The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

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Hendre Waelod (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Folklore

The high road regained, the party was met by Mr. Pochin, who piloted the visitors to a Cromlech on the side of the hill overhanging the Conway river. Here, again, it was found that the relic of the past was in danger of destruction, and at the evening meeting it was resolved to appeal (through Mr. Pochin) to the owner to get it properly fenced.

This Cromlech is known by the name of Allor Moloch, and a local guide-book refers to a tradition which connects it with Edred, duke of Mercia, and Anarawd, prince of Wales, who fought in a bloody battle in the district in 880.

"As soon as Edred, the Saxon chieftain, was taken, a fire was kindled under the altar, and between the two upright stones, or arms of the God Moloch as some call them, until all the stones became intensely hot, when Edred was placed there by means of tongs or pincers specially prepared for the purpose; the heat being so great that his body was turned into ashes and scattered to the winds."

Pennant further informs us that "Anarawd styled the battle Dial Rodri, or the Revenge of Roderic, for his father, Roderic the Great, had the year before been slain by the Saxons."
From the visit of the Cambrian Archaeological Society, August 1882, recorded in The Antiquary volume 6.
Allor Moloch means the Altar of Moloch. Moloch is Canaanite god mentioned in the bible. He was supposedly cast as a bronze statue which was fired up before sacrificial victims were chucked inside. Nice. Still you know what the Romans used to say about the Druids, probably fibs. Anyway, a good pagan name for a non-Christian monument.

Slagachorrie (Stone Fort / Dun) — Folklore

SLAGACHORRIE -- The Hollow of the Glenlet.
The term was anciently applied to a semicircular recess occurring among the hills, though such a depression only varied in shape with the local geological formation, but in all cases it was originally due to the disintegrating influence of some mountain torrent. Occasionally it means a whirlpool in the sea.

Some maintain that the name is Slochd a Corrie, the Ravine of the Kettle, and the following tradition is told in support of this view: --

On that tragic night in 1442, when the Comyn Family were unsuspectingly put to the dagger at their own table, in Raite Castle, by the Mackintoshes, whom their hosts had intended as the real victims, one of the domestics - a covetous young fellow - is said to have done a crafty deed. Coolly taking advantage of the terrible death struggle which raged in the great hall, he very stealthily entered the strong room and emptied the contents of the various coffers into an old kettle for his own personal use.

Soon after midnight he slipped away from the Castle, under the cover of darkness, and sped with his heavy burden across the Hill of the Ord. On reaching this lonely hollow, he hastily dug a suitable pit, in a secret cranny, and therein carefully deposited his ill-gotten gear - hoping to remove it at the earliest possible opportunity. But the Fates had decreed it otherwise; the lad never returned, and the kettle with all its precious treasure still remains undiscovered, even to the present day.
From The natural history of a highland parish, Ardlach, Nairnshire' by Robert Thomson, 1900.

Vespasian's Camp and Blick Mead (Hillfort) — News

Mesolithic dog on long walk from Yorkshire?

David Jacques and his team have found a dog's tooth at Blick Mead. It dates from 7000 years ago. So people had dogs at the site all that time ago, it's a nice thought. But more interestingly, they found that the isotopes in its enamel match those in the water in the Vale of York. Suggesting that dog and owner had walked all that way.

Which, one might suggest, wouldn't be unreasonable if you were a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer roaming around Britain? And maybe that if you were in Wiltshire that year you might pop in. But Jacques suggests Yorkshire's too far away for that and they must have deliberately been drawn in from a long way away, as were others, especially for whatever exciting and famous stuff was going on at Amesbury at that time.

The article also includes a nice bit of anti-tunnel sentiment.

Skipsea Castle (Artificial Mound) — News

Skipsea Castle based on Iron Age mound

Jim Leary spoke more about this on the Today programme at 6.55
( ). His team took a core down through the mound to ascertain its age, as part of the 'Round Mounds' project. They've been looking at others and he's got others in mind for the future...
more details at

Maenaddwyn (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Maenaddwyn</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Perthi Duon (Burial Chamber) — Miscellaneous

The dolmen at PERTHI DUON, in the parish of Llanidan, three-quarters of a mile S.W. by S. of the (New) Church, is first mentioned by Rowlands. He says: "There is a shapely cromlech on the lands of Blochty... now thrown down and lying flat on its supporters". This was in 1723. From a sketch which he gives we see that it was called "Maen Llwyd".

[..] In the Arch. Camb. of 1846 a correspondent writes of this monument: "About twenty years ago (1826) brass or copper chisels were found in digging under it, when it fell down... there are still three uprights under it".
From 'The Megalithic Remains of Anglesey' by E N Baynes, 1911.

