Showing 1-20 of 29 folklore posts. Most recent first | Next 20
There are 'two huge granite boulders, situated on a shelving rock over an abyss on the Loch Avon side of Cairngorm, with hand-made cups on them about a foot wide and correspondingly deep - "sitting on which is said to be efficaceous in cases of barrenness" '. Pilgrimages have been made to them within living memory.
A Mitchell 1875.
Mitchell and Drummond, A and J (1875) 'Vacation notes in Cromar, Burghead, and Strathspey. Including notice of one of the supposed burial-places of St Columba', Proc Soc Antiq Scot, vol.10
Penshaw Hill is mentioned in the Mackem dialect song "The Lambton Worm" (as "Pensher Hill"), which tells the tale of the dragon:
"One Sunday morn young Lambton went
A-fishing' in the Wear;
An' catched a fish upon he's heuk,
He thowt leuk't varry queer.
But whatt'n a kind of fish it was
Young Lambton cuddent tell.
He waddn't fash te carry'd hyem,
So he hoyed it doon a well.
cho: Whisht! Lads, haad yor gobs,
An Aa'll tell ye's aall an aaful story
Whisht! Lads, haad yor gobs,
An' Aa'll tell ye 'boot the worm.
Noo Lambton felt inclined te gan
An' fight i' foreign wars.
he joined a troop o' Knights that cared
For nowther woonds nor scars,
An' off he went te Palestine
Where queer things him befel,
An' varry seun forgat aboot
The queer worm i' the well.
But the worm got fat an' growed and' growed
An' growed an aaful size;
He'd greet big teeth, a greet big gob,
An' greet big goggle eyes.
An' when at neets he craaled aboot
Te pick up bits o' news,
If he felt dry upon the road,
He milked a dozen coos.
This feorful worm wad often feed
On caalves an' lambs an' sheep,
An' swally little barins alive
When they laid doon te sleep.
An' when he'd eaten aall he cud
An' he had had he's fill,
He craaled away an' lapped he's tail
Seven times roond Pensher Hill.
The news of this myest aaful worm
An' his queer gannins on
Seun crossed the seas, gat te the ears
Ov brave and' bowld Sor John.
So hyem he cam an' catched the beast
An' cut 'im in twe haalves,
An' that seun stopped he's eatin' bairns,
An' sheep an' lambs and caalves.
So noo ye knaa hoo aall the foaks
On byeth sides ov the Wear
Lost lots o' sheep an' lots o' sleep
An' leeved i' mortal feor.
So let's hev one te brave Sor John
That kept the bairns frae harm,
Saved coos an' caalves by myekin' haalves
O' the famis Lambton Worm.
Noo lads, Aa'll haad me gob,
That's aall Aa knaa aboot the story
Ov Sor John's clivvor job
Wi' the aaful Lambton Worm."
For the full dialect effect:
Close by but now apparently dried up, Pastscape records the site of "St Boniface Wishing Well" (SZ 5676878118):
"St. Boniface Wishing Well", a spring formerly much venerated, especially by seamen, because an impervious stratum caused it to rise high up on the side of a chalk down.
From "Undercliff of the IOW", 1911, 118-9. (J.L. Whitehead)
From Ward Lock's Illustrated Guidebook:
The Wishing Well is interesting to the geologist on account of its unusual height, and to the superstitious from the reverence formerly paid to it on account of a popular belief that if one achieved the difficult feat of climbing to the spring without looking backward, any three wishes formed while drinking its waters would be gratified.
The area around Loch Ashie is the site of a reported "phantom battle" (or battles). The fullest version I have found is in the excellent "The Guide To Mysterious Loch Ness" by Geoff Holder (2007 Tempus). There appear to have been two different phantom battles:
The first was reported in newspapers in 1870-1 and was seen shortly after dawn on a May morning. In that report, the battle seems to have been contemporary, with "large bodies of men in close formation and smaller bodies of cavalry facing an attacking army marching from the east".
The same battle was seen during the First World War and then at some time between 1950-73 by a group of picnicking Americans, who according to Geoff Holder's book "took it to be a local pageant".
The second battle was seen in the 1940s when a "mist-bound shepherd heard and saw a small-scale battle involving wild-looking, bearded, long-haired men in ragged clothes, armed with wooden clubs and short-bladed swords. The shepherd hid behind a rock but realised the warriors were not aware of him. After about ten minutes of combat, the mist lifted and the scene disappeared."
Glacial erratic boulder on Hergest Ridge. According to the nearby info board, the stone is supposed to go down to the nearby spring to drink at midnight, rather like the nearby Four Stones over the border in Radnorshire.
