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Folklore Posts by Kammer

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Showing 1-20 of 23 folklore posts. Most recent first | Next 20

Kerloas (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Future husbands would go there by night it is said and beat themselves against the protuberances unclothed in order to have beautiful children!
Source: The Megaliths of Brittany, Jacques Briard (ISBN: 2-87747-063-6).

The Hoar Stone (Long Barrow)

Celia Hadon suggests that the stones at this barrow may be 'running stones':
This is no 14 in Old Stones of the Cotswolds by D.P. Sullivan (Reardon). These may be the hoar stones of which it is said that they run round the field when they hear the nearby church clock strike the hour.

Long Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Celia Hadon describes the Long Stone at Staunton on her web site and recounts a legend about the stone:
Tradition says that if it is pricked by a pin on the dot of midnight, it bleeds.
Not the most original folk tale, but interesting none the less. [An older citing is Alfred Watkins' classic 'Old Straight Track' of 1925].

Mynydd Carningli (Sacred Hill)

In the book Saints and Stones (ISBN 1-84323-124-7) Davies and Eastham give an account of the life of the St Brynach, a Celtic Christian who lived during the 6th Century and became a victim of his own success:
Eventually, so many people became disciples of the saint that he sought refuge in a cave on Carn Ingli - the Mount of Angels - above Nevern, where he would converse with divine messengers.

Carreg Samson (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

In the book Saints and Stones (ISBN 1-84323-124-7) Davies and Eastham describe how St. Samson was once credited with the lifting of the capstone:
…the twelve-ton capstone may have been a naturally occurring erratic, already on site, which the enterprising Neolithic engineers dug out and hoisted onto uprights. Legend has it that St Samson performed the operation with his little finger (and severed it in the process): the tomb was once known as the Grave of Samson's Finger.

Parc-y-Meirw (Stone Row / Alignment)

In his book Saints and Stones (ISBN 1-84323-124-7) Damien Walford Davies suggests that the name Parc-y-Meirw (meaning 'field of the dead') may date back to the battle of Mynydd Carn which is believed to have taken place nearby in 1081:
During the course of the fighting, three Welsh princes - Trahaearn ap Caradog, Caradog ap Gruffudd and Meilyr ap Rhiwallon - were killed by the forces of Rhys ap Tewdwr of Deheubarth and Gruffudd ap Cynan, assisted by the Irish.
Davies suggests that the death of these princes contributed towards the subsequent Norman invasion of south Wales.

The Mull Circle (Chambered Cairn)

In his book A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany (ISBN: 0-300-06331-8) Aubrey Burl alludes to a tale about a ghostly army of horsemen that has been glimpsed riding by the circle.

Maen Serth (Standing Stone / Menhir)

In his book The Spirit Paths of Wales (ISBN: 1-85284-289-X) Laurence Main describes Maen Serth:
Maen Serth (Steep Stone) is a prominent standing stone which stands 7ft 2ins high, 6ins thick and 1ft 8ins broad, at an altitude of 15000ft. It was erected in the Bronze Age and had a cross carved on it around AD 800. The Welsh chieftain of Elvel, Einion Clud, was murdered by the English here in a tournament in the late 12th century.
Main writes confidently about this site and others, but doesn't include any of his sources.

On the BBC web site (see the link below) a short article by Roger Hulm gives a more detailed account of the legend, this time identifying the murderer as Roger Mortimer (a Norman):
The story goes that in the late 12th century, there was a dispute over the land surrounding Rhayader between the Norman 'Marcher' Lord, Roger Mortimer, and the Welsh chieftains - Rhys ap Gruffydd and the two brothers, Cadwallon and Einon Clud. During a temporary 'lull' in hostilities, at Christmas 1176, these men had gathered at Rhys' castle to feast and joust.

At the jousting event, the Welshman Einon Clud defeated Roger Mortimer but the Norman was a bad sportsman. He ambushed Einon on the hill above Rhayader and killed him as he was returning home. A short time later, the other brother was also ambushed by Mortimer on the same hill and killed.

It was said that Maen Serth was the place of the double killing which has given another local name to the stone - the 'Princes' Stone'.
Text as visited 23rd March 2006.

Ysbyty Cynfyn (Christianised Site)

In his book A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany (ISBN: 0-300-06331-8) Aubrey Burl writes (citing Briggs as his source),
It may be no more than coincidence that the church [Ysbytty Cynfyn] is only 1 and a half miles north Devil's Bridge over the River Mynach where the Devil was tricked by an old woman who saved her soul by sending her little dog to cross the bridge before her.
I'm inclined to think that it is no more than coincidence, as the connection between Bronze Age Ysbytty Cynfyn and Devil's Bridge (Pontarfynach) is a bit tenuous. Cope makes a similar connection between the two places, but it's not clear why.

King Orry's Grave (Chambered Cairn)

The Manx National Heritage information board next to the south western part of the site has this to say about King Orry:
King Orry is an almost legendary character revered by the Manx as their greatest king. He was King Godred Crovan, who seized the throne in 1079 and created the kingdom of Man and the Isles stretching from the Irish Sea to the Outer Hebrides. Several monuments are named in deference to him, but there is no connection between the historical figure and these prehistoric remains.

Maen Llog (Standing Stone / Menhir)

In his book More Mysterious Wales, Chris Barber writes:
Standing in the churchyard [of St. Mary's Church, Welshpool], this hunk of stone is reputed to have stood formerly in the abbey of Strata Marcella (SJ25131042) where the abbots were 'installed' on it as part of a well established ritual.
After the Dissolution of the monasteries Maen Llog was moved to St. Mary's Church, and a new ritual grew up around it:
Folk who were required to do penance were made to stand on the stone, dressed in a white sheet, with a candle in one hand.
The stone was moved into the graveyard on the instruction of a Puritan called Vovasour Powell, who considered it to be an object of superstition. It sounds like Powell was right, because the stone came to be used as a wishing stone. To make wish, you have to climb it and turn three times to face the sun.

