|Geoffrey of Monmouth put down his version of events in 1136AD:
King Aurelius Ambrosius (aka King Arthur's uncle - Uther Pendragon's brother) had been in a terrible battle, and wanted a fitting monument for the 300 of his men that had died. He asked Merlin's advice, who suggested that if he wanted a 'work that shall endure forever' he should 'send for the dance of the Giants' from Killare in Ireland. Apparently the Dance of the Giants was a stone circle in Ireland, and Merlin just wanted to transfer them as they were to the new plot on Salisbury Plain. Whether the stones were giants turned to stone, or just metaphorical giants I don't think is mentioned.
The king sent his men over to Killare, where they proceeded to beat up the Irish - but when it came to actually removing the stones noone could shift them. Merlin 'put together his own engines' (engines?) and 'laid the stones down so lightly as none would believe.'
They were then carried by ship to England and reconstructed on the Plain.
Another explanation was that the devil had been enlisted, by Merlin, to bring the stones over. They belonged to an old Irish woman. The devil said that if she let him have them, she could have as much money as she could count out of his purse while he was removing them. She agreed, but of course the devil had no intention of paying out. He made the stones disappear instantly, so she had only counted out one coin.
The devil was boasting that no-one knew how he had acquired the stones, but a friar was listening who had secretly watched the whole scene. When the friar spoke up, the devil threw one of the stones at him. You can now see the mark where it hit him - on the heel - on the heel stone.
Or maybe not. Maybe it's just the heel stone because it's out at the back. Or just that it heels (leans) over. Is the Heel Stone even an ancient name for the stone?
Posted by Rhiannon
15th May 2002ce
Edited 25th September 2006ce