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

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Ballymacgibbon South (Souterrain) — Folklore

Cathair Pheatar is a cave in the townland of Ballymagibbon. There is an entrance into it like a doorway with a few steps down. About thirty years ago boys used to go down into it with a lighted candle, they were afraid to go down far for fear the candle would quench. It has a wall on each side about six feet high. The tunnel is leading to Moytura House. In the year 1865 there was noise heard there laying a table with forks and knives. Lights were seen at the mouth of it by local people.
From the Schools Collection made in the 1930s, and now part of the National Folklore Collection being digitised at duchas.ie.

Larkfield (Wedge Tomb) — Folklore

This is indeed about a mile south of Manorhamilton. So I hope it is the place, the scene of a tough cock-fighting frog.
About one mile south of Manorhamilton is a bog called the Stone Pound. In it is a very large Giants grave. It is said that there are crocks of gold buried there and it belonged to the Giant. There is a frog minding it. One time a man brought a black cock and if he killed the frog he would get the gold. He brought the cock and set him fighting with the frog but the cock was not able to beat him. Another man brought a cock but the cock was unable to beat the frog. So the gold is said to be still there and the frog is still there minding it until the present day.
From the Schools Collection made in the 1930s for the National Folklore Collection, and currently being digitised on duchas.ie.

Magheraghanrush (Court Tomb) — Folklore

The Giants Grave is situated in the Deerpark. There are three departments in it. Some say that Giants were buried there and that it got its name from them. Others say that Owen Bell was buried there and others say it was a Druid's Altar.

There are a number of big stones there and there is a lovely view from it.

It was more like a big grave in olden time than it is at present. There is an old story told of the grave by an old man who lived in Chapel Town near Cnoc Mór, a hill near Colga lake. He told that the giant stood on the middle of this hill to consider where he should have his grave. He looked towards the sunrise and said he would have it in that direction. He walked to the Deerpark and dug his grave there. He found his health failing. He remained in the Deerpark and lay in his grave every night. One night he died in it. It is not known how he was covered but it was well done.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, currently being digitised at duchas.ie. I like that other features of the landscape and the direction of the sunrise should be part of the story. Was Owen Bell one of the kings of Connacht? Mere googling is not telling me much.

Lislary (Rath) — Folklore

In the townland of Lislary there is a fairy fort. When you enter it you can go half mile to your right and the same to your left. There is a tunnel in this fort; it was well built. On each side and overhead there are heavy stone flags. It is six feet high and there are hob holes on each side in the walls. It is on a hill in the middle of a field. Lights were seen several times in this fort, they are not stationary but keep travelling. Big black cats, large as dogs are often seen there.
The owner lives a quarter of a mile from it. One time he was building walls so he took stones from the forth. He got sick and had to remain six weeks in bed. The stones were found to be the cause of his illness, so when they were returned he arose at once.
My favourites, the anomalous big cats. This is near the sea and I bet it's a great spot.
The story is from the Schools' Collection of the National Folklore Collection, and was written down in the 1930s.

The Cashel, Carrickbanagher (Rath) — Folklore

Between Colloney and Ballymote there is a townland called Carrick-Banagher. In it there is a fort which belongs to the fairies. Cashel it is called. Many people say they have seen lights there, travelling around. It resembles a candle placed on a pole which was carried around by a man. The light appears about twelve, and continues to one o'clock. If a person in the district is ill, beautiful music is heard if the person is going to die. This music can be heard quite plainly five miles away.
From the 1930s Schools Collection of the National Folklore Collection, now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Clogher (Stone Fort / Dun) — Miscellaneous

1930s schoolgirl Maura Cryan wrote so nicely and enthusiastically about this edifice for the National Folklore Collection's Schools project, I think it would be nice to reproduce her words here.
Situated on an eminence in the MacDermott's demesne, Clogher, is an old Fort or Fortification. From its location, the plan by which it is laid out, and the thickness of its surrounding walls, one comes to the conclusion that it must have at some time in early history being used for defence purposes. This fort is perfectly circular in shape having a very fine entrance about six feet wide. Enclosed by those walls which are about nine feet wide is a plot of ground about twenty perches in extent, which is uniformly raised to the centre; thereby having what might be termed a nice foot path all around by the inner base of its boundary walls.

There are three underground tunnels in this enclosed area. One, which is by far the longest, has both an entrance and an exit, with a distance of at least twenty yards between. To explore this tunnel a light is required as it leads for most of the way under the main wall. The other two tunnels have only one opening and might be best compared to fairly large sized rooms. One of the latter tunnels is in the enclosed area itself. The other has an entrance under the wall very convenient to the main entrance.

The walls which are about ten feet high have on the inside platform (part of the wall itself) about six feet from the ground which evidently goes to show it was used for defence although local history does not give us much information on the matter. Although another feature which creates the curiosity of the many sight-seers who annually visit it are the huge rocks perfectly placed in position some of them set as high as five or six feet from the ground.

To prove its antiquity, this relic of earlier days, was handed over years ago by its owner to the Royal Antiquarian Society for preservation. This body spent a large amount of money in putting the entire place in order: great care being taken to make no change in its original plan. To further protect from trespass or damage a substantial wire fence was placed around it leaving between the fence and its outer wall a four-foot wall for sight-seers to use. I understand during the time the Society was engaged in its reconstruction among things found were bones and some gold ornaments which were sent to Dublin for expert examination.

This fort is beautifully situated on the top of a hill whose sides being nicely wooded add greatly to its appearance.

Clogher (Stone Fort / Dun) — Folklore

Surely this impressive structure has to be the location for this extensive amount of folklore. It's on top of a knoll and surrounded by trees, so this also matches the description. But please dispute this if you know better. The stories were written down as part of the Schools Collection of the 1930s (a project to digitise them is currently in progress at duchas.ie).
In the townland of Clogher there is a fairy fort. This fort, which is situated on a little mound, is circular in shape and is almost entirely surrounded by trees. Close to the fort is a by-road. Tradition tells us that many strange sights have been seen around this spot.

Some years ago some of the neighbouring children were passing by and to their astonishment they heard music, singing, laughter and ringing of bells. The children were horror stricken as they had often heard that the place was haunted with fairies and in amazement they turned towards the fort and there beheld a large crowd of what they thought were children. These were dressed in the most beautiful shades and colours and they formed a circle around the fort. The children now became terrified and grasping hold of each other they sat down on the fence as they could not seem to know where they were. The music still continued to ring in their ears and the laughter and talk which they could not understand also continued. After a time a bell rang, the music stopped, the fairies disappeared and everything was left unchanged and the children returned home to relate to their parents all that had happened. The parents on hearing the children describe the little folk whom they had seen informed them that these were fairies.

Another traditional story tells us of a neighbouring man who was one night returning home from visiting and he crossed the hill known as "Mullach na leice" wherein it is supposed there is a valuable treasure secluded. On hearing very loud talk he turned around but could perceive nothing. He continued on his journey but had scarcely taken a few paces until his path became remarkably bright and on gazing around he saw about twenty or twenty-five very luminous lights which soon passed by with great rapidity. He watched these lights with much interest until in a few moments they had reached the spot where the fort is and there they disappeared.

