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Craig-y-Ddinas (Promontory Fort)

This narrow fort on a promontory above Pontneddfechan is fantastically well defended by its sheer cliffs. There's a car park conveniently at the bottom, and a bridleway makes its way up to the top.
Wirt Sikes has this to say:
Especially does a certain steep and rugged crag [in the Vale of Neath] called Craig y Ddinas, bear a distinctly awful reputation as a stronghold of the fairy tribe. Its caves and crevices have been their favourite haunt for many centuries, and upon this rock was held the court of the last fairies who have ever appeared in Wales*. Needless to say there are men still living who remember the visits of the fairies to Craig y Ddinas, although they aver the little folk are no longer seen there. It is a common remark that the Methodists drove them away, indeed there are numberless stories which show the fairies to have been animated, when they were still numerous in Wales, by a cordial antipathy for all dissenting preachers. In this antipathy, it may be here observed, teetotalers were included.
*Don't take this to heart as it is an obvious lie. Quote from Sykes's 'British Goblins', 1880.

Edwin Sidney Hartland, in 'The Science of Fairy Tales' (1891) explains the Arthurian connection of the site:
A Welshman, it was said, walking over London Bridge with a hazel staff in his hand, was met by an Englishman, who told him that the stick he carried grew on a spot under which were hidden vast treasures, and if the Welshman remembered the place arid would show it to him he would put him in possession of those treasures.

After some demur the Welshman consented, and took the Englishman (who was in fact a wizard) to the Craig-y-Ddinas and showed him the spot. They dug up the hazel tree on which the staff grew and found under it a broad flat stone. This covered the entrance to a cavern in which thousands of warriors lay in a circle sleeping on their arms. In the centre of the entrance hung a bell which the conjurer begged the Welshman to beware of touching. But if at any time he did touch it and any of the warriors should ask if it were day, he was to answer without hesitation "No; sleep thou on."

The warriors' arms were so brightly polished that they illumined the whole cavern; and one of them had arms that outshone the rest, and a crown of gold lay by his side. This was Arthur; and when the Welshman had taken as much as he could carry of the gold which lay in a heap amid the warriors, both men passed out; not, however, without the Welsh-man's accidentally touching the bell. It rang; but when the inquiry: "Is it day?" came from one of the warriors, he was prompt with the reply: "No; sleep thou on."

The conjurer afterwards told him that the company he had seen lay asleep ready for the dawn of the day when the Black Eagle and the Golden Eagle should go to war, the clamour of which would make the earth tremble so much that the bell would ring loudly and the warriors would start up, seize their arms, and destroy the enemies of the Cymry, who should then repossess the island of Britain and be governed from Caerlleon with justice and peace so long as the world endured.

When the Welshman's treasure was all spent he went back to the cavern and helped himself still more liberally than before. On his way out he touched the bell again: again it rang. But this time he was not so ready with his answer, and some of the warriors rose up, took the gold from him, beat him and cast him out of the cave. He never recovered the effects of that beating, but remained a cripple and a pauper to the end of his days; and he never could find the entrance to the cavern again.
Both books are online at the Internet Sacred Texts Archive at
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
17th August 2005ce

Round Hill Tump (Round Barrow(s))

In the Reverend John Collinson's 'History and Antiquities of the County of Somerset' (from the 1780s) he spoke of "an immense tumulus at the extremity of the parish [of Wellow]". I initially assumed he was talking about Stoney Littleton but actually he was writing about the hamlet of Woodborough - where this barrow lies. It was "said to be the burial place of Saxon chieftains slain in a bloody battle."

Camerton was the Roman town that it became part of - although the site is open fields now. The round barrow has interestingly survived through everything. If you know a local name please tell me! It is still an impressive 6m high, crowned with trees and easily visible from the road. There are the remains of another round barrow in the field apparently, and archaeological work has found traces from the Neolithic too.

The field in which the barrows lie is called 'Tump Ground'. A large oak formerly stood on top of the larger barrow (the Roundhill) but was removed in the 1930s. Local people claimed that if you attempted to cut or damage the tree, blood would run from the wound.

