Near a small
Massachusetts village called Nahant, is a cave that few people are
Itís roughly 24 yards deep with a ceiling over six feet high. I
had stumbled upon an old print of the cave while researching caves of
New England. Intrigued by my discovery, I
spent some time following up on it. It was difficult to find
anything written about the cave. Eventually, I discovered a short
description that mentioned a witch haunted it. That was more
than enough to put it on the top of my to-do list.
scanned through topographical and nautical maps and found its
location. Spending a few more hours digging through the
archives, I uncovered the story behind the cave.
In 1675, during the King Philips war, 40 Indians canoed from Cape Cod
and raided Lynn, Massachusetts. The settlers of Lynn fought back
and forced the Indians to retreat. When The Natives reached the
cliffs of Nahant they noticed the opening and quickly hid inside the
cave. The men chasing the Indians soon realized they had lost
them and returned to Lynn. Over the next few weeks, they began
training to find and fight these Indians. When they were ready,
they consulted Witch Wonderful, a fortune-teller from Salem. Witch
Wonderful proclaimed that she knew what their quest was and where the
natives could be found. "They are on the shores of Nahant waiting
to attack again, she told them. Iíve been counting the clouds
and watching the cattle all week,Ē Wonderful proclaimed.
Then she began to recite a devilish incantation,
mingle, Mingle mingle,
apart, together single,
Indians on shore youíll see,
death or life, remember me.Ē
They thanked Wonderful and quickly proceeded to the shores of Nahant.
They soon found the
Indians hiding in Swallow Cave. Just as the captain of the
soldiers was about to fire on the Natives, Witch Wonderful came up
behind him and warned him not to shed any blood. She said she
would speak to the Indians and convince them to surrender. With
Wonderfulís, help an agreement was reached, and the Indians returned
to Cape Cod.
Witch Wonderful eventually predicted her own death and was found dead
in her home two weeks later. The people of Lynn buried her body
atop the hill overlooking Swallow Cave, where she brought peace
between the Indians and them. Since then, people have seen the
ghost of Witch Wonderful walking on the rocky shore and in the cave.
I went to Nahant to
find this cave. Unfamiliar with the area I spent the beginning
of my day traversing the rocky cliffs in and around the North Eastern
University Marine lab and speaking with the locals. By noon I
had located the cave. I entered in the south end, a narrow split
in the rock facing the ocean. The ceiling was 20 feet high with
a very rough texture. It appeared to have been chiseled out by
the waves rather than gently eroded. The walls were rough and
irregular and the floor was covered with barnacles. Once I had
entered the cave, I could see that it widened to a second entrance on
the other end. Unfortunately,
the tide had already turned and the south entrance was already partly
filled with a foot or more of water. The passage was fairly
narrow, and I considered wedging myself against each side and scramble
into the dry center. Soon, I realized that some of the footings
were rather slick and it could end in disaster. So I removed my shoes,
rolled up my pants and
waded through 10 feet of icy cold ocean water.
Though it had gotten its name from the great number of swallow that
nested there, I only noticed two birds exit as I arrived. Whether they were swallows Iím not sure, I was too busy admiring the
cave and only briefly noticed them as they were fleeing to safety.
Inside I discovered sea life of all sorts; Small crabs scurried around
the floor. Snails and barnacles could be found on each side and at
every turn I found starfish of all
sizes. The view from the
cave was beautiful. How nice it would be to relax in the cool
interior of Swallow Cave on a hot summer day. I would highly
recommend visiting the cave. Though it was in itself worth the
trip, it was only one of the highlights of the area. The cliffs
and tide pools of the Marine Lab are filled with fantastic sights and
sea life of all sorts. How great it was to handle a sea urchin
in its natural habitat.
Castle Rock, Pulpit Rock, Spouting Horn, and Forty Steps are
just a few of the other sights. Each has their own story to share.
Sometime this summer, Iíll make a return trip to Nahant; not only to
dig up another lost tale from shores of New England, and
explore the rocky shore and cave once again. Though
I never did see any sign of Witch Wonderful, I thought that if I
lingered at the
cave until late in the evening I could scare up some company. If
so I would then pay my respects to the woman that prevented a conflict
between the Indians and the people of Lynn.
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