The Modern Antiquarian. Ancient Sites, Stone Circles, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic Mysteries

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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.
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 (click to view fullsize)

<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. [...]

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

"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

The Goldstone (Natural Rock Feature) — Miscellaneous

The Goldstone Monolith. -- An interesting monolith has just been disinterred at Goldstone Bottom, Hove, in the shape of the original and celebrated "Goldstone" or Druidic altar which stood from time immemorial in this well-known valley, but which was in 1883 deliberately buried. The stone is of an irregular, wedge-like shape, and measures about 14 feet by 9 feet, with a thickness of between 5 feet and 6 feet. The stone is described as an ironstone conglomerate, with veins of spar running through it, and when struck responds with a metallic ring. It is proposed to raise the stone on to a suitable base, and place it in the new park at Hove. -- E. A. Martin, F.G.S.
From Science Gossip, v7 (1901).

Winceby Stone (Natural Rock Feature) — Folklore

The Stone used to lie in the field where the civil war Battle of Winceby took place. It's marked on a map of 1880 but then seems to disappear.
There was the large stone in Winceby field, where soldiers had sharpened their swords before the battle. This was a stone of fearful interest, for much treasure was supposed to have been buried under it. Numerous attempts have abeen made to get at this treasure, but they were always defeated by some accident or piece of bad luck. On the last occasion, by 'yokkin' several horses to chains fastened round the stone, they nearly succeeded in pulling it over, when, in his excitement, one of the men uttered an oath, and the devil instantly appeared, and stamped on it with his foot. 'Tha cheans all brok, tha osses fell, an' tha stoan went back t' its owd place solidder nur ivver; an' if ya doan't believe ya ma goa an' look fur yer sen, an' ya'll see tha divvill's fut mark like three kraws' claws, a-top o' tha stoan.' It was firmly believed that the lane was haunted, and that loud groans were often heard there. -- Notes and Queries, vol. ix., p. 466.

[The Big Stone at Slash Lane, near Winceby]This stone cannot be moved, at least all attempts have so far failed, especially on one occasion, when it was with much difficulty reared up by ropes pulled by men and dragged by horses, for on a man saying, 'Let God or devil come now, we have it,' the stone fell back, dragging over the men and horses who were hauling at the ropes, and something appeared standing on the stone, doubtless Samwell the Old Lad, that is the Devil, who had been so rashly defied. -- Lincolnshire Notes and Queries, vol. ii., p. 235.
Copied from 'County Folk-lore v.VII: Lincolnshire' collected by Mrs Gutch and Mabel Peacock (1908).

This article in 'Horncastle News' (10th April 2002) describes that the stone got buried for many years in the field, but that in 1970 Frank Scott and his colleagues on the farm finally moved it out of the way - it took heavy lifting gear though. "Me and my mate were in that hole as quick as we could and dug down as far and fast as possible but we never found any treasure, nor devils either. By the number of broken ploughshares all around, we thought it was quite likely the stone was cursed, by every farmer and farm hand involved no doubt."

The folklore is similar to many prehistoric stones in that it's connected to the battle, has treasure lurking under it, and is said to be immovable. It's even got supernatural marks on it from the devil. Pretty much a stoney folklore full house.

Winceby Stone (Natural Rock Feature) — Links

Rod Collins

Rod has a nice photo of the stone in its new roadside spot.

Dragonby (Rocky Outcrop) — Folklore

In a field on Sawcliff Farm, in the parish of Roxby-cum-Kisby, North Lincolnshire, there is a deposit of uncommon character and singular beauty. It is particularly interesting to the lover of natural objects. Locally it is known as the "Sunken Church." An ancient tradition informs us that it was a church attached to one of the monasteries, and was buried by a landslip; or according to Abraham de la Pryme, the Yorkshire antiquary, who visited it in 1696 (Surtees Society, vol. liv.), the tradition is that the church sunk in the ground, with all the people in it, in the times of Popery.

[...] The stone curtain [..] consists of a mass of calcareous tufa deposited by a petrifying spring trickling out of the limestone rocks, as seen in the second illustration. It is a wall-like mass, some ninety feet or more in length, having a varying thickness from fifteen inches to two feet at the top, and a height above ground of nine feet at its highest point. From the higher end where it first leaves the ordinary slope of the hill, there is a gentle fall along the ridge until, about half-way down, a big step of about four feet occurs. Then the ridge continues to descend, until at the lower end it almost comes to the level of the ground again.

Undoubtedly the most striking feature about it is a groove two inches wide and one and a quarter inches deep, which runs along the ridge from end to end, and also continues down the step above mentioned. This groove is well shown in the first illustration.
The groove looks quite strange. I'm glad this curious bit of the landscape has survived in an area that's so full of quarries and mines. It's slightly remiss that dragons aren't mentioned at all in the article. But the idea of the 'sunken church' is one found elsewhere in stoney folklore (e.g. Sunkenkirk). The photos and exerpt are from an article in Science Gossip, v7 (1901) by Henry Preston.

Dragonby (Rocky Outcrop) — Images

<b>Dragonby</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Dragonby</b>Posted by Rhiannon

The Long Man of Wilmington (Hill Figure) — Images

<b>The Long Man of Wilmington</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Mounsey Castle (Hillfort) — Folklore

Not far from the Wambarrows are the ramparts of an old British fort, Mouncey Castle, which has also its legend - namely, that on a certain night of the year a chariot passes round the hill, and disappears into the cairn in the field below.
From A Book of Exmoor by F J Snell (1903).

Wambarrows (Round Barrow(s)) — Folklore

A few years ago it was whispered at Dulverton that a local gentleman - none other than Mr. Arthur Locke, the then secretary of the Devon and Somerset Staghounds - had "seed something" near the Wambarrows. We have never inquired of the genial squire whether there was any truth in the story, having, perhaps hastily, assumed that it was apocryphal, but it is a fact that the spot is supposed to be haunted by a black dog - first cousin of the Irish manthe dog.
From A Book of Exmoor by F J Snell (1903).

Norton Camp (Somerset) (Hillfort) — Folklore

Norton Fitzwarren Church.
The Rev. T. Hugo pointed out the screen, which he said was as fine a one as would be found anywhere. It contained a carved representation of two dragons and a plough in the centre. According to the legend the dragon who lived on the hill seemed to have infested the fields where the ploughmen were, and here he was in pursuit of the men. The plough was of a medieval character. One circumstance might lead to the discovery of the date of its construction - the name of the churchwarden for the time being was carved upon it. Its age was not very far before the year 1500. It ought to be coloured, as was no doubt the intention of the builder. Mr. Jones and Mr. Parker thought the representation was merely as usual allegorical of the results of sloth and industry, or virtue and vice. [...] The Rev. J. P. Hewett (rector) mentioned that in the year 1825 the screen, which until then had been in its original state, was covered with a coat of oak paint over the colouring.

[...] Ascending a hill in the rear of the church the party found themselves in Norton Camp.
From the Proceedings of the Somerset Archaeology and Natural History Society 1872. The Proceedings for 1898 mention the somewhat grisly detail that "Even in our own day the inhabitants will tell you of the pestiferous reptile that once upon a time lived on the hill, bred from the corruption of human bodies, breathing disease and death around.".

Norton Camp (Somerset) (Hillfort) — Images

<b>Norton Camp (Somerset)</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Carneddau'r Gwragedd (Cairn(s)) — Folklore

'The graves of the women': three cairns high up on the hills near the boundary of the parish of Llanymawddwy, not marked on the Ordnance sheet.

"When Garthbeibio was a chapel of ease to Llanymawddwy, three women started to walk to the mother church one Sunday morning in winter to be churched. But when they reached the height of the mountain a snow storm came on and enveloped them in darkness; and when a search was made for them, the three were found dead on the spot where these barrows were raised to commemorate the melancholy event, and to denote the spot where their mortal remains found a last resting place" (Mont. Coll., 1873, vi, 12).

Tradition adds that the barrows were raised by the women of this and the adjoining parishes, who collected the stones in their aprons, and carried them to the spot.
This grid reference is given on the Coflein map. I doubt it's the easiest spot to get to to check if there are three cairns. It also strikes me that if crossing boundaries is dangerous in a Welsh folklorish sense, then that must be particularly unwise on a windswept mountainside in the snow.

Cwm Mawr (Stone Circle) — Folklore

Distance 3 miles from Dolbenmaen, in the way to it, several pillars of different appearance, &c.; none of them equal to those of the grand monument, whose situation is upon the gradual slope of a very high hill, commanding a most extensive prospect, viz. the whole Isle of Anglesey, part of Ireland, &c.

The first object in approaching it is a lonely pillar, distant 160 paces from the grand Ellipsis.

This colonade is in diameter, one way, 44 cubits, the other, 36; consisting of 38 upright stones of various forms, heights & sizes, as well as distances from each other; some turgescent, some flat, some incline one way & some another; some are pyramids & some are cones. The vulgar believe that no one can count them. The area of the monument violated by the plough & harrow &c.

Tradition says that upon one of them being carried away to the adjoining farm house, for a lintel over the door, such a dreadful storm of thunder & lightning ensued, that the sacrilegious hands were forced to return it to its former place. However, the author says that the vacancies shew that several have been carried away, &c.
From Archaeologia Cambrensis, January 1849 (v13), p3. The information is taken from a manuscript from 1772, which 'purports to consist of notes and extracts taken from another work, the title of which is unfortunately destroyed in great part'. Sadly, rather like the circle.

Gaer Fawr (Welshpool) (Hillfort) — Links


Gaer Fawr Hillfort: An Analysis of the Earthworks. A report from 2009 about the 'Great Fort'.

Gathering the Jewels

A little hollow bronze boar was found at (or at least, near) the hillfort, and has been interpreted as an ornament for an Iron Age helmet. It's also known as the Guilsfield boar. It gets a mention in 'An inventory of the ancient monuments of Montgomeryshire' here:
The following extract from a letter of the 1st February, 1833, from Mr. P.G.Mytton, Garth Cottage, Llanfyllin, to the Rev. Walter Davies, is of importance:--
"If you can give me any information respecting a piece of antiquity found on Varchoel Demesne, the property of my uncle, you will very much help him and myself. It is of solid gold in the shape of a wild boar; its weight two ounces, length about two inches, and height about one; it is grooved under the belly longitudinally, the groove about 1/8th inch wide ... I have stated the size from conjecture, not having measured it; but the weight is correct."
The hillfort itself was part of the Garth estate until the mid-twentieth century (as you can read about on the other link). Garth Hall was a rather striking building but now demolished. Calling the boar 'solid gold' was a bit ambitious if it's bronze and hollow, so you can only hope he was more accurate about the animal's origins. By 1871 Archaeologia Cambrensis seemed certain it was found 'within [the] ancient work' of the fort, but 'under what circumstances it was first discovered, and whether associated with any other remains, has not been handed down.' Ah but luckily that sort of thing doesn't happen these days does it? Oh.

Maen Llwyd (Commins Coch) (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

This is the third of the stones mentioned by Lewis, in his 1833 Topographical Dictionary of Wales - about one mile north-east of the church.
In the parish of Darowen is the township of Noddfa, the name of which implies a place of refuge or a sanctuary, its limits probably being described by three stones - one called Carreg y Noddfa, standing about a mile to the east of the church, another large stone standing about one mile to the south of the church, and a smaller one about the same distance north-east of the church.
The Inventory for Montgomeryshire says it is 'reputed to be the smallest of the three stones.' But I can't see any sign of the named 'Carreg y Noddfa' to the east of the church on old maps. Which is a shame.

Maen Llwyd (Rhos Dyrnog) (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

"In the parish of Darowen is the township of Noddfa, the name of which implies a place of refuge or a sanctuary, its limits probably being described by three stones - one called Carreg y Noddfa, standing about a mile to the east of the church, another large stone standing about one mile to the south of the church, and a smaller one about the same distance north-east of the church." (Lewis, Top. Dict. of Wales, 1833, s.n. Darowen').

These stones, which may have served in medieval times to have marked off an area devoted to the right of sanctuary or some other ecclesiastical purpose, appear to be at present reduced to two in number.

One is placed at the spot indicated above, at the cross roads 1/4 mile of Talyweren, and in the centre of the field called 'Cae yr hen eglwys,' 'old church field'. The stone is of mountain grit, 6 feet above ground and 12 feet 6 inches in circumference.

The farmstead is called Rhos Dyrnog, and Arch. Camb. 1856, III, ii, 193, notes the presence of "two erect stones at Rhos Dyrnog," but the tenant of the neighbouring farm of Caerseddfan has always known of only one. It would, however, appear that there must have been two stones in the field, as the Tithe Schedule [...] gives its name as 'Cae Meini Llwydion.'

-- Visited, 27th May, 1910.
From An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Wales and Monmouthshire: 1 - County of Montgomery, p31.

This is the stone 'about one mile to the south of the church'. But then if there was more than one here, how does that fit into Lewis's description with three in total in different places? It's all a bit tangled. (The stone 'to the north east' must be Maen Llwyd (Commins Coch).)

The Inventory goes on:
Cae yr hen Eglwys, 'Old Church Field' [...] the field within which the larger of the two meini hirion called 'Cerrig Noddfa,' 'sanctuary stones,' still stands.

Mr Edwards Hughes, Rhos Dyrnog, who has 40 years' personal experience of the field, stated that when ploughing it about ten years ago, he struck on some masonry to the east of and very near the maen hir, and about 6 inches below the surface. He uncovered all he could trace, which then showed foundations of a solidly constructed building, 25 feet by 18 to 20 feet, with the foot-stone of a door, "very deeply foot-worn," in situ at the north corner. To the east of the foundation stones, and close to them, his plough struck a roughly circular boulder, beneath which was an empty cavity, 2 feet wide by 3 feet deep. All the stones were removed and taken up, "so as to plough easier." Local tradition affirms an old church to have stood close to the sanctuary stone. -- Visited, 27th May, 1910.
The Plot Thickens. What can it all mean. (Not that we'll ever know now. but at least it's easier to plough, tch).

