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The Rollright Stones (Stone Circle)

I don't understand how the traditional rhyme isn't already written here. So I don't apologise for the length of the following:
[...] Folklore and science, romance and archaeology, the unlearned and the learned, have all contributed answers [to the meaning of the stones]. From the folklore of the neighbourhood we have gleaned the story of the stones which has undoubtedly proved the most popular, and which will probably be attached to them as long as they stand. Indeed it is probable that if we searched the whole of England we should not find a site in which the folklore is a more living thing.

The story is well-enough known, but here it is:--
A certain King set out to conquer all England and had arrived at the head of his forces at the hill on which Rollright stands. He had almost reached its crest when a witch who claimed the ground appeared and stopped him with the words -

Seven long strides shalt thou take and
If Long Compton thou canst see
King of England thou shalt be.

Exulting greatly, thinking his victory assured, the King called out -

Stick, stock, stone,
As King of England I'll be known.

and took the seven long strides, when, lo! there arose before him a mound of earth, which at the completion of the strides prevented him from seeing the village of Long Compton below. The witch then pronounced the doom --

As Long Compton thou canst not see,
King of England thou shalt not be,
Rise up stick, stand still stone,
For King of England thou shalt be none.
Thou and thy men hoar stones shall be,
And I myself an eldern tree.

And so it came about.

[...] The elder is abundant all around the stones and several bushes have been pointed out as that embodying the witch. If you find the right one and cut it her blood oozes out, and the stones are seen to shiver, in an endeavour to come to life, for when the witch's blood is drawn her spell is broken and the King and his army will pursue their triumphant march.

On Midsummer eve, when the elder was in bloom it was formerly the custom for people to come to the King Stone and stand in a circle. Then an elder bush near by was cut and those present have affirmed that the King moved his head. The inhabitants of the district have, however, a dread of breaking the spell, and the writer was told, not so long ago, that those of Long Compton will not burn elder sticks in their grates.

The fairies dance round the King Stone of nights. One Will Hughes, of Long Compton, now gathered to his fathers, had seen them. They were little folk, he said, like little girls to look at. His wife's mother, who had been murdered as a witch, remembered a hole in the bank out of which the fairies came, and she and her playmates had often placed a flat stone over the opening to keep them in, but it had always been turned over before the morning. Folklore and religion blend in the attitude felt towards the spot and Sir Arthur Evans tells of a labourer who always went to the stones on Good Friday, for there he would be on Holy ground.

Away to the south-east on the edge of the large field in which the circle is situated, is a rather jumbled group of five large stones, called the Whispering Knights, which are said to be five treacherous officers who had detached themselves from the King's army and were plotting treason when the spell operated. They have their own particular piece of folklore and at midnight are said to run down the hill to drink at a spring in little Rollright spinney, every night according to some, only at special seasons according to others. At dusk, it is said, you can hear them whispering to each other.

Many of the stories attached to Rollright are to be found in other parts of Europe, and it is evident that we have in them something more than local superstition, but the subject is too great to be discussed here.

Another legend says that the stones become men at midnight, join hands and dance round in a circle and in Cornwall the name "Stone Dance" is attached to such circles as Rollright, the explanation there being that they are dancers turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath.

[...] Rollright and its kindred circles were to the prehistoric people who erected and used them, places as sacred as our cathedrals and churches are to us to-day. That it should come, as it did yesterday afternoon, under the auctioneer's hammer in a public saleroom, would have filled our ancestors, could they have foreseen and understood such a contingency, with the same kind of horror we should feel if the same auctioneers were to offer Westminster Abbey to the highest bidder.
From an article in the Banbury Guardian, 30th June 1927.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th February 2017ce
Edited 19th February 2017ce

Men Amber (Natural Rock Feature)

To the Editor of the West Briton.

[...] In the year 1851 I was induced to visit Prospidnick village and hill, particularly the latter, by reading in Norden's Speculi Britanniae Pars, &c., 1584, an account, accompanied by an engraving, of a singular mass of rocks that is in the neighbourhood; and, on making inquiries, was informed that Men Amber was still in existence, but not in the same state as when sketched by Norden, whose description is here given verbatim:

"Mayne Amber, certain huge stones so sett and subtillye combined, not by art as I take it, but by nature, as a childe may move, the upper stone beinge of a huge bignes, with one finger, so equallie balanced it is, and the forces of menie strong men enjoyned, can do no more in moving it. It is to be imagined that theis stones were thus lefte at the general floude, when the earth was washed awaye, and the massie stones remayned, as are mightye rockes uncovered, standing upon lofty hills."