The lane, which passes by this fort, is usually avoided especially after night-fall although it is a short-cut on several occasions.
People passing by often remark that even on a summer's day when everything is calm and still that a whirl-wind rises and blows papers, straws or any other things, which are scattered around, up into the air where they remain tossing about for some time. When this occurs, if old people witness it, they make the sign of the cross or throw something in the direction the dust is moving.

When a death is about to occur in the neighbourhood it is remarkable that on many occasions a cry and a little light is to be seen moving around this fort.

The fort is never interfered with when the owner of the field is ploughing or doing any other form of cultivation as it is supposed that it is unlucky to interfere with such places.

Sroove (Rath) — Folklore

There are a few raths in Sroove, but this is the only one I see with an en-suite Souterrain, according to the Historic Environment Viewer map.
In the townland of Shroofe there is to be found a fort of immense size. It is owned by Patrick Finan. It is circular in shape and has a stone fence around it. Many interesting stories are told about this fort.
In the centre there is to be found an entrance consisting of stone stairs leading down to a room made of stone. This room is about six feet from the surface.
In 1916 any of the Irish Youths hid in this room from enemies who were called "the Black and Tans."
When deaths occurred in this district of Shroofe lights were to be noticed in and around the fort.
Many people say that the fairies sing with great joy when a couple gets married. Others say the fairies chant "The Dead March" when a funeral is taking place.
It is told by ancient people that a number of them have discovered a "Black Cat" on guard in the entrance under ground, during the night.
The owner of the land never interferes with this fort, because tradition tells us that the crops sown by any man who interferes with this fort, will not bear good fruit but will fail and that he, in a year or less, will find himself failing.

It is true that a man of the name Terence Mac Dermot interfered with this fort by cutting one of the trees which was growing beside the entrance and he died on the anniversary of the day.
During the Xmas season people say that the fairies are heard churning. They say that by doing this they help to provide food for the Infant Jesus.
There is a spring well beside this fort and its waters are never used for tea because old people tell us that this water would never boil.
I like the mention of black cats, I wonder if this is a fierce moggy or an early sighting of my favourite, the Anomalous Big Cat? They're clearly not to be messed with, whichever. Also I do find it amazing how many stories can be associated with a single location in Ireland - where else could you get themes relating to fairies, Jesus, cats, unboilable water and handy hiding places, all in one spot?This story is part of the folklore collected by the Schools Collection in the 1930s, and now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Cartronkillerdoo (Rath) — Folklore

So many raths. But this one's stoney and could be the right one for the story. I like the way the story was up to date at the time of writing (the 1930s) and features named people and contemporary events.
After the Ambush near Cliffoney in October 1920, the Black and Tans burned to the ground a house in Cliffony owned by a family named McCannon. The father and a son were arrested and lodged in Derry Gaol and three other sons had to go "on the run". They were all prominent Sinn Feiners. One of the sons, D[?] McCannon, who did not take any part in the movement was not molested. The mother and he went to live in a cottage in the townland of Ballinphull, near the village of Cliffoney.

Their former residence which was destroyed by the Tans was in the townland of Cartron. Their land, which comprised a few fields lay to the rear of their dwelling home. The entrance to their new home in the cottage was a very soft and boggy path. The boys who were [?] used often at dead of night and in terror of their lives come back to visit their mother and brother.
The Tans were active and paid many a visit to the cottage.

D[?] McCannon decided to make a rough path to his cottage so that no boot tracks could be seen, and in this way give no clue to the Tans as to the visits of the boys. Helped by his uncle, Pat Clancy, he removed some stones from an old fort on his land at Cartron, broke them up and so made a good solid path to his house. The day after the work was completed, D[?] had to go to a fair. It would necessitate his being away two nights to get his business done. The first night the mother was all alone and an uneasy night she spent.

About midnight she heard a terrible noise around the house. An argument appeared to be going on. Thinking it was the boys who had some trouble among themselves she did not open the door for a considerable time. Then anxious to know what was happening and wondering why they did not knock she opened the door and went outside when to her amazement no person could be seen. Returning to the house she went to bed, but did not sleep that night.

Next day she informed her brother Pat Clancy. He said he would keep her company that night. He did so and such a night. The running of people around the house - the arguments - the shouting and screeching of people, as they thought, were terrible to listen to. Pat Clancy ordered his nephew D[?] Mc Cannon, who returned from the fair the following day, to leave the stones, although now broken up into small pieces, back at the old fort again. D[?] gathered up all the pieces of broken stone, and carted them back to the fort.

From that time forth, Mrs McCannon and her son had no more trouble, except visits from Black and Tans.
From the Schools Collection, currently being digitised at Duchas.ie.

But then again, there's another story about the McCannon family - they must have been daring or daft to try stealing the stones twice. This was before their house burnt down and they had to move. I can't help thinking that cows are probably stubborn animals - how lethargic were they really?
In the year 1917, the MrCannon family were building a byre at the rear of their dwelling house. Building stones were very scarce at that place, and it was necessary for them to take stones from the fort.

It was in the month of May and as the weather was good, the cows were out at night. D[?] Mc Cannon proceeded to the field to milk the cows and was surprised to find all four lying down.
He tried by every means in his power to get them to stand but without avail. Going back to the house he informed his brothers who in turn acquainted the neighbours. They all proceeded to the field again and tried to force the cows to get up, but as before it was unavailing.

An elderly man amongst them who knew that they had taken stones from the fort said "Boys, leave back those stones, you took from the fort yesterday." The stones were carted back to the fort the following day, and in the evening the cows were on their feet, and gave their milk as usual, and were as healthy as ever.
From the document here.

Sheerevagh (Rath) — Folklore

This fort is in the area marked 'Greyfort' on the 6" map, so I imagine it's the one in question. It's interesting to see that Christian priests are not immune from the weirdness (fairies are not mentioned by name but are surely implied).The stories are told by Nuala O Donnell as part of the Schools Collection of Irish folklore in the 1930s. The collection is being digitised at duchas.ie.
There are a number of forts situated in this locality, but the most convenient one to my home is situated in the townland of Greyfort. It is called a "rath". Old people say that the priest's residence which is in the same townland, is erected on a fort.

There are a few peculiar stories attached to this fort. At the present time people are advised not to interfere with a fort. Some people abide by this advice, but others do not. One time a man went into the fort to cut some bushes. Another man on seeing his foolishness, begged of him not to interfere with the bushes, bu the man being self-willed continued his work, with the result that he got a thorn in his finger, which he never succeeded in getting out. He got every cure available, but they were all unsuccessful, and he died within four days.

We are also told another story of a priest who put his horse grazing in the ring of the fort. After some time he sent his attendant out for him, ordering him to put the animal into the stable, and the servant obeyed the order. The horse vanished, and the servant after spending hours searching for him, went and informed the priest what had occurred. He was very angry, and he said whoever performed the act would not benefit by it. This came to pass because the man who interfered with the horse died, and his son who was a student in college left it, and he never procured a position.

