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

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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 (click to view fullsize)

<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

RCAHMW


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.

Blackcastle Rings (Promontory Fort) — Links

Canmore


The banks and ditches of the fort look so crisp in this aerial photo.

Blackcastle Rings (Promontory Fort) — Folklore

This promontory fort was visited by the Berwickshire Naturalists' Club in July 1857.
The day was most favourable, bright and with a cool air. The majority of the members, under the guidance of the Rev. Mr. Walker, the Minister of the Parish, proceeded up the valley of the Blackadder, which divides the Parish into two parts, the moor part, from the more cultivated land.

They admired the dark grove of fir trees on the opposite bank of the stream, and the perpendicular cliffs above the river, called "Thomas's Grave," the common name of the place, but the origin lost in obscurity. Advancing forward they came to a large mound called the "King's Grave," about which there is a legendary tale, which Mr. Walker has kindly undertaken to make us acquainted with hereafter. [...]

An encampment, called the "Black Castle Ring," very perfect, situated on the high grounds, was the next object of interest. On three sides there is an outer ditch, then a high dyke of earth, then a wide fosse, and then again an inner dyke - a large flat piece of rich-grass ground forming the centre. On the other side is a broken bank, very precipitous, 100 feet and more above the river, from which the camp was quite inaccessible.
I imagine the King's Grave is the cairn here. But you will have to make up your own story for now.

Caer Carreg-y-fran (Hillfort) — Miscellaneous

There is an old fortification, on an insulated rock near Cwm y Glo, in this parish, called Caer Cwm y Glo; the wall is about nine feet thick, and in some places about six or seven high; the entrance is from the west; several other fortifications are visible from it, such as Dinas Dinorweg, Lys, and Pen y Gaer, in Llanddeiniolen parish; the circular watchtower, between the two lakes in Llan Beris parish and Dinas Dinlle, near the sea in Llan Dwrog parish.
From 'The Cambrian Register for 1795' in a section entitled 'a statistical account of the parish of Llanrug in Caernarvonshire.'

Substantial sounding remains? There's details from another visit from 1856 in Archaeologia Cambrensis and an empassioned plea for its protection and need to be valued here, as between 1854 and 1856 there had been much damage ("shamefully and needlessly maltreated").

There's no detailed information on Coflein though yet. Perhaps someone should take 'H.L.J.'s advice that "antiquaries should hasten to visit it before it is too late". It might be nice to check out whether the "small spring of water" still "trickles out from a rock near the single entrance on the south-west". With running water and natural fortifications it sounds quite the spot.

Llanymynech Hill (Ancient Mine / Quarry) — Folklore

I tracked down 'The Cambrian Register'. The mention of the cromlech so-called is in 'A statistical account of the parish of Llanymyneich' by Walter Davies. He mentions the Ogo:
One vestige of [the Romans'] mining, is an immense level branching out in different directions, as they were led by the veins of copper ore. Its windings are so numerous and intricate, that some years back, two men of this parish, endeavouring to explore its mazes, were so bewildered in its labyrinths, that when they were found by some miners who were sent in search of them, they had lain themselves down, in despair of ever seeing any more the light of day. It is now called the Ogo, about which the neighbouring peasantry abound with fairy legends, too ridiculous to enumerate.
He mentions various skeletons found in the caves, including one wearing 'a golden bracelet, clasping about the wrist', but "the selfishness and ignorance of the master-miners have deprived us at present, of a view of those curious relicks." He goes on:
This hill, lest it should all be made subservient to Roman avarice, had one spot of it consecrated to religion. On its eastern brow once stood a Cromlech, measuring seven feet by six, and about eighteen inches thick. It is called by the vulgar bedd y cawr; and it was the voice of immemorial tradition, that a giant had buried his wife under this stone, with a golden torque about her neck. This report caused three brothers, who lived in the neighbourhood, some years back, to overturn the stone from its pedestals in search for the treasure; in which position it now lies. Thus we see how avarice stimulates men to deeds of villainy, not even to spare, but sacrilegiously to overturn the altars of the Gods. The neighbours will tell you, how this vile act did not escape the vengeance of heaven, but ended in the destruction of its perpetrators.
From the Cambrian Register for the year 1795, p298.

Cat Hole Cave (Cave / Rock Shelter) — Images

<b>Cat Hole Cave</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Parc Le Breos (Long Cairn) — Links

Internet Archive


'Description of the Parc Cwm Tumulus' by J. Lubbock - the tale of how the mound was excavated in 1869. In 'Archaeologia Cambrensis' v4 (1887).