The following is from Carew, 1602:- "More certain though less wonderful, and yet for the strangeness well worth the viewing, Mayn Amber is a rock; Amber as some say signyfieth Ambrose, and a great rock the same is, advanced upon some others of a meaner size, with so equal a counterpoise, that the push of a finger will sensibly move it to and fro, but further to remove it the united forces of many shoulders over weak. Wherefore the Cornish wonder-gatherer thus describeth the same:--

"Be those thy mother Nature's work,
Or proof of Giant's might,
Worthless and ragged though thou show,
Yet art thou worth the sight.

This hugy rock one finger's force
Apparently will move,
But to remove it many strengths
Shall all like feeble prove."

Mr. Scawen, whose family had been established for a long time at Molenick, in St. Germans, tells us in his MSS., written in the latter part of the 17th century, when and by whom this logan stone was thrown down. Complaining of the mischief done by strangers, he writes:-

"Here, too, we may add what wrong another sort of strangers has done to us, especially in the civil wars, and in particular by destroying Mineamber, a famous monument, being a rock of infinite weight, which as a burden was laid upon other great stonesn; and yet so equally thereon poised up by Nature only, as a little child could instantly move it, but no one man or many remove it. This natural monument all travellers that came that way desired to behold, but in the time of Oliver's usurpation, when all monumental things became despicable, one Shrubsall, one of Oliver's heroes, then governor of Pendennis, by labour and much ado caused to be undermined and thrown down, to the great grief of the country, but to his own great glory as he thought, doing it, as he said, with a small cane in his hand. I myself have heard him boast of this act, being a prisoner then under him."

There was a tradition or prophecy, current at the time, that Mineamber, so called by Scawen, should stand as long as England had a king; its overthrow by Shrubsall seems to have been for the purpose of showing the loyal Cornish that kings were to reign no longer.

Borlase's account is as follows:-
"In the parish of Sithney stood the famous Logan stone, commonly called Men-amber; it is 11 foot long from east to west, four foot deep, wide six foot; there is no bason on the surface, but on the stone B there is one plain one. This top stone was so nicely poised that, as Mr. Seawen in his MSS. says, &c. There are some marks of the tool upon this stone, the surface, C D, being wrought into a wavy place, as in the Icon; and by its quadrangular shape I should judge it to have been dedicated to Mercury, as by a bason cut in the under stone B, I judge the stone A to be placed on the top of this karn by human art.

However that be, certain it is that the vulgar used to resort to this place at particular times of the year, and pay'd to this stone more respect than was thought becoming good christians, which was the reason that by cleaving off part of the stone B, the top stone A was lay'd along in its present reclined posture and its wonderful property of moving easily to a certain point destroyed. It was the top stone, therefore, of this Cragg which drew the common people together and raised their admiration; and I find that in the Cornish language Mea-an-bar signifies the top stone, and I do not at all doubt but that Men-amber is a corruption of Men-an-bar, and signifies nothing either relating to Ambrosius Aurelius, King of Britain, or to the Petrae Ambrosiae of the Ancients, as some learned men have thought." - Antiquities, 1754.

The letters in the last extract refer to a plan of the rock.[...]

Yours obediently,
Δ
From a letter in the West Briton newspaper, 20th January 1870. He signs himself as a capital Delta. I guess the 1870 equivalent of an internet name perhaps?!
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th February 2017ce

Duntulm (Stone Fort / Dun)

Slide No: 30 Duntulm Castle

Nine miles from Uig is Duntulm Castle, and one way it leads over a long slope of land called "the garden of Skye". On the verge of Loch Snizort the stack of Scudburgh is seen standing like a lighthouse. Duntulm Castle, originally the site of a "dun", once was the stronghold of pirate Norsemen, anterior to the Norwegian invasion of Harold Harfager. It is a considerable ruin perched upon a precipitous cliff, and still has an imposing look. The castle built by the chiefs of Clan Donnel in the twelfth century, remained the home of the MacDonalds till they moved to Mugstadt. "Big Donald with the blue eyes", Lord Of The Isles and grandson of Donald Gorm, who lost his life besieging Eilan Donan Castle in Loch Duich, at one time starved a kinsman to death in the dungeon of Duntulm. This kinsman having conspired against his uncle, wrote to an accomplice in Skye, and by the same opportunity sent a friendly letter to Donald Gorm, but in transmit the letters passed into the hands of one who could not read, and this person handed to Donald Gorm the one that revealed his nephew's treachery. He was immediately captured, carried to Skye, and immured in Duntulm; there he was starved to death, after first being supplied a meal of salt food, and daily after this to mock his thirst, a covered drinking cup was lowered to him, which on being uncovered, was found empty.