There is another story connected with this fort. One time a man got married, and that night he and his wife were standing at the door, when a number of horsemen came out of the fort. The man in fun said "take this woman with ye" and immediately she vanished. He was stunned by the thought of his wife's being gone but later, to his great astonishment he saw her riding a beautiful horse. She had a knife in her hand and she said to her husband, "if you give me a stroke of this knife you can have me" but the man fearing to do this allowed her to go, but she never returned again. Lights were to be seen in this fort long ago.

Cloghoge Upper (Rath) — Folklore

Maybe this is Johnny Walsh's fort. Or if not, it's certainly nearby. This is a story from the Schools Collection of the National Folklore Collection. The documents from the 1930s are being digitised at duchas.ie.
There are a number of forts in this locality and some of them are Johnny Walsh's fort, John Dwyer's fort, Mick Murren's, and the one in the castle field. These forts were built in the time of the Finbolg, and they used them to preserve their houses from the wild animals and from their enemies.

Johnny Walsh's fort is situated about half a mile from the school. It is circular in shape, and for this reason also it is called a ring. There is a fence around it, and there is also a plantation of trees around it. There are a number of old stories attached to it. It is said that there was a man ploughing in the field, and that he went to plough the fort also, but the fort opened up and swallowed the plough and horses. There is an entrance hole to it, and two fishing rods would not reach to the end of it.

One night as two young men were coming home from a neighbours house, they saw a funeral coming from the fort, and as it was the custom of that time, that anyone who met a funeral should go back a few yards with it. The two young men decided to go back a small piece with the funeral. As they were going along, they took the coffin to carry it, but as soon as they took it the funeral went away, and the two young men were left to carry the coffin. At first they did not know what to do, but after some time they decided to bring it to their house. When they reached the house they opened the coffin, and they found a live girl inside it. They asked her who she was, but she did not know, so they kept her in the house.

Sometime afterwards the man of the house went to the fair to buy a cow. He bought the cow, and that man told him how his daughter was taken away by the fairies, and so it happened that the girl who was taken out of the coffin belonged to the man who sold the cow.

There were also a number of wild animals seen in the vicinity of the fort. The old people tell us that it's not lucky to interfere with the forts, as they belong to the fairies.
Here's another story about the raths in Cloghoge Upper:
The nearest fort to my home is situated in Mc Gaughan's field. It is called a liss. It is circular in shape. There is a cave in this fort, and sometimes people have gone down and explored it. It is said that it was the Tuatha De Dannans that made it. If anyone interfered with the fort, it is said that they would die before that day twelve months. One day two men began to plough up the field. As soon as they began to dig up the ground, the horses fell dead. They got frightened as soon as they saw what had happened. They ran round and told all the neighbours what had happened. They then promised that from that day forward, they never would interfere with a fort again. As soon as they said these words, the horses got up and began to walk about.
There is another story connected with this fort. One day a man went out hunting and had not gone far, when he saw a rabbit sitting in a fort. He fired a shot, and hit him on the leg. On the minute the rabbit was changed into a woman. She began to run towards the nearest house to her. When she arrived at the house, she jumped in on the window. The man followed her as far as the house, and when he looked in on the window, he saw her spinning wool.

Every night between twelve and two o'clock, the rattling of chains is to be heard. There is singing also heard in it.

Cloghoge Lower (Rath) — Folklore

There are several raths in Cloghoge, but this might be the right one for the story! It certainly has earthen banks.
The nearest fairy fort to my home is situated on Brian Healy's land in Cloghogue. It is circular in shape and there is an earthen fence around it. One evening a man named Brian was passing by this fort with a cow when two horsemen rode up to him and asked him if he was a cow doctor. The man answered, and said he was. They asked then would he come and see a sick cow which they had. The man answered and said he would, when he had the cow tied. The men thanked him, and said they would wait there until he would come back. When Brian came back they had a horse ready for him. He mounted the horse and they rode away. After a long ride, they came to a two storey barn. The men brought him into the second storey of the barn. There was dancing going on underneath.
There was a small hole in the floor through which a light rod could go. One of the men that was with Brian put a rod through the hole and touched one of the girls that was dancing with it on the nose. The girl sneezed but no one said 'God bless us'. The man touched her three times with the rod, and she sneezed each time. The third time Brian said 'God bless us' when no other one would say it. Immediately, the light went out, and Brian was left in the dark by himself.
The next morning, Brian left the barn and went into the house nearest to him. The man of the house told him he was a long way from home. He then gave him food that would do him on his journey.
I like the sense of bewilderment and non-resolution. This is from the Schools Collection which was made in the 1930s, and which is now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Ballyline West (Rath) — Folklore

There are three raths in this area, but this one seems to be the best preserved, judging from the aerial photographs. Perhaps it's this one that's the source of this story in the Schools Collection (written in the 1930s, now being digitised at duchas.ie).
There is a fort situated about one mile from the village of Ballylongford in the townland of Ballyline, in the land which now belongs to Patrick Diggins. It is round in shape and is surrounded by trees.
John Diggins had a man employed to knock the fort. The servant went to the Priest to ask if he could knock the fort, and the Priest told him that if he got any other work to do not to mind the fort. He told this to his master and the master himself went to knock it. He got a stroke of a branch into the eye and he lost the sight of that eye. He went at it again and cut the trees and ploughed the fort and set corn in it, and after twelve months, the fort grew up again.
And here's another. It's perhaps more frightening but the protagonist doesn't seem too bothered.
There is a fort in the townland of Ballyline in the land of Mr. Patrick Lavery about two miles from Ballylongford. This fort is circular in shape and it is surrounded by white thorn and black thorn bushes. There is a gap in it and there is a path near it.
One night there was a man from Ballyline named John O'Brien going home and he heard great noise in the fort. He looked in and he saw a great crowd of men inside sitting at a table on which there were plenty eatables and drinkables. One of the men invited him in, and he went and had a good time. He recognised a few of the men that were dead for years. Towards morning the crowd disappeared and the man went home after a good night.

Aghanagran (Rath) — Folklore

The information on the Historic Environment Viewer says this rath is on high ground which 'presents an excellent view of the surrounding countryside', how lovely. Its story (which mixes various folklore themes) comes from the Schools Collection of the National Folklore Collection, written down in the 1930s, and currently being digitised at duchas.ie.
There is a fort in the townland of Ahanagran in the land of Thomas Fimertry. Every day there was a hare seen in this fort. This hare had only one ear.

One morning a number of men decided that they would kill the hare. They set off for the fort with a number of dogs. When they reached the fort, they saw the hare, but any one of the dogs would not touch him. Then the men followed the hare themselves, until they reached the bottom of the third field from the fort. All at once, a big hole opened in the ground and the hare went in.

The men followed the hare, but when they reached the bottom of the hole, to their surprise, instead of a hare being there they saw an old woman. They asked her if she saw any hare, but no sooner had they said it than the old woman disappeared. Then the men came up again, and the hole closed, but the hare was never again seen.

Dromore (Rath) — Folklore

There are two fairy forts in the district. One of them is situated in the town land of Dromore and the other in Lisacarn. They are all in view of other. They are round in shape and with a fence of bushes around them and a big mound of earth. There is a large hole in the middle of the forth which is situated in Dromore. In the hole there are two large stones. It is said that there is a crock of gold underneath them. And it is also said that before the gold is got that there are three lives to be lost at it. It is said that there is a cat in the fort minding the crock of gold.

