I thought these two stones might be hidden away behind the church, overgrown and forgotten, but no. The glacial erratics stand outside the main entrance to the churchyard with the grass neatly trimmed from around them and I got the impression that the inhabitants of the pretty village of Anwick are rather proud of them. The larger stone (nearest the church) is about a metre high while the smaller stone is about half that – it’s hard to tell whether they were part of the same rock as the folk tale suggests or not, although the larger stone looks like it could have had a large chunk knocked off of it near ground level. It’s also difficult to know whether this was their original position, but why move the stones to stand outside a churchyard?
Interestingly the churchyard appears to be roughly circular (I didn’t have time to fully check it out) and it is said that before the original stone was moved and broken (if it was ever moved) that a Dr Oliver ‘attested that it was of druidic origin’
A local curiosity, or the subject of pagan idolatry – who knows…
Lovely little village though.
It is said that the devil's cave is under this stone, and that it contains hidden treasure. Many times the treasure has been sought for, but no bottom could be found to the stone; and hence it was supposed to be protected by the devil. Still adventurers continued to dig, until the excavated hollow round the base of the stone became filled with water, and it stood in the centre of a small lake. Then an attempt was made to draw it out of its place by a yoke of oxen, who strained so hard a the task that the chains snapped, and the attempt proved abortive; although the guardian spirit of the stone appears to have taken alarm at the project, for he is said to have flown away in the shape of a drake, at the moment when the chains broke. Subsequently the stone sank into the earth, and totally disappeared, and for many years the plough passed over it.
In all material points, I am persuaded that this tradition is purely mythological; for the Drake Stone was but slightly fixed in the earth, and at the time when these attempts were said to have been made, the bottom could not have exceeded a foot and a half from the surface of the ground; besides which, no one pretends to assert that any of these experiments occurred in his time; and the oldest person I have consulted, says, that "he had the tale from his fore-elders."
George Oliver, in The Gentleman's Magazine for June 1833, p580.
The Drake Stone.. consists of one large and one small glaciated boulder of Spilsby Sandstone. This is said to have been all one stone, and that the smaler one has been split off the larger; the stones are always spoken of in the singular. Trollope says [..1872] that "the stone is said to have stood upon another stone at one time." Only in one traditional account, out of many, were the stones called the "Duck and Drake Stones."
Local tradition says that a man was ploughing in the field that is known as "Drake Stone Close," when he was horrified to find horses and plough fast disappearing into a sort of quicksand. He himself managed to keep on firm ground, but he could not get the horses out, try as he would. As the quicksand finally closed over them, with a horrid sucking noise, a drake seemed to fly out of the hole where the horses had disappeared, and flew away with a discordant quacking. This scared the man so badly that he hurriedly left for home. Next morning he re-visited the spot to find the ground firm, but a slight depression indicated the site of the tragedy, in the middle of which was a large boulder stone, something the shape of a drake's head; since when this stone has been known as the Drake Stone.
It was always said, that under the Stone there was a great deal of treasure hidden, and many were the efforts to obtain it on the quiet, but no one was successful. Then a man, bolder than the rest, determined to make a great effort to get this treasure, openly; so he got together a yoke of oxen, not of ordinary strength, but all the oxen that he had or could borrow, and he fastened great chains round the stone, and fastened the oxen to them. At the given word the beasts pulled and heaved and managed to move the great stone a very little way from its bed, but then the chains snapped, and the oxen collapsed, and the guardian spirit of the treasure flew from under the stone in the form of a drake, and back went the stone into its accustomed place again.
After that it was deemed unwise to meddle with the stone, and it was left severely alone.
Ethel H. Rudkin
Folklore, Vol. 45, No. 2. (Jun., 1934), pp. 144-157.
Well, you'd really think it was to do with drakes=dragons, rather than quack-quack drakes. Still I guess that's what happens once a word goes out of popular vocabulary?
A variation on Rhiannon's tale taken from Janet & Colin Bord's "The Mysterious Country"
"A man who used oxen to move the stone to get at it's treasure was unsuccessful: the chains snapped, the oxen collapsed and the 'guardian-spirit of the treasure' in the form of a drake flew from under the stone, which fell back into place. This happened in 1832, according to one account. The stone was eventually buried in a hole dug beside it, because it interfered with ploughing; and in 1913 it was relocated, hauled up (in two pieces, because it had broken), and redeposited near the churchyard gate. Two drakes regularly seen sheltering beneath the stone gave it it's name."
The stone stood two fields away from the Church, north-west, on the high ground. Take a line from the west end of the Church, through the field-gate across the road, cross the field to the gate of the second field, and then 780 yards further into the next field, until you get on to the hill. The stone, standing as it did, right out in the field, and not against the hedge, was in the way for ploughing and had to be 'gone round'; so a large hole was dug beside it, and the stone rolled into it, with a good covering of earth put on the top.
The Rev. Dodsworth, when he was vicar of Anwick, thought it a pity to lose the stone, so he set about finding it, and had men probing for it with iron bars, and they came upon many similar large stones below ground, before they found the proper stone. Having located it, and bared it, a traction engine was employed to haul the stone to the present place, near the Churchyard gate.
Don't you think it's great how some vicars were keen to preserve such things? Although others would have blown it up, no doubt. I wonder how they recognised The Stone as distinct from all the others they apparently found?
From Lincolnshire Folk-Lore
Ethel H. Rudkin
Folklore, Vol. 45, No. 2. (Jun., 1934), pp. 144-157.