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Capesthorne Park (Round Barrow(s)) — Folklore

Here's a romantic thing. It's not got anything directly to do with the barrow. But it does relate to what is immediately beneath the hill with the barrow, one of the famous Cheshire meres. They're quite strange things, the meres and mosses. They make for quite a peculiar landscape with their bogginess and dark pools ringed by vegetation. You'll remember Lindow Man, the Iron Age 'bog body', also from Cheshire. So these places had significance for our ancestors.

And this particular mere has a legend of a floating island, which strikes me as rather Arthurian. It seems that it features in Alan Garner's 'Moon of Gomrath' (though I'd forgotten this, call yourself a fan eh Rhiannon).

There must be a better source than the touristy Murray's Handbook for Shropshire, Cheshire and Lancashire (1870) but for now it'll do.
A country legend accounts for the floating island by a story, that a certain knight was jealous of his lady-love, and vowed not to look upon her face until the island moved on the face of the mere. But he fell sick and was nigh to death, when he was nursed back to health by the lady, to reward whose constancy a tremendous hurricane tore the island up by the roots.
Despite the modern scepticism of some, there really was a floating island. As the Journal of the Architectural, Archaeological and Historic Society of Chester (vol 2, 1862) says:
We have in one of our Meres - Redesmere - a floating island. It is a mass of peat moss, about two statute acres in extent; its outer edge carries a belt of alder and birch trees (some twenty yards wide), some of the trees being twenty feet high and a foot in diameter. The interior is formed of a mass of long grass, cranberry, bog myrtle, and heather, all matted together. It requires a flood and wind from a particular point to move it from its usual position; but occasionally, when retained in deep water till the flood subsides, a very slight wind is sufficient to make it shift its position, and it has done so, the Rev. R. Heptinstall informs me, three times in one day. It has now been stationary about two years, and it requires some depth of water in the Mere to allow it to move say a distance of one-third by a quarter of a mile.
How superb. If I had a lake I would definitely want a floating island in it.

Whitley Church (Enclosure) — Links

Stocksbridge and District History Society


This page has photos of Wharncliffe Crags, a recent sculpture of the dragon, and the dark gap in the looming crags that was the dragon's den.

Whitley Church (Enclosure) — Folklore

A description of the supposed scene of the ballad, which was communicated to the Editor in 1767, is here given in the words of the relater:

"In Yorkshire, six miles from Rotherham, is a village called Wortley, the seat of the late Wortley Montague, Esq. About a mile from this village is a lodge, named Warncliff-lodge, but vulgarly called Wantley: here lies the scene of the song. I was there above forty years ago; and it being a woody rocky place, my friend made me clamber over rocks and stones, not telling me to what end, till I came to a sort of a cave; then asked my opinion of the place, and pointing to one end says, Here lay the dragon killed by Moor of Moor-hall; here lay his hea; here lay his tail; and the stones we came over on the hill, are those he could not crack; and yon white house you see half a mile off, is Moor-hall. I had dined at the lodge, and knew the man's name was Matthew, who was a keeper to Mr. Wortley, and, as he endeavoured to persuade me, was the same Matthew mentioned in the song: in the house is the picture of the dragon and Moor of Moor-hall; and near it a well, which, says he, is the well described in the ballad."
The ballad is here in Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. It's a humorous take on old ballads of chivalry, and the dragon tries to put off Moor of Moor-hall (in his Sheffield steel armour) by firing dung* at him. But Moor is not deterred and kills him with a kick up the behind, or Arse, as it actually says in the poem (*and worse). The first edition of 'Reliques' was published in 1765.

Scutchamer Knob (Artificial Mound) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Scutchamer Knob</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Scutchamer Knob (Artificial Mound) — Folklore

For the most part, this venerable way is deserted save for an occasional shepherd or a solitary farm labourer returning home from work. Silent and lonely, it pursues its course over height and into hollow: now stretching away in a generous curve sharply defined by a bank on either side, now scarcely to be distinguished from the surounding turf.

At intervals are earthworks that guard it and barrows that keep watch. Round one of the latter, familiarly called the "Knob," not a few curious legends have gathered. Some distance below the old road there runs, also from east to west, a military ditch and vallum, and the story goes that the devil, having a fancy to turn ploughman, cleft this mighty furrow along the hillside. When he arrived opposite the spot where the barrow now stands, his ploughshare became clogged; he halted to clean it, and the soil which he scraped off he tossed over the Ridgeway in a heap to be known henceforth as the Knob. There is a lavishness about this proceeding which can only be properly appreciated by those who have seen the mound and the Devil's Dyke. The tale was told to me by a native of the district who had heard it when a boy, from the older labourers working on his father's farm.

Local opinion however, differed on the subject. While some people believed the Knob was due to His Satanic Majesty's industry, others posessing more education, maintained it was a genuine tumulus raised above the body of Cwichelm, king of the West Saxons; and yet a third party claimed that it was composed of the bodies of this king's soldiers, slain hereabouts in some great battle. So prevalent was this last belief that the owner of the land, who was a thrifty soul, cut into the mound and drew off several hundred loads of soil under the impression that it contained valuable fertilising qualities.

The informant to whom I am indebted for the above traditions, well remembers seeing the farm carts coming and going on their foolish errand, and the sensation created in the neighbourhood by this wanton destruction of the barrow. Its poor remains can still be viewed - a monument no longer of a dead chieftain or his forgotten host, but of man's credulity and ignorance.