There is a story told about this fort. There was a man and he dreamed three nights after other that there was money in the fort and if he went and dug and it, he would get the money and he dreamed that there would be three lives lost at it, so he went to the fort and brought a dog with him. When he started to dig around the stones a little white bird came and lit on the stone beside him. After a while his dog died. Then he got afraid and ran home to his house.

It is said that the Danes built these forts to save themselves from the wild animals. In olden times fairies used to live in them. The owner of the land never interferes with the fort. Some people say that long ago there used to be lights seen at it and there used to be music and churning heard at night.
A tale from the Schools Collection, which was made in the 1930s for the National Folklore Collection (and which is now being digitised at duchas.ie).

Kiltyhugh (Rath) — Folklore

Forts are places where Fairies live. There is a lot of Forts in the surrounding district. There is one in Lisacarn, Dromore, and Kilthyhugh. They are all in view of each other.
I know a man who got a walk out of the one in Kilthyhugh. One night he was late coming out of town. It was 12 pm when he came into the house. He got a bag and went over to a neighbour's house for turf. He went over safely and the man of the house gave him the turf. The man told him to mind the Fort and not walk into it. The man did not know the place very well because he was only a new comer to the place and his house was in front of the fort. The man put the bag of turf on his back. After leaving the man he walked headlong into the fort. He was thrown out of the fort again and the Fairies walked him through the fields and every ditch he came to both him and the bag of turf were thrown across. When he had come through a number of fields, he came to a very wide river and he was thrown across that too. He never found till he was in Oughteraugh. Then he was turned there again and he was put back through the fields again and he was just passing it again when his wife came to the door and said "is that you Martin". Only for she came to the door would [he] be put back into the fort again. When he went into the house he was all bleeding and his clothes all torn and he was not able to get up for five days after.
A story from the Schools Collection, made in the 1930s by the National Folklore collection (and currently being digitised at duchas.ie).

Druminalass (Rath) — Folklore

On the farm of Mrs Creamer, Druminalass, stands an old fort which is of a round shape. It is about four feet higher than the land around it. It is enclosed by a thick clay ditch in which stout trees are growing. I was told by John Mc Weeny, aged 80, that an old man named Hugh Loughlin of Lurgandill went to the fort one time to cut fire-wood. He climbed up one of the trees to cut some of the branches with a hatchet. When he had a few branches cut his hatchet dropped to the ground. He looked down wondering how he would get it. To his surprise he heard a voice say "Here is your hatchet". Then the hatchet was handed up to him. He looked but could see no person. This man got so frightened that he never again went to the fort to cut wood.
A tale from the Schools Collection made by the National Folklore Collection in the 1930s. The documents are currently being digitised at duchas.ie.

Gortnatresk (Rath) — Folklore

In the townland next to us which is called Gortnatresk, two men were making a mearing fence between their two farms. The fence had to be up a steep hill. The men worked very hard and were glad to see their work completed one day by quitting time, but next morning to their great surprise their fence had been levelled down just about 100 yards from the top of the hill in length. They started to work again and made up their fence and on the following morning the same thing happened. The third time they set out to work again and finished their mearing, and they were astonished to see their work useless and going to the place they looked all round them and just remarked a little ditch in the spot just in a circle with bushes all round. Inside the grass was very green. The men said to each other, there must be something in this spot. We will just make the fence round it and leave this in one man's farm. This they did and there it remains for anyone to see it. It is believed to be a fairy palace and people of the District say that when passing the road late at night which is about a quarter of a mile from the road they often hear great music and see the fairies dressed in white dancing and enjoying themselves.
A tale in the Schools Collection, made by the National Folklore Collection of Ireland in the 1930s (and currently being digitised at duchas.ie).

Derryhallagh (Rath) — Folklore

There is a fairy forth in the town-land of Derryhallow. It is about a mile from the town of Drumshanbo and a half mile from the school. The name of the forth is Cruckawn. It is situated a long the side of the road leading to Slieve An Iarainn mountain. The forth is on a high mound over grown by white thorn bushes and it is surrounded by a low grassy ditch. Many stories are told in connection with this forth but I only heard a few of them.

There was once a man who was fencing and he cut a bush in the forth and put it in a gap. On his way home he felt his eye getting very sore. When he arrived home his eye was still worse. Doctors were attending him for some time but they could not give him any cure. Finally he went to the priest the priest looked in his eye but he could not see anything in it. Thenhe asked him did he do any work that would harm his eye. The man said he cut a bush in the forth and put it in a gap. The priest told him to go at once to the forth and put the bush where he got it. The man did so and on his way home he took the patch off his eye and it was as good as it had ever beed before. Another story is told about this forth.

Once a man was taking a bag of turf from beside the forth. When he was ready to go home with the turf a voice cried out to him "Leave down them turf. The man looked a round him but he could not see anyone. Then he proceeded on his way, but to his surprise the bag of turf was taken off his back. He told the story when he went home. Next morning his brother went to the forth for the turf but to his surprise he found the bag emptied on the top of a ditch.

There is a story told about Mr Booth the owner of the land surrounding the forth. One evening he went for his eight cows to bring them home to be milked but he only could get seven cows. He searched the land untill night fall but could not find her and then he went home. Next morning he came down the land to look for the cow again. He was attracted by great singing in the forth and he went in to it, and there stood the cow chewing her cud. He brought her home to milk her. The wife began to milk her but she had not a drop.
From the Schools Collection, made by the National Folklore Collection in the 1930s and currently being digitised at duchas.ie.

Here's another story about the same place:
On the farm of Thomas Boothe Derryhallow a fort stood. This man was one harvest day preparing hay for tramping very close to a fort. When ready to make into rooks there came a blast of wind and lifted the hay up into the air and carried it away to another fort.
When out spoke Boothe into the fort, "Come my fairy Queen" and bring back my hay. After a couple of hours manouvering in the air the hay was lift back in its original position.

Meenymore (Souterrain) — Folklore

I think there's at least one more pair of souterrain+fort in Meenymore other than this one, so the folklore could refer to any of them. But I have added this one as it remains unplanted amongst the coniferous wood and might be more accessible.
There is an old fairy fort in the townland of Slievenard. There are lights seen at it often. One night people were coming home from a bottle drink in Pat McPartlins and they saw three little fairies outside of it dancing and singing for all they were worth. They were dressed in different colours. The people went down to see would they catch them but when they went to the place they were gone.
Another day two men went to cut bushes in it for fire wood but when they were cutting the bushes they heard several little voices saying leave them alone or ye will die and they left them alone and no one went near them since.
From an entry in the 1930s Schools Collection, which was made by the National Folklore Collection in the 1930s.

Ballymagaraghy (Stone Row / Alignment) — Folklore

I might be wrong but it doesn't seem unreasonable to think these stones could be the Fairy Chairs. Standing stones aren't unreasonable places to want to sit.
There is a place in the townland of Ballymagaraghy, in the parish of Culdaff, known as the Fairy Chairs. A man from Ballymagaraghy was watching cattle grazing around this place. All of a sudden a flint stone was fired at one of the cows. She got very sick and the owner had to send for a vet, and he said she was shot by one of the fairies. He gave her gunpowder with an egg mixed through it and she was well in a few days.
As told in the Schools Collection in the 1930s for the National Folklore Collection.

