We all know that the Hudson Valley is a destination hotspot this time of year. The Hudson Valley is the perfect place to be in order to enjoy every aspect of the fall season. From the tourist attracting scenery to the endless number of festivals and events that take place every year.

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Some of the most popular events this time of year take place as we get closer and closer to Halloween and the Hudson Valley also happens to be the birthplace of arguably the most haunting and most famous legend in American history: The Headless Horseman.

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Youtube-Headless Horseman-Rotten Tomatoes Trailer
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Inspiration Behind the Legend of the Headless Horseman

It's not speaking in hyperbole when saying that everyone seemingly knows the tale of the Headless Horseman. The legendary figure is said to still haunt the village of Sleepy Hollow to this day, over 200 years after the famous story was first written and released by famous author, Washington Irving. With that said, every story and every legend has its inspiration, so that is what we will be looking at now. What was the inspiration that lead to this legends creation?

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Youtube-Headless Horseman-Rotten Tomatoes Trailer
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Much like the celebration of Halloween, it is very possible if not likely that the legend of the Headless Horseman or its inspiration can be traced back hundreds of years, long before Washington Irving ever released "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" in 1820. According to History.com, the legend of the Headless Horsemen can be traced back to old Ireland, where the Celtic people told stories of the "Dullahan" or the "Gan Ceann". Today we would know these characters by another name, the Grim Reaper.

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More Mythology Behind the Legend

One local historian has also her fair share of deep diving into the Hudson Valley's most famous legend. Historian Elizabeth Bradley of Hudson Valley History in the same article from History.com as well as in the Rutgers Review, stated that the Headless Horsemen can be traced back to a story from Norse mythology.

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Youtube-Headless Horseman-Rotten Tomatoes Trailer
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Specifically, Bradley states that it is possible that Washington Irving was inspired by "The Chase" written by Sir Walter Scott in 1796, a story about a wicked hunter cursed to be hunted by the devil and his hellhounds forever. "The Chase" was a translation of another story called "The Wild Huntsmen" by German poet Gottfried Bürger. Bradley would go on to say that in 1817, Scott met Irving and even "mentored" him to a degree. In short Norse mythology influenced Bürger, Bürger influenced Scott and it is very likely that Scott influenced Irving.

Check This Out: Meet the headless Horsemen at the Old Dutch Church Fest of Sleepy Hollow

The Most Famous of Inspirations

Lastly we will look at the most well known story which inspired the Headless Horseman. That story would be of the Hessian soldiers in the Revolutionary War. For those unaware, the Hessian Soldiers were essentially hired guns that the British sent to participate in the war effort. They came from the German state of Hesse-Cassel but during this time Germany was not a united nation but rather a collection of states which shared a common language as well as culture.

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Youtube-Headless Horseman-Rotten Tomatoes Trailer
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As the story goes, during the Battle of White Plains in 1776 one of the Hessian soldiers was decapitated. The way in which he was decapitated was particularly gruesome. It is alleged that the Hessian soldier was decapitated via a cannonball. It is said that the spirit of the Hessian soldier was desperate for revenge and that revenge came in the taking of the heads of his victims.

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Youtube-Headless Horseman-Rotten Tomatoes Trailer
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Regardless of what or where the inspiration came from, one thing is abundantly clear, the legend of the Headless Horseman is as powerful and terrifying as it ever has been. It's a legend that has captured the minds and imaginations of thousands of people for generations and likely is a story that will continue to be told for many more years to come.

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