As if the Devil in his chair and the dead of Shropshire weren't enough:
Watch out for the Seven Whistlers. Legend has it that six birds fly up and down the Stiperstones slopes looking for a lost companion. When the seventh bird is found, the end of the world will occur
As mentioned in "Shropshire - An Archaeological Guide" by Michael Watson (Shropshire Books 2002), but no further source for the legend is given.
Crossing has this to say about the well:
This [story] was told to me several years ago by the late Miss Luxmore, of Okehampton, who was the joint owner of the park, and describes how a man and his wife having lost their way when riding over this part of the moor, presumably led astray by the pixies, recovered it on reaching the well, thus justifying the lady's opinion, previously expressed, that they would only do so on finding water. It is fortunate that when they reached the pool it was not as it is said to have been in the month of September, 1676, when, in consequence of the dry summer, no water was to be seen there. In this state it is not infrequently found today. Its name connects it with the Fitz family, to whom the manor of Meldon once belonged. Like many other wells it probably had miraculous powers ascribed to it, and was formerly visited by the youths and maidens in the neighbourhood on the morning of Easter Day.
From William Crossing's Guide To Dartmoor (2nd Ed 1912).
From "Mysterious Wales" - Chris Barber (Paladin 1983):
This stone, 7 feet high and 5 feet broad, stands in the middle of a field to the west of Llanfihangel Rogiet church. One historian suggests that it was placed in the field to mark the height to which the water rose on the occasion of the Severn flood in 1606. The legendary origin is much more interesting. It was hurled from Portishead, or some other spot on the far side of the Bristol Channel, by the Devil in a fit of temper!
Sadly Barber doesn't give any source for this legend.
Slightly longer extract from "Romances of the Peak" by W.M. Turner (London 1901), including local "bravery":
"... coming away from a visit there in the year 1897, I accosted a young herdsman who was attending some cattle grazing by the wayside. After touching on several points I came cautiously to the Druidical circle business. I wanted to know how it came there and its purpose and so forth. He could not tell. It had been there undisturbed for generations and according to the account given him by the old people, and that was all, excepting, there may have been a battle there and people buried about the place.
'How did he come to know that?' 'Well, you see', he said, 'the folks round about never go that way at night for fear of boggarts. Several have been seen prowling about, and it is the common talk that people must have been buried there'. 'Did you ever go that way at night?' I asked. He said that he had not, but he bravely added, he would not mind, for he did not believe in such things."
"THIS point is situated in the parish of Perranuthnoe; the parish, it will be remembered, into which Trelawney escaped, aided by the fleetness of his horse, from the deluge which buried the lands between this and the Scilly Isles.
At the low-water of spring-tides, the children from all the neighbourhood flock to the sands around this point, in the hope of finding treasure, which they believe is buried in the sands beneath the sea, and which is, it is said, occasionally discovered. Amongst other things, an especial search is made for a silver table, which was lost by a very wealthy lord, by some said to be the old Lord Pengerswick, who enriched himself by grinding down the poor. On one occasion, when the calmness of summer, the clearness of the skies, and the tranquillity of the waters invited the luxurious to the enjoyments of the sea, this magnate, with a party of gay and thoughtless friends, was floating in a beautiful boat lazily with the tide, and feasting from numerous luxuries spread on a silver table. Suddenly - no one lived to tell the cause - the boat sank in the calm, transparent waters; and, long after the event, the fishermen would tell of sounds of revelry heard from beneath the waters, and some have said they have seen these wicked ones still seated around the silver table."
From Popular Romances of the West of England collected and edited by Robert Hunt, p.213 1st Edition 1865
Another for the list of Radnorshire-disputed-antiquity-stones I fear. From "The Ancient Stones of Wales" by Chris Barber and John Godfrey Williams:
"A standing stone in the centre of a field called Maes y Garreg on Pontycaragh farm (SO200791). It resembles a battered human face and is 5 feet high. It is marked as Standing Stone on Ordnance Survey map of 1947. R.C.A.M. No. 80 of Radnor. One local story is that the Devil threw the stone from his chair at Craig y Don near Knighton, Radnor, aiming it at Beguildy Church, but it fell short by half-a-mile and the stone is still supposed to bear Satan's fingerprints."
Coflein supposes the stone to be natural:
"There was once a hawthorn tree called the 'Wishing Tree' around which children danced.
Here there was once a shelter for the use of those who came to drink or bathe in St Walm's spring water to cure their skin diseases or sore eyes or rheumatism."
From "The Healing Wells of Herefordshire" - Jonathan Sant (Moondial 1994).
Just to add a bit to Paulus' post, the reason that the Giant had such a thing against Shrewsbury was as follows:
"In the old days, when the ancient town of Shrewsbury was but newly built, its citizens, especially those who worked about the River Servern, were venturesome persons. One day three of them in quite a small boat, light and fast, with a single sail and oars went down the river. Fishing had been bad, and these men were prospecting for fresh ground, particularly for eels, of which Shrewsburians were notably fond.