Ballybrack (Rath) — Folklore

This ringfort seems to be in the right place for our fairies' fort. It's 25m across and has a massive bank and ditch on the north side nearest the road.
There is an old fairy fort in Ballybrack. There are no fairies there now. Long ago the fairies were seen every night and every morning. They had their fort in a rock. The rock is in a field beside the Lower Road. The people beside the rock saw the fairies every night and every morning. The people would never touch them when they would see them. They would go away from them. The fairies were all dressed in red. They never saw the fairies in the daytime. They only saw them in the morning and at night.
A story by Shemus Kelly, told in the Schools Collection in the 1930s for the National Folklore Collection.

Cloonkee (Rath) — Folklore

In the townland of Cloonkee there is a fort. There are some stories about it. One time there was a man living near the fort and he used to grow crops around it. He had a piece of oats growing up to it. It was almost ripe and he was looking at it. The end nearest the fort was all trampled and that night he lay at the gap to see what horses were trampling it. At bed time a number of horses went out the gap and men riding on them and on the last horse there was a girl and he pulled her off and brought her into the house with him. She was not able to speak. He went to the same place to listen for the horsemen. They rode in the gap and he heard one of them say he has the girl now and he won't have much pleasure but if he pulled the pin out of her hair she would speak. He came home and took out the pin. She was able to speak and told him that the fairies took her the night she got married and that her husband was dead. She lived there for three months and one November day a man was going to the fair of Newtown. He went into the house for a drink and he sat down. He saw the girl racking her hair and he said but for his daughter was dead that she was her. She came down to him and said that she was his daughter and that it was the fairies that took her. He told her that her husband was dead. He also told her to wait with the man and to get married and that he would give her a fortune.
A story by Seamus Ó Mullagáin, told in the Schools Collection in the 1930s for the National Folklore Collection.

Corroy (Souterrain) — Folklore

I suppose this must be the right site for this sad story (so many nearby forts to choose between, but this has a souterrain). It was recounted by the boy's father, Pat James.

The Fairy Fort.

At a place near Ballina called Curroy, there is a very fine fort. It has been and is still owned by a very old family called James.
One day the eldest of the James' was picking nuts in the fort. Without knowing he suddenly found himself at the mouth of a large cave. He entered, and came to a kind of stone door. This he opened and entered into a beautiful furnished room. There were tables, chairs and other articles of furniture in it. The boy soon had all the furniture in his own house, which was quite close, to the fort. Next morning the furniture was gone. Soon after, the same boy was thrown from his bicycle and died.
From the Schools Collection of the 1930s, part of the National Folklore Collection and now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Knockatemple (Rath) — Folklore

There is a fairy fort in Morley's field in Cornanoff. It is now left to the rabbits to make their burrows there. The way it was made was, they carried clay with baskets out of our lake. The fort is now ploughed out except the bottom of it. There is a well beside it.
Recorded by Sara Hall as part of the1930s Schools Collection of the National Folklore Collection, which is now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Cold Pixie's Cave (Round Barrow(s)) — Folklore

Here in the Forest still lives Shakspeare's Puck, a veritable being, who causes the Forest colts to stray, carrying out word for word Shakspeare's description, -

"I am that merry wanderer of the night,
When I a fat and bean-fed horse beguile,
Neighing in likeness of a filly foal."
(Midsummer Night's Dream, Act ii., Sc. 1.)

This tricksy fairy, so the Forest peasant to this hour firmly believes, inhabits the bogs, and draws people into them, making merry, and laughing at their misfortunes, fulfilling his own roundelay -

"Up and down, up and down,
I will lead them up and down;
I am feared in field and town,
Goblin, lead them up and down."
(Midsummer Night's Dream, Act iv., Sc. 2.)

Only those who are eldest born are exempt from his spell. The proverb of "as ragged as a colt Pixey" is everywhere to be heard, and at which Drayton seems to hint in his Court of Faerie:-

"This Puck seems but a dreaming dolt,
Still walking like a ragged colt."
From 'The New Forest: its History and its Scenery' by John R. Wise (1863).

Tavraun (Rath) — Folklore

Midway between Kilkelly and the beautiful lakes of Orlar stands Tavran House, a pretty building surrounded by a planting of trees. Close to the building there is a little fort, commonly reported to be the resort of the fairies.
The story first got about that the fairies were there through one of the servants of the former owners of Tavran House who are long since dead.

The servant was one evening driving home the cows to be milked when he heard a child crying very close to him. He thought it might be one of the neighbours children who had strayed up the avenue, andhe went where the sound came from but not alone did he see an infant but also a pretty woman who appeared to be its mother. Both were strangers to him, and he was just turning away when he overheard a remark of the woman's which gave him much surprise. She was trying to stop the child crying and to pacify it all the quicker she said "Stop crying now, and I'll soon get you some milk as they are just driving home bracked cows and she will turn the can when it's milked.

The servant then hurried home to see if all the woman said came true. Sure enough just when he finished milking the cow raised her foot and spilt the bucket of milk. When he finished milking the rest of the cows he brought in the milk and told his master what happened.

The master went next evening for the cows with the servant and he heard the same crying and he saw the woman and child. The cow did the same thing again when she was milked, and the master said to turn the cow on to the fort every evening instead of bringing her home. This was done and the cow was milked but not by any human hand.
Cows and fairies seem very linked. Bracked cows do seem to be a thing but I don't know what it means.

A slightly muddled story from The Schools Collection of 1930s folklore, now being digitised at Duchas.ie

Streamstown (Enclosure) — Folklore

The man that owned the Streamstown fort ploughed it one year. After he ploughed it he got very sick and the people said that the cause of it was that he had no right to plough it. The Irish built the forts to protect themselves from the Danes.
From the 1930s Schools Collection, now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Ardroe (Enclosure) — Folklore

In my district there are many forts. In the townland of Streamstown there is a fort. In the townland of Ardroe also is another fort. From one fort you can see the other. It is said that the fairies have a run from one fort to the other under the ground. The forts are round in shape.
In the Ardroe fort there is a big stone in the middle of it. On that stone there were certain words printed long ago. That writing is gone off that stone now. The forts are surrounded by trees.
From the 1930s Schools Collection, now being digitised at duchas.ie.

Glebe (Stone Circle) — Folklore

There is a fairy fort in Tonleeaun, Moytura, where the Tuatha De Danaans and the Firbolgs had a fight. There are twenty tall stones standing in it, and it is said that each stone was a person before the fight, but the king of the Tuatha De Danaans changed them into stones, because they were lazy and would not fight.

There is also a large pot near the fort, which is so large that it takes twenty men to lift it. It is said that the Tuatha De Danaans used to boil four big bullocks in it at one time. The old people around this place say that the fairies come every night after twelve o'clock, light a fire under the big pot, and keep dancing and singing around it until the break of day.

