Legends of Sol's Hollow - two ghost stories
The Legend of Sol's Hollow
In the middle of the forest that lies between Putten, Garderen and Drie there once stood a mighty monastery with many towers, surrounded by a moat. A broad cool lane led to the gate.
In the evening, when God himself passed over the quiet lands, the monks rang out the Vesper, but they knew Him not, for the prior and all brothers had sold their souls to the devil. They lived in wealth and plenty.
At night all the witches and evil spirits in the vicinity descended upon the monastery, when the black mass was read. They drank wine from buckets and all night the ovens could be seen blazing in order to prepare the dishes for the more than plentiful meal.
The devil guaranteed that the food stocks would never run out and he himself mixed the wine. They danced, sang and cursed until the first clear light of dawn shivered over the fields. Many a villager, travelling homewards late through the forest, had heard strange and worrisome sounds come from the monastery. Everyone knew that at night, the windows of all the halls were aglow, as if lit by a hellish fire.
One Christmas night, centuries ago now, a heavy storm broke; so that the villagers stayed fearfully at home and heard a violent clap of thunder in the middle of the night.
The next morning a young boy hurriedly trotted into the village and told the amazed church-goers that the monastery in the forest had completely disappeared, leaving a frightfully deep hole in its place. The trees lay around, uprooted.
As the rumours spread, the villages in the area emptied themselves. All the villagers wanted to see the miracle. They found a paved little street and the impressive lane; that was all that remained of the monastery. The earth had opened and closed itself again.
Since then strange noises can be heard coming from Sol’s hollow at night. The bells of the sunken monastery begin to toll, sounding irregular and hoarse, as if cracked, but tolling ever more loudly and fearfully. Terrible, as the sound of the alarm.
Then the monks appear out of the darkness of the broad lane, wailing sad litanies. The prior leads, the monks following in a sombre procession. Slowly and bent down they walk around the hollow, from which a blue glow rises. Then they restlessly drift apart, only to appear again from the shade of the lane; but when the first light of dawn touches the still sleeping heather and woods, they suddenly flee, moaning, into the deepest dark of the gloomy pit.
The Ghost Near Sol's Hollow
Near Sol’s hollow, that lonely unwholesome place in the forest, is a clearing where grass grows.
One day, long ago now, a shepherd had put his sheep out to pasture there. He lay slumbering in the sun, leaving the dog to take care of the herd.
Suddenly his rest was disturbed by a stranger, who asked the way to Harderwijk, as he had to bring a large sum of money to that place. When the shepherd heard this, his greed was instantly awakened. There wasn’t a soul in the lonely forest. The only living beings for miles around were the sheep, his dog, and the unsuspecting stranger. The shepherd suddenly jumped up, grabbed the unlucky soul by the throat, throttled him and then stabbed him with his knife, killing him.
After robbing the man, who had been too trusting, he hid the dead body in the bushes. Shortly after, the body was discovered; but no matter how they searched, they couldn’t find a trace of the killer and no one suspected the herdsman.
Many years passed and the people had almost forgotten the murder at Sol’s hollow. The shepherd was now an old and honoured man, mentioned as an example of industry and thrift; of whom it was said that he had lived so economically, that he could easily manage in his old age.
But one day, the herdsman died in a most peculiar manner. Only the night before the neighbours had seen him on the road and the following day they found him lying dead in bed. He was buried three days later, as was the custom. But to the great consternation of the gravedigger and the other villagers, they found his coffin the next morning, dug up and standing on end next to the grave.
They buried the coffin a second time and again it was found standing on end next to the grave the following day. So they learned that there had to be something wrong about the old herdsman and that the man, whom everyone had held as honest and good, must have been a murderer.
They now placed the body on a gravel cart and harnessed two horses without bit or bridle before it. As calm and sure as if they were being led by the bridle, the horses started to walk, taking the road leading into the forest. But when they came to the clearing near Sol’s hollow, they suddenly stood still in fear and snorted, their limbs shivering, as if they beheld a frightful vision. They wouldn’t go forward and the people now knew who had murdered the stranger.
The herdsman was buried where the crime had been committed and since then his restless soul haunts the area, frightening many a countryman who, returning home late, has to pass by that place.
From Legends of the Veluwe/Veluwsche Sagen by Gust van de Wall Perné, published in 1910-1912 by Scheltens & Giltay and translated by Eva Weggelaar
1. Sol’s hollow, or the ‘Solsche gat’, is a large so-called clay pit, where the farmers of the Veluwe dug off the clay. The hollow was probably a pingo ruin, created when a large lump of ice from a former ice age melted, leaving a hollow in the ground.
Some say that in the old days the sun was worshipped at Sol’s hollow, Sól/Sunna being the Norse/Germanic goddess of the sun. An old inhabitant of the Veluwe told me that his father had known of ‘Sol’s fair’ as it was held in the early 19th century. Near Sol’s hollow they would erect booths selling food etc. The main attractions, which lured farmers from far and wide, even from Holland, were the drinking parties and knife fights. There were many rough displays of drunkenness, and for that reason, the fair was eventually banned by the government.
These get-togethers, of which the origin is lost in the mists of time, may have been the remnant of Germanic meetings of a religious nature. And as, in the early period of Christianity, they preferred to build their churches and monasteries at the former sites of heathen worship, it is not unlikely that there really was a monastery there once. Even now (in 1910) building fragments are still being found in the area.