The Witch of Wookey Hole is a folklore legend. It is said that the witch is still preserved in the form of a stalagmite in the first chamber of the Wookey Hole caves, in Somerset, South-West England. The unique caves have been a tourist attraction since they were excavated in the 1920s and the legend continues to fascinate visitors.
There are several different versions of the legend with the same basic features:
A man from nearby Glastonbury is engaged to a girl from Wookey. A witch living in Wookey Hole Caves curses the romance so that it fails. The man, now a monk, seeks revenge on this witch who—having been jilted herself—frequently spoils budding relationships. The monk stalks the witch into the cave and she hides in a dark corner near one of the underground rivers. The monk blesses the water and splashes some of it at the dark parts of the cave where the witch was hiding. The blessed water immediately petrifies the witch, and she remains in the cave to this day.
A 1000-year-old skeleton of a woman was discovered in the caves by Herbert E. Balch in 1912, and has also traditionally been linked to the legendary witch. The remains have been part of the collection of the nearby Wells and Mendip Museum, which was founded by Balch, since they were excavated.
In 2009, the legend of the witch prompted TV’s Most Haunted team to visit Wookey Hole Caves and adjoining former paper mill to explore the location in depth, searching for evidence of paranormal activity.
Also in 2009, a new actress was chosen to play the ‘witch’ by Wookey Hole Ltd., the owners of the caves and surrounding attractions, amid much mainstream media interest. Carole Bohanan (above) was selected ahead of over 3,000 other applicants.
Beyond the legend of the witch, the caves have been used for the filming of episodes of the BBC TV series Doctor Who, initially for the serial Revenge of the Cybermen (1975) starring Tom Baker. The caves were used again for Doctor Who in The End of Time (2009), including a scene with the Doctor (David Tennant) sharing thoughts and visions with the Ood.
A scene for Jake West’s slapstick sci-fi horror movie Evil Aliens (2005) was also filmed in the caves.