The Last Man of an Ancient Culture


Author’s note:

About 25 years ago, I placed a classified ad in several small-town newspapers here in conservative, rural northern Minnesota. Here is what the ad said:

“Have you seen a UFO, ghost, or anything you can’t explain? Please call me: 555-5555. Confidentiality guaranteed.”

Not all the calls I received from my classified ad involved “The Usual” paranormal stuff like UFOs, ghosts and Bigfoot. 

Some callers had some amazingly offbeat tales to tell — and the story you are about to read is so strange, I warn you that it may challenge your belief system.

My contacts say it is “100% true,” however.


In the northern part of Kittson County, Minnesota, which borders Canada, are the wild woods of Caribou Township. Few people dwell there, but my brother who formerly lived nearby in the tiny town of Lancaster says he knows of “a couple of old hermits” in those woods.

As it turns out, another couple from the Lancaster area also knew “a hermit” living in the Caribou woods. After seeing my classified ad, they called me to tell me a story — and this turned out to be among the strangest I have ever heard. This story is so odd, that even I have difficulty believing it. Perhaps you will too. But the callers, a woman and her husband, insist it’s all true.

We agreed to meet in person in their rural home for an interview. What’s vexing is that their body language, the conviction in their voices and the pained expressions on their faces indicate to me that they were not spinning a wild yarn. Also, they were not seeking publicity, nor did they want to sell their story. They insisted on remaining anonymous.

Thus, I’ll call them Dan and Clare which, of course, are not their real names.


Back in the 1970s, Dan and Clare were newly married. Dan hailed from the Twin Cities. Clare was born and raised in the rural Lancaster area some 325 miles north of Minneapolis/St. Paul. Dan moved away from city life to start a new life with Clare in small-town Minnesota. One of the first things Clare told her new husband was that she had a “special uncle” who lived like a hermit deep in the woods of Caribou.

He was now some 90 years old.

Clare was her uncle’s only connection to civilization. The old man was originally from Wales in the United Kingdom. He came over to the U.S. in the early 1900s with his wife. She died in the 1950s. They had no children. The reason they came to America and had settled so deeply and isolated in the woods was because they were both members of an ancient, extinct religion. For complicated reasons, they wanted to get away from the ever-encroaching modernism of Europe and live out their belief system in peace.

Clare said she could only offer a phonetic rendering of the name of the religion which sounded something like “Gwer Gith Eye Noone” or perhaps “Gwer Geth High Noon.”

Cylch Cerrig Trefin, Wales. Photo Llywelyn2000

Gwer Geth High Noon, as I’ll call it, supposedly was a secret society, a “hidden” European culture or religion that perhaps dated back to the Neolithic. Clare said she gathered from talking to her uncle, who a kind of archaic English that was difficult to understand. He and his wife were among the last survivors of Gwer Geth High Noon.

Gwer Geth High Noon was based on the worship of various nature gods. Stones were of particular importance. The members of Gwer Geth High Noon apparently believed that the heavier the stone, the more its power “bent the world,” Clare said.

They also held trees in high regard, especially oaks. Clare and Dan took care of the man as he grew older, although he was remarkably self-sufficient. For decades he had lived on deer and rabbit. More so, he favored many wild edible plants, such as nettle, lamb’s quarter, amaranth, mallow and white man’s foot.

Clare said he made a vile drink by boiling tree bark.

Anyway, one day when Clare went to check on her uncle, she found him dead. He was reclined peacefully on his rude bed made from torn rags on the floor. In his hand was a branch from an oak tree. Clare was shocked to find that the man had left behind instructions on how and where he wanted to be buried. The instructions were in symbol form, drawn on the cured hide of a deer, using some kind of plant-based pigment, perhaps blueberries or chokecherries, common to the Caribou woods.

The parchment contained a detailed symbolic map that showed exactly where his grave must be dug. Apparently, there was some kind of stone monument in the woods, next to which he had buried his wife many years ago. He wanted to be planted by her side under the sacred stone. The map cleverly showed the way to the stone, using natural formations as guideposts.

At first, Clare and Dan didn’t know what to do. They knew it was illegal under Minnesota law to bury someone in the woods. They were also legally obligated to report his death but were unsure if they should do so. If they did, they could not honor his last wish. After all, this remarkable man may have been the last member of an ancient, hidden culture that had survived since the Stone Age.

To bury him in a cemetery full of Scandinavian Protestants or Polish Catholics, the majority of northern Minnesotans just didn’t seem right. He could have been cremated, but Clare was certain that this violated the tenets of Gwer Geth High Noon. Letting the dead old man rest on his bed of rags, Clare and Dan decided to see if they could follow the map and find the stone monument in the woods.