Tempted by the wide smoothness of the river and the beautiful new scenery along its banks, the three pioneers went on for days, camping at nights on the bank, till they emerged on to what is now the Bristol Channel.
Turning westward into the calmer waters sheltered by South Wales, the three fishermen came to a very pleasant coast, seemingly abandoned by human beings. It was deserted because its sole inhabitant was an enormous giant, who tyrranised so cruelly over people of normal stature that the latter preferred to keep away altogether from his oppressive dominance.
Like all giants of antiquity, the South Walian individual was of incalculable strength but excessively lazy, stupid and revengeful of small injuries.
The Shrewsbury men knew naught of this. They came to a pretty little river tumbling into the Channel from beautiful mountain scenery.At the mouth of the river were some gigantic eel traps full of huge eels. Amazed at first by the stupendous size of the traps, the voyagers were so tempted by the excellence of the eels that they decided to help themselves, arguing that a few out of such quantities would never be missed.
As the three Shrewsbury fishermen finished loading their boat the giant woke from slumber on the other side of the hill. His yawns sounded like thunder, and his taking deep breaths was the wind in the tree tops. Greatly alarmed, the eel stealers got out their oars and pulled away. Fortunate for them that they did so. A few minutes later the immense hair-fringed face of the giant appeared over the hilltop. Seeing what had happened the giant strode slowly down the to the shore, and in a voice like the roaring of many bulls commanded the fugitives to stop. The tide was running up, the wind filled the sail, the two at the oars pulled strenuously, and the boat sped northward. Feeling themselves safe, the Shrewsbury men gathered courage. The steersman, a fellow with a stentorian voice, was foolish enough to shout back 'we be Shrewsbury men, and we always get what we want.'
Hearing it, the giant fell into a paroxysm of rage. He shook his fist, cursed, and swore he would exterminate the whole tribe of Shrewsbury folk, the three representatives of which only derided the more. Whereat the giant picked up rocks large as houses and threw them after the retreating boat, which narrowly escaped being swamped by the big waves set up.
Safely back in Shrewsbury, the three men excited astonishment and some incredulity by the story of their adventures, but the eels were incontrovertibly the finest ever brought into the town."
This is what got the giant mad, leading to his cross-country trek with the shovel-full of sand and mud that would become the Wrekin.
From "Legends of the Severn Valley" - Alfred Rowberry Williams (Folk Press Limited).
"This is an ancient standing stone erected (according to tradition) in early British times to commemorate a battle which was fought here between two kings or chiefs, one of whom was named Ifor.
About 1km to the south east of Carreg Maen Taro is the site of two burial cairns called Careg-Croes-Ifor (nprn 405021), presumably the same Ifor mentioned above, and Pen-ffordd-goch (the head of the red road) (nprn 404999), 1.5km to the south east, is said to take its name from a battle waged there; there thus seems to be a vague tradition of a battle fought somewhere in the area.
B.A.Malaws, RCAHMW, 13 October 2006."
"Black dogs are scattered fairly widely over the Cotswolds and are of different kinds; some of them are human ghosts, some of them doggy and some are evil spirits. One on Birdlip Hill is a helpful spirit who guides lost travellers. Ruth Tongue however heard of another visitant on Birdlip Hill, the Devil. She heard the following tale from a groom in Cheltenham in 1926:
'There was a shepherd above Birdlip Hill, and there was Old Nick on the road to catch travellers. The shepherd wanted a potion for a sick ewe from the farm below.
He went afoot - horses and carts never went that road. Horses don't care for devils. So Old Nick was glad to see him pass. 'I'll have him on the way back' says he.
The shepherd had a black jack there and his drinking-horn filled to cheer him on the long uphill road, and he wrapped up the sheep's medecine which smelt nasty and hot, and started off. Up he goes and up till he comes to the turn near Black Dog's Lane.
He'd a notion that Old Nick might be about there, so before he passes it he has a swig of ale from the horn to hearten himself, and pours back in some of the sheep's tonic, well-boiled.
Then he goes on up.
Out comes Old Nick and grabs him. 'Ale!' says he. 'Good brown ale.'
'Spiced for you, sir, special,' says the shepherd civilly, handing the horn, and taking to his heels.
Old Nick was in such a hurry to catch him that he gulped the drink down first, and then it - the sheep tonic - caught him. They heard him roar right away in Cheltenham.
He never goes near Birdlip Hill now!'"
From "The Folklore of the Cotswolds" - Katharine M. Briggs (1974 Batsford).
"Until the mid-19th century the Titterstone Wake was held on the hill every last Sunday in August. Young women 'fine stand-up handsome wenches they were', would meet up with their menfolk and indulge in games such as the beguilingly named 'Kiss-in-the-ring'."