Parc Le Breos (Long Cairn) — Images

<b>Parc Le Breos</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Aran Fawddwy (Round Cairn) — Folklore

There's some stoney folklore for this area (and shape changing animals of various colours). But you'll have to ask GM if he sat on any big blue stones.
[Saint Tydecho,] upon a quarrel between him and Emyr Llydaw (i.e., Emyr, King of Armorica) he came over to Mowddwy and built a temple (teml) there, and kept a good house; that his bed was the blue rock on the side of the valley, and that he wore a hair coat (pais rawn), and was a confessor.

Maelgwn Gwynedd, in the heat of his youth, sent his horses and dogs to be fed by his prayers. Tydecho turned them loose into the mountain; and when they were fetched, though it had been cold winds and hoar frost, they were found fat and strong, and their white colour changed into a gold colour. Maelgwn Gwynedd, provoked at this, took away Tydecho's oxen; but the next day deer instead of oxen were found in his team aploughing, and a grey wolf drawing the harrow after them.

Maelgwn came with a pack of white dogs to hunt to these rocks, and sat upon Tydecho's blue stone; but when he endeavoured to get up, he found his backside was quite fastened to the stone that he could not stir, and was so obliged to make matters up with the saint. He sent back his oxen, and gave him for atonement the privilege of sanctuary for a hundred ages so that neither man nor beast could be taken from his land; no battles, or burning, or killing to be admitted there.
From Dafydd Llwyd ap Llewelyn ap Gruffydd's account, collected in Lewis Morris's Celtic Remains (1878).

Dunrobin (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Dunrobin</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Dunrobin (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Miscellaneous

I wonder if this cist is related to the stone Nick found. It's on the same estate at least.
In March, 1880, roadmen digging for gravel in the side of a moraine in Dunrobin Park (Co. Sutherland, N. B. ) came upon an upright sandstone slab, which proved to be the foot of a stone coffin. This cist, formed of undressed slabs, lay north-west, about 3 ft. below the surface, and was 4 ft. long, 2 ft. wide, and 1 ft. 6 ins. deep. As the lid had not been lifted, the contents were undisturbed. These consisted of a skeleton (female), in fair preservation. Behind the head stood an urn of the "drinking cup" pattern, the farthest north of this type recorded up to this date, 1903. At the feet of the skeleton, which lay on the right side, with knees doubled up, lay 118 shale beads about size and shape of a silver threepenny piece. Six of these were perforated. Near these were 18 beach-rolled quartzose pebbles about 2 ins. long [...]
From The Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist v10, 1904. The accompanying photo is added above.

Gwal-y-Filiast (Burial Chamber) — Images

<b>Gwal-y-Filiast</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Duddo Five Stones (Stone Circle) — Miscellaneous

It's quite dull to point this out, as their flutiness is perhaps why they're so appealing today, but it may well be that these lovely fluted stones were not in their lovely fluted state when they were erected. Here are some gleanings from an article about the circle's excavation in 2008.

The stone is thought to come from an outcrop of Fell Sandstone at NT935437, east of here. The stones must have been dressed there, or at least away from the circle, as when the site was excavated, no tell-tale bits were found.

The grooves are called 'rillenkarren' and are caused when wind and water erodes the stone. But the direction the grooves run in, parallel to the bedding plane, suggests they developed after the stones were put up. Because if they'd been chosen for their rillishness in situ, the grooves would probably run the other way compared to the bedding plane.

The waists of the stones are said to be as a result of physical erosion too (maybe animals plus weathering), although the general shape of narrow bottomed / wide topped was probably part of the deliberate shaping.

Another point is that if Beckensall's cup marks are man-made, they must have been put on there post-dressing of the stones, and therefore be unusually dateable.

Roughly a fifth of the stones' heights are hidden beneath the ground, which because it doesn't seem like very much, led the authors of the article to speculate whether the 'waists' of the stones were actually caused by erosion at a former ground level.

And a last point, that although the stones mostly have two flatter faces and two narrow sides, the builders of the circle didn't seem to orientate them in a consistent way (for example, in/out of the circle, or towards a point of the compass). But it may be they 'relied upon some lost factor of the landscape we cannot know'. Indeed.

Much more besides in: 'The Excavation of Duddo Stone Circle, Northumberland' by B Edwards, R Miket, and R Bishop (2011): Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society 77, pp321-353.

Stanwick Fortifications (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Links

Archaeology at the BBC


Sir Mortimer and Magnus: the Festival Dig.