The map proved remarkably easy to follow.

At left: A typical U.S-Canada border pylon. At right: An ancient ritual standing stone in Wales, the “Llawddog” in Cymru, Wales. It is not difficult to see a resemblance between a modern border marker and what may have been an artifact of the Neolithic “Gwer Geth High Noon” culture. (Public Domain photos)

Within 25 minutes of traipsing through thick woods, they found the monument indicated on the map — except it was not made out of stone — it was a metallic international border pylon signifying the U.S.-Canadian border!


The slender pylon indeed might be mistaken for some kind of sacred monolith by a man from a different culture and time.

Dan and Clare knew they had real trouble now. Burying a crazy old man in the woods was one thing, but digging a grave next to an international border pylon must violate about 100 federal or international laws!


After a few hours of soul searching, Clare and Dan could not decide what was best. They needed more time to think. They adjudged that one more day would make little difference. It was early October and quite cold outside. The old man’s shack was not heated, so he would preserve fairly well for at least another day.

That night they hashed it out with each other. One of the things that touched them strongly was the fact that his poor wife was already buried out there in the woods, alone and waiting for her husband to join her in eternity.

It didn’t seem right to leave her there alone, against the kindly old uncle’s wishes. Still, Dan and Clare were respectable law-abiding citizens. They were good Lutherans. Before going to bed, they had decided to go by the book and call the county coroner in the morning to report the death as required by law.

But that night was the second scariest of their lives!

A few minutes after getting into bed and settling down, they began to hear loud footsteps walking toward them in the dark bedroom. It sounded like “heavy boots clomping on a hardwood floor,” Dan and Clare said. They could also hear “raspy breathing.” When they turned on the lights, no one could be seen. As soon as they turned off the lights, the heavy footsteps walking up to the edge of the bed sounded again.

After experiencing this a half-dozen times, they decided to sleep with the lights on, but the light burned out within minutes. As they scrambled for another bulb, they could hear the footsteps racing toward them! By this time, it was 2 a.m. and they were dead tired. (No pun intended).

Finally, Clare shouted:

“Okay, okay, Uncle! We get the message! We’ll honor your last wishes! We’ll bury you next to the sacred stone in the woods, next to your beloved wife!”

After this, they heard the footsteps no more, although they slept in the living room with all the lights on. Dan and Clare could not believe what they were about to do. After a night of sleepless terror, however, they felt compelled to finish what they knew they must do.

The task ahead was grisly:

  • They had to carry the corpse of the old man for about a half-hour’s walk through the tangled brush of the Minnesota woods.
  • By moonlight, they must locate the metallic pylon marking the U.S.-Canada border.
  • Once there, they would dig a grave in the hard ground — not yet frozen, but mighty cold — and most likely filled with tangled roots, rocks and undergrowth.
  • They would inter the old man supposedly very near the spot where he had buried his beloved wife years before.

On any other occasion, a walk in the early October evening under the moonlight might be considered pleasant in a brisk, autumnal sort of way. The moon would come up gibbous that night and would cast plentiful light. Clare and Dan were glad that only a pale lunar glow would illuminate the lurid burial ritual — which they would carry out illegally under modern law, but orthodox under the ancient precepts of Gwer Geth High Noon.

The couple arrived at the old man’s shack just before sundown.


Even though they were deep in the woods, they waited for darkness before they dared carry the body outside and begin the old man’s final earthly journey. They half expected his body to be gone after presumably hearing his footsteps all through the previous night, but the old man was there on his bed of rags, very dead.

The wait for darkness was nerve-wracking and interminable. But as deep purple twilight set in, they wrapped the body in thick blankets, and using a small trailer that they could pull by hand, they towed the body into the woods. The trip through the woods proved to be harrowing. They had to abandon the trailer after just 100 yards because it kept catching on brush and branches.

Several times the old man’s body rolled off onto the ground, to the great dismay of both Clare and Dan. Every time this happened, Clare cried out:


(Note: This is an approximate phonetic rendering of the term since I don’t speak or write Welsh and neither did Clare).

She had learned this phrase from her uncle and believed it was a Gwer Geth High Noon canticle against negative forces. If any of the ancient nature gods were still awake, Clare was eager to have their blessing on this macabre processional! But eventually, Dan was obliged to heave the stiff corpse over his shoulder and weave his way through the woods, following Clare, who held a subdued red-light lamp to help illuminate the way.

