But I needed to be certain. I retraced my steps and looke around outside. Three circa 1940s jamjars lay half-buried in the soil - contents long gone, now brimful of earth. I widened my search and came across a large piece of dinner plate with a traditional blue pattern.
Eyes now scanning the ground with some urgency, I found what I was looking for, something I had very definitely not wanted to find. It was a fragment of skull - not human - or more accurately part of an eye socket. This was not good news . . .
Twenty-five years ago, on Dartmoor and far off the beaten track, a friend and eye took a short cut and pushed our way through a hedge row. Oh, how I wish now that we hadn't. There, cut into the bank was a simple altar, a number of plaited straw objects lay scattered around. Not corn dollies, but sinister figures. A cockerel lay on the ground close-by. Its head was further away. It was decapitated as a sacrifice and a blood-stained wooden bowl lay where it had been dropped by one of those taking part in the ritual. These oft-recalled but unwanted images offered an insight into what might have happened at Jamjar Cottage.
A twig cracked behind me. I was not alone, wheeling round to face the newcomer. The figure I saw before me did not speak, but it raised its arm and pointed an accusing finger straight at me. The voice when it did speak was unearthly. "You", it said, " are going to regret this!" I heard no more as something hit my head very hard. It was . . .
To be continued . . .