It is a common belief that the fairies take away cattle from people who are not friendly towards them. Of course these people think their cattle have died, but instead they are taken off by the fairies and used by them as they are wanted.
From the Schools Collection of 1930s folklore, now being digitised at Duchas.ie. What can this giant pot refer to? One can't help visualising something like the Gundestrup cauldron. But I wonder what it it means.

Rosses Point (Rath) — Folklore

Ireland's Historic Environment Viewer has this site as a rath. It can be seen as a raised circular area (about 22m diameter) surrounded by a bank of earth and stone, with a break at the SE where the entrance was.

I was reading the following story (part of the Dúchas.ie schools collection from the 1930s) and thought it might be connected with the site:
Once upon a time in years gone by a fairy played mysterious tricks on a farmer in the near by village. The farmer had three cows, and a pig with some little ones and near his house stood a fort. the farmer was on edge to cut the fort away so he started one day to do so and that night one of the cows took sick and died and so on until the pig and her five little ones died. But the farmer was a head strong man and would not give into the fairies, but his wife was in an awful state till an old beggar woman came around and she asked what was all the trouble so the farmer's wife told the tale. And then the old woman told her to get her husband to put the trees or bushes back and their luck would change so he did one night and they prospered afterwards.
But I think it's also mentioned by W B Yeats as he speaks about this area generally in his 'Celtic Twilight' - there are souterrains here too, according to the map and his stories.
At the northern corner of Rosses is a little promontory of sand and rocks and grass: a mournful, haunted place. No wise peasant would fall asleep under its low cliff, for he who sleeps here may wake 'silly,' the 'good people' having carried off his soul. There is no more ready short-cut to the dim kingdom than this plovery headland, for, covered and smothered now from sight by mounds of sand, a long cave goes thither 'full of gold and silver, and the most beautiful parlours and drawing rooms.'

Once, before the sand covered it, a dog strayed in, and was heard yelping helplessly deep underground in a fort far inland. These forts or raths, made before modern history had begun, cover all Rosses and Columkille. The one where the dog yelped has, like most others, an underground beehive chamber in the midst. Once when I was poking about there, an unusually intelligent and 'reading' peasant who had come with me, and waited outside, knelt down by the opening, and whispered in a timid voice, 'Are you all right, sir?' I had been some little while underground, and he feared I had been carried off like the dog.

No wonder he was afraid, for the fort has long been circled by ill-boding rumours. It is on the ridge of a small hill, on whose northern slope lie a few stray cottages. One night a farmer's young son came from one of them and saw the fort all flaming, and ran towards it, but the 'glamour' fell on him, and he sprang on to a fence, cross-legged, and commenced beating it with a stick, for he imagined the fence was a horse, and that all night long he went on the most wonderful ride through the country. In the morning he was still beating his fence, and they carried him home, where he remained a simpleton for three years before he came to himself again.

A little later a farmer tried to level the fort. His cows and horses died, and all manner of trouble overtook him, and finally he himself was led home, and left useless with 'his head on his knees by the fire to the day of his death'.

A few hundred yards southwards of the northern angle of Rosses is another angle having also its cave, though this one is not covered with sand. About twenty years ago a brig was wrecked near by, and three or four fishermen were put to watch the deserted hulk through the darkness. At midnight they saw sitting on a stone at the cave's mouth two red-capped fiddlers fiddling with all their might. The men fled. A great crowd of villagers rushed down to the cave to see the fiddlers, but the creatures had gone.

Knowlton Henges — Folklore

"In walking from Blandford to Damerham in September, 1852, I shaped my course by Horton, with a view to seeing Monmouth's ash on Horton Heath. Having reached the roadside inn, I found that the ash was four miles distant, and not having time to proceed thither, I waited at the inn.

Whilst waiting I saw a small ruined tower at the distance of half-a-mile or so, and, on asking a man, found it was the ruin of Knowlton Church. He also told me that at a very distant period there was a very valuable bell in that tower, so much so that it excited the cupidity of some fellows, who planned to steal it, take it to the coast, and, having crossed the Channel, sell it in France. This, considering the loneliness of the church, could be no very difficult matter; but somehow, after they had got the bell out of the tower, they were discovered, pursued, and overtaken at the bridge of Sturminster Marshall, and, being unable to proceed further with it, they threw it into the Stour and made off.

The Knowlton people let down ropes and pulled it up nearly within reach of hand, when down it went, without there being any apparent reason for the ropes breaking. A second and a third attempt were attended with the same result till, weary and dispirited, they gave it up. The old man said that there was a verse to the effect that
'All the devils in
Could never pull up Knowlton bell.' "
The writer says here that he considered this tale very pointless and incomplete but then found Hutchins' version:
"There is a tradition current among some of the old people in the village that many years ago the bellringers (or a party) of this village went secretly and removed one of the bells from the old ruined church at Knowlton [...]. They were successful so far, but, as there came a fall of snow during the expedition, they were afraid of being discovered by their tracks, and to baffle pursuit in case of discovery they reversed the shoes of the horses on their return. Arriving at the old bridge of White Mill, which is distant from Sturminster Church about half-a-mile, they sent on two of their party in advance to the village to see that the course was clear. As they were so long gone the remaining party thought something was a miss and that they were discovered, and, suspecting that the people of Knowlton were on their track, they, to dispose of the bell and put it out of sight, threw it into the River Stour, in a deep hole (now called Bell Hole or White Mill Hole). Hence the following doggerel:-
'Knowlton bell is a-stole
And thrown into White Mill Hole'."
From the Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History Society vol. 27, 1906. The first story is told by Mr A Reeves, all being part of an article on Church Bells of Dorset by the Rev. Canon Raven.

Rathmore — Folklore

My mother told me that about three miles from our house there is a place called Rathmore, and a crock of gold is supposed to be hidden in an old rath there. On several occasions some men from the district, including Mr Jones and two fo the Sweenys tried to get the gold but failed, because they were prevented by a bull. The last time they searched they had to leave again as the dead coach is supposed to have passed. Tradition says that a life is supposed to be lost before the gold can be taken.
From The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0829, Page 177.

Gortnalee (Rath) — Folklore

There is a Rath in Gurtnalee, which is in this Parish, and years ago Mr. Shortt the owner of it wanted to cut down the trees in it. The people of the district advised him not to cut them down, but in spite of their advise he did it. A few days after he yoked his horse to draw the timber out of it, and it dropped dead. Then he yoked his donkey to draw it out, and it dropped dead also.
After that he never had a day's luck, all his cattle died, and he met with a lot of sickness. After some time he made up his mind to leave the district, and he was not very long left it when he died.
From folklore collected from local people by schoolchildren in the 1930s, and now digitised at Duchas.ie.
The Schools’ Collection, Volume 0829, Page 169.

Judging by the Google Earth photo, this rath still exists and no-one's been cutting any trees out of it lately.

The Dorsey Entrenchment (Enclosure) — Links

Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork


Whilst the trench this report was written for didn't turn up anything, Ronan McHugh gives a summary of the archaeological background of this Iron Age site on page 6.

Callaigh Berra's Lough — Folklore

The Chase of Slieve Cullinn. In which it is related how Finn's hair was changed in one day from the colour of gold to silvery grey.