When I first knew the Knob, it was surmounted by an enormous scaffold of fir-poles - now fallen into decay - which I fondly believed had been erected in honour of the Wessex leader. It was really the work of the Ordnance Department, having been built for triangulation purposes, and the knowledge of this fact, that I learnt later, destroyed much of the mystery with which I had invested the spot.
From Travels Round Our Village by Eleanor G Hayden (1902).

Creigiau Eglwyseg (Round Barrow(s)) — Folklore

On the north-west I was much struck with the singular appearance of a vast rock, called Craig Eglwyseg, or the Eagle's rock, from the tradition of some eagles having formerly had their aerie here. Leland seems to have mistaken this for the rock, on which the castle stands, where he says, "there bredith every yere an egle. And the egle doth sorely assault hym that destroyeth the nest; goying down in one basket, and having another over his hedde, to defend the sore stripe of the egle."

For more than half a mile this rock lies stratum upon stratum in such manner, as to form a kind of steps, parallel with the horizon, which the naturalists call Saxa sedilia. The inhabitants of Llangollen say, that somewhere about this rock is an opening, from whence there is a long arched passage under ground, supposed to lead to the castle. I scarcely gave any credit to this report, for I could not, upon enquiry, hear of any person who had seen it, or who could tell whereabouts it was.
The castle is Castell Dinas Bran. From A Tour Round North Wales performed during the summer of 1798, by the Rev. W. Bingley.

Maen Morddwyd (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

I noticed that elsewhere on the internet people say the stone was in a different church, St Nidan's in Llanidan. So I started wondering why I'd thought the church at Llanedwen. But there's definitely books that mention it. This is from 'The history of Wales' by John Jones (1824). Mr Rowland died in 1723 - he was the vicar at both Llanidan and Llanedwen, which makes for more confusion.
Llanedwen.
Near this place, on the banks of the Menai, is the greatest Cromlech in Anglesey, and supposed to be an altar on which the Druids offered to the Sun the sacrifice of human victims. The church of Llanedwen is said to have been erected in A.D. 640 - about A.D. 1440 would be nearer the truth. The Rev. Mr. Rowland, author of the Mona Antiqua, lies buried here, under a tomb-stone of Anglesey black slab, bearing a Latin inscription, written by himself.

The wandering stone, Maen Morddwyd, is secured in the wall of this church, and deprived of its locomotive impositions.
A History of the Island of Mona, or Anglesey, by Angharad Llwyd (1833), suggests the Llanedwen church, since it mentions nearby Porthamel. And why would you say that if you meant Llanidan - I'd just say Llanidan?
Thus "Maen Morddwyd" (concerning which there has been so many marvellous stories related) "is now well secured in the wall of the church," at Porthamel, not far from Llanidan, famed for being the place where Suetonius landed, in 61.
The Latin of this note has been translated as follows:
Here also, in the church-yard wall, the thigh stone, commonly called Maen Morddwydd, which has been so curiously and largely described by Giraldus Cambrensis, obtained a place for itself a long time ago; but of late years it was pulled off and carried away, either by some papist or other, or by some ignorant person, (its miraculous virtue not displaying itself as formerly, having entirely languished or exhausted itself by age,) with no loss indeed to the place, nor any gain to him who took it away.
The thing is, just before this excerpt, the church of St Aidan is specifically mentioned - that's the other church! But I can't work out what this document is or who wrote it? Everything is so contradictory. Pennant's Tour In Wales is from 1770 and also says the stone is at Llanidan. But did he really go there, or is he just reporting the legend? I sense the parish name vs the specific church confusion arising again.

But at least here's some straightforward folklore. Here (on page 136) in the National Library of Wales journal, there is an extra bit of the Itinerary translated. It's not included in the other translations I've seen, possibly for reasons of rudeness this time. The original latin can be seen here. It says:
If a lustful act be committed near the stone it immediately breaks into sweat. So, too, if a man and woman commit adultery there. If intercourse be had nearby no conception follows, and so the cottage that once stood there has fallen into ruin and the fateful stone alone remains.
Geraldus's 13th century Itinerary reads somewhat like the Fortean Times, it's full of bizarre stuff and you wonder if any of it was true. But the idea that an actual stone existed seems to stick. I can't see any reports of people who've actually looked for it on the church or churchyard walls. But judging by the pages on the 21st century internet, people still want it to be there.

Maen Ceti (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Folklore

There seem to be a lot of water in the vicinity, what with the water under the stone being 'seldom dry', and the same book mentions springs dedicated to St. George and the Blessed Virgin in nearby Reynoldston. This is something about the holy well just to the south of Maen Ceti.
There is also on Cefn y Brynn a remarkable Well, called Holy Well, a very copious Spring, which has the remains of Antiquity about its square Inclosure: Tradition hands down its celebrity for great cures, and it has been customary for the adjacent Neighbourhood to resort to it on Sunday Evenings to drink its water, and pay the tribute of throwing in a pin.
A topographical dictionary of the dominion of Wales (1811).

The Humber Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

More from the Gentleman's Magazine of 1813 (pt1., pp. 318-19).
There are, or rather were, about fifty years ago, traditionary tales in the village that a nunnery once stood on Hoston; and that steps had been found communicating subterraneously with the monks of Leicester Abbey, about two miles distant. But no religious house of this kind is to be traced here. [...]

Some years ago it was believed that fairies inhabited, or at least frequented, this stone; and various stories were told concerning these pigmy beings. Such, according to the testimony of Borlase, in his "History of Cornwall," is the common opinion respecting the many druidical stones in that county. This belief was so strongly attached to the Hostone-stone, that some years ago a person visiting it alone, fancied he heard it utter a deep groan; and he immediately ran away to some labourers, about two hundred yards distant, terrified with the apprehension of seeing one of the wonderful fairy inhabitants.

In the adjoining vale, at the distance of about one hundred yards from the stone, on the north-east, is a plot of ground known, before the inclosure of the lordship, by the name of "Hell-hole Furlong." No circumstance belonging at present to the spot seems likely to have given rise to this strange name: it leaves room therefore for the conjecture that in this quarter the sacrifices, too often human, were wont to be performed [...]
If you insist.

Thursley Common (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

Devil's Jumps at Thursley.
[1799, Part II, p. 921.]

Thursley, or Thirsley, is an extensive parish in the county of Surrey and hundred of Godalming. The village is mean and straggling, standing in a dry, healthy situation, pleasant in summer, but, from its high, unsheltered situation, exposed to the north-east winds, very cold in winter. On the heaths between Thursley and Frinsham are three remarkable conic-shaped hills, called the "Devil's Three Jumps," the eastern hill (or jump) being the largest in circumference and height, the centre hill the least and lowest. They are composed of a hard rock, barely covered with a light black mould, which gives a scanty nourishment to moss and stunted heath. Their bases are nearly surrounded by a foss, which in some places appears to be artificial. In the fosses are constant springs of water, which assist in forming near them a large piece of water called Abbot's Pond, formerly part of the possessions of the neighbouring abbey of Waverly.

The country people, particularly the aged, relate many tales of these eminences, and hold them in a kind of awful reverence (the revels of the fairies yet linger in the tales of the aged rustick). It was formerly customary for the country-people on Whit-Tuesday to assemble on the top of the eastern hill to dance and make merry.
From a collection of articles from the Gentleman's Magazine, published 1883.

Tolmen Stone (Constantine) (Natural Rock Feature) — Folklore

This remarkable monument deserves more than a passing notice. The large mass of rock pointed north and south, and it used to be remarked by the quarrymen that about Midsummer the rays of the rising and setting sun poured straight through the passage under the rock; in reality the mass rested on a single point on the southern side. The apparently northern supports were not in contact with the large mass, as was often shewn by passing a thin cord between it and them. The northern rock on which it apparently partly rested was a long slab resting on other large rock masses piled on each other, but quite detached from the hill.

When a crow-bar was inserted under the Tolmen south of its main support, a few persistent efforts would cause the whole mass to vibrate. The northern end being much narrower, the rock projected in that direction, and the equilibrium would be in danger of being destroyed but for the peculiar arrangement above described; for the viabrating mass as it dipped north tilted up the long slab, which was in a line with the longer axis and thus acted as an equipoise. It is impossible to conceive that this arrangement was altogether natural. In all probability a natural confirmation of the rocks was taken advantage of to produce a desired result.

The Men Rock itself and those about it were covered in a remarkable way with deep rock basins. Other large monuments in the vicinity show evident marks of being artificially shaped.
Midsummer sun alignment... an arrangement impossible to conceive of as natural... I put it down to the druids myself. This is from A compendium of the history of Cornwall by J H Collins (1890).

Trencrom Hill (Hillfort) — Folklore

Having already carried off the top of the neighbouring hill of Trencrom, to make the Mount [St Michael's Mount] itself, Cormoran was in want of further stones wherewith to build his castle, and sent his wife to fetch them from the same place. She, thinking (womanlike) that any other stone would do as well, fetched this one from the nearer hill of Ludgvan-lees. Angry at her conduct, the monster slew her with his mighty foot, and the great rock rolled from her apron and fell where we see it now [Chapel Rock]; a silent witness to the lady's strength and to the truth of the narrative.
From which I suppose we can conclude that the giant Cormoran thought Trencrom Hill had extremely good stone. And confusion about this merited murder. Or something. Anyway, I'd not heard this before, and it's from Thurston C Peter's 'Notes on St Michael's Mount' in the Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall, v14 (1899-90).

Ty Illtyd (Chambered Tomb) — Links

Google Books


A page from the RCAHMS's Inventory of Ancient Monuments in Brecknock, showing a diagram of the various incised marks on one of the stones.

Carmel (Cairn(s)) — Folklore

The three cairns here are close to Llyn Llech Owen. 'Llech' is a slab of rock. So indulge me with this stone-related folklore of the lake.
In 1884 I took [the tradition] down from my grandfather, Mr. Rees Thomas (b. 1809, d 1892), of Cil Coll, Llandebie - a very intelligent man, with a good fund of old-world Welsh lore - who had lived all his life in the neighbouring parishes of Llandeilo Fawr and Llandebie.

The following is the version of the story (translated) as I had it from him: - There was once a man of the name of Owen living on Mynydd Mawr, and he had a well ('fynnon'). Over this well he kept a large flag ('fflagen neu lech fawr': 'fflagen' is the word in common use now in these parts for a large flat stone), which he was always careful to replace over its mouth after he had satisfied himself or his beast with water. It happened, however, that one day he went on horseback to the well to water his horse, and forgot to put the flag back in its place. He rode off leisurely in the direction of his home; but, after he had gone some distance, he casually looked back, and, to his great astonishment, saw that the well had burst out and was overflowing the whole place.

He suddenly bethought him that he should ride back and encompass the overflow of the wate as fast as he could; and it was the horse's track in galloping round the water that put a stop to its further overflowing. It is fully believed that, had he not galloped round the flood in the way he did, the well would have been sure to inundate the whole district and drown all. Hence the lake was called the Lake of Owen's Flag ('Llyn Llech Owen').
As Mr Rhys explains, this is a similar story to one explaining the formation of Lough Neagh in Ireland - it also has an overflowing well and a magic horse.

From his article on Sacred Wells in Wales, in The Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, 1892-3.

Carnanmore (Passage Grave) — Miscellaneous

A fatiguing scramble, and the top of Carnanmore - 1,254 feet - is reached. As indicated by the name, this mountain has on its summit a "great carn," considerable remains of which are still to be seen. It is to be feared, however, that much of it has been erected into very matter-of-fact stone ditches, to mark the boundaries of "my Lord's" estate. The remaining portions are well worthy of examination.

The northern side seems to have been partially removed, thus exposing a large chamber of unhewn stones; part of a covering of larger slabs still remains in position, while others lie scattered about. It is probable the carn was erected to commemorate some great victory, or mark the burial place of some powerful chief, whose name and deeds are alike long forgotten.

Though the carn is itself a monument of antiquity, one at least of the stones used in its construction belongs to a more distant period still. On its upper surface, but almost defaced by long exposure, are several cuplike depression, evidently of human workmanship. Were these the only marks upon the stone they might easily have been overlooked; but, on the under side of the slab, which can fortunately be seen by a person entering the chamber above referred to, many more perfect hollows, arranged in something like order, are quite perceptible. The present position of the stone is certainly not that which it occupied when the depressions were cut, as many of those on the under side are now entirely out of reach.
This is from the Annual Reports and Proceedings of the Belfast Naturalists' Field Club for 1879/80. You can see the NISMR here.

Emain Macha (Henge) — Folklore

I spotted this in 'The Age of the Saints' by William Copeland Borlase (1893).
Between Armagh and the Navan Fort (the ancient Emain of the romances), beside an ancient paved track, is a famous rag-well sacred to St. Patrick. When we visited it a few years since the thorns which spread over it were literally covered with strips of cloth of all colours and of all ages, from a rotten tatter to one affixed that very day. In Ireland the idea present to the mind in offering rags seems to be that the particular disease should be left behind with the shred. Mr Windle* has preserved the following ritual words: 'Air impide an Tiarna mo cuid teinis do fhagaint air an ait so,' meaning 'By the intercession of the Lord I leave my portion of illness on this place.' The original idea of votive offerings became inseparable from the sequel that with the presentation of the sacrifice the object for which it was made was gained [sic].

*MSS. R.I. Acad. 15. Cork East and West, p. 852. Again, he says, 'Rags are not offerings or votive. They are riddances. Thus, you have a headache: you take a shred and place it on the tree, and with it you place the headache there.' Ibid. 16. Topography of Desmond, p. 802.
The well is indeed about half-way between Armagh and the fort, on a direct and old road. Today it's amidst a housing estate called St Patrick's Park and the view on Google Maps makes it look very neglected. But when the houses were built it was excavated. There's a photo on the NISMR that shows a digger going round it- the archaeological report from the time says 'the builders showed the utmost respect for the well and particularly its 'fairy thorn'. It also says that it was traditionally visited on the feast of St Peter and St Paul, the 29th June. So that's interesting, that it's not about St Patrick himself. And so the report tentatively suggests a pre-christian connection, what with the day being close to the solstice. But who knows.

Anyway I post this in the hope that someone might like to visit it if they were at Navan Fort - they have an interpretation centre there with a roundhouse, and who can resist a real life roundhouse.

Auchenlaich Cairn (Chambered Cairn) — Links

ADS


'Claish, Stirling: an early Neolithic structure in its context', in Proc. Soc. Antiq. Scot. v132 (2002).

Page 114 of the article has a section by S M Foster and J B Stevenson on the "extraordinary monument" of the cairn.

Giant's Grave (Holcombe) (Long Barrow) — Links

Internet Archive


'Records by Spade and Terrier' by the Rev. J.D.C. Whickham. You can read about the excavations of the Giant's Ground in 1909.

Spetisbury Rings (Hillfort) — Links

British Museum


The bronze cauldron in colour.

Spetisbury Rings (Hillfort) — Images

<b>Spetisbury Rings</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Badbury Rings (Hillfort) — Miscellaneous

A.D. 901.
This year died Alfred, the son of Ethelwulf, six nights before the mass of All Saints. He was king over all the English nation, except that part that was under the power of the Danes. He held the government one year and a half less than thirty winters; and then Edward his son took to the government.

Then Prince Ethelwald, the son of his paternal uncle, rode against the towns of Winburn and of Twineham, without leave of the king and his council. Then rode the king with his army; so that he encamped the same night at Badbury near Winburn; and Ethelwald remained within the town with the men that were under him, and had all the gates shut upon him, saying, that he would either live or there die. But in the meantime he stole away in the night, and sought the army in Northumberland. The king gave orders to ride after him; but they were not able to overtake him. The Danes, however, received him as their king.
Mention of Badbury in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. 901 was a bit frantic. Winburn is called Wimborne today, and Twineham is Christchurch.

Llyn Ogwen (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Folklore

The failure of the wrong person to secure [treasure] is illustrated by a story given by Mr. Derfel Hughes in his Antiquities of Llangedai and Llanllechid, pp. 35-6, to the effect that a servant man, somewhere up among the mountains near Ogwen Lake, chanced to come across the mouth of a cave with abundance of vessels of brass (pres) of every shape and description within it.

He went at once and seized one of them, but, alas! it was too heavy for him to stir it. So he resolved to go away and return early on the morrow with a friend to help him; but before going he closed the mouth of the cave with stones and sods so as to leave it safe. While thus engaged he remembered having heard how others had like him found caves and failed to refind them. He could procure nothing readily that would satisfy him as a mark, so it occurred to him to dot his path with the chippings of his stick, which he whittled all the way as he went back until he came to a familiar track: the chips were to guide him back to the cave.

So when the morning came he and his friend set out, but when they reached the point where the chips should begin, not one was to be seen: the Tylwyth Teg had picked up every one of them. So that discovery of articles of brass - more probably bronze - was in vain.

But, says the writer, it is not fated to be always in vain, for there is a tradition in the valley that it is a Gwydel, 'Goidel, Irishman,' who is to have these treasures, and that it will happen in this wise:--

A Gwydel will come to the neighbourhood to be a shepherd, and one day when he goes up the mountain to see to the sheep, just when it pleases the fates a black sheep with a speckled head will run before him and make straight for the cave: the sheep will go in, with the Gwydel in pursuit trying to catch him. When the Gwydel enters he sees the treasures, looks at them with surprise, and takes possession of them; and thus, in some generation to come, the Gwydyl will have their own restored to them.
Ancient bronze objects in Celtic Folklore, Welsh and Manx by John Rhys (1901).

Old Oswestry (Hillfort) — Miscellaneous

Leland came here in the 1530s:
Hene Dinas a quarter of a mile out of Oswestre north-west. The toune or castelle of Hene Dinas standith apon a rounde hillet aboute half a mile in cumpace. Ther be iii. greate diches in the botom of the hillet cumpasing it, and in the toppe of the hille now grow great treas of oke. The commune people say that ther was a cite withyn those ditches. I think rather a campe of men of war, wheras perventure was the campe when Penda and Oswaldes did fight. There is a nother hillet of caste yerth bytwixt it and Oswester not far from Dinas self.
It always has to be about fighting when it comes to you men doesn't it. Or so it seems. The nother hillet I assume is the little wooded bump between the fort and Oswestry, on the line of Wat's Dyke. I'd have liked to have seen all the oke treas up there.
From John Leland's Itinerary In Wales.

Old Oswestry (Hillfort) — Links

Past Horizons


George Nash talks about the 'Pegasus Stone', found in 2008 near the currently beleaguered fort. It's a raised carving of a horse and could be from the Iron Age / Romano-British era...

(tipped off from the Heritage Journal's mention of a seminar in Oswestry on the 22nd February)

The Hole Stone (Holed Stone) — Links

Out and About with Joe Graham


Mr Graham standing with the stone on its rocky mound.

The Hole Stone (Holed Stone) — Miscellaneous

On a rocky eminence in the townland of Ballyvernish, about one mile from the village of Doagh, stands a whinstone slab, called the Holestone. This stone is upwards of five feet in height above the ground, and near the base six feet eight inches in circumference, and ten inches in thickness. At about three feet from the ground there is a round hole perforated through it, sufficient to admit a common-sized hand; it has evidently been made by art, but there is neither record nor tradition respecting the purpose for which it was erected, nor by whom.

About thirty years ago a man put his hand through the aperture of this stone, but was unable to extricate it; on which, those who were with him gave the alarm, and a crowd was soon collected, whose conflicting opinions only served to increase the fears of the person in limbo.

Amongst those assembled, was a Mr. O---, a resident in the neighbourhood, who seeing so much needless alarm, determined to be a little waggish upon this occasion. "Fly," said he, to a by-stander, "for my powder-horn, and I'll soon free him; I'll blow up the stone in an instant!" At these words, the confusion and alarm of the multitude beggars all description, while the cries of the prisoner, which had hitherto been sunk in the noise, became piercing in the extreme.

During the confusion, the gentleman had sent off privately for some vinegar, and on the return of the messenger, with it, he began to pacify the prisoner, and to bathe his hand, which had become swelled in the various attempts made to get it extricated; and he at length succeeded in effecting his liberation, without application to the dreaded powder horn. [..]

S. M'S.
Carrickfergus
From The Dublin Penny Journal, April 20th, 1833.

Interesting that there's no mention of any betrothal traditions - in fact quite the opposite!

The Hole Stone (Holed Stone) — Images

<b>The Hole Stone</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Greengraves (Portal Tomb) — Miscellaneous

A visit to the stones two hundred years ago. The superstitious may want to infer something from the horse's reticence. But I think we need a proper experiment with a range of horses and control stones before we leap to any conclusions.
It will gratify any person, who, from a motive of curiosity, can turn a little aside (about a quarter of a mile,) from the thoroughfare of business, to see a CROMLECH, or stone of worship, on the right hand of the road leading from Belfast to Newtownards, at a place called Green-Graves, and about a mile and a half from Dundonald, (so named, probably, from the sepulchral mount adjacent, the mount of Donald, a chieftain resting under it).

This Cromlech, consisting of one large rock, supported on five others, smaller in size, two in front, of a wedge shape at top, and a third lying across the remaining two, upon which, and the two front supporters, the great stone majestically reposes, in an inclined position, as is generally the case, in this druidical monument.

Though perhaps not the largest of many to be seen in different parts of Ireland, it certainly, on a near approach to it, has a respectable, not to say a sublime, aspect; particularly when accompanied with the ideas of great antiquity, great power in the construction, and a great obscurity respecting its original destination.

My Rozinante, who thinks as little of the past as he does of the future, and is now come to a time of life when he can no longer boast of any nice sensibilities, no sooner came within sight of the sloping stone, than, by pricking up his ears, and a sudden start, he roundly declared, that he had never met with such a thing in the whole course of his life; nor could my repeated assurances, that it was nothing but a stone, (such as Fin Mac Coul might have worn in his ring,) induce him to cross an imaginary circle, which kept him at an awful and admiring distance.

The Duke de Vendomes used to say, that in all the disputes he had seen between the mule and the muleteer, and he had seen many hundreds, the mule was always right in the argument, and his driver in the wrong. In the present instance, I confess, I thought my beast was entirely and obstinately in the wrong, but I conceded the point to him, and allowed him to graze at the distance he thought most agreeable. [...]

A.
From The Belfast Monthly Magazine, August 1812.

Stonehenge (Stone Circle) — Miscellaneous

For many, many years past, hundreds of Wiltshire people, and even strangers to the county, have made a pilgrimage to Stonehenge to see the sun rise on the 'longest day,' when, standing on the supposed 'altar stone,' the sun, immediately on rising, appears over the apex of the large 'lion stone,' which stands at a considerable distance from the outer circle on the Amesbury road.

Scores of persons started from Salisbury in vehicles of various kinds on Tuesday night; others 'tramped' it to and fro - eight miles each way - and slept beneath a rag under the shelter of the magic stones. Up to midnight the sky was bright and clear, and then a heavy mist and lowering clouds appeared, the result being that the 'pilgrims' - many of them footsore and weary - returned home to be heartily laughed at.

The above appeared in the Western Gazette of June 23, and is worthy of a nook in your columns.
H. Glover Rayner. Southampton.
Just to demonstrate that nothing much changes. Notes and Queries (1882) s6-VI (132): 26.

Roseberry Topping (Sacred Hill) — Folklore

Towards the weste there stands a highe hill called Roseberry Toppinge, which is a marke to the seamen, and an almanacke to the vale, for they have this ould ryme common,
"When Roseberrye Toppinge weares a cappe
Let Cleveland then beware a clappe."

For indeede yt seldome hath a cloude on yt that some yll weather shortly followes yt not, when not farre from thence on a mountayne's syde there are cloudes almoste contynually smoakinge, and therfore called the Divell's Kettles, which notwithstandinge prognostycate neither good nor badde.

That is for shappe, scyte, and many raryties, more excellent then any that I have seene; yt hath somtymes had a hermitage on yt, and a small smith's forge cut out of the rocke, together with a clefte or cut in the rocke called St. Winifryd's Needle, whither blynde devotyon led many a syllie soule, not without hazard of a breaknecke tumblinge caste, while they attempted to put themselves to a needlesse payne creepyng through that neede's eye.

Out of the toppe of a huge stone neere the toppe of the hille drops a fountaine which cureth sore eyes, receavinge that vertue from the minerall.
From a letter by 'H. Tr.' to Sir Thomas Chaloner (so possibly from around 1600?), printed in v2 of the Topographer and Genealogist, 1853.

Conjuring Stone (Natural Rock Feature) — Folklore

Who knows if this stone is still here. Or indeed whether it might be legitimate TMA fare. But let's be optimistic. It's a big stone with magical connotations. It's named at this grid reference on some old maps. And now it might be too tucked away for anyone at the manor (now a hotel) to be worrying about.
A field adjoining the site of the mansion is still known by the name of Chapel-garth. A short distance from Chapel-garth in a hollow place, is a large stone called the "conjuring stone." In the days of superstition and witches, a troubled ghost supposed to be

'Doom'd for a certain time to walk the night,
And for the day confin'd to fast in fires;
Till the foul crimes done in his days of nature
Were burnt and purged away,"*

frequented this lonely spot and the neighbouring road and so terrified the natives, that it was deemed necessary for the peace of the town and the comfort of the "poor ghost" to ease it of its troubles by the aid of the priest, who after various ceremonies, exorcised the spirit and fastened it down with what is now designated, the "conjuring stone" which remains to the present day.
From Vallis Eboracensis by Thomas Gill (1852).

(*this is a quote from Hamlet)

Jug's Grave (Cairn(s)) — Images

<b>Jug's Grave</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Jug's Grave</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Prophet Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — Folklore

Another group of barrows on Lake Down used to be called the Prophets' Barrows, not from supposed prophets buried in them, but on account of a company of Hugenots, exiles from their native land, who in 1710 set up a standard on the largest of the group - a huge flat-topped mound - and preached from it to the country people, who named them the French Prophets.

It is interesting to think of the grave voice of the coming Methodism lifted up here in this large down country, where there is little to distract the mind from the great issues of life; with Stonehenge on the one hand and the spire on the other. The preachers are said to have roused the listening crowds to enthusiasm, but what abiding impression they made is not told.

According to Aubrey, on the downs, where the shepherds labour hard, the people have not "leisure to contemplate of religion, but goe to bed to their rest, to rise betime the next morning to their labour." Whereas in North Wiltshire "(a dirty, clayey country) where the people feed chiefly on milk meates, which cooles their braines too much," they "are more apt to be fanatiques."
Aubrey should have known, he was born in North Wiltshire. From 'Salisbury Plain' by Ella Noyes (1913).

Cley Hill (Hillfort) — Images

<b>Cley Hill</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Sherrington Motte (Artificial Mound) — Images

<b>Sherrington Motte</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Sherrington Motte</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Sherrington Motte (Artificial Mound) — Fieldnotes

Moss recently posted a link to Jim Leary’s paper on the Marlborough Mound. Towards the end of it there is a section discussing ‘other potential prehistoric mounds in Wessex and beyond’. Sherrington motte is picked out as very promising, ‘given its low lying setting next to the river Wylye and with springs nearby [it] is surely a contender for a Late Neolithic mound.’ So today, encouraged by what feels like this year’s first view of the sun, my sister and I made a visit.

We parked just opposite the Codford turnoff on the A36 and walked down the narrow lane towards the River Wylye. As you may have noticed, it’s been raining a bit recently, and the ditch along the side of the path was full and running swiftly. Running over the chalk the water is so beautifully clear. Growing up amidst quite different geology, I always think chalk streams are rather magical. The Wylye always strikes me as rather magical, weaving about so cleanly in its valley.

After you nip across the railway line, the footpath is obvious and bends round a couple of amazing houses. One had swans lounging in the garden - the river was up an absurd amount. This became very obvious when the two of us had to cross a footbridge across it, barely above the water. Here the river wasn’t clear at all, it was murky and speeding rather scarily.

To see the mound, go into the churchyard. It’s on the far side of a seemingly still ‘moat’ though with restricted access it’s hard to see how the water connects up with all the rest round here, but the river's very close. I imagine there’s a little more water in the moat than usual at the moment. Leary’s article says the mound is 48m in diameter and 5.5m high, adding encouragingly that ‘mottes are quite rare in Wiltshire.'

I’m sure you would also like the painted Jacobean wall texts in the dinky church of St. Cosmas and St. Damian immediately opposite, while you're there. And back at Codford St. Peter there is a superb bit of Saxon stone carving. It was a very nice stroll. There are some more photos of the mound on Paul Remfry’s website here. He says the moat is full of water all year round (which at least in the present would be in contrast to the situation at Silbury and Marlborough).

Mynydd Carn-y-cefn (Cairn(s)) — Folklore

I know. This is probably the weirdest fairy story on TMA now. But it was good enough for Wirt Sikes and his British Goblins, so it's good enough for me. The Coblynau are Welsh mine fairies, so maybe they're what William Evans saw. Maybe.
W.E. of Hafodafel, going a journey upon the Beacon Mountain, very early in the morning, passed by the perfect likeness of a Coal Race, where really there was none; there he saw many people busy; - some cutting the coal - some carrying it to fill the sacks - some rising the loads upon the horses' backs, &c. - This was an Agency of the Fairies upon his visive faculty, and it was a wonderful extra natural thing, and made a considerable impression upon his mind. He was of undoubted veracity, - a great man in the world, - and above telling an untruth. The power of Spirits, both good and bad, is very great, not having the weight of bodies to in-cumber and hinder their agility.
From A Relation of Apparitions of Spirits in the County of Monmouth and the Principality of Wales by Rev. Edmund Jones (1813).

Blowing Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Blowing Stone</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Kings Quoit (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>Kings Quoit</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Reynard's Kitchen — Miscellaneous

The cave was visited by Dr Samuel Johnson.
Reynard's Hall is a cave very high in the rock; it goes backward several yards, perhaps eight. To the left is a small opening, through which I crept, and found another cavern, perhaps four yards square; at the back was a breach yet smaller, which I could not easily have entered, and, wanting light, did not inspect.

I was in a cave yet higher, called Reynard's Kitchen. There is a rock called the Church, in which I saw no resemblance that could justify the name.
From A diary of a journey into North Wales, in the year 1774.

Coygen Camp (Promontory Fort) — Links

Gathering the Jewels


35,000 year old Neanderthal hand axes found in the cave.

Coygen Camp (Promontory Fort) — Miscellaneous

The Rev. J. N. Harrison says, that whilst some quarrymen were digging for limestone on the northern top of Coygan hill, they came upon a kind of cell, scooped out in the solid rock, in which was the skeleton of a man lying on his side, with the head to the north, the knees being doubled up so as to allow the body to occupy so short a space. The cell measured 4ft. 6ins. long by 2ft. 6ins. wide by 2ft. deep, and was covered by a large "clegger" stone, almost circular, 5 ft. in diameter, and from 10 to 11 ins. thick. The top of the covering stone was about 1ft. below the surface of the ground, and round the edges of it was a kind of dry-built wall.

[...]

The Coygan hill rises abruptly from about the centre of the marsh, and juts out into it so as to form a nearly isolated promontory of limestone rock. It lies a mile and a half south-west of Laugharne. From the summit a magnificent view is obtained of the Bristol Channel. Very nearly on top of the rock is the well-known Coygan bone-cave, concerning which the following facts have not before been made public.

More than thirty years ago, when I was only just out of my teens, I heard my late father, Mr. George Baugh Allen, relate an incident which took place on the occasion of a picnic party visiting the Coygan cave. The entrance to the cave is so low and narrow that it is necessary for anyone to crawl on their hands and knees who wishes to gain access to the interior. A fat lady, who formed one of the party, succeeded getting half of her body through the opening, but then stuck fast: the result being that she had to be hauled backwards by her legs, amidst the laughter of gods and men.

Just about the time when I heard this story, prehistoric man and his co-existence with extinct animals was being much discussed, and it occurred to me that it might be worth while visiting the Coygan Cave in order to ascertain whether it was a hyaena-den. I did so, accordingly, on the first opportunity; and when I entered I saw, to my great delight, that the surface of the cave was strewn with the bones of extinct mammalia, which, if any previous visitor had noticed, he had not thought them worth while carrying away. The bones obtained by me on this and many subsequent occasions, in company of the late Dr. Henry Hicks, F.R.S., were presented to the Rugby School Museum. Mr. Edward Laws, who has collected bones from the Coygan Cave, found a Palaeolithic flint implement associated with them. The bones and flint implement are now in the Tenby Museum.
From 'Two Kelto-Roman Finds in Wales' by J. Romilly Allen, in Archaeologia Cambrensis Sixth Series, volume 1 (1901).

Marden Henge (and Hatfield Barrow) — Links

Academia.edu


"Journeys and Juxtapositions: Marden Henge and the View from the Vale," by Jim Leary and David Field (2012).

"This short paper sets out a summary of a project to investigate the henge at Marden and its surroundings in the Vale of Pewsey, which includes an excavation carried out in 2010 across the footprint of the now demolished Neolithic mound known as the Hatfield Barrow and the discovery of a well-preserved Neolithic building surface and midden. It argues that whilst archaeologists have traditionally focussed on the Wessex chalk upland, the real action happened in the river valleys, with rivers and springs being of particular significance to communities during the Neolithic period."

Bully Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Folklore

Orgarth Hill Farm is on the opposite side of the road to these barrows.
The Ghost of Orgarth Hill. - This hill, a few miles south of Louth, some 40 years ago was haunted by a man riding on a shag or shaggy horse, which suddenly appeared without any warning, and kept up with persons until they were terrified, but usually it appeared to people riding or driving, who did not notice the horse and its rider, until they looked to see what had terrified their horses, which stood trembling with fear, until they bolted down the hill.
From Lincolnshire Notes and Queries volume 2, page 272. The implication seems to be that this apparition might be connected with the shagfoal or tatterfoal, a kind of furry horsey supernatural cousin of the more widely known big black dogs like Shuck.

Druid Stoke (Burial Chamber) — Miscellaneous

Note on a Dolmen at Stoke Bishop. By M. H. Scott.
(Read February 10th, 1904.)

This monument stands to the left of the entrance gate of Druids' Stoke, and just inside the grounds. I quote Seyer's description [...] [Memoirs Historical and Topographical of Bristol and its Neighbourhood, Rev. Samuel Seyer, M.A., 1821, v1, p103].

"It consists of one large stone, and three small. The large stone is 10 1/2 (feet) in length, 2 1/2 thick, and 5 1/2 at the broadest. It has been thrown down, and having fallen on one of the smaller stones, which stood beneath, it partly rests upon it, and is prevented from lying flat on the ground, so that at first sight it appears a cromlech (i.e. dolmen) or altar stone.

Of the three smaller stones, the first has already been mentioned, as supporting the great stone; it is about three feet above the ground. Another lies close to it westward, and the third a few feet distant north-westward: the two last are broken off close to the ground, they may be fragments separated when the great stone fell down. That which was its northern or north-eastern face when it stood upright, which now lies nearest to the ground, is tolerably smooth, and of the natural colour of the stone; all other parts are eaten into deep holes by the action of the weather, and are slightly covered with moss, and the colour is dark and dirty.

The stone is a millstone grit, or breccia, and was probably brought from the foot of Kingsweston Hill, about a mile distant, where numbers of the same sort, although not of equal size, still lie scattered on the ground, and many more were formerly to be seen, until Mr. F. collected them for the foundation of his house.'


Mr. Seyer, though he seems inclined to doubt that this erection was a dolmen, does not suggest any other theory, and his remark that the under side of the large stone is not weather worn is in favour of this stone having been the covering stone of a dolmen. The presence of three smaller stones is also in accordance with this. They are not so large as one would expect the supports of a dolmen to be, but it is possible that some fragments may have been carried away.

Miss Munro, whose father, William Munro, Esq., formerly owned Druids' Stoke, says:--
"In my recollection, once a year a body of men calling themselves Druids, with a Priest (?) dressed in wonderful garments, used to hold a service at the Druid's Stone."
On my asking at what time fo the year this occurred, she says:--
"I am almost sure that the Druids' ceremony took place in the spring before the grass was put up for mowing. I have a dim recollection that the Druids wished to have the ceremony later, but were told that they could not be allowed to tread down the growing grass, as they came in considerable numbers."

So long as Mr. Munro had the property, as also his successor, Mr. Wedmore, this monument was safe enough. But since the death of the latter, the property having failed to find a purchaser, has been put up in separate lots, and it is quite possible, as the stones are so near the road, that at no distant date the land may be sold for building, and the stones removed. I therefore place this note on record.
From the Proceedings of the Bath Natural History and Antiquarian Field Club, v10 (1905), p318. Druids. Don't let them spoil your lawn.

Druid Stoke (Burial Chamber) — Images

<b>Druid Stoke</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Towtop Kirk (Enclosure) — Images

<b>Towtop Kirk</b>Posted by Rhiannon

The Idol Stone (Cup Marked Stone) — Images

<b>The Idol Stone</b>Posted by Rhiannon
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This hill, it has a meaning that is very important for me, but it's not rational. It's beautiful, but when you look, there's nothing there. But I'd be a fool if I didn't listen to it.

-- Alan Garner.


...I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn...

-- William Wordsworth.

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