherd was mortally wounded in the attack, by the time his friend had fought the gang off he had been almost completely skinned, only his head retaining its flesh! Before he died he told his friends that he had been targeted because the gang believed he was the one who tipped off the servants about their upcoming attack.

A shocking tale if true, and one that bears similarity to another tale of a shepherd boy skinned alive by sheep-stealers 9 miles away at Worsham Bottom.


  1. 'Haunted Britain' by Anthony D. Hippisley Coxe (ISBN:0330243284)
  2. 'Folklore of the Cotswolds' by Katherine Briggs (Batsford Books, 1974, ISBN: 0713428317)
  3. 'Folklore and Mysteries of the Cotswolds' by Mark Turner (Robert Hale Ltd, 1993, ISBN: 0709052472)