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King and Queen Stone (Natural Rock Feature)

Bredon Hill Ramble.

Members of the Cheltenham Rambling Club enjoyed a ramble to Bredon Hill. Alighting from the train at Ashchurch they went to Tewkesbury by road. The party then divided, some members taking the river path to Twyning whilst the others went via Shuthonger Common.

The whole party then crossed the river by ferryboat, and made their way by fieldpath to the picturesque village of Bredon. After lunch the ramblers ascended Bredon Hill and spent some time examining the King and Queen Stones reputed to be capable of curing rickets. ...
There's something about squeezing through a gap that works in these cases isn't there. Is it like popping out reborn? Reported in the Gloucestershire Echo, 29th May 1945.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st September 2018ce

Kinderlow (Cairn(s))

... A later generation than the old wife has been known to pour out a libation of good red port to "whatever gods may be," during the exhilaration which followed reaching the highest point of our county - the cairn on Kinderlow. There was folk lore in this too. The climbers were of a hard, sceptical kind, believing in nothing, not even in themselves, yet they wasted good wine on this ritual. There on the top, against the sky, the present day world had dropped away and there was a feeling of being surrounded by they know not what elemental forces moulding the timeworn world.
Derbyshire Advertiser and Journal, 30th April 1920.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th August 2018ce

Pendeen Vau (Fogou)

The house in which Dr. Borlase, the famous antiquary, was born, was the next place of interest to be visited [Pendeen Manor House], and here Mr. Millett read a paper dealing with the history of the old mansion and its most interesting features. He reminded his hearers that there was a tradition to the effect that John Wesley had once preached in that very farmyard, bu the founder of Methodism makes no allusion to the fact in his diary, and it rests on very slender evidence.

A hundred yards or so from the house is Pendeen Vau, an artificial cave of considerable extent, which according to local legends, stretches many miles under the sea. Some have even said that you can, if you only know the way, and have sufficient courage, enter the cave at Pendeen and emerge from it at Scilly!

The explorations of our antiquaries did not extend so far, but they traversed the cave from one end to the other, without finding one particle of the "fairy gold" which is said to exist in its walls, or seeing any of the "little people" who are reported to haunt it.
In the Cornish Telegraph, 9th August 1888.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
15th August 2018ce

Clachan Ceann Ile (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Her favourite theory, however, concerned a Danish Princess called Iula, or Yula, who left Denmark with an apron full of stones of different sizes. As she proceeded on her journey some of the stones fell out, one becoming Ireland, another Rathlin and a third Texa. The remainder of the stones fell out and became the string of islands from Ardbeg to Kildalton. She perished in the soft sands off that coast and was taken to Seonais Hill above Loch Cnoc and buried there. What was described in the Statistical Account of 1794 as the grave of "a daughter of one of the kings of Denmark" is marked by two small standing stones about 10 meters apart, though there is no good evidence to support this tradition. Islay is said to have got its name from this lady, or perhaps she may have taken her name from Islay.

Peggy Earl 'Tales of Islay'
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
13th August 2018ce

Aghnafarcan (Court Tomb)

In the folk tradition it is the burial place of a Scandinavian giant called Manowar, who came here to kill Fin McCool. Fearing the foreign visitor, Fin had himself disguised as a baby by his wife and bit Manowar on the finger when the latter attempted to tease him. As this was just the baby Manowar became afraid and attempted to leave but dropped dead mysteriously afterwards.
(Flanagan 1933; IFC, Schools MSS, (931)
ryaner Posted by ryaner
4th August 2018ce

Heapstown (Cairn(s))

In Heapstown which is near Lake arrow there is a large heap of stones which is higher than a house. It is said that they came there in one night. It is also said that a prince is buried under it and that everybody who went to the funeral placed a stone over the grave.
From the 1930s Schools Collection of folklore, which has been put online at Duchas.ie.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
11th July 2018ce

Boleycarrigeen (Stone Circle)

In a townland, named Boleycarrigan, in this locality, there is a place called "The Griddle Stones". The stones are standing around in a ring, on which Finn Mc Cool was supposed to have made his griddle cakes. In the centre of this ring there is a cave leading through the hillside on to Killranelagh, which highway men used to retreat with their gold, when they would be after robbing some man on the road or mountain passes. Old people say the gold is hidden there still.

Annie Byrne, Keadeen. My father, Joseph Byrne, aged about 49 years, told me this story
From the School's Collection of folklore, being digitised at Duchas.ie.

