Lincolnshire, in addition to being one of the largest counties in England, is also one of the most rural, so that might explain why it has more than its fair share of animal ghosts. One of the most frightful is the Shag-Foal, a malevolent spirit akin to the Black Dog of European folklore. The Shag-Foal takes the form of a " rough-coated goblin horse with eyes like tea saucers" which appears on isolated stretches of road before belated travelers.
Spittal Hill in Frieston, near Boston was once said to be haunted by one such spirit known as the "Spittal Hill Tut", tut being an old Lincolnshire word for ghost. The creature was said to haunt the site of an old leper hospital and attack anyone unlucky enough to cross its path. An encounter with the phantom was recorded as recently as the last century in the Autumn 1934 edition of the Lincolnshire Lantern:
"The Hobgoblin or Sprite, known as the "Spittal Hill Tut" or the "Shag Foal", has again been seen near Frieston. Some little time ago a party of farm workers were returning to their homes rather late one night after having paid a visit to Boston, when they were chased along the road by the "Shag Foal", which seized one of the men dragged him from his bicycle and crushed him between his fore-legs."
Different reasons are assigned for the haunting. One is that a murder was committed near the spot where the Shag-Foal appears. Another that a treasure is buried there and the entity is appointed to watch over it.
According to County Folklore by Gutch and Peacock (1908) a Shag-Foal haunted a railway bridge in Kirton-Lindsey in about 1842. A similar spectre haunted Goosy Lane, or Boggart Lane near Roxby, and in Barton-on-Humber the Devil was said to appear to persons in St. Helen`s churchyard "in the shape of a ragged colt called Tatter-Foal".
The following from an edition of Lincolnshire Notes & queries ( circa 1900) relates the Little known story of Shag-Foal Lane in Denton:
"Several instances of people who believed they had seen Shagfoal, Tatterfoal, or by whatever name the rough-coated goblin horse may be known, are given in "Folk-lore concerning Lincolnshire," but the following is not mentioned. In the village of Denton a narrow foot way leads out of the town street, enclosed on one side by a hedge, on the other by a wall which formally was a boundary of the grounds of the ancient residence of the Denton and Williams families, termed the hall of Richard Denton, 1415-16, now called the Ivy House. This enclosed way ends in a stile from which a path leads across 2 grass fields and the beck to the turnpike road making a short cut to Harlaxton. It was at the stile that the incident took place which has given to the enclosed foot way the name of Shag-foal Lane.
One evening, it may be 60 or 70 years ago, a Denton man was returning by the short cut from Harlaxton, where he had taken part in festivities which probably had not added clearness nor accuracy to his eye-sight; it happened that a donkey had broken through the hedge into the enclosed foot way, and was standing placidly looking out over the stile when the convivalist came up; the shaggy head, the high ears, the glistening eyes seemed to his distorting vision as belonging to the supernatural, so he turned and fled across the two closes back to the turnpike; coming homeward when he reached the turn into the village he feared to find the visitant at the other end of the foot way so continued on towards Croxton, and made a considerable detour getting home past the church. Next day he told all his friends he had seen Shagfoal, and the adventure so pleased public fancy that the enclosed foot way became known as Shagfoal Lane.
Although the cause of the mans mistake was evident and ludicrous his fear shows his belief in a possible apparition of the hobgoblin with shaggy coat, hanging in tatters, one of Robin Goodfellow's
[a mischievous spirit] many fancied forms."