|From a horrifying letter from a W Parry to W Stukeley himself, just before Christmas 1742:
" I have, as hundreds have done before me, carried off a bit from the King, his Knights, and Soldiers, which I intend to send or keep for you."
Notes and Queries from May 14th 1859 perhaps illuminates this odious habit further:
"My guide told me that it was daily diminishing in size, " because people from Wales kept chipping off bits to keep the devil off," and that he could remember it much larger. My guide was born half a mile off, at Long Compton, and had, he said, lived there "all his days.""
People From Wales!! The cheeky bleeder!! It's MILES away from Wales. Classic anti-Welsh sentiment if you ask me! Oops. Parry's a Welsh name, isn't it.. And the road going past the stones is a drovers' road from Wales. Oh well.
And another example from 'Folklore' vol 6, no 1, p23- from yet another Welsh sounding traitor, Arthur J Evans.
Chips were taken from the King-stone "for luck," and by soldiers "to be good for England in battle." Betsy Hughes told me that her son, who had gone to India as a soldier, had taken a chip with him, "but it brought him no luck, for he died of typhus." A man told me that he had been offered as much as a pound for a chip at Faringdon Fair; and the Welsh drovers, who used to trench the road with their cattle before the railway was made, used continually to be chipping off pieces, so that formerly the stone was much bigger than it is now. A man at Great Rollright gave me a chip that he had kept in his house for years.
Notwithstanding the prevalence of this practice there were many who held that to do an injury to the stones was fraught with danger. In Wales one of the most frequent punishments that falls upon those who thus transgress against the stones is the breaking down of the transgressor's wagon, and this belief still survives at Rowldrich. A ploughman informed me that one day a man who was driving along the road from Banbury swore to a friend who was with him that he would carry off a chip of the King-stone "though his wheel locked." He got down from his cart and chipped off a piece of the stone, but when he tried to drive on he found that one wheel was locked in such a way that nothing he could do would make it go round again.
Posted by Rhiannon
4th September 2003ce
Edited 12th October 2006ce