Wedlake (in 'Excavations at Camerton 1926-56' 1958) also writes that "Local legend still has it that the mound contains the remains of soldiers killed in a battle when a town which extended from Wellow to Paulton was attacked." (This idea of the town seems quite weird, but could it be recognition of the lost Roman settlement in the area?)

The Reverend Skinner excavated the mound in September 1815 (it was a busy time for him, see the Priddy Nine Barrows). He used an interesting and unusual technique, hiring local coalminers to drive a tunnel in from the side (rather like at Silbury, I suppose). When they got to the middle they found someone had sunk a shaft from top to bottom in the past anyway.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
17th August 2005ce

Parc-y-Meirw (Stone Row / Alignment)

[A tradition is] connected with that remarkable line of tall stones near Fishguard marked on the ordnance map as Parc y Marw, or field of the dead, to avoid which the peasants after night make an enormous detour to the left as one goes through Newport.. the story of the Lady in White haunting these mysterious relics, although firmly believed, may be a comparatively later addition to an earlier superstition.
From Proc. Som. Arch. Soc. 1875 (v21).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
17th August 2005ce

Murtry Hill (Long Barrow)

From Proc Som Arch Soc 21 for 1875:
Prebendary Clutterbuck, the vicar of the parish, stated that after digging at the foot of the larger stone, to a distance equal to its height above the ground, the labourers were unable to reach the bottom of it, so that the actual length of it is not known, nor is it worth ascertaining at the risk of overthrowing it.
This was told to a group of antiquarian daytrippers. One wonders if it was told 'as folklore' and the poor old souls got the wrong end of the stick. Or perhaps Preb. Clutterbuck was just trying to put them off digging? The stones had possibly only recently been dug up, as v57 has the following information:
Mr F Clarke (head gardener at Orchardleigh house) says that when a schoolboy at Buckland Down he went with other excavations on this site about 1872. He distinctly recollects three holes. He does not know if anything was found, but he says there was the common tradition about a gold coffin being buried on Murtry Hill.
Volume 57 (early 1920s) also describes the contemporary excavation of the stones. They found a lot, including other largish buried stones. The book has a photo of the site laid bare. "Our excavations.. told a very different tale [to Clutterbuck], and showed how necessary it is to check the statements made by antiquaries of the middle of last century." The stones only go down about 1 1/2 ft below the surface, quite boringly. So they are about 11.5 and 7.75ft tall. The excavator described a tradition from 1875 (v21): "a modern tradition [is] that these stones are not ancient at all but were erected by a former owner of the estate." So perhaps - although they are clearly ancient - maybe they lay prostrate for a long time, but were erected.

Also from the 1875 journal:
The natives of the district to this day have a dread of passing near the stones except in broad daylight, as if there were still remaining the notion that they marked a place of burial, or perhaps of Pagan rites, in which Satan may have taken an active part.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
17th August 2005ce

Brean Down (Round Barrow(s))

The Berrow Flats are the huge expanse of sand that abuts Brean Down. I read this folklore in Ruth Tongue's 'Forgotten Folk Tales of the English Counties' (1970) and it also reminded me of the fishermen's lore associated with Worlebury, the next headland north.
"My father used to tell us that there was a big fish of Berrow Sands and it had a huge mouth. It used to swallow all the fish and the sailors too, and what it didn't finish, the conger eels did. They used to bark at those times and people knew the big fish was hungry and the fishermen were in danger. Well, there was a bold fisherman who went out in his little boat and the big fish opened his great mouth to take him and he cast his anchor down its throat and the cold iron finished it."
Told to RT by Brean WI members.
You will notice the mention of 'cold iron' - always good against the fairies too - the power of metalworking! And the conger eel, which is also mentioned in the folklore of Wookey Hole.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th August 2005ce

Porlock Stone Circle

The road goes right past the stones here, and they say you will rarely see hill ponies grazing around them after dusk. Horses being ridden refuse to go along the lane. The spectre that haunts the area is of a horse, and people tell of hooves clattering hollowly along the hard surface of the road when no horse is there.