Destination St Kilda 'From Oban to Skye and The Outer Hebrides'

George Washington Wilson and Norman Macleod

Edited by Mark Butterworth
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
14th February 2017ce

Callanish (Standing Stones)

Slide 34 Circle Of Callernish

At the head of one of the inlets in Loch Benera is a megalithic cruciform, Drudicial circle, called the Circle of Callernish. This Druidicial temple is one of the largest, as well as one of the most complete of its kind in Scotland. The total number of stones, when the temple was complete, was sixty five, of which about forty five are still standing, ranging from sixteen to four feet tall.

In the immediate neighbourhood are several smaller circles, some of them, being as large as fifty feet in diameter. The circle occupies a striking position in an open track of moor, and appears to have been surrounded at a small distance by a trench or ditch, which is now in many places obscured, the sames as at Stenneshouse, Orkney and Stonehenge, England. It is thought by some that these stone circles may have been places of worship, erected by the Norsemen, as in some Northern sagas; the temple of Thor is described as a circular range of upright stones, containing a central stone, called the stone of Thor, where the sacrifices or executions were performed.

Destination St Kilda 'From Oban to Skye and the Outer Hebrides'

George Washington Wilson and Norman MacLeod edited by Mark Butterworth
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
14th February 2017ce

Hangman's Stone, Hampnett (Holed Stone)

According to DP Sullivan (Old Stones Of The Cotswolds & Forest Of Dean - 1999 Reardon), this is another of those hangman's stones that takes its name from an idiotic thief:
It obtained its name, apparently, from an incident involving a sheep rustler who, when getting over the stile with his spoils fell and was hung by the entangled sheep. ... It is possible that this stone once marked a gibbet, giving a more plausible reason for its name.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
12th February 2017ce

Killian (Bullaun Stone)

The "Wart Stone," or "Font," appears on the Ordnance Survey Map, No. 26, as "Doughnambraher Font." Thinking it very unlikely that there should be a font without a church, I came to the conclusion that there might be a bullaun at the spot marked. It is about three-quarters of a mile from Drummeen, or Barrycarroll Castle, and there is a sort of road all the way to it. We turned aside to visit the Castle, and so had to cross the fields to get to the bullaun.

We made inquiries once or twice from the inhabitants, and found out that the name of the place was Kyleane (three syllables), Killian on map; and that there was a stone there which would cure warts.

When we reached the place they pointed out, we soon found a large bullaun, of which I send a sketch. My friends thought it lay in a sort of fort, or enclosure, but I am not so sure. It is a large, flat sandstone, with one large basin in it, and something which looks like the beginning of a second. There are nine round stones in it which make part of the charm against warts: I suppose to turn them round like the Killeany stones.

We measured it as carefully as we could. The length of the stone is about 5 feet 7 inches, the width 3 feet 4 inches, while the basin is 1 foot 8 inches long, and 1 foot 3 inches wide. [...]
Miss G C Stacpoole reports in the 1904 volume of the Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland.
The information via the Historic Environment Viewer describes the bullaun and its stones. It says the stone is also known locally as 'Jack Baker's Well' and is made of Old Red Sandstone. It contains 'seven water-rolled 'cursing' stones'. Situated in the basin of a ballaun stone lying in the perimeter of an ecclesiastical enclosure. Seven 'fist-sized' egg-shaped water-rolled stones lie in the basin which is sometimes waterfilled and associated with the cure of warts. There were previously ten stones although the number seems to vary up and down over time. Stacpoole includes nine stones in his [her!] drawing. 'Rounds' performed here involved rubbing each stone against the afflicted part of the body and placing an offering of some sort under the bullaun. In February 1993 this practice continued. While stones of this type are generally classified as cursing stones there is no known evidence of their use for that purpose in this instance.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
10th February 2017ce

Ballyard (Bullaun Stone)

I cannot tell you how long it's taken me to track down the location of this site... variant spellings and unfamiliarity with the area did not help. But anyway it sounds superb so all this is worth the effort. I'd love to visit.

This is a naturally curious place, with a stream disappearing into the ground and reappearing: it's no wonder it's replete with folklore and Christianisation. I advise a glance at the Historic Environment Viewer map to see where the well, stream, 'bed', and bullauns all are.

This is an extract from an article on 'The antiquities of the Parish of Kilcomenty' in The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries for 1904:
About 30 yards east of the graveyard, a rapid stream which there issues from the ground is called St. Commaneth's Well. This stream flows from Ballinahinch, about two miles distant, and close beside the saint's bed; it is carried underground for nearly 200 yards, emerging at and forming the well; then, turning sharply by the south wall of the graveyard, it finally empties itself into the bog of Shower.

One of the legends told concerning the well is that long ago it was situated close by the stone known as St. Commaneth's Bed, but that some cattle having been accidentally allowed to sully its waters, the well in a single night moved down to its present site.

Two of the traditional trout said to frequent holy wells in Ireland are supposed to be here.

Over the well, completely shading its waters, are four ancient trees - one sallow, one whitethorn, and two ash. Those two last are in reality one enormous tree, which, near the lower part of the trunk, is divided in two, and its branches and the hollow by the well are covered with rags and votive offerings of every description, deposited by pilgrims who have made their rounds.

The summer of 1902 was exceptionally dry in North Tipperary, the month of August being phenomenally so. Springs, wells, and streams that in living memory had never been known to do so, ran dry; and St. Commaneth's Well formed no exception to the general rule, for it must be recorded that we failed to find even one drop of water within its usually brimming basin.

The rounds practised here are seven in number. Having taken seven pebbles from the stream running from the well, and having repeated the Lord's Prayer, Hail Mary!, Creed, and Gloria, the pilgrim throws one of the pebbles back into the brook, and proceeds to walk round the well. Following the course of the water for a time "sunwards," through the field south of the stream, he crosses it by a small bridge and enters the graveyard by a gate at the extremity of the south wall. Proceeding along a well-worn pathway by its north and east sides, he quits its precincts by a stile, which brings him to the well again, where he kneels and prays, and so on, until the appointed number of rounds are performed. While Mr. Westropp and I were in the cemetery, a country woman and two children "were making their rounds."

Close by the spot where the water of the stream disappears for a space under ground rests the traditional bed of the saint, lying north of the stream, and nearer to the road than the graveyard and well. It is a large irregular block of brownish sandstone, 8 feet long, and 4 feet 9 inches wide, extreme measurements, and stands about 2 1/2 to 3 feet high. The highest end is to the west, and here is a large and deep bullaun. To the west of this is a shallow, dish-like bullaun, and there are traces of two or more basins. Two sets of scorings are to be found on the stone; that nearer the top consists of six irregular broad strokes, not ogamic in character, while the set lower down consists of four slight scores. These markings are reputed to represent the impressions of the saint's ribs and hands.
There's some extra folklorey information in Lives of the Irish Saints by John O'Hanlon. He mentions that the prayers at the well are good for "bodily and mental ailments."

He says of the trout: "The following is a local legend. A person of the neighbourhood, at one time, scorning to respect the well, took one of these trout home, and made an effort to roast it; nothing but blood appeared, and the rascal had to bring the trout back to the well; but from that day forward, the family has not had good luck."

He mentions of the bed: "About two hundred yards noth-east of the well, in the midst of hawthorn and alder trees, there is a great Druidic rock basin, of brown sandstone, quite unlike stone of the immediate place, which is limestone," and that the basins are "always full or half full of water."

I love the way he mixes Druids and saints. He says "There is no doubt, that the stone lay, in its present position, long before the period of the patron saint. On the conversion of the Druids, he may have used the basins for baptizing the early Christians of the place, and may have rested on it occasionally. There is nothing impossible or improbable in this presumption, and tradition may be perfectly correct."
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
10th February 2017ce

Weston Hill (Henge)

The Hertfordshire HER says there is a (probable) henge here, with its entrances east and west, and a diameter of 85m. There used to be a dene hole inside it, in which Neolithic arrow heads were found. The hole was also known as being 'Jack O'Legs's Cave' (dully, it's now filled in). But you can't help thinking that a henge with built-in cave would be a rather marvellous thing.

On Jack O'Legs:
At Weston, two stones in the churchyard, 14ft. 7 inches apart, are said to be the head and foot stones of the giant Jack o' Legs, who is there buried with his body doubled up. He lived at Baldock, - where, as he walked along the street, he would look in at the first-floor windows, - and thence he shot an arrow, saying that where it fell he wished to be buried. It fell in Weston Churchyard, and, in its flight, knocked away a corner of the church tower. (Told in 1883).
From 'Scraps of folklore collected by John Philipps Emslie', C.S. Burne, in 'Folklore' v26, no. 2 (June 1915).

Likewise he's mentioned in 'Handbook to Hitchin and the neighbourhood' by Charles Bishop (1875):
On the Great North Road, near the village of Graveley, is a considerable elevation which goes by the name of "Jack's Hill," from its having been the scene of depradations on travellers by a noted highwayman called "Jack o' Legs." [...]
In fact if you're interested, there's a whole book about this character by W.B. Gerish (1905). It suggests the cave was filled in around 1850.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
5th February 2017ce

Sudbrook (Cliff Fort)

The Camp At Portskewett.
(From a Correspondent).

[...] Thanks to the members of the corps - about 20 in number - who, under the command of Captain Williams, proceeded to the camp on Saturday last, a sufficient number of tents had been pitched for our accommodation before our arrival en masse on Monday.

[...] There is nothing which indicates the whereabouts of the "soldiery" until one is as it were in the midst of them. The tents are completely hidden from view by the high ramparts which extend from the north-east to the south. The piece of ground enclosed within the ramparts is of a triangular form, the eastern line being formed by the waters of the Severn. Coming suddenly into a deep moat without the ramparts, one is as suddenly confronted by a sentry, marching with a soldier-like air, a guard-room, or rather a guard tent, and a number of the guard lounging about.

Immediately in front of the guard tent, there is a gap, cut right in the angle of the encampment, and looking through this the whole of the tents and their occupants within are at once visible, presenting to the visitor a lively and picturesque scene, of which, two minutes before, he could have had no perception.

[...] The weather has been glorious throughout the week, but the heat, which would be exceedingly oppressive in town, is rendered delightful here, with a stiff fresh breeze flowing across the water. Each day the men have worked and drilled with a subordination that would be creditable even to a soldier of long service, and order has been maintained night and day. Heavy gun drill has been gone into most zealously, and some good practice has been made [...]

Ghost stories are not wanting in the guard room, for one good reason. On the north-east are the ruins of an old Roman chapel known as the chapel of the Holy Trinity, and no doubt was connected with the Roman encampment. Sundry remains of the genus homo in decay have been found in this spot, although the outline of the graveyard which adjoined the chapel has been effaced. A sentry is posted in the vicinity of the old chapel, and more than one have felt a chill creep over him during the still hours; but it is unnecessary to mention the little rumours which have currency during the last couple of days.

I have forgotten to mention that the immediate vicinity of the camp is called Sudbrook, and also that the advantages of the spot were utilised as a place to land, conceal, and protect his soldiers by Oliver Cromwell before he stormed Caldicott Castle. The place is in the highest degree classic and historic ground, and is well worth visiting.[...]
From the Western Mail, 4th August 1871.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
30th January 2017ce

Papa Westray

Like other wells and springs in Orkney, it is likely that the traditions surrounding St Tredwell’s Loch had their roots in pagan custom – practices that were christianised when the site was taken over by the church.
Archaeological evidence shows that the chapel was built on top of a mound containing a complex of prehistoric buildings that may include an Iron Age broch and earth-house.
We know the significance of bodies of water to the prehistoric people of Orkney, so it seems likely that the original figure of veneration was a pagan goddess, or spirit, possibly associated with fertility or healing.
The long-established customs surrounding the loch and the island within were subsequently absorbed by the church, who then adapted to incorporate the figure of St Tredwell as the popularity of her cult grew and reached Orkney towards the end of the 12th century..
There is one strange snippet of folklore surrounding the loch that is particularly intriguing. It was said that the loch’s waters would turn blood red as a presage to a “disaster” befalling the “Royal family”.

There are numerous similar examples of “prophetic” wells throughout Scotland – with some turning to blood, others rising or simply making noises to signify a forthcoming event.

Regarding St Tredwell’s Loch, the significance of the “Royal family”, however, has been lost. But Rev Brand had no doubts:

“As for this Loch’s appearing like Blood, before any disasture befal the Royal Family, as some do report, we could find no ground to believe any such thing.”

http://www.orkneyjar.com/tradition/sacredwater/tredwell.htm
tjj Posted by tjj
29th January 2017ce

Y Garreg Fawr (Burial Chamber)

According to tradition it was originally a megalithic dolmen about 4000 years old. It has served mainly as a small platform used by preachers, the Parish Clerk and others to make public announcements. In the past there was a large tree in front of it on which were nailed fox tails and the corpses of other creatures which preyed on chickens.


Charming local customs abound. Taken from the village information board near the stone.
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
8th January 2017ce

House Of The Fairies (Souterrain)

But the most extraordinary relic of antiquity in the village is a subterranean house. I had heard of it on my first visit; and on the 13th July 1876 determined to have it opened and examined. A crop of potatoes grew on the top, and the owner at first refused to allow this to be disturbed. But by dint of raillery, persuasion, and a promise to pay the damage, he at length acceded to my request. This underground dwelling was discovered about thirty-two years ago by a man who was digging the ground above it, and was generally called the House of the Fairies. The aperture on the top was filled up again, and it had never been opened since. But after a little search the hole was found and an entrance made. Two or three men volunteered to clear out the stones and soil that had accumulated on the floor to a depth of several feet, and worked with a will. The house was found to be twenty-five feet long by three feet eight inches wide, and about four feet in height. The walls consisted of three or four ranges of stones, a roof of slabs resting on the sides. This house runs due north and south, and curiously enough there is a drain under the floor. Amongst the debris on the floor I found numerous stone axes, knives, and fragments of a lamp, as well as pieces of rude pottery. As there was no tradition concerning this house, and as it is assigned to the fairies, it may be very old; but I am inclined to think that the stone period extended to a very recent date in St Kilda. I have some satisfaction in believing that I am the discoverer of stone implements in St Kilda, and that my claim has been recognised by the Society of Scottish Antiquaries.

From Life In St Kilda During the 1870s.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
4th January 2017ce

Beltany (Stone Circle)

The Druid's Circle is situated two miles from Raphoe at Beltony. It is composed of sixty seven stones all standing erect in a circle.
South of this circle there is a large stone where all the victims were hung for there is a trace of a chain on it.

From this circle a giant threw a large stone to Nagherahane where a giant's grave now lies. Another grave is to be found in Mrs Craig's land. On top of it there is a large stone standing erect.
There is gold to be found at the Druid's Circle. Many tourists came from Derry to dig for the gold but found none.

Adjacent to this circle there is the 'Old Wind Mill' where a number of giants were buried.
The druids worshipped the sun or fire Bael teine - "fire of Bael".

Giants' graves are numerous in Ireland so that shows us there were a great many giants in olden times.

Molly McClean (age 14)
Collected for the Schools Collection of the 1930s, now being transcribed at Duchas.ie.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd December 2016ce

Ballyglass (Court Tomb)

Within 20 perches of where I live in Ballyglass is a Druidical circle formed of a big pile of stones each about 10 cwt. To the North of this circle is something like a rude altar composed of stones and also to the South end of the altar is another one.

Antiquarians who visit this place describe it as where the Druids offered up their sacrifice to their Gods in pre Christian times. Outside the Northern end of the circle are huge stones sunk in the earth and separated from each other. Antiquarians describe them as graves which are marked by these huge stones. Notwithstanding that it is of Druidical Origin the local people hold it very sacred and wouldn't interfere with it for their untold lives.

An old man who once lived in the vicinity of the Druidical Circle found himself on a Sunday morning without a razor to shave himself to go to Mass. It been on a fine Summer's day instead of going to Mass he entered the Druidical Circle and knelt down on a cromlech which is supposed to be the grave of some chief and said his prayers as he could not attend Mass. When he had his prayers said he lay down on the cromlech and fell asleep. When he awoke he found a razor by his side. It was so good that it would shave all the people in Mayo without an edge.

For about a hundred years it was an heirloom of the family until some young man stole it some years ago.
Collected by Thomas Pryal from Andrew Pryal in the 1930s, for the Schools Collection (now being transcribed at Duchas.ie.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd December 2016ce

Wardstown (Rath)

Tlachtga is an important site in many early Irish sources, incorporating several strands of Irish mythology. The site is reputedly named after a druidess, the daughter of the quasi-mythical sun-god figure Mog Ruith, named in another tale as the executioner of John the Baptist.

According to Geoffrey Keating's History of Ireland, Tlachtga was one of four great fortresses (along with Tara, Teltown and Uisneach) built by the high king Tuathal Techmar following the creatio of the kingdom of Mide in the early decades of the first millennium AD. Each of these fortresses was constructed from part of an existing kingdom: Uisneach from Connacht, Tlachtga from Munster, Tara from Leinster and Teltown from Ulster.

Tlachtaga was strongly associated with the festival of Samhain. It was reputed to be the site of the 'Fire of Tlachtga' which was used to summon 'the priests, the augurs and druids of Ireland' to assemble on Samhain eve in order to 'consume the sacrifices that were offered to their pagan gods'. It was decreed that all fires within the kingdom on that night were to be kindled from the Fire of Tlachtga, under penalty of fine. In recent times the tradition of a Samhain gathering on the hill has been revived, and fire once again burns on Tlachtga on Samhain eve.

In 1167 Tlachtga was the site of the last of the reform synods to be held under Irish kingship. Presided over by Ruiadri Ua Conchobair, the last high king of Ireland, 13,000 horsemen are said to have attended, along with provincial kings and key ecclesiastical figures of the day, including Gelasius of Armagh, St Laurence O'Toole of Dublin and Cadhla of Tuam. Five years later, in 1172, Tigeman Mor Ua Ruairc, king of Breifne for over 40 years, was slain on the hill 'by treachery' following failed negotiations with Hugh de Lacy regarding the succession of Meath to the Anglo-Normans. Later still, both Owen Roe O'Neill (1643) and Cromwell (1649) are reputed to have encamped on the Hill, accounting for some of the disturbance evident at the site today.
From 'Heritage Guide no. 63: The Hill of Ward: A Samhain site in County Meath.' (Archaeology Ireland, December 2013).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd December 2016ce

Hill Of Slane

The Hill of Slane overlooks a key fording point of the River Boyne, with clear views of the Hill of Tara and Skryne to the south. Little is known of the hill's prehistory, although geological work suggests that some stone for the Bru na Boinne tombs came from here.

A large enclosed mound hidden in the wood on the hill's western edge is classified as an Anglo-Norman motte. The nature of its enclosure and its association with a possible ring-barrow suggest that it originated as a prehistoric monument. Herity has compared it to other large mounds, such as that at Rathcroghan, and has stressed its possible ritual significance.

The hill was first associated with a life of St Patrick written by the seventh-century hagiographer Muirchu, who described the saint's journey from the mouth of the River Boyne and the lighting of the paschal fire at Fertae Fer Feic ('grave-mound of the men of Feic'). A central figure in the story is Erc, first bishop of Slane, who was linked with an area containing Fertae Fer Feic and Slane.

Cathy Swift has shown that the antiquarian James Ware linked Fertae Fer Feic with the hilltop, although souces suggest that this place may have been elsewhere along the Boyne Valley. Swift stresses, however, that early medieval mounds, churches and forts were often connected with legal centres. The Hill of Slane contains both an enclosed mound and an important church site documented as an important legal centre from the eighth century AD, with links to French monastic sites. Therefore, while Slane is unlikely to have been the site of the legendary paschal fire, it has important links to the Patrician story.
From Matthew Seaver and Conor Brady's "Heritage Guide No. 55: Hill of Slane" (Archaeology Ireland, December 2011).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd December 2016ce

Cnoc Na Croich (Chambered Tomb)

Overlooking Stornaway is Cnoc na Croich (Gallow's Hill) which was the place where justice was meted out to wrongdoers in times past when the clan chief, McLeod of Lewis, had the power of pit and gallows.

Lewis and Harris by Francis Thompson.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
19th December 2016ce

Clach an Trushal (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Close by the township of Ballantrushal is the tallest standing stone in Scotland. Almost 5.7m high, this monolith could easily have been a prehistoric sea marker. The coastline hereabouts tends to be rocky and it is no particular coincidence that the beach close by is one of the few amenable landing places available for open craft. The Gaelic name is Clan an Truseil, the Stone Of Sorrow. Local tradition has it that it marks the grave of a Norse prince, but also commemorates the victory of the Morisons of Ness over their sworn enemies, the MacAulays of Uig. The monolith, however, predates any event AD.

Lewis and Harris by Francis Thompson.
drewbhoy Posted by drewbhoy
19th December 2016ce

North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist

There are several big Kairnes of Stone on the East-side this Island [ South Uist ], and the Vulgar retain the antient Custom of making a Religious Tour round them on Sundays and Holidays.
From 'A description of the Western Islands of Scotland' by M. Martin, 2nd edition, 1716.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
15th December 2016ce

Clach Mhor A'che (Standing Stone / Menhir)

You can see some pictures of the stone on Canmore.
There is another [stone] at the Key, opposite to Kirkibast, 12 foot high: the Natives say that Delinquents were ty'd to this Stone in time of Divine Service.
From 'A description of the Western Islands of Scotland' by M. Martin, 2nd edition, 1716.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
15th December 2016ce

Callanish (Standing Stones)

The most remarkable Stones for Number, Bigness, and Order, that fell under my Observation, were at the Village of Classerniss; where there are 39 Stones set up 6 or 7 foot high, and 2 foot in breadth each: they are plac'd in form of an Avenue, the breadth of which is 8 foot, and the distance between each Stone six; and there is a Stone set up in the Entrance of this Avenue: at the South end there is join'd to this Range of Stone a Circle of 12 Stones of equal distance and height with the other 39. There is one set up in the Centre of this Circle, which is 13 foot high, and shap'd like the Rudder of a Ship: without this Circle there are 4 stones standing to the West, at the same distance with the Stones in the Circle; and there are 4 Stones set up in the same manner at the South and East sides.

I enquir'd of the Inhabitants what Tradition they had from their Ancestors concerning these Stones; and they told me, it was a Place appointed for Worship in the time of Heathenism, and that the Chief Druid or Priest stood near the big Stone in the center, from whence he address'd himself to the People that surrounded him.
From 'A description of the Western Islands of Scotland' by M. Martin, 2nd edition, 1716.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
15th December 2016ce

Clach an Trushal (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The Thrushel Stone in the Parish of Barvas is above 20 foot high, and almost as much in breadth. There are three erected Stones upon the North side of Loch-Carlvay, about 12 foot high each. Several other Stones are to be seen here in remote places, and some of them standing on one end. Some of the ignorant Vulgar say, they were Men by Inchantment turn'd into Stones; and others say, they are Monuments of Persons of Note kill'd in Battel.
'A description of the Western Islands of Scotland' by M. Martin, 2nd edition, 1716.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
15th December 2016ce

Puggie Stone (Natural Rock Feature)

If you had £3m you could have bought the house that owns the land this stands on. It would be nice to overlook the Puggie Stone from your windows. I wouldn't say no.
Scarcely half a mile above Holy-street, a tor rises near the river's brink on the south side, called, by the country people, the Puckie, or Puggie Stone, and celebrated for the large rock-basin, or pan, (as it is popularly called,) on its summit. The antiquary, trusting to local report, will be disappointed when after having succeeded in scaling the rock, he finds that the characteristics of the genuine rock-basin, as described [on p.29] are not sufficiently clear to enable him to pronounce, that this is not one of the examples, attributable exclusively to the operation of natural agencies. Although of large size, it is not of the usual circular form, nor do its sides display any decisive indications of artificial adaptation. But if disappointed in the main object of his research, the explorere will be repaid for his escalade, by the commanding view he will have gained of the wild-wood glen down which the Teign rushes, foaming along its rock-bound channel, in all the youthful vigour of a mountain-born torrent.

For the means of examining this basin, as it can only be reached by a ladder, I am indebted to the kindness of Mr. Nicolas Clampit, the hospitable occupier of the interesting old mansion at Holy-street, one of the Forest tenants.
Samuel Rowe's 'Perambulation of the antient and Royal Forest of Dartmoor and the Venville Precincts' (1848). You'd think he would like the fact the basin's not 'real' and natural. You'd think he might like that someone deliberately adjusted it (c.f. druid sacrifices). If anyone even did. I would like it either way, natural or artificial.

'Puckie' surely has to have connections with the piskies - like 'puck'. (Though a 'puggy' was a word for a squirrel far away in eastern England).

JLW Page (in his 'exploration of Dartmoor and its antiquities' 1889) says "This isolated stone is certainly the largest single mass off the Moor, though some of the blocks under Combe Farm, at the entrance of the Teign Gorge, rivals. It has a length of twenty-five feet, a breadth of eleven, and is no less than fourteen feet in height."
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
6th December 2016ce
Edited 7th December 2016ce

Bowerman's Nose (Natural Rock Feature)

[There is] the tradition that "Bowerman" lived in the locality at the time of the Conquest. He must have had something peculiarly striking in the pattern of his nose! Still we like to keep our "Bowerman" as a personality, and feel hardly grateful to modern learning, which comes down upon us with ponderous weight and says we have ignorantly corrupted the Celtic name of Vawr Maen, the Great Stone.
From 'Dartmoor and its surroundings: what to see and how to find it.' by Beatrix F Cresswell, 1900.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
6th December 2016ce

Castallack Round (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Historic England's website mentions the alternative name of Roundago, so I guess this is the place. It says 'the round was first depicted on the 1840 Tithe Map when it still had a massive stone outer wall with an entrance to the south and a colonnade of stones which led to an inner circular enclosure. When described by Blight in 1865, the inner enclosure could hardly be traced and the avenue had been removed. However, the ramparts were still massively constructed.'
Unfortunately, not a few of the hoary remains of an unlettered age have been wilfully or ignorantly destroyed, although some owe their preservation as much to the lasting superstitions of the people as to their remote positions, apart from the haunts of man. The following story will shew that some ojections still remain in the popular mind against interfering with these ancient stones. Farmers find the rude crosses, which are still very numerous in Cornwall, extremely convenient as gate-posts, and to that use many of them have been brought. Such an one set his labourer to sink a pit for a post, but when the pit was finished and the labourer weas told that the cross standing in the field, a little distance off, was to be placed in it, the man absolutely refused to have any hand in the matter; not, be it said, on account of the beautiful or the antique, but for fear of "the old people."

Another farmer related that he had a neighbour who "haeled down a lot of stwuns called the Roundago, and sold 'em for building the docks at Penzance. But ne'er a penny of the money he got for 'em ever prospered, and there wasn't wan of the hosses that haeled 'em that lived out the twelve-month; and they do say that some of the stwuns do weep blood, but" --reluctantly-- "I don't believe that."
From 'Cornwall Pre-historic and Present' by C G Harper in 'Architecture' v2, pp176-184 (1897).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
4th December 2016ce
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