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Ashmore Down

Long Barrow

<b>Ashmore Down</b>Posted by mrcrustyImage © Rob Frost
Nearest Town:Shaftesbury (7km WNW)
OS Ref (GB):   ST916196 / Sheet: 184
Latitude:50° 58' 30.6" N
Longitude:   2° 7' 10.77" W

Added by Rhiannon


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<b>Ashmore Down</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Ashmore Down</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Ashmore Down</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Ashmore Down</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Ashmore Down</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Ashmore Down</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Ashmore Down</b>Posted by GLADMAN <b>Ashmore Down</b>Posted by mrcrusty <b>Ashmore Down</b>Posted by mrcrusty

Folklore

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I've found Grinsell's source about the Gappergennies:
There was another barrow, over which the road to Fontmel now runs, by Folly Hanging Gate, near Washer's Pit. In this lonely place, till within living memory, strange sounds were made by creatures in the air called Gappergennies, or however else the name may be spelt.* Of the nature of these sounds I have not been able to learn anything, ecept that they could be successfully imitated by human lips.

When, perhaps fifty years ago, a metalled road was made to Fontmel instead of the old cart-track, this barrow, which lay close to the old road and on the line of the new one, was dug up, and the bones it contained buried in the churchyard. As there is no entry of the fact in the register, this was no doubt done without the burial service.

On the down, by the roadside, a cross had always been kept cut, opposite the barrow. This has been neglected since the reinterment; and since then, also, the strange sounds have not been heard.

The low mound and the cross on the turf are well remembered. On the common below Sandpits Field is a line of small barrows, which seem to have been opened at some remote date. No exploration of any of these Ashmore remains has in recent times been attempted...

* Otherwise called Gabbygammies. The late Mr Stephen Hall, of the Manor Farm, who had often heard the sounds, thought they were made by badgers. (E.H.)
God what a let down. But also in the book:
With the hollow below the Folly, where the road to Fontmel crosses the bottom, a legend is connected, well known in Ashmore, into which the name of the Barbers has been introduced, though the story must be far older than their time. It runs that a Squire Barber, or perhaps his daughter, for the tale is variously told, was warned in a dream on three successive nights, or else three times on the same night, that some one was in distress at Washer's Pit.

The person warned woke the household and asked for a volunteer to go down to the place. No one would venture, except the cook. Her master gave her his best hunter for the ride, and she went forth to find a lady in white hanging by her hair from an ash tree over the well, now closed, at Washer's Pit. She released the victim and carried her back on the horse to Ashmore [...]

Connected with the same ground as this legend and that about the barrow at Folly Hanging Gate, is another of a woman in white, who has been seen and felt brushing by them, within the last fifty years, by travellers between Spinney's Pond and Washer's Pit. I have heard it connected with the barrow, but the true form of that story is the Gappergennies; and the affair at Washer's Pit ended too happily to generate a ghost. This must be some third and independent legend.

It is curious that in a parish full, as Ashmore is, of dark and lonely places, no other neighbourhood than these few yards on the road to Fontmel should have its story.
Pp 3 and 20 in Ashmore, Co. Dorset: A History of the Parish, by E W Watson, 1890.

Washer's Pit is actually the other side of Ashmore and nowhere near the longbarrow. But as an example of excellent local barrow folklore I hope this is the best place to record it.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
22nd November 2017ce
Edited 22nd November 2017ce

A round barrow near Ashmore was once haunted by little 'gabbygammies' or 'gappergennies' who made strange noises. Funnily enough, the strange noises ceased after the barrow was opened and the bones allegedly found inside reburied in the village churchyard. Poor gabbygammies. There probably aren't any in the longbarrow near Ashmore but if you hear any strange noises while you're there..

(mentioned by Grinsell in 'Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain, 1976, not sure of original source he quotes)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th October 2005ce

Miscellaneous

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This long barrow is close to the Roman (and now modern) road which crosses the high ground of the Down. It's presumably positioned for prominence from below, aligned along the slope and still stands up to 2 1/2 metres high (info. from its record on Magic). Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
26th October 2005ce
Edited 26th October 2005ce