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Birdlip Camp



"Black dogs are scattered fairly widely over the Cotswolds and are of different kinds; some of them are human ghosts, some of them doggy and some are evil spirits. One on Birdlip Hill is a helpful spirit who guides lost travellers. Ruth Tongue however heard of another visitant on Birdlip Hill, the Devil. She heard the following tale from a groom in Cheltenham in 1926:

'There was a shepherd above Birdlip Hill, and there was Old Nick on the road to catch travellers. The shepherd wanted a potion for a sick ewe from the farm below.

He went afoot - horses and carts never went that road. Horses don't care for devils. So Old Nick was glad to see him pass. 'I'll have him on the way back' says he.

The shepherd had a black jack there and his drinking-horn filled to cheer him on the long uphill road, and he wrapped up the sheep's medecine which smelt nasty and hot, and started off. Up he goes and up till he comes to the turn near Black Dog's Lane.

He'd a notion that Old Nick might be about there, so before he passes it he has a swig of ale from the horn to hearten himself, and pours back in some of the sheep's tonic, well-boiled.

Then he goes on up.

Out comes Old Nick and grabs him. 'Ale!' says he. 'Good brown ale.'

'Spiced for you, sir, special,' says the shepherd civilly, handing the horn, and taking to his heels.

Old Nick was in such a hurry to catch him that he gulped the drink down first, and then it - the sheep tonic - caught him. They heard him roar right away in Cheltenham.

He never goes near Birdlip Hill now!'"

From "The Folklore of the Cotswolds" - Katharine M. Briggs (1974 Batsford).
thesweetcheat Posted by thesweetcheat
9th March 2009ce

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