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Ashmore Down (Long Barrow)

A round barrow near Ashmore was once haunted by little 'gabbygammies' or 'gappergennies' who made strange noises. Funnily enough, the strange noises ceased after the barrow was opened and the bones allegedly found inside reburied in the village churchyard. Poor gabbygammies. There probably aren't any in the longbarrow near Ashmore but if you hear any strange noises while you're there..

(mentioned by Grinsell in 'Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain, 1976, not sure of original source he quotes)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th October 2005ce

Bartlow Hills (Round Barrow(s))

There seem to be various traditions relating to skipping in Easter week, from various places around the country. In Cambridgeshire, Good Friday seems to have been the day singled out. "An eighty year old woman of Linton recalled in the 1930s that in her youth the villagers of Linton and Hadstock used to skip on Good Friday to Bartlow Hills to join in the fun of the fair held there."

p107 in 'Cambridgeshire Customs and Folklore' by Enid Porter (1969).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th October 2005ce

The Godstone (Christianised Site)

A little further info from Witches, Fairies and Things That Go Bump

It's origins lie in pagan times when the recently deceased would be carried around it three times.

Early Christians carved some steps, a cross and a circle to demonstrate that the way to Heaven was through the Christian Church.
jimmyd Posted by jimmyd
20th October 2005ce

Garth Hill (Round Barrow(s))

Mind out for the ferns on Garth Hill.
A very amusing story about fern-seed came from the neighbourhood of the Garth Mountain, Glamorgan. An aged Welshman said that when he was a small boy he heard his grandfather gravely relating the experience of a neighbour who chanced to be coming homeward through the mountain fern on Midsummer Night between twelve and one o'clock. At that hour fern-seed is supposed to ripen, to fail off directly, and be lost. Some of the fern-seed fell upon his coat and into his shoes. He thought nothing of this, but went home.
At this point he totally freaks out his family, because they can't see him, but they can hear him talking - he remains invisible until he inadvertently shakes the seeds from his clothing.
The man who told this story said that when he was a boy not a person would wear a fern of any kind - first, because it caused men to lose their paths; and secondly, because adders were likely to follow you so long as it was worn.
From Marie Trevelyan's 'Folk lore and folk stories of Wales' (1909).
Of course, really boring botanists would tell you that ferns don't have seeds.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
14th October 2005ce

The Beacons (Round Barrow(s))

A number of round barrows known as 'The Beacons' sit on Mynydd Garthmaelwg. Marie Trevelyan recounts a peculiar story about this mountain:
The following story about a black snake was told in the first half of the nineteenth century. It must have been a very old story because the narrator always located it on the nearest mountain to his home and this particularly black reptile appeared to have no fixed abode. In Carmarthenshire it was located among the Van Mountains; in Pembrokeshire it was found in the Preceley Range; while in Glamorgan its home was the Great Garth, the Llantrisant, or Aberdare Ranges. The story ran thus: A great black snake was seen coiled in the sunshine. Its head and tail did not exactly meet, but left a small opening. In the middle of the coil there was a large heap of gold and silver and copper coins. A working man once saw all this treasure, and he resolved to have some for himself. There was nothing to be done but to just pass through the opening between the black snake's head and tail, and step in. At first the man was afraid, but, mustering up courage, he stepped in. He saw that the snake was asleep, and there would be no harm in having some of the coins for himself; so he began to fill his pockets with gold, silver, and copper. When his pockets were full, he took off his coat, laid it down, and began filling it with more treasure. Greediness made him forget the snake, but a fearful roaring frightened him. He immediately left his coat where it was, and fled. Looking back, he saw the black snake and the treasure sinking into the mountain, and the noise ceased.
From 'Folk-lore and folk-stories of Wales' (1909)

The Rhondda Cynon Taf Libraries Heritage Trail website at
has some additional information:
Until a few generations ago, the Brenin Llwyd or Grey Monarch of the Mists was believed to inhabit this mountain and woe betide anyone caught in his grasp! A walk from Llanharan towards Llantrisant over the mountains will still take you to the site of "The Beacons", where before the 1700s the Militia met to muster and show arms. In later times this beacon would be lit to celebrate coronations. A short distance to the east is the location of the popular Egg Wells, whose sulphurous waters attracted hundreds of summer visitors to sample their curative properties and enjoy the fairground atmosphere.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
14th October 2005ce

Hendrefor (Burial Chamber)

Just to the north of these two ruined burial chambers is Llyn Llwydiarth and the mountain Mynydd Llwydiarth. Evans-Wentz described the story told by two local sisters, Miss Mary Owen and Mrs Betsy Thomas (who were 103 and 100 years old respectively, when he spoke to them in 1911).
There were many of the Tylwyth Teg on the Llwydiarth Mountain above here, and round the Llwydiarth Lake where they used to dance; and whenever the prices at the Llangefri market were to be high they would chatter very much at night. They appeared only after dark; and all the good they ever did was singing and dancing.
From 'The fairy faith in Celtic countries'.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th October 2005ce

Brimham Rocks (Rocky Outcrop)

There are so many strange names for the rocks here: tortoises, frogs, cannons - and they're no doubt constantly changing according to fashion, as the quote below suggests:
On the verge of the precipice which girdles the mass of rocks on this side, stand the Baboon's Head, the Pulpit Rock, the Serpent's Head, and the Yoke of Oxen; (These names are frequently changed by the innovating, garrulous guide, who has changed the Baboon's Head to the Gorilla's, and the Yoke of Oxen to the Bulls of Babylon, which unsettling of nomenclature he calls keeping pace with the times. Unique as the rocks are amongst the freaks of nature, there is nearly as much originality about the guide but infinitely less grandeur.) Near this last is the Idol Rock, one of the most singular masses, and one of the greatest wonders of the place.
From an 1863 pamphlet on line at

Some of the stones are Rocking Stones. It's said they can only be moved by an honest person. Peter Walker ('Folk Stories from the Yorkshire Dales' 1991) says it is a local joke that no Yorkshireman has ever managed to rock them!

He also reports that somewhere among the rocks is a cave where a witch lived: "The Abode of the Great Sybil, who was said to be even more remarkable at fortune telling than the famous Mother Shipton of Knaresborough."

One of the more famous stories is of Edwin and Julia. They were madly in love with each other but Julia's father wasn't having any of it. Especially when Edwin asked for his daughter's hand in marriage. He forbade them to see each other any more. But of course, they couldn't stand to live without each other. They decided to leap off Brimham Rocks and spend eternity together that way. Julia's father got wind of the plan and dashed up there to dissuade them - but they jumped before he could reach them. However, by some miracle, instead of plummeting to their dooms, they floated gently to the ground. "Some said that a fairy who lived among the rocks had witnessed their misery and knew they could be happy if only they were allowed to marry." Perhaps it was the influence of the Druids - or maybe even the magic in the rocks themselves. More boring people put it down to Julia's skirts being so voluminous. But whatever, her Father at last consented to their marriage and naturally they lived happily ever after. And the rock was forever known as 'Lovers' Leap' or 'Lovers' Rock'.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
12th October 2005ce

Hunter's Burgh (Long Barrow)

Leslie Grinsell claims that 'Hunter's Barrow' was named by Colt Hoare, as he had found it contained a number of arrow heads and deer antlers, appropriate to the burial of a hunter.*

The ancient burial mounds of England, 1936.

(*Not that I'm doubting the legendary LVG, but did Colt Hoare really make a habit of naming barrows? So many must have had arrow heads in..)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
11th October 2005ce

Trewardreva Fogou

John Wilmet, 78 years old, began by telling me the following tale about an allee couvert: "William Murphy, who married my sister, once went to the pisky-house at Bosahan with a surveyor and the two of them heard such unearthly noises in it that they came running home in great excitement, saying they had heard the piskies."
This is surely the place to which this anecdote (from Evans Wentz's 'Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries' 1911) refers, as if you look on the map it is between Bosahan farm and Bosahan quarry.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
8th October 2005ce
Edited 25th October 2005ce

Men-An-Tol (Holed Stone)

At the Men-an-Tol there is supposed to be a guardian fairy or pixy who can make miraculous cures. And my mother knew of an actual case in which a changeling was put through the stone in order to get the real child back. It seems that evil pixies changed children, and that the pixy at the Men-an-Tol being good, could, in opposition, undo their work.
'The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries' p179, W Y Evans Wentz, 1911.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
8th October 2005ce

Kingsdown Camp (Enclosure)

According to the Somerset Historic Environment record this is a small Iron Age enclosure which was refortified in the late first or second century. Leslie Grinsell mentions it in his 'Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain' - it is said to be the site of a fierce battle between two kings, at which both of them died. A large barrow (partially destroyed some time pre 1791) was said to be where the many slain in the battle were interred. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
5th October 2005ce

Burley Camp (Hillfort)

Unusually it seems that when the Normans built their fancy 2-motte and bailey castle here, they didn't utilise the earthworks that already existed: the defenses of the Iron Age Burley Camp.

Leslie Grinsell's source hinted that a crock of gold is buried here, but that anyone who attempts to dig for it is scared off by the eldritch thunder and lightning that ensue.

('Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain, 1976)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
5th October 2005ce

The Grey Stone (Cup and Ring Marks / Rock Art)

Harewood- the nearest village and stately home - may actually be named after this stone.

According to John Gilleghan's "Highways and Byways from Leeds":

"flints and an axe from 1500/2000 BC have been found in this area".

"It has been suggested that the word Harewood has been derived from Grey Stones Wood as Harawuda - Hara Stanes Wudu - means a wood by the stones. The area was known as Hareuuode in the Domesday Book - in Old English "haer" meant stony ground and "har" meant grey."
Posted by Rosie
4th October 2005ce

Marden Henge (and Hatfield Barrow)

Weirdness local to Marden - a settlement (now a house) lay to the east of the henge, called 'Puckshipton'. John Chandler (see link below) says this means 'The Goblin's Cattle Shed'. What must have happened here for the place to acquire this name? Or is it actually related to the henge itself (probably an ideal place for a goblin to corral his cattle). It is very close to the place where the Ridgeway crossed the River Avon (I take it at SU099577), a spot which was known as Wifelesford ('weevils'-ford').

Wiltshire Community History website
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
4th October 2005ce

Ardmarnock (Chambered Cairn)

Leslie Grinsell recorded that this chambered cairn was a spot where St Marnock (or Marnoch) used to retire to for a bit of devotion, fasting and penance.

('Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain' 1976)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
4th October 2005ce

Tinkinswood (Burial Chamber)

You can read a rather long story called 'Roger Meyrick's Ride at
in which he finds himself riding a very strange and swift "horse"*, with the monumental and rationalising cop-out that it was all down to the effects of the local beer.
The story is part of 'From Snowdon to the sea' by Marie Trevelyan (1894).

*which turns out to be the cromlech.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
3rd October 2005ce
Edited 4th October 2005ce

Cryd Tudno (Rocking Stone)

On the Southern slopes of the Orme, overlooking the town of Llandudno, there is an area known as Pen Dinas, where are the remains of a prehistoric settlement. Close by, on the edge of a precipice, lies a large rectangular stone. It is known as the Rocking Stone and a metal plaque may be seen attached to the stone, to this effect. Legend tells us that the Druids used the Rocking Stone as a means of proving the guilt or innocence of criminals. The poor, trembling creature was made to stand on the stone. If the accused was able to make it rock, they were deemed to be innocent, but if the stone stood firm, the guilty wretch was thrown over the cliff to be broken on the rocks below. There are many sources for this story, some saying that the stone still rocks and others insisting that it will not move. Could it be that the stone still possesses the power to judge guilt or innocence?
From Eve Parry's 'Mysterious Mountain' article
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
3rd October 2005ce

Maiden Castle (Ullswater) (Hillfort)

Marjorie Rowling's book 'The Folklore of the Lake District' (1976) includes a story by the Reverend Isaac Todd (born in Wreay in 1797). He gives 'Caerthannoc' as an alternative name for Maiden Castle, and explains that a tower was built there by a king to safeguard his daughter. He was a particularly protective parent because a wicked fairy had foretold (or promised?) the poor girl's death by drowning one day. The king thought he'd cracked it as she'd grown up safe inside the tower, well away from Ullswater - but of course he hadn't counted on the fact that teenage girls will always find a way to sneak out and see their boyfriends. One night she was climbing out of her window intending to elope with the young man once and for all - but she fell in an ungainly fashion upside down into a water butt, and drowned, just as the fairy had predicted. You can't go cheating fate. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
30th September 2005ce
Edited 25th October 2005ce

Moel yr Eglwys (Cairn(s))

I feel that this cairn ought to be the mound referred to in this story, taken from 'The Welsh Fairy Book' by W. Jenkyn Thomas (1908) - online at the sacred-texts archive
There is no end of treasure hidden in the mountains of Wales, but if you are not the person for whom it is intended, you will probably not find it. Even if you do find it, you will not be able to secure it, unless it is destined for you.

There is a store of gold in a hillock near Arenig Lake, and Silvanus Lewis one day took his pickaxe and shovel to find it. No sooner had he commenced to dig in earnest than he heard a terrible, unearthly noise under his feet. The hillock began to rock like a cradle, and the sun clouded over until it became pitch dark. Lightning flashes began to shoot their forked streaks around him and pealing thunders to roar over his head. He dropped his pickaxe and hurried helter-skelter homewards to Cnythog. Before he reached there everything was beautifully calm and serene. But he was so frightened that he never returned to fetch his tools. Many another man has been prevented in the same way from continuing his search.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
30th September 2005ce
Edited 8th February 2014ce

Konger's Knowe (Round Barrow(s))

Sometime in the early or middle nineteenth century a Mr.Fortescue of Swanbister wished to dig it but was warned by a James Flett in Lerquoy not to excavate the "old landmark". Which is why it remains and possibly how it came to be forgotten - it is not certain whether Johnston refers to having seen it himself. wideford Posted by wideford
29th September 2005ce

Cadbury Castle (South Cadbury) (Hillfort)

According to Berta Lawrence, in 'Somerset Legends' (1975), young people used to come to Arthur's well to drink because it would 'make their dreams come true'; and while they were about it they would carve their initials on the nearby trees. The water is particularly magical on St John's Eve (that is, the midsummer solstice), because a true-hearted person who bathes their eyes in the well then might see the hill open up and glimpse Arthur and his men sleeping inside.

The book also mentions proof that the hill is indeed hollow - when the inside of the enclosure was cultivated, a barley stack near one of the entrances sank below the surface of the earth before it could be threshed. Very peculiar, apparently.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
28th September 2005ce

The King's Seat (Round Barrow(s))

[Fairies] have been seen serenading round the West slope of Tara, dressed in ancient Irish costumes.. these races are warlike and given to making invasions. Long processions of them have been seen going round the King's Chair (an earthwork on which the Kings of Tara are said to have been crowned) and they would appear like soldiers of ancient Ireland in review.
An anecdote from John Boylin, in 'The fairy faith in Celtic Countries' by W Y Evans Wentz (1911).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
28th September 2005ce

The Hoar Stone (Chambered Tomb)

The Danes came from Northamptonshire, and they are reputed to have been told that they should come to see the Hoarstone (seven miles SSE of Rollrich) they would be lords of England. Hook norton, the entrenched position of the Saxons, was stormed by the Danes.. The Saxon defeat was very severe, but the battle seems to have checked the Danish advance.
p29 in 'Our Ancient Monuments and the Land Around Them' by Charles P Kains-Jackson, 1880.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
28th September 2005ce

Craig-y-Ddinas (Promontory Fort)

Another story connected to the site:
"This," said the narrator, [being a story about Gitto Bach] "made me more anxious than ever to see the fairies," and his wish was gratified by a gipsy, who directed him to find a four-leaved clover, and put it with nine grains of wheat on the leaf of a book which she gave him. She then desired him to meet her next night by moonlight on the top of Craig y Dinis. She there washed his eyes with the contents of a phial which she had, and he instantly saw thousands of fairies, all in white, dancing to the sounds of numerous harps. They then placed themselves on the edge of the hill, and sitting down and putting their hands round their knees, they tumbled down one after another, rolling head-over-heels till they disappeared in the valley.
The next anecdote is told by another person present, about the Vale of Neath, so I feel sure this is the right Craig y Ddinas. From 'The Fairy Mythology' by Thomas Keightley
[1870], on line at the sacred texts archive.

[to be replaced with the source]
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th September 2005ce
Edited 11th September 2007ce

Castle Ditches (Llantwit Major) (Promontory Fort)

The Castle Ditches are part of some Iron Age defensive earthworks on the coast near Llantwit Major - some of the enclosure has probably fallen into the sea.
Marie Trevelyan mentions them in 'Folk lore and folk stories of Wales' (1909):
Among the places in South Glamorgan where the latest Beltane fires were kindled [was..] Llantwit Major between 1837 and 1840. The following information with reference to the Beltane fires was given me in these words:

" The fire was done in this way: Nine men would turn their pockets inside out, and see that every piece of money and all metals were off their persons. Then the men went into the nearest woods, and collected sticks of nine different kinds of trees. These were carried to the spot where the fire had to be built. There a circle was cut in the sod, and the sticks were set crosswise. All around the circle the people stood and watched the proceedings. One of the men would then take two bits of oak, and rub them together until a flame was kindled. This was applied to the sticks, and soon a large fire was made. Sometimes two fires were set up side by side. These fires, whether one or two, were called coelcerth, or bonfire. Round cakes of oatmeal and brown meal were split in four, and placed in a small flour-bag, and everybody present had to pick out a portion. The last bit in the bag fell to the lot of the bag-holder. Each person who chanced to pick up a piece of brown-meal cake was compelled to leap three times over the flames, or to run thrice between the two fires, by which means the people thought they were sure of a plentiful harvest. Shouts and screams of those who had to face the ordeal could be heard over so far, and those who chanced to pick the oatmeal portions sang and danced and clapped their hands in approval, as the holders of the brown bits leaped three times over the flames, or ran three times between the two fires. As a rule, no danger attended these curious celebrations, but occasionally somebody's clothes caught fire, which was quickly put out. The greatest fire of the year was the eve of May, or May 1, 2, or 3. The Midsummer Eve fire was more for the harvest. Very often a fire was built on the eve of November. The high ground near the Castle Ditches at Llantwit Major, in the Vale of Glamorgan, was a familiar spot for the Beltane on May 3 and on Midsummer Eve.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th September 2005ce
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