Perthi Duon (Burial Chamber) — Images

<b>Perthi Duon</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Wayland's Smithy (Long Barrow) — Folklore

Mr Aubrey's account of it is this. "About a mile [or less] from the Hill [White-Horse Hill] there are a great many large stones, which though very confused, must yet be laid there on purpose. Some of them are placed edgwise, but the rest are so disorderly, that one would imagine, they were tumbled out of a cart."

The disorder which Mr Aubrey speaks of, is occasioned, by the people having thrown down some of the stones (for they all seem originally to have been set on edge) and broken them to pieces to mend their highways. Those that are left, enclose a piece of ground of an irregular figure at present, but which formerly might have been an oblong square, extending duly North and South.

On the eastside of the Southern extremity, stand Three Squarish flat stones of about four or five feet over each way, set on edge, and supporting a Fourth of much larger dimensions, lying flat upon them. These altogether form a Cavern or sheltering place.

[...] All the account, which the country people are able to give of it, is "At this place lived formerly an invisible Smith; and if a traveller's Horse had lost a Shoe upon the road, he had no more to do, than to bring the Horse to this place, with a piece of money, and leaving both there for some little time, he might come again and find the money gone, but the Horse now shod." The stones standing upon the Rudge way as it is called; (which was the situation, that they chose for burial monuments) I suppose, gave occasion to the whole being called WAYLAND-SMITH; which is the name it was always known by to the country people.
From 'A letter to Dr Mead' by Francis Wise (1738).

Uffington White Horse (Hill Figure) — Miscellaneous

After this manner our Horse is formed, on the side of an high and steep hill, facing the North west. His dimensions are extended over an acre of ground, or thereabouts: his Head, Neck, Body and Tail, consist of one white line; as does also each of his Four Legs. This is done by cutting a trench into the chalk, of about two or three feet deep, and about ten feet broad. The Chalk of the trench being of a brighter colour, than the turf which surrounds it, the rays of the afternoon's Sun darting upon it makes the whole figure visible for ten or a dozen, nay fifteen miles, if I am rightly informed.

The Horse at first view is enough to raise the admiration of every curious spectator, being designed in so masterlike a manner, that it may defy the painter's skill, to give a more exact description of that animal: which were it not so apparent, would hardly gain belief with an antiquary, who considers to how low an ebb the art of drawing was sunk at that time; as appears from the works of their best makers, the Saxon coins, and the jewel of King Alfred, described by Dr Hickes and others, and now preserved in the Museum at Oxford.

If we consider it further, we must otherwise allow, that no small skill in Opticks was requisite, both for the choice of the ground, and for disposing rude lines, as they appear to a person on the spot, in such a manner, as to form so beautiful a representation.

And again, if durability was intended, the ingenuity of the artist will appear still greater. For from its barren soil, and steep situation, it has nothing to fear from the inroads of the plough, the grazing of larger cattle, or the stagnation of waters; all of which contribute more or less to efface things of this sort.

When I saw it, the Head had suffered a little, and wanted reparation; and the extremities of his hinder legs from their unavoidable situation, have by the fall of rains been filled up in some measure with the washings of the upper parts; so that in the nearest view of him, the Tail, which does not suffer the same inconvenience, and has continued entire from the beginning, seems longer than his legs. The supplies which nature is continually affording, occasion the turf on the upper verge of his body, for want of continuity, to crumble, and fall off into the white trench, which in many years time produces small specks of turf, and not a little obscures the brightness of the Horse.

Though there is no danger from hence of the whole figure being obliterated; yet the neighbouring inhabitants have a custom of Scouring the Horse, as they call it; at which time a solemn festival is celebrated, and manlike games with prizes exhibited, which no doubt had their original in the Saxon times, in memory of the victory.

This falling of the turf into the trench is the reason likewise, why the country people erroneously imagine, that the Horse, since his first fabrication, has shifted his quarters, and is got higher upon the Hill, than formerly.
Francis Wise, who is convinced it's all down to the Saxons (and unfairly rubbishes the latter's drawing skills to compound his error), in 'A letter to Dr Mead concerning some antiquities in Berkshire' (1738).

Wayland's Smithy (Long Barrow) — Images

<b>Wayland's Smithy</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Wayland's Smithy</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Dragon Hill (Artificial Mound) — Folklore

Between the Ickleton-way and White-horse-hill, under the Horse, stands a large Barrow, which the common people living hereabouts, call DRAGON-HILL, and they have a tradition, that "Here St George killed the Dragon." The Horse too is brought into the Legend, as belonging to that Saint, who is usually pictured on Horse-back. They shew besides a bare place on the top of it, which is a plain of about forty or fifty yards over, where the turf, I don't know by what means, can gain no footing; which they imagine proceeds "from the venemous blood that issued from the Dragon's wound."
Francis Wise: 'A letter to Dr Mead concerning some antiquities in Berkshire' (1738).

