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

Capesthorne Park

Round Barrow(s)


Here's a romantic thing. It's not got anything directly to do with the barrow. But it does relate to what is immediately beneath the hill with the barrow, one of the famous Cheshire meres. They're quite strange things, the meres and mosses. They make for quite a peculiar landscape with their bogginess and dark pools ringed by vegetation. You'll remember Lindow Man, the Iron Age 'bog body', also from Cheshire. So these places had significance for our ancestors.

And this particular mere has a legend of a floating island, which strikes me as rather Arthurian. It seems that it features in Alan Garner's 'Moon of Gomrath' (though I'd forgotten this, call yourself a fan eh Rhiannon).

There must be a better source than the touristy Murray's Handbook for Shropshire, Cheshire and Lancashire (1870) but for now it'll do.
A country legend accounts for the floating island by a story, that a certain knight was jealous of his lady-love, and vowed not to look upon her face until the island moved on the face of the mere. But he fell sick and was nigh to death, when he was nursed back to health by the lady, to reward whose constancy a tremendous hurricane tore the island up by the roots.
Despite the modern scepticism of some, there really was a floating island. As the Journal of the Architectural, Archaeological and Historic Society of Chester (vol 2, 1862) says:
We have in one of our Meres - Redesmere - a floating island. It is a mass of peat moss, about two statute acres in extent; its outer edge carries a belt of alder and birch trees (some twenty yards wide), some of the trees being twenty feet high and a foot in diameter. The interior is formed of a mass of long grass, cranberry, bog myrtle, and heather, all matted together. It requires a flood and wind from a particular point to move it from its usual position; but occasionally, when retained in deep water till the flood subsides, a very slight wind is sufficient to make it shift its position, and it has done so, the Rev. R. Heptinstall informs me, three times in one day. It has now been stationary about two years, and it requires some depth of water in the Mere to allow it to move say a distance of one-third by a quarter of a mile.
How superb. If I had a lake I would definitely want a floating island in it.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
14th May 2014ce
Edited 15th May 2014ce

Comments (2)

There really IS a floating island on Redesmere - it can be quite scary if you accidentally find yourself on it! Posted by thedodgerb
1st July 2015ce
Oh that's so bloody excellent, thank you for that.

Sometimes it feels like the world is going to the dogs. But floating islands help nudge things in the other direction.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
2nd July 2015ce
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