Mr Michael Toole of Kelsha, Kiltegan tells me that not far from the 'griddle-stones' in the land owned Mr James Reilly of Ballycarrigeen, is a cave just a few yards out from these larger stones referred to earlier on in this book as "Finn MacCumhail's griddle-stones."
Mr Toole knows where the cave is but says that it is now closed up. There was a passage leading down to it, stone steps, and underneath was a spacious room.
This was written by the teacher at Talbotstown school, R. Mac Icidhe. The other mention reads as follows:
On the western side of Keadeen Mountain is a place where Finn Mac Cumail and his wife are supposed to have died. The remarkable thing about it is that even when the rest of the mountain looks green in the distance, the two brown patches stand out in contrast to the rest, and appear like two huge giants reclining on the mountainside.
In this townland also is a group of large stones so arranged as to form a circle.
These go by the name of Finn Mac Cumail's Griddlestones.
The scanned images are here and here.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
10th July 2018ce

Craig Dorney (Hillfort)

Ah, Craig Dorney. I feel sure he was in that programme with whatshisface? No, Rhiannon, the name means 'Stony Hill', from Creag: hill and Dornach: stony, as you can read amongst many other local etymological gems in Celtic Place-Names in Aberdeenshire by John Milne (1912). Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
8th July 2018ce

Onagh (Portal Tomb)

This is all very strange and interesting but the handwriting is so hard to read! Perhaps you can decipher it better.
Between this cromlech and the top of Knockree there is a 'Giant's Stone' which has not a flaw in it.

It is said that the druids used worship here and here two kings held council when forming up and making a [drove?] to the top of the hill and down the far side and then up the valley to a fort.

Those taking part went on foot and horseback and it is said they went that route up to 30 years ago. Old people said they heard them regularly. Two men told J- S- that they used see bright lights under this cromlech.

The horses made a great noise galloping over the rocky hill and down by Lacken.

The wood of Lacken situated on the hill was replanted with young trees 80 years ago but after two years the ghostly route was mysteriously burned from the top to the bottom of the hill. Not a tree grew till it was replanted again 5 years ago.

[?] (says Mr J- S-) that half of the trees on the old route are now dwarfed and the other half are dead.
From the 1930s Schools Collection of folklore, now being digitised at Duchas.ie. Perhaps the Giant's Rock is the impressive quartz outcrop depicted on Megalithomania. It's rather interesting that Fourwinds mentions possible alignments at the site when there's folklore about fairy/druids lines / ghosts heading across the landscape.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th June 2018ce
Edited 10th July 2018ce

Carrickclevan (Portal Tomb)

In the townland of Carrickacleven there is a little garden and in it there is a rock shaped like a mouth. It is said that there is money under it, and an old woman minding it and there is to be a life lost at the getting of it.

In the same townland there is a house with five big stones and the one on top is said to bear the weight of six tons. A long time ago there were priests and ministers at it and they said there is an old chieftain buried there and all his riches with him in a crock coffin.

Some people came to it one night after they heard what was under it. They dug until they came to a flag that is over the chieftain and they could get no further. So no one ever went near it after that.
From the 1930s Schools Collection of folklore, now being transcribed at Duchas.ie. There is a photo and description in the 1972 Survey of the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland but I don't know how it's faring now.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th June 2018ce

Mihanboy (Portal Tomb)

In a field in Meeambee in the parish of [?], there is to be seen a cromlech. It is called locally Leabaidh Éirn.
There were four upright slabs, some of which are now fallen, topped by a huge oblong slab, many tons weight.
Near at hand there is a circular raised mound of earth enclosed by bushes called "The Fort" which his believed to be visited by the fairies. None of the bushes have been cut down, lest some dire misfortune should follow. A chieftain named Earn is popularly supposed to have lived in this district.
From an informant for the 1930s Schools Collection of folklore, now being transcribed at Duchas.ie.

The information via the Archaeology.ie mapviewer says that the huge chunky 3x3m, 60cm thick roof stone has subsided to the north, with one north sidestone and two sidestones and the septal-stone surviving on the south side. Also that there is a headstone 3m east of the tomb with a date of 1748 and an otherwise illegible inscription: this is reputedly made from the missing portal stone.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th June 2018ce

Rath Cruachan (Artificial Mound)

Old people believe that at regular times during the year the fairies hold important horse fairs. One special 'fairy' man near this village relates how he was ordered to get up in the middle of the night to change horses from Mount Mary near the town of Ballygo down to Rathcroghan near Tulsk.

