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Dunkery Hill Barrows

Barrow / Cairn Cemetery


Miss Acland told me.. in 1902 the Horner [village] churchgoers would not go to evensong in the winter at Luccombe because [the Exmoor forest demon] waited for them at Dunkery foot by the ruined chapel, as a stag or ram. The Reverend Acland therefore used to hold the service in the afternoon.
What a dilemma. Shun the locals' superstitious fears or end up with no congregation. The reverend obviously didn't want to end up talking to himself. Or perhaps he wasn't that keen on the dark either.

The ruined chapel referred to is a funny place for the demon to wait, as it used to be a particularly feared spot for such creatures. St Dubricius of Dunkery built the chapel (he lived 150 years in Porlock, don't you know, and officiated at King Arthur and Guinevere's wedding). At the sound of the chapel's bell the hideous forest fiends and dragons went deeper into the moor, and even the devil found things to do somewhere else. Under its altar St D. buried a chest full of gold, which was to be spent on keeping the bell(s) in order and for giving to anyone who had to cross the 'dreadful waste' on their own in order to get to market. You can see the site of the chapel "but nobody can find the gold." This was told to Ruth Tongue in 1950 by Jane Rudd, then 11.

Quote from 'Forgotten Folktales of the English Counties' (1970) and info from 'Somerset Folklore' (1965), both by Ruth Tongue.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th August 2005ce
Edited 18th December 2014ce

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