Hagworm Hill (Round Barrow(s)) — Folklore

Historic England's record says that the round barrow here is a respectable 3m high. It's on a prominent hill and there's a photo on the 'Earthworks' blog that makes it look mysterious with its cap of trees. The area sounds like it's full of weirdness (as you can read). But regarding the barrow itself, to quote the blog...
Local children often call this 'the witches hill'.

Various signs of veneration can often still be found on Hagworm hill. A clay figure of a Mother Goddess, obviously made fairly recently, and coloured rags tied in the thorn tree on the summit of the hill. Painted egg shells, and a small stick carved with runes. All these and others have been noticed left on the hill by people who still regard this as a sacred place.

I was also told by a local man that as a child he and his friends believed it was a flying saucer that had crashed many years before and become grown over with trees, and that the aliens still lived inside, though his parents told him this was not true, as it was fairies that lived inside the hill. Each generation has its own little green men.
The Earthworks blog is full of interesting landscapey fortean things.

The OED says a hagworm is "A northern name for the adder or viper; but in some districts applied to the common snake, and in others to the blindworm" (the latter being the slowworm).

Corlealackagh (Court Tomb) — Folklore

In a field belonging to Patrick McKenna, Corlealackagh, Castleblayney, there is a mound, or raised ground, containing huge boulders of stone, and here and there is an odd hawthorn bush, evidently of a very good age. The place is known as the "Giant's Grave" and is marked on the Sapper's map as such. The oldest man in the district never heard it called by any other name but he says that the position of the stones and boulders have been changed.

A number of men from the Archaeological Society Co Louth came to visit the place about fifteen years ago and locals helped them to dig down into the earth to see what they might find buried there. They misplaced the stones from their original position and left them scattered about. A few years later a gentleman called Rev. Fr. Rapmund[?] who was interested in such places secured a number of volunteer workers and undertook the task of digging down deep in the earth at this spot.

They laboured for days and only succeeded in unearthing flat stone slabs one after another till they had 13 unearthed. They again continued their work in the hope of reaching the body of the Giant which was perhaps cremated but no such treasure was ever found. The Rev. gentleman asked his volunteer band to replace the stone slabs just as they had found them, which they did. When the portion of the large stone boulders that was under the earth was uncovered it was discovered that there were strokes of different lengths on one of these boulders, and experts said that it was something in the Ogham language. The strokes or marks were copied to be translated into English but we cannot find any person to translate the message written in Ogham.

From year to year I pay a visit to the Giant's Grave, and I tell the children what I know about it and we have taken "snaps" of it. It is never ploughed or tilled by the man who owns the farm containing it, as there are several lone blackthorn bushes around it, and there is a belief in this district that any one who interferes or cuts down a lone bush will be afflicted for life, by having a "hump" grown on his back overnight.
Were it not for this belief, the farmer says he'd have used the stones for building purposes ere this.
From the Schools' Collection of the 1930s, now being digitised at

Mousa Broch — Images

<b>Mousa Broch</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Gurnard's Head (Cliff Fort) — Images

<b>Gurnard's Head</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Carn Kenidjack (Natural Rock Feature) — Images

<b>Carn Kenidjack</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Cape Cornwall (Cliff Fort) — Images

<b>Cape Cornwall</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Treryn Dinas (Cliff Fort) — Images

<b>Treryn Dinas</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Treryn Dinas</b>Posted by Rhiannon

St. Levan's Well (Sacred Well) — Images

<b>St. Levan's Well</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Table Mên (Natural Rock Feature) — Images

<b>Table Mên</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Boscawen-Un (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Boscawen-Un</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Men-An-Tol (Holed Stone) — Images

<b>Men-An-Tol</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Lanyon Quoit (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>Lanyon Quoit</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Gunschurch (Round Barrow(s)) — Folklore

Just beyond the church [in Hill Deverill], and approached by a rough lane and a bridge over the stream, stands the remains of the Ludlow manor house - a very picturesque old stone house, with mullioned and transomed windows, standing neglected and dilapidated in the reedy marsh meadows. It is a Tudor building, with alterations of the eighteenth century. The Cokers, to whom it passed from the Ludlows, lived here until 1736.