Jolly good wot. I won't spoil this topping story which Sir Malcolm Wheeler expertly (and meanderingly) spins for you and 'Mag'* about some rare and gruesome finds at Stanwick. He's raconteur and archaeologist combined, and a character from a totally different era. This is confirmed with a shock when he describes how he looked out of a window to see troops passing at the outbreak of the first world war. He's a sprightly 84 in this 15 minute film from 1974.

(* I defy anyone not to cringe at this point.)

Norden Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Folklore

There were four barrows here, as you can read on Pastscape, but maybe only one or two are visible now. Maybe you can see the stones and grave if you're looking in the right direction.
Near Norden-hill, in Dorsetshire, is a lengthy mound which is popularly called the Giant's Grave; and very near to it are two large stones which have probably rolled down from the beds of rock on the side, or from the chalk hill above. A story, popular in the neighbourhood, says that two giants were once standing on Norden-hill and contending for the mastery as to which of them should hurl the longer distance, the direction being across the valley towards Hanging-hill. He whose stone fell short was so mortified at the failure that he died of vexation, and was buried beneath the mound which has since been known as the Giant's Grave.
From Giants and dwarfs by Edward J Wood (1868).

Boles Barrow (Long Barrow) — Links

Internet Archive


William Cunnington's notes about the opening of the Boles Barrow in 1801, in volume 111 of the Wiltshire Archaeological and Natural History magazine (June 1924).

There are also photographs of the mysterious bluestone.

Wales (Country) — Folklore

Michaelmas Day was formerly regarded with suspicion in Wales. It was credited with uncanny power. There was an old superstition that on this night the Cistfaens, or warriors' graves, in all parts of the Principality were illuminated by spectral lights, and it was very unlucky to walk near those places on Michaelmas Eve or Night; for on those two occasions the ghosts of ancient warmen were engaged in deadly fray around their lonely resting-places. (C. D. and Family Collection.)
From Marie Trevelyan's Folk-lore and folk-stories of Wales (1909).

Caerau Hillfort, Rhiwsaeson — Folklore

At a place called Rhiwsaeson, near Llantrisant, Glamorgan, a woman in white used occasionally to appear. A farm labourer returning home one evening met her. She approached him, saying: "Your wife has given birth to a babe. Go and bring the boy to me at once, that I may be saved." The man was surprised to find the event had come about. He feared to do this, and the parson advised him to have the infant christened before taking him out, fearing he might die before his return. When he, carrying the babe, reached the spot where the white woman waited his coming, he found her crying bitterly and wringing her hands, for one of the conditions of her soul's redemption was the kiss of a new-born and unbaptized child.

A shepherd, minding his master's sheep on the Llantrisant Mountain, sat to rest in a sheltered nook where a huge rock covered with heather shielded him from the fierce sunshine at noontide. He looked a few paces away, and saw a white-robed girl scattering a few roses. The shepherd waited until she was gone out of sight, and then went from his nook to gather the flowers. He looked at them, and said: "Oh, what beautiful flowers!" He replaced them where they had been scattered. Suddenly the maiden reappeared, looked at him kindly, and smiled sadly, but never uttered a word. That night he took the flowers home, and placed them in water. In the morning he found three gold coins where the flowers had been.
It's not inconceivable these two stories about a woman in white are about the same place? And that that place could be here? Just to be on the safe side I wouldn't hang about after dark. From Folk-lore and folk-stories of Wales by Marie Trevelyan (1909).

Garth Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Folklore

It must be notable that the only thermal spring in Wales is at the foot of this hill: Ffynnon Taff (Taff's Well). Wikipedia seems to have a pretty good write-up. They have open days sometimes, which I'm sure would be very interesting. A lovely warm spring (like at Bath) cannot have escaped the attentions of local people in prehistory. And there's some attendant folklore, for example:
A few miles above Cardiff, on the eastern side of the river, there is a thermal spring called Taff's Well. Taff is a corruption of Daf, or David, the patron saint of Wales. This well was much frequented by people suffering from rheumatism. A lady robed in grey frequently visited this well, and many people testified to having seen her in the twilight wandering along the banks of the river near the spring, or going on to the ferry under the Garth Mountain.

Stories about this mysterious lady were handed down from father to son. The last was to the effect that about seventy or eighty years ago the woman in grey beckoned to a man who had just been getting some of the water. He put his pitcher down and asked what he could do for her. She asked him to hold her tight by both hands until she requested him to release her. The man did as he was bidden. He began to think it a long time before she bade him cease his grip, when a 'stabbing pain' caught him in his side, and with a sharp cry he loosened his hold. The woman exclaimed: "Alas! I shall remain in bondage for another hundred years, and then I must get a woman with steady hands and better than yours to hold me." She vanished, and was never seen again.