Capel Garmon (Chambered Cairn) — Links

National Museum Wales

The truly amazing Iron Age Capel Garmon firedog was found not far from here. You can visit it in person at the museum in Cardiff. The museum's website has some photos curiously hidden away on this page: click the 'media' tab to see them.

In Archaeologia Cambrensis (1863) it says:
The relic [...] was discovered in May, 1852, by a man cutting a ditch through a turbary on the farm of Carreg Goedog, near Capel Garmon, Llanrwst. It lay on the clay subsoil, flat upon its side, with a large stone at each end, and at a considerable depth. The spot is quite unfrequented, nor are there any remains of ancient buildings. It is all of iron, and the execution indicates considerable taste and skill. It is in some parts much corroded, and exposure to the air decomposed the metal considerably [...]
Although the journal suggests the firedog was found "at the foot of" Dinas Mawr, at the confluence of the Conway and Machno rivers (which would be Romantically Celtic), the farm of Carreg-coediog isn't actually at its foot at all. But it's not far away.

Capel Garmon (Chambered Cairn) — Images

<b>Capel Garmon</b>Posted by Rhiannon

The King's Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

As regards the King's Stone, which members had viewed that morning, it had really nothing to do with the battle [of Flodden]. It was, in fact, a very ancient Tribal Gathering or Trysting Stone, which had evidently been transported from the cherty magnesian limestone quarry at Carham, either mechanically or by glacial action.

The prevailing misapprehension about the King's Stone has probably been perpetuated by, if it did not originate in, Scott's Notes to Marmion - "An unhewn column marks the spot where James fell, still called the King's Stone." As a matter of fact it is situated about three-quarters of a mile Northward from the locality of the final scene of the battle, on the farm of Crookham Westfield, formerly a Moor.

There is interesting incidental evidence that just thirty-two years after Flodden, this rugged column was known as the Standing Stone. The Earl of Hertford, on one of his expeditions into Scotland, left Newcastle in September 1545, "and all his army had a day appointed to mytte at the Stannyngston on Crocke-a-More (Crookham Moor)."
From volume 10 of the History of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club (1908).

Morwick (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Images

<b>Morwick</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Roughting Linn (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art) — Folklore

... Roughting-Linn, from its noise in its fall after great rains; the word roughting being also used by the borderers, on hearing the lowing and bellowing of cattle. It is nearly perpendicular, forty-seven feet and a half, from a rock of brown whin, spotted with green; the bason seven feet over, and in depth fifteen feet, measured by a line and plummer, in September, 1761; the weather fine, and the water low. It is a trout-stream, pretty sizeable trouts being taken in it above the fall. It was the custom of the late Colonel Moor, of Halystone, to put them into such places, obscure alpine rivulets and lakes.
From The Natural History and Antiquities of Northumberland by John Wallis (1769), v1, p25.

The Grey Stone (Coldstream) (Natural Rock Feature) — Folklore

This stone is marked on up-to-date maps so I'm hoping it's still there.
I may here mention, that another boulder, still more interesting, is situated a few hundred yards below Coldstream Bridge, on the north side of the bank of the Tweed. Judging from its dimensions and quality, it must weigh above 12 tons. It consists of chert limestone, of a cream or grey colour. The field in which it lies is called from it, the Grey stone field. Limestone of exactly the same description occurs in situ, near Carham, about six miles to the westward.

This large Boulder in former days was an object of popular mystery and reverence. It was resorted to on the occasion of the celebration of Border marriages. The couple, having proceeded with their respective friends to the stone, the bride and bridegroom, stretched across it, and joined hands. The friends then declared the compact formed.
It's not mentioned on Canmore and it would be interesting to see what this folklorey stone looks like. It's mentioned in the History of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club for 1857 (page 237).

Castle Hill (Callaly) (Hillfort) — Folklore

Also a little about the caves on the crags here:
The Crags are sandstone and in some parts rise as cliffs to the height of one and two hundred feet. There are great rents in these rocks and tumbled down masses, which here and there form caverns. One of these, Wedderburn's Cave, was examined; another bears the name of the Priest's Cave.

In times of disturbance and insecurity, when the borders, especially, were subject to plundering and slaughter, such caverns may have been used as hiding places, and have taken their name from the persons who found refuge in them. Some persecuted minister of religion may have found temporary safety in the Priest's Cave, and possibly a freebooting Wedderburn may have escaped death by concealment in the dark recess which bears his name.
From the History of the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club; the anniversary address delivered on 27th September 1861 (and written up by George Tate).
Wedderburn Hole is at NU077099. Macartney's Cave is at NU060093. Alison's photo on Flickr makes the former look a bit of a squeeze. But the latter looks a bit more homely.
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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.

I'm currently mad on visiting Anglo-Saxon and Norman carvings and enjoy the process of drawing them:

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