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Devil's Stone

Natural Rock Feature

<b>Devil's Stone</b>Posted by jimitImage © Jimit 16.6.03
This site is of disputed antiquity. If you have any information that could help clarify this site's authenticity, please post below or leave a post in the forum.
Also known as:
  • Shebbear Stone

Nearest Town:Torrington (11km NNE)
OS Ref (GB):   SS438093 / Sheet: 190
Latitude:50° 51' 41.35" N
Longitude:   4° 13' 11.14" W

Added by Rhiannon

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<b>Devil's Stone</b>Posted by jimit <b>Devil's Stone</b>Posted by jimit <b>Devil's Stone</b>Posted by jimit


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Chunky stone by the oak and just outside the churchyard. Usual stories by the locals about the Devil trying to throw/carry it elsewhere. Also said that it is a "Sarsen" ie. a foreign stone and not from the immediate area. I'm not a rock expert but it looks to me as being a granite with a pinkish hue. Are there any sources close by? The oak is pretty venerable and has been looked after well including the rotten core being filled with concrete.
Apparently it takes about a dozen guys with crowbars to flip the stone on Nov. 5th.

Disabled: Parking next to stone.
jimit Posted by jimit
1st June 2003ce
Edited 8th December 2003ce


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The Mystory Mag. Tells us that This is a six ft long conglomerate boulder weighing in at over a ton.Tradition has it that the stione actually fell out of the Devil's pocket as he fell from Heaven to Hell.They also mention the turning of the stone every 5th of November to ward off His Satanic Majesty's wrath for another year. hamish Posted by hamish
13th November 2006ce

Turning the Devil's Boulder. Primitive Rite in Village of Shebbear, North Devon.

The Times
of November 4, 1952, in announcing a "traditional survival" in "an isolated upland village" said "The pride of the village is the brown monolith - an arenaceous conglomerate stone - that reposes beneath an oak-tree outside the Norman church. On the evening of November 5 the bell-ringers unfailingly assemble in the belfry with a designedly clamorous and discordant peal, which is looked upon as a challenge to evil spirits. Accompanied by the Vicar the ringers then leave the church, arm themselves with crowbars, and surround the boulder. Shouting excitedly, as though to encourage one another, they then turn over the boulder.

The oldest inhabitant, a blacksmith 87 years of age, has given his boyhood memories of the custom. He told me that in his time the custom took place later in the evening and torches and lanterns were used.

The turning of the boulder is regarded in a most serious light by the older villagers. Any neglect of this parochial function would, they say, lead to evil consequences for the crops.

Folk Life and Traditions
E. F. Coote Lake
Folklore, Vol. 64, No. 1. (Mar., 1953), pp. 301-302.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th October 2006ce
Edited 7th October 2006ce

The Reader's Digest book 'Folklore, Myths and Legends of Britain' mentions that the stone was said to have been quarried on the other side of the River Torridge at Henscott, apparently intended as a foundation stone for a church there. But the devil rolled it away to Shebbear - and continued doing this every night (though the villagers repeatedly rolled it back) until presumably the villagers got fed up of it. Which would have been pretty soon if they had to get it through the river and up the hill, I would imagine. From the map, Henscott still doesn't appear to have a church - so I guess the Devil won that round. Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
10th March 2005ce

Under an oak in Shebbear village square is a big conglomerate boulder. Every 5th of November, the bellringers lever up the stone and turn it over, then ring a peal of bells. Apparently the devil lives under the stone, and this stops him wreaking havoc for the next year. There is another stone about 750m north too but it doesn't get a name.
The custom has nothing to do with increasing the trade in the nearby 'Devil's Stone Inn'.

Also it seems that the inn is haunted:
according to Craig Tennant~Smith. But whether that has anything to do with the influence of the stone, who can say...
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
13th January 2003ce
Edited 10th March 2005ce