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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

Llanhamlach (Standing Stone / Menhir)

As Elderford hints, perhaps this stone is a bit young. The coflein record doesn't commit itself to any period but does admit the stone is on the line of an allegedly Roman road. Still, the romans had to put their roads somewhere. Marie Trevelyan calls the stone 'Maen yr Ast', contracted to 'Mannest' - or 'The Bitch Stone', presumably alluding, like a number of other names, to greyhounds (and perhaps Ceridwen taking the form of a greyhound?)
On Coflein its alternative name is the Peterstone; Peterstone Court lies across the road.

(M. Trevelyan, 'Folk lore and Folk Stories of Wales', 1909)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd September 2005ce

Garth Hill (Round Barrow(s))

Halfway up the Garth Mountain, near Cardiff, a woman robed in green used to appear. She beckoned to men who passed, but they did not heed her. Two men at last ventured to listen to what she said, which was that she guarded hoards of gold, and could not move, but she wished to be released. They should have the treasure if they set her free. If they did not release her then, there would not be a man born for the next hundred years who could set her free. The men whispered to each other, wondering if her tale were true. One of the men, looking down at her feet, said "True enough. Her slippers are covered with gold-dust." The woman suddenly vanished, but for a long time her sobs and wailings were heard.
Marie Trevelyan, 'Folk lore and Folk stories of Wales' (1909).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd September 2005ce

Merlin's Hill (Hillfort)

The Coflein record says that "A single massive rampart crowns a visually distinctive, flat-topped hill, creating a roughly triangular enclosure, about 300m east-west by 180m." Visually distinctive eh, catching the eye of those folk and their stories. Marie Trevelyan tells us:
Merlin's Cave is in Merlin's Hill, above the secluded village of Abergwilli, near Carmarthen. Old stories state that Merlin is held there in bonds of enchantment by Nimue-Vivien, and it was firmly believed in the eighteenth century that the celebrated magician could be heard at certain seasons of the year bewailing his folly in allowing a woman to learn his secret spell.
Folk stories and Folk lore of Wales (1909).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd September 2005ce

Lligwy (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

A strange mix of symbolism in this story.
Arthur's Quoit, at Lligwy, near Moelfre, in Anglesea, is one of the stones of a cromlech once very important, and to it curious stories were formerly attached. A fisherman going down to the sea was overtaken by a storm, and halted to shelter beside Arthur's Quoit. When the rain was over, he looked towards the sea, and felt sure that somebody was struggling in the water. He hastened to the shore, and then discovered that a woman with very long dark hair was endeavouring to swim to land; but the ground swell was very strong, and each attempt proved unavailing.

The fisherman, fearless of the sea*, sprang in, and bore the swimmer to the shore, only just to escape a dangerous roller. The man observed that the woman was beautifully robed in white, and had jewelled bracelets on her arms. After squeezing the water out of her garments, she asked him to assist her to the "huge stone", meaning Arthur's Quoit. He did so, and while she sat to rest against the stone he noticed she was very beautiful and youthful. The man was about to ask her how she came to be in such peril, but she anticipated his question with a harsh voice, by no means in keeping with her beauty.

"Ha ha!" she cried. "If I had been swimming in my usual raiment, you would have allowed me to sink. I am a witch, and was thrown off a ship in Lligwy Bay; but I disguised myself, and was rescued."

The man shrank back in terror, fearing the woman would bewitch him. "Don't be frightened," said the witch; "one good turn deserves another. Here, take this." In the palm of her hand she held a small ball. "It is for you," she said, "and as long as you keep it concealed in a secret place where nobody can find it, good luck will be yours. Once a year you must take it out of hiding and dip it in the sea, then safely return it to its place of concealment. But remember, if it is lost, misfortune will follow."

The fisherman took the ball and thanked the witch, who gravely said: "That ball contains a snake-skin." Then she vanished mysteriously. But an hour later he saw her leaping from rock to rock in Lligwy Bay, where a boat was waiting for her, and in it she sailed away. Returning to Arthur's Quoit, the fisherman thought he could do no better than conceal the ball in a deep hole which he dug close beside the great stone which was reputed to be haunted, and accordingly avoided. He did this, and once a year he took it from concealment and dipped it in the sea. The ball was carefully preserved, and the family had remarkable runs of luck. But one evening when the fisherman went to look for the ball, it was nowhere to be found. He searched for many days, but without avail, and at last gave up his search as hopeless. Somebody evidently discovered his secret, and had stolen the precious ball.

Several years passed, during which time misfortune pursued the fisherman. At the end of that period a dying neighbour confessed to the theft of the ball, and restored it to its lawful owner. Good luck was at once restored to the family. When the fisherman died, he bequeathed it to his eldest son, who carefully preserved it. In the first half of the nineteenth century the fisherman's eldest son, accompanied by his only brother, started for Australia, where they eventually made large fortunes. A descendant in the female line of the old fisherman considered the ball one of her most precious treasures, and carefully preserved it in her far-away home in India. It was last heard of about forty years ago.
From Marie Trevelyan's "Folk lore and Folk Stories of Wales" (1909).

*surely not something a fisherman would be. In fact, many could not swim??
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd September 2005ce

Carreg Leidr (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Another source - 'Cambrian Superstitions' by William Howell (1831) suggests that the robber actually stole the church bells (quite a feat). Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd September 2005ce

The King Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Taken from Prehistoric England by Graham Clark.... quoting Sir Arthur Evan's version of witch and king..

Just as the king approached the crest of the hill, from which the village of Long Compton would be visible, she halted him with the word "seven long strides shall thou take" and
If long Compton thou canst see,
King of England thou shalt be"
exulting the King cried out;
Stick,stock stone,
As king of England I shall be known"
and strode forward 7 paces, but lo! instead of Long Compton there rose before him a long earthen mound, and the witch replied;
As Long Compton thou canst not see
King of England thou shalt not be.
Rise up, stick, and stand still, stone,
Thou and thy men hoar stones shall be
And I myself an eldern tree".

The whispering knights were turned to stones by the witch because they were plotting treachery..
moss Posted by moss
14th September 2005ce

The Bowden Doors (Natural Rock Feature)

There is a tale of an otherworldly being known as a 'Dunnie', who haunted the area between here and Chatton, who was often heard at night lamenting the fact that he could not return to the realm from which he came,

"Ah've lost the key to the Bowden Doors, Alas I'll ne'er gan hame nae more..."

A couple of versions of this tale are kicking about, at least one of which links the Dunnie to the spirit of a Border Reiver, but the one relating it directly to The Bowden doors seems to be the oldest, dredged from 'The Denham Tracts'.
Hob Posted by Hob
14th September 2005ce

The Whispering Knights (Burial Chamber)

Dr Stukeley tells a tale of a repentant Vandal, who having carried off one of the biggest stones to help make a bridge, saw a vision - and, being smitten with remorse, returned the stone to its original group.
Yes, but what did he See? Leave out the interesting bit why don't you. Perhaps there's more in the original, if anyone knows it.

Quote from 'Our Ancient Monuments and the Land Around Them' by CP Kains-Jackson (1880).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
13th September 2005ce

Dunino Den (Sacred Well)

Time travel at the Den?
Some years ago, when many of the roads in the east of Fife were still used but by few, a visitor to the district.. resolved to make a detour to visit [Dunino Church]. A somewhat rough track leads down to a bridge.. and a broad and well-made path , cut in the hillside [climbs] among the trees to the kirk and the manse. Leaving this for the moment he continued on the level track round the flank of the hill, and saw before him on thefarther side of the stream a picturesque hamlet. Some of the cottages were thatched, some tiled; but all were covered in roses and creepers.. At the east end.. a smithy closed the prospect, save for the trees that shut out the further windings of the Den.

No sound broke the stillness of the summer noon but the flow of the burn. At one or two of the doors there stood an old man in knee-breeches and broad bonnet, or a woman in a white mutch and a stuff gown, while in the entrance to the forge the smith leant motionless on his hammer... Half in a dream he turned and climbed to the church.. No sense of the abnormal had occurred to the intruder..

A year elapsed ere the wanderer came thither again.. This time he was accompanied by a companion to whom he had told the story of his glimpse of 'the most old-world hamlet in Fife'... they prepared to sketch the Arcady to be revealed. The cottages were gone. The burn flowed through the Den as when last he saw it, but its farther bank was bare...

.. The author is informed on excellent authority that there were at one time at least three or four cottages and a blacksmith's shop at the place described. It is said these were taken down "some time last century."
Edited from Wilkie's 1931 'Bygone Fife', quoted in K Briggs' 'British Folktales and Legends' (1977).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
9th September 2005ce

Bindon Hill (Hillfort)

Just recently an officer told me quite seriously that he could vouch for the fact that on certain nights a phantom Roman army marches along Bindon Hill to their camp on King's Hill. The thud of the trampling of horses and men is plainly heard and their indistinct forms seen as the fog drifts. On those nights no rabbits run and no dog can be induced to go near... one wonders if at any time an army lost its bearings in the fog and went over the very abrupt cliff which borders this hill...
Quote from 'Dorset, up along and down along', ed. Marianne R Dacombe (1935), p113.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th September 2005ce

Trent Barrow (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

More on Purejoy's pool:
Beside Trent Barrow near Sherborne is an old pit full of water and so deep that no one has ever been able to measure its depth and it is called the 'bottomless pit'. One dark and stormy night a coach, horses, driver and passengers plunged into the pit and disappeared, leaving no trace behind. But passersby along the road may still hear, in stormy weather, the sound of galloping horses and wailing voices borne by them on the wind.
(From 'Dorset, up along and down along', ed. M R Dacombe (1935)).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th September 2005ce

Poundbury Hillfort

Poundbury used to be stocked on May Day (this being the commoners' rights). "Dorchester folk were wont in olden time, it is said, to go forth to its flowery and airy sward a-maying and to drink syllybub of fresh milk."

Ah the rural idyll.

Quote from 'Dorsetshire Folklore' by John Symonds Udal (1922).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
6th September 2005ce

Bulbury Camp (Hillfort)

According to the information on Magic, this roughly circular univallate hillfort overlooks Poole harbour (though how the coastline differed in prehistory I can't say). One end of it is now built on with farm buildings.

From Dorset Folk-Lore, by J. J. Foster, in The Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 6, No. 2. (1888), pp. 115-119.:
Some years a go several metal objects were found in a Keltic earthwork. Among them was a curious little grotesque bull, with a quaint tail curled up, which makes it somewhat like a dog. My friend heard that these things were in the hands of a certain old woman, and offered to buy them. "Han't got 'em - used to't - but there, 'twere loike this yer. My poor buoy, he wer terble bad, and he pined like a'ter they wold things. And ther - I thought myself how thick brass dog a noul'd ouver door'd do en a power o' good." And 'noul'd ouver door' it was found.

This remarkable find.. is fully described in Archaeologia v48, where the objects are figured... it's use as recently as 1881 as a prophylactic is surely an interesting fact to students of folk-lore.
Ah yes those Victorians middleclass intellectuals loved to imitate a quaint rural accent.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
6th September 2005ce

Marleycombe Hill (Round Barrow(s))

A golden coffin is buried somewhere on the Downs at Bowerchalke. It was stolen from one of the Britons' Barrows. The theft was discovered, and the coffin had to be hidden. At certain seasons seven men may be seen dragging the coffin over the Downs.
From Olivier/Edwards' "Moonrakings" (c1920) - a story they collected from a local WI member.

There are seven round barrows on the hill, and other earthworks, no doubt some of which are visible from the village below.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
6th September 2005ce
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