Hundred of horses with small 'mineen' riders galloped down across the country in the moonlight November Eve.

The great grandfather of the present blacksmith had his instructions to be always ready on Halloween night to put on shoes on the little travellers' horses.
One night he was dozing by the fire when a shout + tramp of horses wakened him. He was going to lift the horse's hind foot, when he noticed the animal had only three feet. "I can't shoe this horse" he said. "It's all right we will help you" said a score of little riders. The work was done and away went the fairy host, galloping like the wind, on their way to Rathcroghan for the great horse fair.
From the 1930s 'Schools Collection' of folklore, now being digitised at Duchas.ie. It seems like another one of those half-told tales (the three footed horse) where you are supposed to be in the know already and instinctively understand what it means from all the other three-legged animal tales you know. I'll have to work on it.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
6th June 2018ce

County Meath

Elf Stones:- The following account is given by Michael Fitzsimons, age 75, Doon, Tierworker, Bailieboro.

Elf stones were supposed to fall out of the air with a shower of rain. They are a grayish white colour nearly like a sea-shell. If any of them fell on a cow she would get into a sickness called Paralysis. It was said that people would cure the cow of the sickness if they got nine of these elf-stones in a porringer or any other suitable vessel and go to a stream bordering two counties before the sun rises in the morning and get some of the river water in the vessel along with the elf-stones and bring them home and go round the sick cow three times.
While doing so keep praying some special prayers. Before very long the cow would be better.

A man named Philip Carry, Doon, Tierworker, Bailieboro, Co. Meath had two sets of Elf-stones and all the people round this locality used to go to Philip Carry's for the elf stones when they had cows sick. Elf stones are kept at certain houses yet. The nine stones were in the Prophet Malcolmson's house. Then a man named Andrew Clarke Lisnasanna, Kingscourt, Co. Cavan got them to make the cure and another named Connor Muldoon, Cordoy, Kingscourt got them from Clarke to make the cure and they remain in that house yet.

When they are given away to make the cure the man that gave them away could not take them back to keep, unless to make the cure or they would be no good. They are kept at some houses yet. It was a good cure for paralysis.

When cows were struck with those stones they were said to be "elf shot". The hair would stand on them and they would be unable to move until the cure was made.
From the Schools' Collection of folklore, made in the 1930s, and now being transcribed at Duchas.ie. Elf stones can also be interpreted as Neolithic arrow heads. But you never know.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
3rd June 2018ce

St Samson-sur-Rance (Standing Stone / Menhir)

There's an article on this massive stone by Serge Cassen and colleagues in this month's edition of the Cambridge Archaeological Journal (v28:2, 259-281 - 'The 'historiated' Neolithic stele of Saint-Samson-sur-Rance'). Eight meters'-worth sticks out of the ground at 42 degrees, and the four sides are aligned to the points of the compass. It's made of granite, the nearest source of which is 4km away.

The researchers recently used various lighting and 3D techniques to highlight the carvings on the stone, and conclude that those on the different sides represent different aspects of the world (viz. an empty boat (east), human artefacts (south), wild animals (west) and domesticated animals (north). Whether you agree with this analysis is up to you… the depictions look a bit ambiguous to me but what do I know. There are also 100 cupmarks (none on the east face).

They talk about the folklore too, which is mostly from a 1902 article by Lucie de Villers ('Le Menhir de Saint-Samson pres Dinan' in Revue des Traditions Populaires 17(6)):

The vein of quartz diagonally crossing the stone was supposed to be from the devil's whip, or perhaps from the chains he used to try to drag it into hell. The devil wanted to use the stone as a key to open up hell (so he could pop some sinners in there) - but Saint-Samson and his pal Saint-Michel chased him away before he'd completed his evil plan.

There are various beliefs about a flood in Armorica: Ys is a legendary city in the bay of Douarnenez - it was submerged when the key of the dyke protecting the city was stolen from the king. In the 19th century local people said the stele was the key to the sea, and if the stone was removed, the sea would flood across the whole of France.

In other legends the stone is only one of three keys to the sea (one of the others was stolen by an evil woman from Breton in cohoots with the devil, and the third was kept in a distant country - or perhaps the other two were lost, or in the hands of a witch). The reason the stone is at such an angle is because the devil tried to take it away but didn't succeed. If someone dares to turn the stone, the sea will bubble out from under it and cause more trouble than Noah's flood.

One of the alternative names for the stone is 'Pierre Bonde' - bonde is the same word as the wooden bung used to seal a barrel.

Despite all this connection to the sea, the stone is about 20km from the sea and 55m above it. It's suggested in the article that it's at the point of the river where the maximum extent of the tidal wave would have been in the Neolithic, and that points to the reason for its location.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd May 2018ce

Cranaghan (Slieve Russel Hotel, present location) (Wedge Tomb)

Originally built at H273211 in Aughrim townland, this was excavated and moved to the grounds of the swish Slieve Russel Hotel. The owner of both sites was once one of the the richest men in Ireland. Some in the area believe in the old ways:
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/sean-quinns-downfall-is-fairies-revenge-say-locals-in-cavan-26794562.html
ryaner Posted by ryaner
5th May 2018ce

Witch's Stone, Straloch (Natural Rock Feature)

According to Affleck Gray's Legends of the Cairngorms (1987) when the Comyns were Lords of Badenoch the Chief enlisted the services of the Witch of Badenoch, who for a large sum of gold agreed to transport stones to the site he had chosen to build a huge impregnable castle.

She searched for two similar huge boulders for doorposts on the outer gate and could find none in Scotland but found some with help from a sister witch on the Isle of Man. So she flew to the Isle of Man and found them without difficulty.

She listed one enormous stone and put it in her apron and set off back to Badenoch. She was passing high above Glenfernate at dawn when a deer hunter spotted her great black mass flying above him. He dropped the deer haunches he was carrying and cried out in astonishment "Dhia gleidh sinn" (God bless us).

The utterance of the holy name destroyed the witch's power and her apron strings broke, sending the great boulder rolling down to the bottom of Glenfernate where it rests to this day, known locally as Clach Mor or the Witch's Stone.

The witch could never get her apron strings to hold even the smallest boulder again, and the castle was never built. Tradition says that on the anniversary the Witch returns and works from sunset to dawn trying to move the stone, and for a long time people gave the unhallowed spot a wide berth on that particular night.
Posted by LauraC
18th March 2018ce

County Limerick

The Banshee Lives in the Handball Alley

The Banshee Lives in the Handball Alley is a short compilation derived from a larger collection of folklore recorded in three primary schools in Limerick City as part of the Cuisle Poetry Festival and Young EV+A in 2004 and 2005.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X764d7yCQFs&feature=youtu.be
ryaner Posted by ryaner
20th January 2018ce

Moel y Llyn, Ceulanamaesmawr (Megalithic Cemetery)

Llyn Moel y Llyn - the hill's haunting upland tarn - is, it would appear, referenced in Caer Arglwyddes, 'The Lady's Field', sited below to the west. According to Dr Gwilym Morus: "I had a conversation with an old lady who’s father had been born at Cae’r Arglwyddes, and according to her the name of the farm refers to a ‘lady of the lake’ folktale about the small lake up on Moel-y-llyn".

So, yet another reason to visit this enigmatic northern outlier of Pumlumon crowned by a quartet of Bronze Age cairns....

https://welshmythology.com/tag/cwm-einion/
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
1st January 2018ce

Dumbarrow Hill (Stone Fort / Dun)

Anyway, some threads are so bright that they have to be picked up. This is the case with King Nechtan, whose name is perhaps found in Dunnichen (‘the fort of Nechtan’) and the English name for the battle where the Northumbrians were defeated by the Picts nearby, Nechtansmere. Before we consider which Nechtan Dunnichen is named after, there is the matter of confirming this as the place of the battle in 685 AD. To the Northumbrians the site of their national disaster was called Nechtan’s Mere, signifying the swamp or shallow lake in the shadow of Dun Nechtan. But the Welsh, who spoke a very similar language to the Picts, called the body of water Llyn Garan, the Pool of Herons. Was this the original name of the place or did it somehow have two names? (The Irish, meanwhile called it the battle of Dun Nechtan.) It would seem to cast a fragment of doubt over the identification of Dunnichen as the battle site. In fact Dunnichen was not positively identified as the place of the conflict until the connection was made by George Chalmers in his Caledonia in 1807. Chalmers pointed out that the ‘eminence’ on the south side of Dunnichen Hill, still visible in his day and known as Cashili or Castle Hill, must be the ‘fortress of Nechtan’. Chalmers also speculated that the neighbouring hill of Dumbarrow, ‘the hill of the barrow’, signifying notable burials there (Caledonia, I, 155.)

[Note also the King's Well on the east side of Dumbarrow Hill.]

Angus Folklore : In Search of King Nechtan in Angus and Elsewhere
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
30th December 2017ce

Hill Of Dores (Hillfort)

The Castle of Dores was situated on the summit of the Hill of Dores; it is traditionally said to have been a residence of Macbeth. Great quantities of ashes have been found at various places on this hill, as well as at the site of the Castle. They are thought to be from beacon fires.

Presumably the tradition concerning a castle of Macbeth arose from this; there is no trace of a castle.

Historic Scotland
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
30th December 2017ce

The Hole Stone (Holed Stone)

For the young antiquary. Series IV.

Hole stones are more abundant in Ireland than is generally supposed, and we have some fine examples in the North. The best I know is "The Holestone," Doagh, County Antrim, a very massive galean of basalt, with a bevelled hole through the upper part, bevelled on both sides so that the actual hole or centre of the stone is not large. Whatver may have been the original use to which this stone was put, one legend says criminals were chained to it, others that it was a contract stone, contracts of various kinds being ratified by joining hands through the hole. In later days it seems to have been - and possibly still is - used by engaged couples to ratify their engagement. It stood when I last saw it very close to the edge of a quarry that was rapidly approaching it. I trust that it may not follow other fine prehistoric memorials of the same area destroyed through the ignorance or apathy of the farmers on whose land those memorials stood. [...]
Robert J Welch encouraging the youth in the Northern Whig, 20th March 1924.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st December 2017ce

Devil's Ditch (Dyke)

The line of the Devil's Ditch and the county boundary runs pretty straight towards Park House (still a hotel, on the old line of the A303), which sounds like where Park Gate must have been, and presumably the stone. So it makes you wonder if this huge stone did have some significance. I can't see it marked on a map so not sure quite where it was - it's hard to tell which direction the 'narrow lane' was heading (possibly NW back along the boundary but who knows). Now the area is carved up with roads so I fear it won't be there any longer. But it sounds impressively big.
The county boundary at Clarendon Hill, about a mile west of North Tidworth, turns towards the south along an old landmark called the "Devil's Ditch," on the western side of Beacon Hill, down to Park House. The burial mounds called barrows abound in the direction of Ambresbury; and no wonder, for we are approaching what was once the fashionable burying-ground of eminent Ancient Britons.

[...] At Park Gate, on the county boundary, on the road between Andover and Amesbury, there is, or was, in a field abutting on a narrow lane leading from the roadside inn, a flat stone, of large dimensions, 11ft. long, 12ft. in breadth, and 5ft. in thickness. One of the many traditions about Stonehenge is that the great Sarsens came from Andover, and this Park Gate stone, in order to help the tradition, is quoted as having been on its way thither but abandoned.
From 'Notes on the Border of Wilts and Hants' by the Rev. Canon J.E. Jackson, in WANHM v21, 1883.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
20th December 2017ce

Fron Goch Camp (Hillfort)

Dick the Fiddler's Money

The adventures of rakish Richard (a 'fiddler' in more ways than one, not to mention waste of space husband to his long suffering wife) featuring his dodgy bewitched seashell currency obtained whilst returning home from Darowen. The hamlet displayed some pseudo-political 'comment' of very dubious intellect in its windows at the time of my visit. Hence I did not attempt to engage any local - why waste my time? - instead making straight for the excellent Fron Goch Camp rising above. Superb viewpoint, it has to be said.

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/wfb/wfb27.htm
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
10th December 2017ce
Edited 20th December 2017ce

Moel y Garnedd, Gwastadros (Cairn(s))

Bala Lake

Long, long ago, there was a fertile valley where now roll the waters of Bala Lake.

"At last he reached the top of a hill, some considerable distance 'from the palace".... Although the story isn't specific - mythical legends, eh? - I guess it's not utterly unreasonable to suppose Moel y Garnedd, overlooking Llyn Tegid (Bala Lake), may have been the inferred destination of the harper... being an old man and presumably not up to a trek up any mountain proper:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/wfb/wfb23.htm
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
10th December 2017ce

Dyffryn Mymbyr (Cairn(s))

More fairy capers involving the "Fair Family", this time concerning changelings at Dyffryn Mymbyr:

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/wfb/wfb43.htm
GLADMAN Posted by GLADMAN
10th December 2017ce
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