|Stanton Drew and folklore
The following which is taken from John Wood's book A Description of Bath of 1765 describes the superstition that lay round the Wedding stones of Stanton Drew as seen by the local people. People being turned to stone, and also drinking from the stones, which is a slightly different aspect of the story.
John Wood had a weird and wonderful theory about Stanton Drew and Druids, that belongs elsewhere, but in writing his book he gave valuable information as to the the existence of the two Tyning stones, and another folklore story about Hakill the Giant who in good giant tradition threw The Coit from Maes Knoll, a hill situated west from Stanton Drew, which also encompasses Maes Knoll Hillfort and the great Wansdyke barrier which either divided two kingdoms in the late British Iron Age or was some form of defense. The work of giants perhaps recognised by our 18th century inhabitants but not rationalised as they are today!
Stanton Drew in the County of Somerset
That's where the Devil played at Sue's request,
They paid the price for dancing on a Sunday.
Now they are standing evermore at rest.
The Wedding Stones
"The remains of this model bear the name of The Wedding, from a tradition that as a woman was going to be married, she and the rest of the company were changed into the stones of which they consist "No one," says the Country People about Stantondrue, was ever able to reckon the "number of these metamorphosed Stones", or to take "a draught of them" or tho' several have attempted to do both, and proceeded till they were either struck dead upon the spot, or with such an illness as soon carried them off.
This was seriously told to me when I began to a Plan of them (the stones) on the 12th August 1740 to deter me from proceeding: And as a storm accidentally arose just after, and blew down part of a Great Tree near the body of the work, the people were then thoroughly satisfied that I had disturbed the Guardian Spirits of the metamorphosed Stones, and from thence great pains were taken to convince me of the Impiety of intent I was about.
Large flat stone called Hakill on the north-east side of the river by which Stantondrue is situated: And this stone tho' greatly delapidated is till ten feet long, six feet broad, near two feet thick, and lies about 1860 feet from the centre of the circle.
....Now if we draw a line from the centre of the Circle D, to the centre of the Circle B and produce it westward 992 feet, it will terminate on three stones in a garden (Druid Arms now) by the parish church of Stantondrue: two of which stones are erect, and the other lies flat on the ground............. it will terminate on two stone lying flat on the ground in a field call the Lower-Tining (stones now vanished).
In plowing the ground of Maes Knoll as well as that of Solsbury Hill, the people frequently turned up burnt stones, and often find other Marks to prove each Place to have been long inhabited: the former, according to a Tradition among the people of the Country thereabouts, was the Residence of one Hakill, a Giant, who is reported to have toss'd the Coit that make part of the works of Stantondrue from the Top of that Hill to the place where it now lies: He is also reported to have made Maes-Knoll Tump with one spadeful of Earth, and to had the village underneath that Hill given him......
The 'wedding stones' story is found at other stone circles, the wedding taking place on a Saturday and lasting through the night into Sunday, when they were all turned to stone by the piper/harper, or in this case the 'devil'. The christian church again concocting a story to stop people enjoying themselves, one wonders where this story originally came into the history timeline.
Funnily in these tales caught from the past about Stanton Drew there is no 'drinking stone' myth whereby they would have gone down to the river Chew and refreshed themselves.
The 'Song of Stanton Drew' can be found here...
Posted by moss
20th October 2009ce
Edited 19th July 2015ce