Culand, the smith of the Dedannans, who lived at Slieve Cullinn, had two beautiful daughters, Milucra and Aina. They both loved Finn, and each sought him for her husband.

As they walked together one evening near Allen, they fell to talking of many things; and their conversation turning at last on their future husbands, Aina said she would never marry a man with grey hair.

When Milucra heard this, she resolved with herself that if she could not get Finn she would plan so he should not marry her sister Aina. So she departed immediately, and, turning her steps northwards, she summoned the Dedannans to meet her at Slieve Cullinn. Having brought them all together, she caused them to make a lake near the top of the mountain, and she breathed a druidical virtue on its waters, that all who bathed in it should become grey...

The little lake for which this legendary origin is assigned lies near the top of Slieve Gullion. There were several wells in Ireland which, according to the belief of old times, had the property of turning the hair grey. Giraldus Cambrensis tells us of such a well in Munster; and he states that he once saw a man who had washed a part of his head in this well, and that the part washed was white, while the rest was black!
It is to be observed that the peasantry of the district retain to this day a lingering belief in the power of the lake of Slieve Gullion to turn the hair grey.
From Old Celtic Romances by P W Joyce (1920)... where you can read the rest of the story.

The Reverend Lett's informants seem to think the effects will be worse:
We found that the natives of Dorsey hold to a belief in certain magical effects produced by the water of Lough Calliagh Beri. They would not tell us what would happen to anyone rash enough to bathe in it, but vaguely hinted that it would be something dreadful.

The Dorsey Entrenchment (Enclosure) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>The Dorsey Entrenchment</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>The Dorsey Entrenchment</b>Posted by Rhiannon

The Dorsey Entrenchment (Enclosure) — Folklore

The locality lies to the west of, and yet quite close to the wild and picturesque neighbourhood of Forkill, just on the west verge of the steep and rocky hills that stand out like sentinels before the great round mass of Slieve Gullion, which, 1893 feet in height, towers up grandly above them all, at a distance of only four miles.

[…] Traces of the “walls” are found from 10 to 11 [on the diagram]. At 11 there is a small bit of one of the ramparts still left. It is to be observed that from 9 to 11 the line of the “walls” curves gently to the south. From 11 the “walls are distinctly marked along the edge of a very deep bog where large quantities of turf are now each year, as they no doubt have for centuries been, prepared for fuel.

In this bog the old 6-inch Ordnance Survey Map once more sets out a short line of “piles”. And the natives tell of their having found oak “stakes” or “stabs” here with “collars” of oak fitted to them, and that “this was the way out to the country, and away through Ireland.” On the 6-inch Ordnance Survey Map, dated 1836; at this spot is a bit of “piles” set out into the bog at right angles to the line of the “walls.”
[…] On the descent of the “walls” towards 1, at the “Five roads,” the fosses are deep and well preserved, and the whole is studded with very old “fairy thorns.”

The inhabitants of the district hold that this part of the fortifications is the peculiar haunt of fairies; they assured us that “it would be unlucky to cut down one of the thorns or so much as even a branch, and when the bridge below was being fixed three years ago Brian K—would not let one branch be touched, and his son Owen would not lend his saw to cut a bit of one that was in the men’s way. Nobody would take a chip off them thorns, and look how gay they be, and mind you, every one of them is hundreds and hundreds of years old.

“One night I sat up to watch the turf in the bog that was a stealing, and I saw and heard – but I would not do it again for all the turf that ever were. I sat among the bushes beyont there, and I will not tell why I wouldn’t do it again. One evening we saw a funeral coming along the road from Dundalk, and it went up the rampart above there among the thorns, and they laid the corpse down and dug a grave, and put it in. The police got to hear of it, and they come and searched and searched the place everywhere but not a trace of anything did they see or find. And why should they, for sure it was not earthly.

“A girl who was herding the cows, and was at her sewing as she did so, saw a boy, her cousin, come along towards a gap in the fence near her. She bent her head a moment while hiding her sewing in her dress, and when she looked up, the boy was gone, and though she ran everywhere and called his name he was not there.”

We asked a boy who happened to be herding cattle near the bog, had he heard or ever seen a fairy. “I’ve heard of them, but I never saw one myself.” “Would you like to be out at dark on the old rampart?” we inquired. “I would not like to be there by myself,” was his reply.

Within the dun, on the highest point of this hill at 13, is a “Standing stone,” 5 feet high, having in it several deep and curious marks like the impressions of a huge finger, which were pointed out to us as “Caliagh Beri’s finger-marks.” The stone is locally known as “the White Stone of Caliagh Beri,” by whom the local tradition relates it to have been thrown into its present position from her lake on the top of Slieve Gullion.
From the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 1898: The Dun at Dorsey, Co. Armagh by Rev. Henry William Lett.

According to this page the stone used to be whitewashed each year.

Sharpenhoe Clappers (Hillfort) — Folklore

This is such a strange name, so I felt compelled to see where it comes from. The OED says 'claper' would be the Anglo-Norman version of the French 'clapier', which means rabbit hole. So a 'clapper' was a rabbit burrow, or maybe a place for deliberately keeping rabbits. The OED says for keeping 'tame rabbits' though I think they probably were often 'tasty rabbits'. But not tasty for our prehistoric ancestors though, apparently rabbits only got established in the 13th century.

Killameen (Rath) — Folklore

In the townland of Killameen between Miss Mary Ann O'Rourke's house and Mr Charles O'Rourke's house is situated a fairy fort. Many people saw those fairies there, but one particular person, Kate Smyth of Killameen, Carrigallen, was accompanied by them almost everywhere she went.
She said that after six o'clock every evening, she could hear the music of them everywhere around her. If she happened to be out late at night she was escorted home by a band of fairies who talked to her and questioned her.
She often claimed to have heard music and dance in her barn after six o'clock every evening but never before six.
People passing by this fort at night often heard the music, and often stood to listen to it.
From The School's Collection of the National Folklore Collection of Ireland. This story was written down by a schoolgirl from Gortachoosh in the 1930s.

The Five Knolls (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery) — Links

Myth and Geology


I've always loved the idea of the fossil sea urchins at this site.
Here's an article about the subject in general, in a whole book about Myth and Geology.
It's by Kenneth McNamara, and called 'Shepherds' Crowns, Fairy Loaves and Thunderstones: the mythology of fossil echinoids in England.'

Roche Rock (Natural Rock Feature) — Images

<b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Roche Rock</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Glynllifon (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

Well, Coflein cynically has it that this is a "probable cattle rubbing stone." And who can deny that cows may have rubbed their bums on it over the years (photo here). But this article from Archaeologia Cambrensis in 1875 suggests it's more than just a cow convenience:
The Maen Hir in Glyllivon Park.

Sir, -- The Hon. Frederick Wynn, who has lately joined our Association, asked me to go over to Glynllivon in order to examine some markings upon the Maen Hir within the Park walls, traditionally said to mark the grave of "Gwydion ab Don". Accordingly I went there on Tuesday, Sept. 7th. The markings were soon disposed of, being attributable simply to the weathering of soft places in the stone.