A strange memory of the last of this family survives in the valley, "Old" Coker, as he is called - the adjective has the country significance of something at once fearful and familiar, as when we say Old Nick, or Old Harry. Villagers tell how he "walks" about the countryside; lovers in the moonlight would come upon him sitting on stiles; he is heard at midnight whipping his hounds round "Guns' Church," a barrow on the hill above, and galloping down to his house, with chains rattling and horn screaming on the wind. In the house itself his malevolent influence would pluck the bed-clothes off the sleeper, and play many pranks. He is said to haunt even the church itself.
From Ella Noyes's "Salisbury Plain" (1913).

Bulford (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Folklore

Another story about the Bulford stone in the river:
In the bed of the river, just above Bulford, a great Sarsen stone lies, like those of which Stonehenge is built; how it came there is not known. The traditional explanation is that the Devil, having, by Merlin's command, bought the stones from an old wife in Ireland, bound them in a withy and flew hither with them, and as he was crossing the river at this point the withy slackened and one of the stones dropped out. There is another stone of the same kind in an upland field to the west.
From 'Salisbury Plain' by Ella Noyes, 1913.

Old Sarum (Hillfort) — Images

<b>Old Sarum</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Stonehenge (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Stonehenge</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Stonehenge</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Castlerigg (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Castlerigg</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Long Meg & Her Daughters (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Long Meg & Her Daughters</b>Posted by Rhiannon

The Bridestones (Burial Chamber) — Images

<b>The Bridestones</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>The Bridestones</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Arbor Low (Stone Circle) — Images

<b>Arbor Low</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Mam Tor (Sacred Hill) — Images

<b>Mam Tor</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Castle Naze (Hillfort) — Images

<b>Castle Naze</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Castle Naze</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Gawton's Stone (Natural Rock Feature) — Images

<b>Gawton's Stone</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Gawton's Stone</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Five Wells (Chambered Tomb) — Images

<b>Five Wells</b>Posted by Rhiannon<b>Five Wells</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Addington Long Barrow — Images

<b>Addington Long Barrow</b>Posted by Rhiannon

The Countless Stones (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>The Countless Stones</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Kit's Coty (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech) — Images

<b>Kit's Coty</b>Posted by Rhiannon

The Coffin Stone (Natural Rock Feature) — Miscellaneous

In the hedge on the left hand of the lane, and two hundred and seventy feet from the yard, lies the remarkable stone called by Dr. Stukeley, from its resemblance, the coffin stone, as only one side appears next the lane, the other parts being concealed by the mould, which in length of time has accumulated under the hedge, so that bushes and two elm-trees spread their roots on the surface of the stone.

It is in length fourteen feet two inches, in depth two feet, and in breadth about six feet, as near as I could guess by thrusting a stick under the hedge and roots with some difficulty. In the field adjoining, are several very large stones a little beneath the surface of the earth, some of which lie so fleet*, that it is with difficulty the men can plough it; and in some parts of it they appear level with the surface, as the tenant shewed me. Stones of great magnitude likewise lie dispersed about the moat and yard, which give the place a romantick appearance; and one before the barn measured nine feet and a half in length, and seven feet in breadth.

Another, much broader and of greater size, is at the upper end of the yard, near the spring-head. All these stones are irregular as when first taken from the earth, but , through the great length of time and injuries of weather, are become smooth; and of the same kind, and similar to to those which compose the celebrated British monument called Kits-Cotty-House, situated at a small distance from this place [...]
From John Thorpe's 'Custumale Roffense' (1788). *fleet = shallow

The Coffin Stone (Natural Rock Feature) — Images

<b>The Coffin Stone</b>Posted by Rhiannon

Pinnacle — Folklore

These legends [told of Killeen Cormac ] look like an interpretation from one more ancient concerning the hounds of Cuglos (son of Donndesa, King of Leinster), who was master of the hounds to Ederscoel, the great king of Erin. [...]

His dogs hunted a wild boar from Tara to the Hill of Urske, where they left the marks of their paws on the stones of a druidical circle crowning its summit. The same traces are to be found on some rocks at Manger, near Rathbran.

While pursuing their game up the hill over Beallach Dubhthaire, the ancient name of Baltinglass, Cuglos with his dogs, blinded by the mist and fog, chased their game into a cave on the summit of the mountain, and being there lost, his memory was perpetuated by giving his name to the scene of his untimely fate.
From 'The Inscribed Stones of Killeen Cormac' by J.F.S., in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record v4, no9, 1868.

