Cherepovets swamp, mystery and mysteries of the lost place

The terrible spirit of the Cherepovets bog

Russia can be considered the home of swamps – nowhere else in such quantity and scope. And people who have lived surrounded by swamps, from generation to generation formed certain character traits. In the notes of the rural healers of the 19th century one very often finds references to the typical Russian moping, which may well be a clinical sign of the bad influence of the marshes.

“Singing” bogs to the north of the city are not only a legend, but also the result of long observations of many people,” so wrote the physician Pavel Gryaznov in his doctoral thesis “Experience of comparative study of hygienic conditions of peasant life and medico-topography of Cherepovets district,” which he defended in St. Petersburg in 1880. – The wilderness swamp lies on both sides of the Konoma river, starting at the town of Cherepovets, and stretches north for 30 versts. Its area is 80 square versts. There are several lakes in the swamp, the most important of which are Ivachevo Lake and Pustynnoye Lake. The surface of the swamp consists of an elastic, wavy layer, which is sometimes caused by the pressure of a more liquid layer, and that is why the so called “melvi” or “sinkholes” are formed. The depth of the marsh reaches only two and a half fathoms[9], its bottom is dense and clayey…”.

The Cherepovets bogs are a little-studied area in the Vologda region. Nowadays it is customary to speak of it as an anomalous zone, because mysterious disappearances of people from the roads, frequent suicides, inexplicably large numbers of crazy people in nearby villages and strange behavior of seemingly quite healthy people have long been observed here.

According to 19th century statistics, in the area of the Cherepovets bogs the number of suicides was four to five times higher than in Russia as a whole, and crime was nine times higher. And it is not surprising that the ancient bog in the vicinity of Cherepovets has become covered with its own myths and legends.

“In the old days, people began to disappear on one of the Belozero roads – mostly out-of-town merchants. Merchants would leave one town and never reach their destination,” says Pavel Gryaznov in his notes. – At first, people thought that a gang of robbers appeared in the vicinity. But gradually, this version was discarded … One day, people from the town with weapons combed the neighborhood and found an abandoned cart on the shore of a large swamp. Neither the horses, nor the merchant, nor the guards were found with the cart. And the goods were untouched… And in all cases, traces of people who had ridden in carts went into the swamp – without any signs of struggle or any disturbance… People disappeared alone and in large groups. Nobody came back from the swamp. Except one man…”

It happened in the sixteenth century: the merchant disappeared for a decade. Of course, he had not wandered through the marshes all that time, but the horror he had experienced was so great that for a long time he had not had the strength to return. The merchant appeared ten years later and said that he was carrying his usual goods for sale, but for some inexplicable reason he suddenly changed the route and went to places he did not know. When he came to the edge of the swamp, he almost drowned himself – such fear and terror and a desire to kill himself as soon as possible. Having kept a small part of consciousness, he ran away from that place, not even remembering the goods and not thinking to return for them.

The mysteries and legends, myths and riddles of St. Petersburg

The locals did not believe the merchant, and he volunteered to show those who wished to see the place. His words were fully confirmed: on the bank of the swamp stood the already ruined carts with the trading goods, abandoned many years ago.

Most researchers of the anomalous phenomena occurring in the Cherepovets bog define these places as “possessed by a dark spirit”. What is the nature of this spirit, no one knows. The spirit is the hero of local legends, a kind of spontaneous dark force bringing evil and suffering without any motive.

According to Slavic mythology, in the marshes lives kikimora – the evil swamp spirit. It rarely shows itself to people, preferring to be invisible and only cries out a loud voice from the marsh. She likes to dress up in “furs” of mosses and weave forest and marsh plants into her hair. The marsh kikimora drags the stranded travelers into the bog where she can torture them to death. Therefore one did not travel far and alone into the swampy areas. It was believed that only witches and sorcerers could walk there without fear.

“The spirits in the marshes appeared long ago,” wrote the healer Gryaznov in 1879. – No one knows what spawned it: the slumbering nature of the marshes, the dark forces of the earth, the sins of the people living in the area, or in general the spirit himself, having settled in the area, created for himself comfortable for his life and slumbering marshes.”

