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

Willy Howe

Artificial Mound


A slightly different version of the 'cup' tale, and a few new points:
The legend [as told by William of Newburgh] existed early in the twelfth century, or more than seven hundred years ago. I learnt, during my visit to the spot, that it still exists, though in a debased form.

The peasantry now tell us that, one winter's night, a farmer returning from market heard, much to his astonishment, sounds of mirth and revelry proceed from Willey-hou, whereupon he rode up to the hill to ascertain the cause of this extraordinary occurence. As he approached, a little dapper man presented himself, with a cup of welcome.

The farmer, supposing it to be silver, drank the contents, and setting spurs to his horse rode off with the treasure; but on his arrival at home, to his great disappointment, he found that it was nothing but base metal.

[he then describes the 'treasure' story below, with the rhyme being
"Hep Joan! prow Mark!
Whether God will or no,
We'll have this ark."]

.. The peasantry assure you further, that if any one run nine times round the tumulus without stopping, and then put his ear against it, he will distinctly hear the fairies dancing and singing in the interior.

The old superstitious feeling relating to the spot seems, indeed, to exist almost as strong amongst the peasantry of the present day as it did ages ago; our proceedings [they were digging the barrow, but got distracted by some more exciting stuff that was going on in Scarborough, so abandoned the project] excited general alarm among the lower classes, who expected to see some manifestation of vengeance on the part of the beings believed to hold the guard of the tumuls; and few would have ventured out in its neighbourhood after dark.
From 'On some ancient barrows or tumuli recently opened in East Yorkshire' - chapter 2 in 'Essays on Archaeological Subjects' by Thomas Wright, v1, 1861.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th May 2007ce
Edited 7th May 2007ce

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