Cerrig Meibion Arthur (Standing Stones)

In his book Mysterious Wales, Chris Barber tells the following Arthurian legend about the stones:
These stones, about 25 feet apart, are said to be a monument to King Arthur's sons who were killed by the Twrch Trwyth, a wild boar which caused havoc in his camp. It had originally swum over from Ireland. The story is told in great detail in the Mabingion. On the ridge above are Cerrig Marchogion - the stones of Arthur's Knights.
Presumably Cerrig Marchogion is Bedd Arthur, but I've not seen it referred to by this name before.

Coitan Arthur

My post-visit research at the NMRW came up with the following about this site's demise in 1844:
The Rev. T.G. Mortimore remonstrated with the destroyer [of the stone], and with the view of inducing him to desist reminded him of the old saying that ill-luck befell those who destroyed the Druid's altars. Some years afterwards the vandal admitted that the house he had built of the stones had not brought him good luck!
At least we got some good folklore out of this site.

Bedd Morris (Standing Stone / Menhir)

According to an extract I found in the RCAHMW records, the stone is named after a local robber:
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 this pass; and which is the old, and once the only, road to Newport.
This record was written in 1875, and the bad punctuation is all original. Incidentally, the spelling 'Morus' is the Welsh way of spelling 'Morris' and both words are pronounced in exactly the same way. Apparently back in the nineteenth century the records were taken by members of the clergy, who dabbled in antiquarianism as a gentleman's pastime, and their efforts were only sometimes checked by the professionals. I'm afraid I don't know the author of the above.

St Govan's Well and Chapel (Sacred Well)

There's a great legend explaining the existence of the chapel, and more interesting, the unusual markings in the cliff face. The information board at the car park above the chapel only tells part of the story:
Tradition says [St Govan] was pursued by pirates [or Vikings] to the cliff edge where the chapel now stands. Miraculously, a cleft in the rock opened for the Govan[sic] to hide in, closing again until the marauders had left.
The place where St Govan hid is now the anteroom at the back of the chapel, and the strange markings in the cliff show where his ribs were pressed against the rock when God hid him.

Moel Drygarn (Cairn(s))

Moel Drygarn consists of three sizeable cairnes Bronze Age within the defenses of an Iron Age hillfort. According to Mr Barber (in his book More Mysterious Wales), the three cairnes are known as Môn, Maelan and Madog. They are named after the three Welsh kings that are buried underneath them (allegedly).

Carreg Pumsaint (Standing Stone / Menhir)

This stone is thought to be either a Bronze Age standing stone or an anvil stone from a later period (Roman or Medieval). It could conceivably be a standing stone that was later used as an anvil stone.

The stone stands next to the Pumpsaint Gold Mines, which were originally mined by the Romans (or so most people believe). Chris Barber alludes to the stone in his book Mysterious Wales:
Near the entrance to the area containing the Roman gold mines is a strange stone in which the five saints [Ceitho, Celynnen, Gwyn, Gwynog and Gwynaro] are alleged to have left their footprints.
There are other legends relating to these five saints and their activities in the area. There are five pools in the river, which were used by these saints, and later became places of pilgrimage. I'm not sure whether the pools are in Afon Cothi or Twrch, as they both converge at Pumpsaint (another possible indication of prehistoric sanctity).

Of course the village's name means Five Saints in Welsh.

Maen Ceti (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

From A Gazetteer of Arthurian Topographic Folklore:
Ashe [quoted in Grooms, 1993, p.115] writes that 'Legend has it that when Arthur was walking through Carmarthenshire on his way to Camlann, he felt a pebble in his shoe and tossed it away. It flew seven miles over Burry Inlet and landed in Gower, on top of the smaller stones of Maen Cetti.'

Carreg Cennen (Sacred Well)

In his book Mysterious Wales Chris Barber writes that, "people used to throw pins into [the well] and make wishes".

The Rollright Stones (Stone Circle)

In her article called Where Witches Used to Meet, (I can't find where this was published) Mollie Mordle-Barnes wrote:
The Rollright stones have been a favourite meeting place for witches for centuries. In Tudor times detailed reports of witches' sabbaths were compiled by a witch hunting commission in Oxford. In the reign of Charles I one of these witches was hanged for attempting to murder her sister's child by means of witchcraft. She was said to have attended numerous sabbaths at the stones and others held on Boar's Hill, just outside Oxford.
The same article alludes to a notorious witches sabbath held at the stones on May 12th (Walpurgis night) 1949.
Showing 1-20 of 23 folklore posts. Most recent first | Next 20
I live in a small Welsh seaside town on the west coast. As well as being well placed for visiting the local sites, it's relatively easy to get to sites in south Wales, north Wales and the borders.

If you'd like to use one of the photos I've posted on this site please contact the TMA Eds who'll pass the message on (ed@themodernantiquarian.com).

Some of my favourite prehistoric sites:
Avebury (England)
Calanais (Scotland)
Castlerigg (England)
Dolgamfa (Wales)
Gavrinis (France)
Kernic (France)
Pentre Ifan (Wales)
La Roche-aux-Fées (France)
Stones of Stennes (Scotland)
Wayland's Smithy (England)

Kammer x

http://cahoots.org.uk/

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