Episode 36: The Dead Hand

36: The Dead Hand
byTales of Britain and Ireland.

This episode we’ve got a tale that draws strongly form the theme of Folk-horror, the strange world of the Lincolnshire Carrs (marshlands), a fairly unnecessary second person framing narrative and a lesson about the real power of a firm handshake. Sources and musical credits can be found on the Episode Page on the website: https://talesofbritainandireland.com/episode-36-the-dead-hand #myth #mythology #folklore #legends

The Carrs were a fearsome place in those days….

Hand of Glory from Whitby Museum.

This episode we’ve got a folk-horror type tale set in the eerie marshlands of the Lincolnshire Carrs. Also featuring a fairly unnecessary second person framing narrative and a lesson about the real power of a firm handshake.

It’s the second podcast with a tale from M.C. Balfour featuring her weird weird world of intermixed paganism, Christianity and supernatural horrors that forever threaten the lives of the people of the Carrs.

“The old and simple heathendom still lay untouched, though hidden, below successive varnishes of superstition, religion, and civilisation”

— M.C. Balfour, Introduction to the Dead Hand
Story in summary (Warning – contains spoilers!)

The stories in brief, without the detail or discussion – not a transcript. I’ve completely excluded the framing narrative here which is a fair bit of the episode.

If you’ve already listened and just want a refresh, only want the bare bones of the story, or really don’t care about spoilers then please do click below to read on…

The Dead Hand

Cottage inspiration

Two images I used in finding inspiration for the cottage scene – neither exactly match what I had in my mind though, as they are not specific to the Lincolnshire area and both are slightly grander than the building I’d imagined. And a bit less swampy. But hopefully they give some impression

“They were surrounded with terrible things, unseen, but certain…. strange, wayward things, whimsical at best, and hideously revengeful”

M.C. Balfour describing the Carrlands in “The Fall of a Sparrow”

Other disembodied hands

In the discussion section I mention a few other disembodied hand stories (though taking care to point out the uniqueness of this one.

Here are some links to those mentioned:

The Dead Hand – Lady Jane Francesca Wilde – A dead hand is used to stir milk giving the witch far too much milk and crashing the local market (honestly that is the key concern). This story is somewhat worrying in that the hand is never actually found and the witch punished on a girls say so!

The Hairy Hands of Dartmoor – A road haunted by hairy hands that appear at the wheel of cars to cause them to crash – spoiler: it’s a hard road to drive at the best of times!

La Mano Paluda – A blog post all about this Mexican creature – often the hand of a man that was cut off after a wrongful conviction for committing a crime that is now hunting down those who did him wrong

And of course there’s always the previous podcast episode on The Hand of Glory:

Gioacchino da Fiore – Hands over Rome. I have no idea what is going on here.

Selected Sources

Musical credits for Episode 36: The Dead Hand

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1 comment
  • Hi, it was good to meet you at Story Forge, I’ve just had a listen to a couple of your podcasts, they helped me through a big pile of ironing and my tedious Long Covid rehab exercises. I started with Jucundas because it was story I chose to include in Yorkshire Folk Tales for Children. I really struggled to find enough stories which had good parts for girls but my editor was great. She said it was OK to swap gender as long as I explained why I had done it so. My story is Jolly Jucunda. You write the Podcast beautifully and I’m sure you would be able to tell a good tale at the Forge.

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