The ancient Celts called the marshes “gates of the spirits” – where seemingly solid ground instantly escapes from under their feet, a gateway to the world of mysterious spirits of nature and deities opens up. That is why the Celts revered the marshes and came there with sacrificial offerings.

And here is a record from another Cherepovets source from even earlier, in the middle of the 19th century: “He howls, this spirit. Once you get there, it stays with you forever. It sucks the brain. It thinks and silences…”

“He can be frightened away,” we read in a letter from a certain Perfiliev, a native of these places, who was treated for his “swampy moping” by Dr. Griaznov. – Don’t talk about him, don’t show him the way, he lives in the very center, where the forest growth encircles a small red-headed place, which looks like an elongated circle. Our forester calls it a witch’s place. He is afraid himself, and invites others to listen. Now he goes to the forest without a gun. Everyone knows that his predecessor shot himself at home. He rose to senior rank and shot himself, but didn’t leave town. Didn’t have time. Or couldn’t… Better yet, keep quiet. Go and be quiet. And it won’t be able to steal a voice.”

“My father chased me out of town,” testifies another eyewitness and victim of the Cherepovets swamp of the mid-19th century. – I got an education and came back. From now on it’s no longer possible to leave. These swamps will be found everywhere. How can one fight against such a giant stinking peat? And how beautiful this swamp is when you find it for the first time! And there are almost no berries, and few birds. It’s not a swamp at all. And how one hears it in the city! I already knew three people who can hear it…”

The Northern Fail and ancient Hyperborea

This is confirmed by Perfilyev in a letter written in 1905: “All the best people really leave Cherepovets or die here… It is not a mental disease – some other disease. A man stops waiting for the best … and as if he hears in the morning how somewhere in the north the Lake sighs. And that water lives someone else’s life. It overpowers the people who do its will”. Two years later Perfilyev himself was already ill with this strange disease…

“I took analyses of the peat from this strange place,” all the same Gryaznov assures in his notes. – I sent samples to St. Petersburg and led all the scientists I knew in bewilderment: in addition to plant remains in the peat were traces of a more highly organized life, which (traces) have not previously met anywhere and have not been observed. Colleagues wrote me that the bog is rare, unusual.

Other details and “physical evidence” that shed any light on the story of the Cherepovets bog, we do not know. It is believed that the swamp in the form in which it was a horror on the surrounding area, died sometime in the 1920s-1940s. Rather, the swamp itself is not dead, but simply ceased to manifest itself, at least openly. Otherwise, how would it have allowed such a rapid construction of the city and the development of industry? And the swamp was not able to withstand the active inflow of fresh people to Cherepovets. Surrendered… Or lurked?

This text is an introductory fragment.

Continued on LitRes

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The Mystery of Cherepovets bogs or Why people disappeared for centuries in the Vologda region

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One of the most mysterious Russian natural areas – Cherepovets bogs – is located in the Vologda region. These unremarkable basins have been haunting the local population for centuries, harboring a lot of legends and myths. Even in today’s high-tech age, people believe that the swamps are haunted by an evil spirit who likes to torment people. Suicidal drowned men have regularly been found in those places with no history of mental illness. The researchers were at a loss as to whether this was mysticism or a natural anomaly that could be explained.

The Rock of Bogs in the Swampy Vologda Region

Since ancient times there have been eerie legends about the Cherepovets bogs. /Photo:

Lakes and marshes occupy more than 24 thousand squares of the Vologda region. Mysterious legends have been formed around this area for centuries. But the most mysterious to this day are the perilous Cherepovets bogs, poorly explored due to their inaccessibility. The supposed depth of the reservoirs is five meters, but there’s every reason to believe that in the sinkholes this figure reaches 20. The most infamous is reserved for Ivachevo bog lake, located a few kilometers from the city of Cherepovets. According to a local legend every year tourists, fishermen and berry-pickers disappeared without a trace in those swamps. And no horror stories never stopped the visitors or locals from visiting that area. It was as if the swamp was somehow magically attracting people.

The written history of the Cherepovets bogs begins in the middle of the 19th century. The diaries of a Vologda school teacher from 1850 describe the terrible things he saw and heard at that time. The man claimed that he could not explain what was happening by anything other than the real existence of the swamp spirit. According to eyewitnesses, the ominous howl from the depths of the swamp hypnotized people who were nearby, luring them to certain death. This magical howl was mind-destroying, psychologically destructive, and pushed one to inadequate actions. In a terrifying fear, people went mad and crowded in. The first official research of the perilous places was organized in 1879 by Gryaznov, a healer.

He was pushed to take such a risky step by the story of a local merchant, who, in his own words, had been suffering from an obsessive desire to go to the swamps at somebody’s inexplicable bidding for years. And one day he still got bogged down in the swamp, surviving by a miracle. Gryaznov gathered volunteer helpers and went to the marshes. There they found a mountain of half-sunken carts with all sorts of goodies, and as soon as they saw how many people had died in the swamp, they rushed back as fast as they could. Gryaznov only had time to take samples of peat with him. The results of laboratory analysis, which came from Petersburg, surprised the researcher. The conclusion was that the swamp mud in the Cherepovets ponds was home to unknown to science microorganisms, complex and highly organized. The laboratory technicians of the time had never encountered such organisms, so they could not come to any scientific conclusion. And near Cherepovets, cases of disappearances and suicides of local residents continued.

The Road to Nowhere, a frightening reality

Celtic beliefs and an invisible connection with the swamp

Even the ancient Celts testified about the swamp spirit. /Photo:

“The spirit appeared in the marshes long ago,” Gryaznov wrote. – No one knows what spawned it: impenetrable nature, dark forces, or the sins of the local inhabitants…” Even the ancient Celts called the swampy area “gates of the spirits”. Their ancestors believed that the place where the hard ground was gone from under their feet opened doors to the other world. For this reason, the Celts regularly visited the marshes with sacrificial offerings. A certain Perfiliev testified about inexplicable phenomena near Cherepovets. In 1905, he wrote that if people do not leave their native swampy places, then sooner or later they die there. But even after leaving, they have an incredible desire to return, hearing even from afar “the sighs of the Lake. Perfilyev considered it a mental illness that threatens every local. Two years after that recording, the man suffered a mental breakdown.

Not so long ago, a representative of a Russian ufological society published a description found in the Vologda archives of a case that occurred in the Cherepovets marshes in 1911. Suffering from epilepsy, the son of a local cobbler went to a pier near a body of water. Approaching the mire, the boy threw himself to the ground and began banging his head on the rocks, breaking the bones in his skull. Before he died, he claimed he was going into the muddy abyss because he had been knocked from below. Few people understood what his words meant at the time, and forensic experts concluded: suicide on the grounds of mental disorder. Eyewitnesses and survivors of the Cherepovets events were unanimous in saying that the swamp lives its own life, and the water in it is like a living being, overpowering everyone around it. Those who have fallen under its influence become aggressive, dependent and depressed and can never break the invisible connection with the abnormal body of water.

Surrendered or lurking?

Scientists speculate that the swamps attracted people with hallucinogenic water.

Many frightened residents rushed to leave their homes. For the same reason, the famous artist Vasily Vereshchagin left Cherepovets. Subsequently, he said that “on the banks of the swamp dwells the spirit of insanity”. Over time, more and more scientists became interested in the natural phenomenon. Chemists speculated that decaying biological material on the swamp bed caused hallucinations. Japanese researchers who studied the Cherepovets bogs came to the conclusion that the molecular structure of the slurry was changing. Local residents drank water from nearby wells, where underwater currents could well get swampy material. A kind of poisoning occurred, and the addicts subconsciously reached for the swamps to taste the hallucinogenic liquid again.

After the 1920s, the ominous swamp lost its power and ceased to terrify the neighborhood. Otherwise, say the bearers of Cherepovets legends, the spirit would not have allowed the rapid construction of the city and the development of industry in that area. But the oldest inhabitants warn the new generation: what if the swamp didn’t give up, but only temporarily hid?

Today the “Millennium of Russia” is one of the most famous monuments in our country. No trip to Novgorod would be complete without a visit to Mikeshin’s work. Similar monuments are extremely few both in Russia, and around the world. The history of each of them is unique, for example, it is interesting to learn about the oldest monument of Ancient Egypt Amarna.

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