The waxing moon was already above the horizon as they reached the halfway point. Dan put the body down and rested for a bit. Clare tightened up the twine which wrapped the body. Then they were off again through the thick wilderness.

The trees were mostly bare but were still thick enough to filter much of the moonlight, exaggerating the gloom. As they walked, each dry branch they stepped on cracked loud enough to be heard halfway to Winnipeg, or so it seemed to the jittery couple. After what seemed like hours, they finally spied the border pylon among the brush and woods. It gleamed dull silver as it reflected a tricky moonbeam that found its way through the maze of branches overhead.

Thankfully, Dan put the body down, but he didn’t take a minute to rest before he grabbed the spade from Clare and began to dig the grave. If the old man had really buried his wife here some 20 years ago, there was no sign of a grave now. Dan didn’t let himself think about this as he worked the shovel through the difficult turf.

Excavating the grave proved exceedingly laborious. They struck roots and rocks aplenty. The ground was cold, hard and gravel mixed with black loam. Clare took her turn at the shovel. They decided quickly not to go very deep, although they wanted to dig deep enough to prevent an animal from rooting him up, or worse, having the frost push him up next spring.

Because Dan and Clare wanted to sleep nights from here on, they felt that planting his body securely beneath the rocky, Minnesota-Manitoba regolith was their best insurance for that! After the hole was some four feet deep, Dan took the shovel from his wife and said:

“I’ll take 20 more scoops and then you do 20 and let’s call it good!”

Clare agreed and held their red lantern high so that Dan could see his work. Dan had the hole deep enough, so now he was just taking slices around the edges to widen it out a bit. Suddenly, the shovel made a sickening crunching sound.

Clare held the lamp closer and stridently called out:


For Dan’s shovel struck and penetrated the skull of the old man’s wife!

Now part of her mottled skeleton rolled out from the side of the grave and fell down at his feet! Dan yelped and jumped out of the grave with the shovel still in his hand. They both shrieked again when they noticed that her split skull was still clamped over the pointy end of the spade.

“Elgrowtrin-O’lel-Galon! Dan, put her head back in the grave!” Clare cried out.

Dan put his foot on the skull, pushed it off the spade and dropped it into the grave. Clare slugged him hard on the arm.

“Not like that, you ghoul! You don’t kick somebody’s head off a shovel into a grave!”

Dan countered: “Oh, and I suppose you wanted to pull her off with your hands?”

“Oh for Christ’s sake!” Clare screamed.

“Hey! Watch what you’re saying with all this Christ stuff! This is Gwer Geth High Noon, isn’t it!?”

Clare grabbed her forehead and said nothing. They both suppressed further comments and moved quickly to lower the body of the old man into the grave, and into the bony arms — or I should say “arm” — of his wife. They wanted nothing more than to be finished and to get out of the woods, but they stayed long enough to make certain that the grave was not only well covered with soil, but also hidden with brush and pieces of wood to conceal it further.

When they were finally finished, they hastened their way back. About 200 yards along the way, Clare tripped and was aghast to notice that she had stumbled on the old man’s boot which had somehow fallen off. Dan grabbed the boot and flung it into the tangled underbrush.

As they continued, they suddenly heard a loud sound of crunching branches and tearing brush, as if something was running through the woods chasing them from behind! Their hearts exploded in their chests. Dan grabbed Clare’s hand and shouted, “Run!

As they sprinted through the woods, Dan thought: “We’ve been sighted by the Border Patrol! They’re after us!”

But Clare thought:

“Uncle has called an avenging Nature Spirit on us! He’s angry because we split Auntie’s skull!”

As they ran, the crashing noise got closer. Dan tripped hard and Clare fell over top of him. The crashing noise was almost upon them.

“We’re caught!” they both thought.

Moose. Photo by KEN KORCZAK

An instant later, Dan and Clare saw a huge black shape move past them, missing them by a mere six feet — it was a gigantic moose, loping through the moonlit woods. They would have felt relief if their nerves were not so jangled. They got up and moved at good speed back to the old man’s shack, got in their pick-up truck and drove home.

When they arrived, they were astonished by their appearance in the mirror. They looked like haggard coal miners — faces smeared with black dirt, white-eyed, and leaves and branches stuck in their hair and clothing.

That night they slept little. But Clare finally drifted off and had this dream:

She fancied that it was 25-below zero on a January night. She had somehow traveled out to the woods again to see her old uncle’s resting place. Once there, she saw that the snow had drifted high in the woods and only the tip of the border pylon now peeked out from the snow, glinting silver under icy moonlight.

She shivered.


NOTE: For more true stories of “The Extremely Strange.” please visit: KEN-ON-MEDIUM

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