Killeen Cormac (Passage Grave) — Folklore

It has been suggested that Killeen Cormac was in the pre-Christian period used as a place of pagan sepulchre. Its very peculiar construction and the indications of a sepulchral chamber within the moat, with passages to the terraces such are to be found in similar structures at New Grange on the Boyne, and in other localities, give an air of certainty to the suggestion, which is well sustained by the appearance of a stone on the south side of the mound about three feet high, fixed in the wall of the middle terrace.

It seems to be one of the jambs of a door to the entrance leading from the central cave. The side of this stone is grooved, the opposite jamb was likely hollowed in the same manner to receive a thinner flag to close the exterior entrance.

Killeen Cormac has the reputation of being full of rats, as well as of being the oldest cemetery in the whole country. These animals are up to this time the only explorers of the subterranean galleries under the mound, since they were closed up to preserve the remains of some pagan hero of the earliest dawn of history.

The most recent fact connected with this cemetery is, that about the year 1830 a stone wall was built around its area, some trees were then planted which add a phase of beauty peculiarly their own, while their shadows give a dim religious light in harmony with the venerable relics of antiquity of which they are the guardians.

Within the enclosure, and on the sides of the ruined terraces, are some inscribed pillar stones, with Latin and Ogham inscriptions, and some very curious incised figures, the description of which is reserved for notice at the close of this paper.

At the side of the mound, some paces from the entrance, is one pillar stone, now about three feet above the surface, on the top of which is an indentation resembling the trace of a hound's paw, as if impressed on a soft surface. Excavations made around it did not reveal any features worth describing.

A very curious legend, founded indeed on historical facts, is told concerning this stone, with a view, perhaps, to account for the name Cormac being affixed to the locality. The tradition of the neighbourhood says that the pillar stone marks the grave of a Cormac, king of Munster. It states that he was carried to this cemetery for sepulture by a team of bullocks, which were allowed to follow their own instincts, a mode of settling disputes regarding sepulture not uncommon among the ancient Irish. [This tradition...] avers that he was carried from a long distance through Ballynure from Timolin, in the county of Kildare, and when the team reached that part of Ballymore now known as "the Doon" the exhausted bullocks, in the eagerness of their thirst, pawed the earth, and that a stream of water issued forth. Another version states that the teamster stuck his goad into the ground, whereupon gushed up a bubbling fountain, which is still to be found near the roadside, and is used as a watering-place for the kine pasturing on the fertile heights at the Doon of Ballynure.

The bullocks having satisfied their thirst, journeyed on till they came to the elevation now called Bullock Hill, beside the Griese, opposite to Killeen Cormac. Here they halted, and refused to proceed farther, from which it appeared that Killeen was to be the last resting place of the king. The bullocks having done their part, returned homewards across the marsh, and were engulphed in the waters of the Griese.

[...] Another version of this legend, but more confused, places a hound on the team, which, when it stopped at Bullock Hill, jumped over to the cemetery, and left the impression of its paw on the pillar stone, thus marking the grave of Cormac; while another story represents this hound as jumping from the summit of Knockadhow, still more remote from the cemetery.
From 'The Inscribed Stones of Killeen Cormac' by J.F.S., in The Irish Ecclesiastical Record v4, no9, 1868. Comes with illustrations of the stones.

Dromin (Rath) — Folklore

There is a fort in Dromin in the land of Michael Seannel and it is a very eerie place. Many strange stories are told about it. One night a man by the name of Cronin was coming home from town and as he drew near the fort field he heard an awful noise. As he was passing the gate a big man asked him to play a football match with them and he said he could. The side that the man played with won the game and when it was over the man went home. When he reached home he went to bed.

When the people of the house got up next morning, Cronin was very bad and he was all black from head to foot. The people of the house sent for the doctor and the doctor said that there was nothing to be done for him but to send for the priest, and the priest came and he was anointed. About an hour or two later the man died because people say that he got a fairy stroke.

There is another story told about that place. One night a man was standing beside the wall and as he was just in the act of coming home he heard all the talk going down the field. The man says the people did not come up the road or down the road or go in the gate, but the talk was going down the field at the same time and Seannel's dog was barking.
More fairy weirdness from the Schools Collection of the 1930s, online at
Showing 1-50 of 4,061 posts. Most recent first | Next 50
This hill, it has a meaning that is very important for me, but it's not rational. It's beautiful, but when you look, there's nothing there. But I'd be a fool if I didn't listen to it.

-- Alan Garner.

...I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn...

-- William Wordsworth.

I'm currently mad on visiting Anglo-Saxon and Norman carvings and enjoy the process of drawing them:

and I've been helping digitise the Schools' Collection of the National Folklore Collection of Ireland... you can also at

Some interesting websites with landscape and fairy folklore:

My TMA Content: