|This must be the source of the folklore below. Eel swapsies, St Edmund, Robin Hood, fare-dodgers - it's all very involved.
.. I find in the charter of King Edward the confessor.. that the abbot of Ramsey should give to the abbot and convent of Peterburgh 4000 eeles in the time of Lent, and in consideration thereof the abbot of Peterburgh should give to the abbot of Ramsey as much freestone from his pitts in Bernack, and as much ragstone from his pitts in Peterburgh as he should need.spotted on p xl of 'Robin Hood' v1 by Joseph Ritson, 1832 (online at Google Books).
Nor did the abbot of Peterburgh from these pits furnish only that but other abbies also, as that of St. Edmunds-Bury: in memory whereof there are two long stones yet standing upon a balk in Castor-field, near unto Gunwade ferry; which erroneous tradition hath given out to be draughts of arrows from Alwalton church-yard thither; the one of Robin Hood, and th other of Little John;
but the truth is, they were set up for witnesses, that the carriages of stone from Bernack to Gunwade-ferry, to be conveyed to S. Edmunds-Bury, might pass that way without paying toll; and in some old terrars they are called S. Edmunds stones.
These stones are nicked in their tops after the manner of arrows, probably enough in memory of S. Edmund, who was shot to death with arrows by the Danes."
Guntons History of the church of Peterburgh, 1686, p.4.
Camden says that they were set up "to testify that the carriages of stone, from Barnack to Gunwade Ferry, and from thence to be conveyed to St. Edmund's Bury, should pass that way toll free. They are still called St. Edmund's stones, and the balk, St. Edmund's Balk. The stones on the top are nicked after the manner of arrows, in memory of St. Edmund, who was shot to death with arrows."
Posted by Rhiannon
25th July 2007ce
Edited 15th June 2009ce