The Legends and Folklore of the Norfolk Broads

The Norfolk Broads, a picturesque network of rivers and lakes in East Anglia, is not just a haven for nature lovers and boating enthusiasts. It’s also a landscape steeped in myths, legends, and stories that have been whispered from one generation to the next. These tales, often born from the region’s unique geography and history, add a layer of enchantment to the Broads.

The Wherryman’s Ghost

One of the most famous tales is that of the ghostly wherry, a traditional cargo-carrying boat. On certain moonlit nights, it’s said that a phantom wherry can be seen gliding silently across the waters, steered by a spectral wherryman. Those who’ve claimed to witness this apparition say it vanishes just as dawn breaks, leaving no trace of its midnight journey.

The Black Shuck

Roaming the Broads and the surrounding countryside is the legend of the Black Shuck, a ghostly dog with large, glowing eyes. This spectral hound is said to be an omen of ill fortune. Those who encounter the Black Shuck are believed to be met with bad luck, or worse, in the days that follow.

The Mermaid of Ormesby Broad

Local tales speak of a mermaid with shimmering scales and a voice that could enchant even the most hardened sailor. She would sing haunting melodies, luring fishermen into the depths. Some believe she was a guardian of the waters, protecting its many secrets, while others think she was a vengeful spirit, seeking company in her watery realm.

The Lost Village of Shipden

Beneath the waters of the Broads lies the legend of Shipden, a village believed to have been consumed by the sea in the 14th century. On still nights, it’s said that the church bell of Shipden can be heard tolling from beneath the waves, a mournful reminder of the village that once was.

The Lantern Men

These mysterious lights are said to appear over the marshes, leading unsuspecting travellers astray. Folklore suggests that these are spirits trying to lure souls into the marsh, never to be seen again. Locals often advise never to follow these lights, for they don’t lead to safety, but to peril.

The Reedham Witch

In the village of Reedham, there’s a tale of a witch who could control the winds. Sailors and fishermen would pay her for favourable winds, but those who crossed her would find themselves facing treacherous storms on the Broads.


The Norfolk Broads, with its misty waters and ancient landscapes, naturally lends itself to tales of the supernatural and mysterious. These legends, whether believed as truths or enjoyed as tales, add depth to the region’s rich tapestry of history and culture. So, the next time you’re navigating the Broads or resting by its shores, spare a thought for the stories and spirits that might just be sharing the waters with you.