The Essex coastline has endured invasion by plundering and bloodthirsty Romans, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, and this mysterious landscape is still haunted by their presence. Their spirits, and countless others, have oft been reported - not least by smugglers determined to keep intruders away from their secret hideouts.
Even more dramatic stories of the supernatural lurk inland: accusations of witchcraft have been screamed around many picturesque market towns, dragons have terrorised the community, and a violent White Lady has struck at Hadleigh Castle. Indeed, it is the women of Essex who have stirred the imagination most - from brave Boudicca and beautiful Edith Swan-neck to the adulteress Kitty Canham. Amid the county's infamous pirates, highwaymen and desperados, Essex can even boast a lady smuggler.