From "Shropshire - An Archaeological Guide" Michael Watson (2002 Shropshire Books).
This site comes free with "interesting" faux-medieval Casio keyboard soundtrack.
Folklore associated with the White Rocks on Garway Hill:
"These boulders, some of Whetstone* proportions, lie scattered in a little valley near the top of Garway Hill, where they were dropped by the Devil. The story is that 'The Devil was helping Jack [O'Kent, a local wizard] to stop up the weir, at Orcop Hill, in order to make a fishpool. But as the Devil was coming over Garway Hill, his apron strings broke, and down fell all the stones he was carrying. Then the cock crew, and he had to go home, so there are the stones to this day.'"
From "Stone Spotting in Herefordshire" - Jonathan Sant (2000 Moondial), quoting "Folk-lore of Herefordshire" - E. M. Leather (1912).
A very obliging Devil who helps make fishpools. And a pretty poor one who has to go home when the cock crows. Perhaps his mum had his breakfast ready? Mind you, this seems to be a very common occurence - a search of TMA for "Devil's Lap" produces numerous similar tales of broken apron strings and dropped stones. A bad workman always blames his tools (or his sweat-shop made clothes), eh?
*The Whetstone is natural boulder on Hergest Ridge near Kington, which also has associated folklore.
In"On The Ancient British, Roman, and Saxon Antiquities and Folk-Lore of Worcestershire" 2nd ed (1852), Jabez Allies includes an entire chapter on the stone, including entymology of the name and a woodcut. He refers to a reference to the site in Laird's "Topographical and Historical Description of Worcestershire" (1814), which gives the opinion:
"Near the Prospect House, is Bramsbury Stone, an immense mass of rock, but of which there is no traditionary account; and which is, most likely, merely a natural production, without any reference to ancient events."
It is shown on Dr Nash's plan of the camp (1781) and on Greenwood's map (1820).
Allies gives a full description of the stone, which also mentions a line of other stones, nearly aligned with the Bambury Stone (as shown in his woodcut).
He concludes the chapter as follows:
"From all that has been said, and considering that Ambreley, Amberley, Ambresbury, and Ambury [as in Croft Ambrey ], are common names of old earth works all over the kingdom, it appears more than probable that Amber Stones stood at such places in primitive times, which gave the names thereto; and that the Banbury or Bambury Stone or Rock in Kemerton Camp, otherwise Bambury Camp, on the top of Bredon Hill, was one of these Ambrosiae Petrae, or Amber Stones, dedicated to the Sun by the Celtic Druids, either in imitation or independently of the form of worship of the Amonians, Phoenecians, or Tyrians. This would, if so, tend to confirm my idea that the Kemerton Camp is ancient British, although afterwards occupied by the Romans, Saxons, and Danes."
Not sure if any of this helps the question of "disputed antiquity" in any way shape or form!
A small bubble-burst regarding the Ethelbert story:
"Around AD25, the ramparts were raised and the huts rebuilt on the same layout. Then, as Roman power extended into the area in the middle of the first century AD, a grisly episode in the history of the settlement occurred. As the Roman army advanced, the ditch at the western entrance was hurriedly recut. Immediately afterwards, many battle-scarred bodies -some of which were decapitated - were thrown into the ditch and covered with a layer of soil. It seems the Romans, under Ostorius Scapula, attacked the settlement, massacred the inhabitants and pulled down the defences over them.
Excavation has revealed no evidence of Saxon occupation to support the folk-tale that Sutton Walls was the site of one of Offa's palaces. The story of Ethelbert's bloody murder may represent a hazy folk-memory of of the actual slaughter which took place there many centuries earlier, though recent work has suggested that Offa may have had a palace at Freens Court, just below the ramparts of Sutton Walls*."
From "Prehistoric Sites of Herefordshire" - George Children and George Nash (1994 Logaston Press).
*On the 1:25000 OS at SO521458 there is a "moat" near Freens Court Farm, not sure if this is relevant.
"The Lady Well
This well has now been tanked and there is a small reservoir. It is beside an old stretch of track on the footpath leading east from St Anna's church.
The well is said to have been the source of water for Wall Hills hill fort. There was supposedly a secret tunnel from a pair of yew trees formerly on the edge of the camp all the way to the yew that still overshadows the well."
From "The Healing Wells of Herefordshire" - Jonathan Sant (1994 Moondial).
The well is not marked on the OS 1:25000, but the work above gives the NGR as SO6262 5962.
Showing 1-20 of 29 folklore posts. Most recent first | Next 20
"The fleeting hour of life of those who love the hills is quickly spent, but the hills are eternal. Always there will be the lonely ridge, the dancing beck, the silent forest; always there will be the exhilaration of the summits. These are for the seeking, and those who seek and find while there is still time will be blessed both in mind and body." Alfred Wainwright