Mr. Wynn then proposed digging at the foot of the stone with a view to ascertain if any interment had taken place there, and asked me where the excavation had better be made. The stone, which is 9 feet high above ground, has its sides facing east and west. The east side is nearly flat, and so I fixed upon that side.

A trench about 2 feet deep was opened, and at a distance of 3 feet from the stone and 2 feet 6 inches below the surface of the ground the workmen came upon a layer of calcined bones mixed with charred wood. On closer examination we found pieces of the urn that had once enclosed the remains. It had been apparently broken by the weight of the soil ages ago. We carefully sifted the earth around, as well as the contents of the urn, but found no article either for use or ornament. Portions of the rim and the bottom of the urn being preserved, we were enabled to judge that it must have stood about 8 inches high, with a diameter at the mouth of 7 inches, and across the bottom 4 1/2 inches. It has not been turned on the lathe, and is without ornamentation. Mr. Wynn subsequently dug on the west side of the stone, but found nothing. [...]
Gwydion ab Don stars in the Mabinogion - he's a bit more magical a figure than someone you'd expect to find buried under a real stone (for example, a Welsh name for the Milky Way is 'Caer Wydion', the castle of Gwydion).

Bedd Morris (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

It is known as "Bedd Morris", which Morris or Morus was a notorious robber who lived among the rocks on the summit of the hill commanding the pass; and which is the old, and was once the only, road to Newport.

This man had a little dog trained to fetch the arrows shot at unfortunate way-farers. The nuisance of this murderous individual was so great that at last the population rose in arms against him, attacked him in his mountain-cave, dragged him down to the place where the stone now stands, and there killed and buried him.
From Archaeologia Cambrensis v6, 1875, in an article called 'On Pillar-Stones in Wales' by E.L. Barnwell.

Maen du'r Arddu (Natural Rock Feature) — Folklore

I've been puzzling over the old maps. The grid reference given is where the stone's marked even now. I was excited to find this photo on Geograph - doesn't it match the description well? But perhaps that's what rocks look like round there - I think it's not quite on the spot where the grid reference is. So that's confusing. We need an on-the-spot reporter.

Though I'm not sure it's worth the risk of finding out if the rumours are true. Or maybe it is. Might be untrue, and if it is true, you've got a 50:50 chance.
In a stony place, called Yr Arddu, Black Ham, pretty high in Cwm brwynog farm, on the ascent of Snowdon hill, there is a very large loose stone, called Maen du yr Arddu, i.e. The black Stone of Arddu; upon the top of which there is another lesser stone, seemingly as if it had been raised there by hands.

It is said, that if two persons were to sleep a night on the top of this stone, in the morning one would find himself endued with the gift of poetry, and the other would become insane.

And accordingly it is affirmed, that in a frolic two men, one called Huwcyn Sion y Canu, and the other Huw Belissa, agreed to sleep on the top of it one summer night: in the morning one found himself inspired with the celestial muse, and the other was quite bereaved of his senses.

It seems that both of these were of the lower order of minstrels, and very probably both of them drunk when they slept there: one, it should seem (having the appellation y Canu, Singer or Songster added to his name, and being addicted to singing) found his spirits in the morning in an exhilerated state, and the other not quite recovered from his intoxication. Imagination might have co-operated, so as to make him who was cheerful to fancy that he was really inspired, and to give the other an idea that he was really mad.
Or: how to kill a romantic idea stone cold dead with the application of reason.

From Observations in the Snowdon Mountains by William Williams (1802).

Bwlch-y-Ddeufaen (Standing Stones) — Folklore

An early telling of the tale. No mention of the hole. But you can apparently use the stones to judge the size of the giant.
... there is a wide difference between [sepulchral] heaps, and those on the highest summits of these hills; the latter are formed of large building stones, the former chiefly of small stones, such as can be carried by hand;

which I think is sufficient proof that they were intended for different purposes; one in memory of the dead deposited under them, the other the ruins of temporary buildings, which sheltered persons on the watch, who were to give the country signals, by lighting fire at the approach of an enemy, in time of war.

And besides, those on the summits are commonly known by some name, such as Carnedd Llewelyn, Carnedd Ddafydd, Carnedd y Filiast, &c. the others seldom any names given them, unless they are named from fabulous events; such as that on Bwlch y Ddeufaen, which is called Barclodiad y Gawres, literally, The Giantess's Apron full. The tale is thus:

A huge Giant, in company with his wife, travelling towards the island of Mona, with an intention of settling amongst the first inhabitants that had removed there; and having been informed that there was but a narrow channel which divided it from the continent, took up two large stones, one under each arm, to carry with him as a preparatory for making a bridge over this channel; and his lady had her apron filled with small stones for the same purpose: but meeting a man on this spot with a large parcel of old shoes on his shoulders, the Giant asked him, How far it was to Mona?

The man replied, that it was so far, that he had worn out those shoes in travelling from Mona to that place. The Giant on hearing this dropt down the stones, one on each side of him, where they now stand upright, about a hundred yards or more distant from each other; the space between them was occupied by this Goliah's [sic] body. His mistress at the same time opened her apron, and dropt down the contents of it, which formed this heap.

This and such like tales, though modelled and modernized perhaps from age to age, according to the genius and the language of the times, were, I am of opinion, originally intended as hyperboles, to magnify the prowess and magnanimity of renowned persons; from which we may conclude, that these heaps, especially those that have pillars near them, are very ancient, even prior to the Christian era.
From Observations in the Snowdon Mountains by William Williams (1802).

Carn Brea (Causewayed Enclosure) — Folklore

Is this too confusing or what? Not only are there two Carn Breas, they are both near wells connected with St Uny / St Eunius.
At the foot of Carn Brea Hill, and not far from the Church of Redruth, is a well dedicated to St. Eunius. A stone cross formerly stood near to it.

Now it is a rugged little well, with no regular building. A moor-stone covers it, and round it is a sort of curb of rough granite, with an iron bar running along. At the back is a newer stone, bearing the date 1842.

There used to be ascribed to the water the virtue that whoever was baptised in it would never be ignominiously hanged; but now no recollection of this exists, nor reverence for its sanctity. The water is much used, because it is considered better than "pumpen" water.
Ancient and Holy Wells of Cornwall by M and L Quiller-Couch (1894). The church of St Euny is easy to pick out from an old map, but not the well. But there are the interesting sounding watery features of "Giant's Well" and "House of Water" on the hill.

Carn Brea (Causewayed Enclosure) — Miscellaneous

Nighthawking - not a recent phenomena (since morons have always existed). I liked his restrained anger:
The hearths and benches of this interesting [hut] circle, which I left complete in the evening, were destroyed before 5.30 the next morning - no doubt by some of those who, fancying that no one could be foolish enough to dig unless he was finding treasure, haunted us during the whole summer, and destroyed much that would otherwise have been of permanent interest. One day I found they had removed the turf from another circle, for the sake of destroying the cooking-hole - a procedure that almost justifies language that would relight the fire.
From the Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall v13 (1895-8) - in an article by Thurstan Collins Peter.
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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:
http://wiltshirewandering.blogspot.co.uk/

and I've been helping digitise the Schools' Collection of the National Folklore Collection of Ireland... you can also at
http://www.duchas.ie/en

My TMA Content: