There has been speculation and concern that a small area of woodland scrub in West Oxford is being used for mysterious voodoo rituals. In the last week, a strange make-shift shrine has been constructed at the site.
Cherwell observed two mutilated teddy bears hanging from trees, bound in pieces of plastic with their mouths sellotaped and their eyes crossed out.The ostensible ‘offerings’ were accompanied by children’s shoes, which were wedged onto the spikes of the railings around the land. Multi-coloured paint was splattered in the area, and there were numerous strips of plastic bags tied to tree branches like flags.
The construction workers at the site stated that they had no knowledge of the origins of these mysterious objects, nor had they heard of any voodoo cult in the area. The land, which is located on Osney Lane, is reportedly going to be developed into student housing.
Lady Magaret Hall student Joel Scott-Halkes witnessed an altercation between council planning officers, real estate developers and local residents at the site, earlier in the week. He said that people living in houses adjacent to the land were “very troubled” by recent occurrences in the area.“Many spoke of a cult or gang in the local area,” he said.
He added, ‘Some were convinced that local youths had been breaking in to the land in order to hold voodoo style rituals and one couple spoke of seeing moving lights in the land earlier this week.”
When spoken to by Cherwell, however, one local resident gave the opinion that the strange litter was a protest against a local school’s request for planning permission to build some accommodation. A previous proposal had been rejected a couple of months ago but those concerned are eager to get the plans back on the table despite locals complaints that the proposed accommodation will be too high.
A street cleaner claimed that he had dismantled the first set of ‘offerings’ when it originally appeared, only for new flags and “voodoo dolls” to turn up overnight.
Joel Scott-Halkes described the appearance of the original shrine, saying, “The railings fencing off the land were covered with what can only be described as hundreds of primitive prayer flags and sacrificial offerings like those found in the Pitt Rivers Museum, except these were made of modern day materials – pieces of children’s toys, strips of plastic, clothes, some candles and so on – all inscribed with a kind of nonsensical language with ‘holy’, ‘prayer’ and ‘sacrifice’ written over and over.”
He commented that it was “unsettling” and added that “whatever this cult thing is, it seems to still be active.”
Cherwell spoke to local residents, who described the shrine as “creepy.” They were unclear, however, whether this was an elaborate hoax, or something rather more sinister.
Oxford County Council were unable to shed any further light on the matter.