In connection with this well there was a custom prevalent so late as about seventy years ago. Young people of the parish used to assemble near Taff's Well on the eighth Sunday after Easter to dip their hands in the water, and scatter the drops over each other. Immediately afterwards they repaired to the nearest green space, and spent the remainder of the day in dancing and merry-making.
From Folk-lore and folk-stories of Wales by Marie Trevelyan (1909).

Frank I' Th' Rocks (Cave / Rock Shelter) — Folklore

Suggestive these - Wolfscote and Bearsford - smacking of ancient times, when the fauna of the district were not so harmless as they are today. Beneath the quaint little manor house of Wolfscote Grange stands one of the boldest bluffs of rock, and in the foot of it is a cavern, named "Frank's i' th' Rock," and so called on account of a man bearing that name who lived in it many years with his wife, and had eleven children there! Cave dwellers do not all belong to dim and far-away antiquity, for the man Frank lived less than a century ago.
Through Staffordshire Stiles and Derbyshire Dales, by John Sheldon (1894).

Caesar's Camp (Keston) (Hillfort) — Folklore

Caesar's Well, the chief source of the Ravensbourne, is situated near the entrance gates to Holwood Park. Mr Hone's interesting "Table Book," written in the year 1828, contains an account of a visit paid, in company with his friend W--, to the source of the Ravensbourne. At the time of that visit it would appear that the spring was known locally as the "Bath." In the time of Mr Pitt's residence at Holwood it was much used as a bath, and its waters were supposed to be possessed of valuable medicinal properties. Hasted's plan of the camp at Holwood (pub. in 1778) shows the well or bath, and twelve trees are represented as growing close round its margin, and there are appearances of steps leading down to the water.

[..] The name Ravensbourne is commonly supposed to take its origin from the following tradition. When the Roman soldiers were encamped at Holwood there was great need of water. A raven was seen to frequent a certain spot near the camp, and upon close examination a small spring was discovered among the bushes. Upon digging out the place a copious spring was found, and from the accident which led to that discovery it is supposed the stream took its name.
Definitely some confusion - a raven would definitely help the native Britons, not the Romans! And of course the camp is not Roman at all, though that's surely what I believed when I went paddling about in this spring as a kid. Only parts of the camp's ramparts remain. There is a gap on the western side near the spring: the record on Pastscape seems to imply this was the main entrance.

From Antiquarian Jottings relating to Bromley, Hayes, Keston and West Wickham, in Kent, by George Clinch (1889).

Coire na Feinne (Chambered Cairn) — Folklore

A tale of strange fairy cows, that usually live (obviously) under the sea. Traigh Niosaboist is the beach immediately near the chambered cairn.
Several generations ago a herd of cows came ashore at Nisabost, which then formed part of the farm of Luskentyre, in South Harris. In order to prevent their return to the sea, if possible, the natives got between them and the shore, and drove them inland with the assistance of such weapons as lay ready to hand. It was discovered that even handfuls of sand thrown between these sea-cows and the shore checked their return to the sea. In many respects these particular animals resembled ordinary Highland cattle, although they were known to dwell under the sea, and to feed on the sea-weed called meillich in the Gaelic. Some of them broke back to the sea: others settled down at Luskentyre.
From The peat-fire flame by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor (1937).

Dun Nan Nighean (Stone Fort / Dun) — Folklore

There doesn't seem to be much if anything left of the stones of the dun wall here at Balephuil, according to Canmore. But it was built in a very well protected spot, on a corner of a rocky stack sticking out into the sea.

I like this story a lot.
One night toward the close of the eighteenth century, when a certain Dugald Campbell was tending the cows belonging to the farm of Baile-phuil, on the coast of Tiree, a small, red cow came among the herd. The Baile-phuil cows immediately proceeded to set about it with their horns. When it fled, they followed it. Dugald joined in the pursuit, during which, as he himself testified, the little, red cow at one moment seemed to be quite near him, and at another moment very far off. The chase was brought to an abrupt end when the little, red cow entered the face of a rock, and thus disappeared from view, never to be seen again by human eye.

In relating this incident, Dugald Campbell insisted that he had the greatest difficulty in preventing the Baile-phuil cows from following the intruder into the face of the rock.
From The peat-fire flame by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor (1937). The cow of course is a red fairy cow, one of the cro sith which you might find on Tiree.

Dun nan Gall (Cliff Fort) — Folklore

There is a folk-tale still told in Tiree of how an islander, when crossing the machar near Kennavarra, came within sight of [a cu sith, or fairy dog] crouching by a sand-dune, and immediately altered the direction in which he was making for home. Reflecting on this sinister spectacle the following morning, he resolved to put his courage to the test, and re-visit the sand-dune. Upon the sand at this point he discovered the imprints of a dog's paws, "as large as the spread of his palm." The imprints he traced for some distance, until they came to an end. He saw no dog anywhere, nor any beast likely to have left marks of this kind; and so he concluded that the object he had seen the previous evening was not of earthly origin, and must have been a faery dog.
From The peat-fire flame by Alasdair Alpin MacGregor (1937). As he explains, they are a creature of ill omen and move swiftly and noiselessly. They bark three times, 'and there is usually a fair interval between each bark, which gives to the terror-stricken hearer a chance of making for safety before he hears the third bark. Otherwise he is liable to be overtaken and destroyed by the faery dog'. Just to warn you.

Canmore's record for the fort (in the area of Ceann a' Mhara) is here.

Dun Gerashader (Stone Fort / Dun) — Folklore

Everywhere, in the Highlands, the red-deer are associated with the Fairies, and in some districts, as Lochaber and Mull, are said to be their only cattle. [...] In other parts of the Highlands, as in Skye, though the Fairies are said to keep company with the deer, they have cows like those of men. In Skye, Fairy cattle are said to be speckled and red (crodh breac ruadh), and to be able to cross the sea.

It is not on every place that they graze. There were not above ten such spots in all Skye. The field of Annat (achadh na h-annaid), in the Braes of Portree, is one. When the cattle came home at night from pasture, the following were the words used by the Fairy woman, standing on Dun Gerra-sheddar (Dun Ghearra-seadar), near Portree, as she counted her charge:

"Crooked one, dun one,
Little wing grizzled,
Black cow, white cow,
Little bull black-head,
My milch kine have come home,
O dear! that the herdsman would come!"
Superstitions of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland, by J G Campbell (1900).

To complicate matters, MacGregor (The Peat-Fire Flame, 1937) mentions this story, but also another which is clearly based in exactly same area, and has the same rhyme, but this time the fairy cows are being called back to the sea, rather than to the Dun:
[...] the faery cows that once came ashore at the Great Rock of MacNicol, on the farm of Scorribreac, in Skye. On this occasion, the entire herd was intercepted in its attempt to return to the sea, by the scattering of earth on the strip of land separating it from the water. In the Highlands and Western Isles it was held that a sprinkling of earth taken from a burying-ground was most efficacious in such circumstances.

Toward the evening of the day on which the faery cattle came ashore at Scorribreac, a voice from the sea was heard calling them back by name. And the names by which they were called were taken down at the time. These names, of course, were in the Gaelic; and the Gaelic rhyme by which they are remembered is still known among those interested in these matters. The rhyme illustrates, moreover, that these faery cows varied considerably in colour. One was brown; and another was black. There was a red one, and a brindled one, and so on. In response to the voice from the sea, the whole herd ultimately returned to its watery element.

Wick Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — Links

Archaeology at Hinkley Point


A photo of the barrow, by Pauline Rook. Plus there are great photos of its excavation on this page:
http://archaeologyathinkleypoint.wordpress.com/wick-barrow/
including a photo of one its inhabitants. A skull that is, not a pixie. I think the pixies must have moved out for the excavation - the stones are laid bare.

Wick Barrow (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

A very fair response was made to the appeal issued on behalf of your Society and the Viking Club for funds for carrying out a careful exploration of Wick Barrow (better known locally as 'Pixies' Patch,') near Stogursey. The excavations were carried out under the directio of Mr. H. St. George Gray who was ably assisted by the Rev. C. W. Whistler (your Society's Local Secretary for Cannington), and Mr. Albany Major (Editor to the Viking Club). The work has not been completed, but an interim report has been issued to subscribers. The secondary interments so far uncovered date back to the early Bronze Age, and your Museum has already been enriched by an extremely fine flint knife-dagger and two well ornamented drinking-vessels found with the skeletons. The work will be resumed early in the autumn and further subscriptions towards the work are solicited.

---

The highest interest was taken by members of the Society and others in the excavations conducted at Wick Barrow [...] the operations were witnessed by sometimes as many as sixty at a time.
P7-8 and p67 in Proceedings of the Somersetshire Archaeological and Natural History Society for the year 1907 (v8).
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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.

My TMA Content: