The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

Rillaton Barrow

Round Barrow(s)


The Cheesewring and the prehistoric remains near it were explored, after a capital luncheon at the Cheesewring Hotel. Mr. Harris, superintendent of the Caradon Railway, added much to the interest of the visit by his explanations and local information. A visit was first made to what is known as the Rillaton Barrow - so named from the manor on which it is situated - in which a remarkable gold drinking cup was found in 1837. Mr. Iago produced an enlarged drawing of it. It is 3 3/4 inches in height, and the bullion value of it is £10.

Mr. Harris stated that before the cup was found there was a curious legend current in the neighbourhood. Whenever hunters came round that way, the Arch Druid would receive them sitting in his chair, and would offer them drink out of a golden goblet; and if there were forty or fifty of them, they could all drink from the cup without emptying it. One day a party were hunting the wild boar in the Widdecombe Marsh, to the west of the Cheesewring, and one of their number took an oath, or laid a wager, that if the Druid was there then, he would drink the cup dry. They thereupon saw the locks of the priest floating in the air, and hastened up to him. The hunter drank of the cup until he could drink no more, and was so enraged at his inability to finish it that he dashed the wine in the face of the Druid, who immediately disappeared. In connection with this legend, it is curious that within a quarter of a mile of the traditional seat of the Druid this gold cup was found.
The story is in the Journal of the Royal Institution of Cornwall v13, relating the annual excursion for 1895. Baring-Gould was a subscriber at this time, and a few years later he made it to President. So it's possible that he was there at the outing and that's where he initially heard the story. B-Gs has a better ending. So shockingly the exalted Mr Grinsell is a bit wrong - this is an earlier record of the story (although not by much admittedly). But Mr Grinsell didn't have the benefits of the Internet and its search engines.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
21st November 2011ce
Edited 21st November 2011ce

Comments (1)

Good find Rhiannon..within 10 years of this visit Mr Harris would be responsible for the rebuilding of the cist at Rillaton Barrow to what we see now. Mr Hamhead Posted by Mr Hamhead
23rd November 2011ce
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