If you knew a place haunted by supernatural terror, you'd probably give it a scary name. Think of some of the well-known scary New England place names: Purgatory Chasm, Dungeon Rock or Misery Island. You'd want a demonic ghost-haunted locale to have a name like that, wouldn't you?.
Unless, of course, you were from Medway, Massachusetts. The townspeople there knew a place where Satan would gather with his witches, but they gave it a very unscary name: Dinglehole. It sounds like an insult from a second grader!
Dinglehole, which was a large swampy depression filled with fetid water of an unknown depth, was feared for three reasons:
1. A ghostly bell could be heard ringing on dark nights and misty evenings. Locals called it the "spirit bell", and the dingling of the bell gave the hole its name. (I guess the word "dingle" has gone out of fashion. Contemporary people would probably name it Jinglehole, which doesn't sound much better.)
2. A headless ghost haunted Dinglehole, and would lead unwary travelers astray with strange glowing lights. Locals claimed saying a prayer would banish the ghost, his lights and the bell, but only temporarily.
3. Even worse than a headless ghost, the Devil and his local witches met by night at Dinglehole near a large twisted pine tree. The witches came not in human form, but as weasels, raccoons and "other little odiferous animals."
A skeptic might say "Of course you'll find weasels and raccoons in the woods. How did people know they were witches?" Well, Mr. Smarty-Pants (to use another second grade insult), because they were invulnerable to normal weapons, as the following Dinglehole story illustrates.
One evening, a Medway hunter was making his way home when he noticed a large raccoon watching him from a tree. Unable to resist such an easy target, the hunter shot the raccoon and hit it squarely in the chest. Nothing happened to the raccoon. It sat there unharmed, but perhaps with a slight smirk on its face. The hunter fired several more shots, each time hitting the raccoon, which continued to ignore the bullets.
Finally, it dawned on the hunter that this was no ordinary animal. He plucked a branch from a nearby witch hazel shrub, a plant known for its magical powers, and fired it from his rifle like a small harpoon. It hit the raccoon, which vanished. Several days later, the hunter learned that Murky Mullen, a local woman suspected of witchcraft, had an unexplained injury on her face. Clearly, she (or her spirit) had been wandering the woods in the shape of a raccoon.
The accounts of the Dinglehole horrors come from Ephraim Orcutt Jameson and George James La Croix's The History of Medway, Mass. 1713-1885 (1886). Dinglehole is now located somewhere in Millis, though, which separated from Medway in the late 1800s. The Federal Writers' Project book Massachusetts: A Guide to Its Places and People (1937) claims Dinglehole is located somewhere north of Union Street, but has been filled in. Perhaps it should be renamed Dinglefield? Does that sound scarier?