Paranormal North Norfolk
Image © David Pashley 2021 (CC-BY 2.0)

The Screaming Cockler of Blacknock Sandbank

Bridge over tidal creek in Stiffkey salt marshes
Image © Evelyn Simak 2013 (CC-BY 2.0)
n the 18th century, there was a young girl named “Nancy”. Her job was to trawl Blacknock Mud bank for the famous blue cockles (Stewkey Blues) Stiffkey was well known for. An exhausting and dangerous job, carried out by many of the women who lived in the village.

At the end of one unspecified day, seeing the tides turning and incoming poor weather, the women made their way back to Stiffkey. That was apart from Nancy, who had only half-filled her sack and stayed and continued cockling against the pleas from other cockler’s.

By the time Nancy noticed how much trouble she was in, it was already too late. A thick fog had developed, which made it impossible for her to navigate back to safety.

After getting lost attempting to get back to the village, Nancy repeat repeatedly out for help, hoping that the other cocklers would rescue her, who were already near the shore of Stiffkey.

Unfortunately, the same fog that trapped Nancy also meant the cocklers could not see where she was and thus unable to help. The Stiffkey fishermen, however, would also hear Nancy’s screaming.

The fishermen themselves could not launch their fishing boats as the tide was too low. There however were other men in Stiffkey who had their own smaller boats. These men would sail out to rescue Nancy, who at this point was swearing at “the roke and the tide, even against God himself“.

Sadly for Nancy, she wasn’t found in time and drowned. They would discover her body the next day, her eyes still glaring at the “injustice” of what happened to her and still holding the knife she used to collect the cockles.

Even though Nancy was buried in a local graveyard (Most likely, St John & St Mary at Stiffkey). Her ghost is said to still haunt Blacknock sandbank. Her screams said to warn people of the danger of wandering too far on the mudflats.


Sources used in article:

Local Lynx Issue 50 (2006). Local Lynx Issue 50 - Oct/Nov 2006. [online] Issuu. Available at: [Accessed 19 Apr. 2021].

"alicecoopersgirl" (2006). The Screaming Cockler of Stiffkey Marsh | JonGilbertForum. [online] JonGilbertForum. Available at: [Accessed 19 Apr. 2021]. (n.d.). Stiffkey Marshes, Noforlk | The Screaming Cockler. [online] Available at: [Accessed 19 Apr. 2021].