Mentioned by S Toulson in her 'Moors of the Southwest, v1.' 1983.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th August 2005ce

Twitchen Barrows (Round Barrow(s))

According to Shirley Toulson's book 'The Moors of the Southwest v1' (1983) these two barrows by the road on Twitchen Ridge are haunted by a guardian - "a spirit more fearsome than the black dog of the Wambarrows." Keep on driving, I suggest. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th August 2005ce

Breach Farm (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

The Coflein record recognises five round barrows here, pretty much along the line of the road.

I was reading about a Gwyllgi - a supernatural black dog - in Wirt Sikes's 1880 'British Goblins', and it doesn't seem unreasonable to suppose it is associate with these barrows, as they are frequently paired with barrows in other districts. He says:
The lane leading from Mousiad to Lisworney-Crossways [this must mean Moorshead to Llyswyrny and Crossways] is reported to have been haunted by a Gwyllgi of the most terrible aspect. Mr Jenkin, a worthy farmer living near there, was one night returning from market on a young mare, when suddenly the animal shied, reared, tumbled the farmer off, and bolted for home. Old Anthony the farm servant found her standing trembling by the barn-door, and well knowing the lane she had come through suspected she had seen the Gwyllgi. He and the other servants of the farm all went down the road and there in the haunted lane they found the farmer, on his back in the mud. Being question the farmer protested it was the Gwyllgi and nothing less, that had made all this trouble, and his nerves were so shaken by the shock that he had to be supported on either side to get him home, slipping and staggering in the mud in truly dreadful fashion all the way.

It is the usual experience of people who meet the Gwyllgi that they are so overcome with terror by its unearthly howl, or by the glare of its fiery eyes, that they fall senseless. Old Anthony however, used to say that he had met the Gwyllgi without this result. As he was coming home from courting[..] late one Sunday night[..] he encountered in the haunted lane two large shining eyes, which drew nearer and nearer to him. He was dimly able to discern.. what seemed the form of a human shape above, but with the body and limbs of a large spotted dog.

He threw his hat at the terrible eyes, and the hat went whisking right through them, falling in the road beyond. However, the spectre disappeared, and the brave Anthony hurried home as fast as his shaking legs would carry him.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th August 2005ce

Pant-y-Saer (Burial Chamber)

From Wirt Sikes's 'British Goblins' (1880):
The 'Herald Cymraeg' [newspaper] of September 25, 1874, gave an account of some excavations made at Pant-y-Saer cromlech, Anglesea, by the instigation of John Jones of Llandudno, 'a brother of Isaac Jones, the present tenant of Pant-y-Saer', at the time on a visit to the latter. The immediately exciting cause of the digging was a dream in which the dreamer was told that there was a pot of treasure buried within the cromlech's precincts. The result was the revelation of a large number of human bones, among them five lower jaws with the teeth sound; but no crochan aur (pitcher of gold) turned up, and the digging was abandoned in disgust.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th August 2005ce

Tinkinswood (Burial Chamber)

From Wirt Sikes's 'British Goblins' (1880):
There is a remarkable cromlech near the hamlet of St Nicholas, Glamorganshire, on the estate of the family whose house has the honour of being haunted by the ghost of an admiral. This cromlech is called, by children in that neighbourhood, 'Castle Correg'. A Cardiff gentleman who asked some children who were playing round the cromlech, what they termed it, was struck by the name, which recalled to him the Breton fairies thus designated. The korreds and korregs of Brittany closely resemble the Welsh fairies in numberless details. The korreds are supposed to live in the cromlechs, of which they are believed to have been the builders. They dance around them at night, and woe betide the unhappy peasant who joins them in their roundels.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
16th August 2005ce

Maes Knoll (Hillfort)

This is where Hautville's Quoit was thrown from, by Sir John Haut(e)ville (you can read more about this on the Hautville's Quoit page). He was just rehearsing for a throwing match with the Devil, which he ended up winning by throwing a rock from Shute Shelve to Compton Bishop (about a mile and a half) - the Devil threw 3 furlongs shorter. (from Grinsell's folklore book I think).

Sir John is apparently bured in Chew Magna church, where there's an oak effigy of him.
This gentleman was remarkable for prodigious strength, as the Irish oak is probably intended to denote. Vulgar tradition informs us, that Edward the First having requested Sir John to shew him a specimen of his abilities, the knight undertook to convey three of the stoutest men in England to the top of Norton Tower [Norton Malreward is at the foot of Maes Knoll], situated in a neighbouring parish. Accordingly, taking one under each arm, and a third in his teeth, he proceeded on his task. The two in his arms, making some resistance, were squeezed to death, but the other was carried up without sustaining the smallest injury.
From 'The Beauties of England' by John Britton. Vol 13 pt 2, p628.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
13th August 2005ce
Edited 22nd August 2007ce

Priddy Circles (Henge)

A follow up on Rhiannon story of Jesus in Priddy. I heard a story many years ago that the local people of Priddy would use the phrase, " As sure as the Lord walked in Priddy". This would be used in the same way as someone today might use the phrase " Is the pope Catholic?". Posted by vulcan
13th August 2005ce

Lansdown Camp (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

As Rhiannon added this site, I shall tell a ghost story. Whilst out walking I met a couple on the path near here, falling into conversation as you do, I said that there was a particular spot on the path that felt eerie, and he said that he'd seen the ghost of a gaitered man walking down this path away from the battle. Believe that as you may, but a friend had a similar experience near Dyrham ( 577ad battle site), a gaitered man appeared in a dark lane, but when this person turned his motorbike round to go back and check, the man had mysteriously disappeared. The lane was bordered by high estate walls so where he went was a mystery.... moss Posted by moss
7th August 2005ce

Crois Chnoca Breaca (Standing Stone / Menhir)

see also this thread:

"one day a year local people used to walk in procession along an old road, round the church, to the old stone, drape coloured pieces of cloth around it, and give oblations"
BigSweetie Posted by BigSweetie
6th August 2005ce

From The Outer Hebrides and their Legends by Otta F. Swire, 1966:

"It is said that there was a standing stone carved with a cross and known as Crois nan Cnoca Breaca on a small hill on the north boundary of Ormaclett and that it marked the spot where 'Our Saviour of Victory' stood and so long as Howmore Church was in we all those who came to it from the south always knelt there to pray. Martin says that the people bowed to the church from this stone which they set up at the first point from which St. Columba's church at Howmore could be seen and so it was called 'the bowing stone'. One wonders if both the stone and the sacredness of this part of South Uist are not much older than Christianity."
BigSweetie Posted by BigSweetie
5th August 2005ce

Garn Bentyrch (Hillfort)

A folktale in 'Welsh Fairy Stories' by W. Jenkyn Thomas (1907) relates to the stones on top of Garn Bentyrch (or Pentyrch, as he calls it) - online at V Wales
It's about a boy who goes to play with the fairies on the hills above Llangybi. His parents warn him against it but he will keep going back, and one day doesn't return for two years (though he looks the same age on his return). There are rumours about a hoard of gold hidden under a big rock on the mountain but even the strongest men in the village shoving together can't shift it. His parents are down to their last can of beans due to an ill-advised investment, but Guto knows the fairies will help them out. He goes to ask nicely if they can have the gold, and when he tries to move the rock (sword-in-the-stone style) it bounces off down the hill with no effort at all. Pays to be civil to the fairies, see.

They are mentioned elsewhere in Rhys's 'Celtic Folklore Welsh and Manx'
which is online at the Sacred Texts archive.
When I was staying at Pwlltheli the same summer, I went out to the neighbouring village of Four Crosses, and found a native of the place, who had heard a great many curious things from his mother. His name was Lewis Jones: he was at the time over eighty, and he had formerly been a saddler. Among other things, his mother often told him that her grandmother had frequently been with the fairies, when the latter was a child. She lived at Plas Du, and once she happened to be up near Carn Bentyrch when she saw them. She found them resembling little children, and playing in a brook that she had to cross. She was so delighted with them, and stayed so long with them, that a search was made for her, when she was found in the company of the fairies.
Sabine Baring-Gould mentions that On the hill above [the spring] is Cadair Gybi, his [Saint Cybi's] chair, a naturally-formed boulder bearing a striking resemblance to an arm-chair.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
4th August 2005ce
Edited 27th November 2012ce

Cadbury Camp (Nailsea) (Hillfort)

Phil Quinn (Third Stone 26) mentions that fairies used to live here at Cadbury. But they couldn't stand the noise from the new church bells - they buried their gold and left (perhaps too heavy to take with them?).

The folklore mentioned by Purejoy below is included by Ruth Tongue in her 1965 'Somerset Folklore' - she also says that the local people (unsurprisingly) called the camp 'Camelot'.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
3rd August 2005ce

Dunkery Beacon (Cairn(s))

Ruth Tongue was told in 1944 by a Person from Porlock that people used to climb to the top of Dunkery Beacon to see the sun rise on Easter Sunday, 'for good luck'.

(Somerset Folklore, 1965)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
3rd August 2005ce

Stoke Pero (Cairn(s))

Various mounds, cairns and barrows lie here, between Dunkery Beacon and Exmoor's remote highest church at Stoke Pero. It's got a bit of a spooky reputation. On St John's Eve (that is, the night before Midsummer Day) in 1942 an old carter asked Ruth Tongue to accompany him up Ley Hill (just to the north). From there they watched little marsh lights moving aroud by Stoke Pero and Dunkery. These were said to be spunkies (Somerset willo the wisps) gathering to Stoke Pero church, where they would guide the ghosts of all those people who would die the following year. Spooky.

(R Tongue - 'Somerset Folklore' 1965)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd August 2005ce

Redhill (Long Barrow)

This barrow is probably looking a bit sorry for itself, being crossed by a field boundary at one end, and only being about 60cm high. However, it (and no doubt the plethora of other sites around - Redhill barrow cemetery, the Water Stone ) seems a good reason why this bit of folklore is attached to the area. Redhill longbarrow is very close to the farm mentioned below.
There is a farm near Wrington called Hailstones Farm but some folk say it should really be Hurlerstone Farm on account of the Devil picking up a great rock lying there and throwing it right over the Mendips to hit Cranmore Church. Of course he missed, but it was a tidy throw even for the Old Boy. Some say it was a giant dropped it or made a bad shot of it. Any how the rock lies on the edge of a cliff in the woods and they call them Hurdlestone Woods. And there is a Giant's Grave there too.
From Ruth Tongue's 'Someset Folklore' (1965) gathered locally in 1945.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd August 2005ce

Wambarrows (Round Barrow(s))

These three dented bronze age barrows hide some treasure, which is guarded by a big black dog. Ruth Tongue describes the fearsome beast in 'Somerset Folklore' (1965) :
On Winsford Hill on autumn nights a traveller may be stopped by a black hound with glowing saucer eyes. If he tries to advance he will die, either at once or very soon, but if he stands still the dog will slowly vanish until only its eyes still glow. As soon as they disappear the traveller is free to move on, but some lesser ill-luck will follow. There was once a farmer whose frightened pony danced near to the spectre before he could stop it. The farmer did not die, it was the pony who collapsed half a mile from home.
The barrows are probably also the home of pixies, lately moved from the Brightworthy Barrows.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd August 2005ce

Trendle Ring (Hillfort)

This univallate hill fort dates from the late Bronze Age / Early Iron Age. Can it really be a fort? It looks so precarious on the map, crossing a thicket of contour lines. Naturally well defended at least. (see details on MAGIC at

'Trendle' (like the Trundle, one assumes) comes from the Middle English for 'wheel', which in turn comes from the Old English for 'circle' - indeed, the shape of the fort.

It's said that here on Bicknoller hill 'the woman of the mist' can be seen (apparently, according to Ruth Tongue in 'Somerset Folklore' 1965, 'in recent years'). She sounds rather like the Scottish Cailleach (see Schiehallion) as "she herds the red deer. Sometimes she appears as an old frail crone, sometimes as a great misty figure."
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd August 2005ce

Dowsborough (Hillfort)

Ruth Tongue's sources (for her 1965 'Somerset Folklore) knew this as the Danish Camp, or perhaps even 'a Roman look-out or summer camp' (ah, a Roman summer camp, how sweet) and traditionally 'a band of Danish sea-robbers made it their fort while they preyed on the villages.' However, the women they kidnapped thought up a devious plan to get them all incapacitated, so one night while they were all feasting and drinking, the locals suddenly attacked and massacred the lot of them. 'On wild autumn nights at midnight they say you can still hear the revelry, followed by the clash of arms.' Only one of the Danes survived. A girl had fallen in love with the young musician boy who had fled before the battle, his harp slung over his shoulder. She sheltered him for several days until he was discovered - and killed. Afterwards his ghost was said to roam the slopes of Dowsborough - or 'Danesborough'- and heard singing faintly and plucking at his harp. To put it even more romantically (as Lawrence does in 'Somerset Legends'): "At times a startled pony pricks his ears at soft movements in the bracken and the notes of a muted song."

Tongue mentions that 'Wordsworth remembers him in a poem." Wordsworth did live for a time on the edge of the Quantocks. So no doubt 'The Danish Boy'
is the poem she refers to.

John Garland's 'Haunted Somerset' (2007) mentions Berta Lawrence's 'Quantock Country', in which she says:
Near Danesborough Ring the Quantock woodmen swore they heard ghostly music issuing from underground, the revelling of Viking warriors feasting with wassail-cup and song.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd August 2005ce

Priddy Circles (Henge)

This is quite peculiar. There is a tradition in Priddy that Jesus visited the tin mines in Cornwall with his uncle, Joseph of Arimathea ("Uncle Joe" probably - no, I'm making that bit up) and then came up to the lead mines at Priddy.
Our Lord when a boy came voyaging with a sailor uncle to Britain. Their trading ship put in at Watchet, and from there He walked across the Quantocks to Bridgwater where He boarded a punt and crossed the lakes and marshes to the foot of Mendip, ending his journey high up at Priddy. Here, say the miners, He walked and talked and worked with them a happy while, and then, loaded with Somerset gear, He went back to Nazareth.
This is in Ruth Tongue's 'Folklore of Somerset' (County Folklore v8), and she heard it locally throughout the first half of the twentieth century. I guess it's a story about trading metals with far away places to the South.. hm - could this really be a folk memory of actual trading?

A similar story - but necessarily about pre-Jesus times (mentioned by S Toulson in her 'Moors of the Southwest v1' 1983) says that the lead from the Mendip mines was shipped to Jerusalem to build Solomon's temple.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd August 2005ce
Edited 16th August 2005ce

Brightworthy Barrows (Round Barrow(s))

Two of the original three Brightworthy Barrows survive here on a prominent spot of Withypool Common, with impressive views of the Barle Valley and beyond, and to the East, Knighton Combe and Withypool Hill.

Below the barrows to the NE is Knighton Farm. Many years ago the farmer here was on very good terms with the pixies. They did all sorts of jobs for him around the farm, threshed the corn and so on. The farmer's wife was so grateful that one day she made little suits for them and left them out for them to try on. However, you just can't treat the pixies like that - you can't offer them gifts of clothing. They had to stop helping out (Pixie Union Rules - more than their job's worth, etc).

For once they didn't lose all contact with the farmer. It happened that some bells were being put into the church tower at Withypool. Fairies and their ilk really don't like church bells (a bit like those people from London who move to the country hoping for a bit of piece and quiet heheh). So the father pixy came to see the farmer.
"Wilt gie us the lend of thy plough and tackle?" he said.
The farmer was cautious - he'd heard how the pixies used horses.
"What vor do 'ee want'n?" he asked.
"I d'want to take my good wife and littlings out of the noise of they ding-dongs."
The farmer trusted the pixies and they moved, lock, stock and barrel over to Winsford Hill, and when the pack horses trotted home they looked like beautiful two-year-olds.
Winsford Hill is over to the east, and no doubt they would have found lovely new lodgings in the Wambarrows which crown it. You can't help thinking that they must have lived in the Brightworthy Barrows initially.

(dialogue from Ruth Tongue in 'Somerset Folklore' (1965).
According to Michael Williams' website here
the Withypool church bells were cast in 1793, so maybe that's when the pixies left.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
27th July 2005ce
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