|There's a bridge over the river at the foot of this fort. The following pretty muddled story kind of suggests the fort and the bridge (and a big stone somewhere here too) are all the Devil's Work:
There were once a curious cat over to Spire, a proper mischievous nuisance that cat were, always poking into anything new. [..] One day he went for a walk and he found Mounsey Castle. "Now who dropped this little lot?" says he. "I must go and see." Then in the wood-side he come on a gurt stone, twelve foot or more, just dropped there, and he knew he were getting nearer. Then he heard yells of rage, and off he scuttles to see what 'twas and it were the Devil and Parson, one on each side of the Barle and a new stone bridge atween 'n. "I'll have a look-see at that," says Cat, and downhill he goes.The Tarr Steps are some way away, and they're not really a 'bridge' as such (although yeah they're probably the devil's work), so they don't need to be dragged into the story really, when there's a bridge at hand at Mounsey Castle. The story's like the one at the Devil's Bridge near Aberystwyth - but there the Parson tricks the Devil into taking an animal rather than his parishoners: here the animal's stupid enough to trap himself.
Says Parson to Devil, "You shan't have none of my souls be first steps on your bridge. They bain't going' Somewhere Else'."
"You old black crow," yells Devil.
"If I be a crow," says Parson, "I bain't so black as yew!"
And just then puss walk out over on to Tarr Steps, to look it over, no matter if he'd been invited or no. The Devil pounced on 'n like a lightning flash - and poor Cat goed Somewhere Else quicker than you could think!
From Ruth Tongue's 'Folktales of England', collected 1963.
Posted by Rhiannon
21st July 2010ce
Edited 21st July 2010ce