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Folklore Posts by thesweetcheat

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Old Stone (Pant-y-Caregl) (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Another for the list of Radnorshire-disputed-antiquity-stones I fear. From "The Ancient Stones of Wales" by Chris Barber and John Godfrey Williams:

"A standing stone in the centre of a field called Maes y Garreg on Pontycaragh farm (SO200791). It resembles a battered human face and is 5 feet high. It is marked as Standing Stone on Ordnance Survey map of 1947. R.C.A.M. No. 80 of Radnor. One local story is that the Devil threw the stone from his chair at Craig y Don near Knighton, Radnor, aiming it at Beguildy Church, but it fell short by half-a-mile and the stone is still supposed to bear Satan's fingerprints."

Coflein supposes the stone to be natural:

Waum's Well and Clutter's Cave (Sacred Well)

"There was once a hawthorn tree called the 'Wishing Tree' around which children danced.


Here there was once a shelter for the use of those who came to drink or bathe in St Walm's spring water to cure their skin diseases or sore eyes or rheumatism."
From "The Healing Wells of Herefordshire" - Jonathan Sant (Moondial 1994).

The Wrekin (Hillfort)

Just to add a bit to Paulus' post, the reason that the Giant had such a thing against Shrewsbury was as follows:

"In the old days, when the ancient town of Shrewsbury was but newly built, its citizens, especially those who worked about the River Servern, were venturesome persons. One day three of them in quite a small boat, light and fast, with a single sail and oars went down the river. Fishing had been bad, and these men were prospecting for fresh ground, particularly for eels, of which Shrewsburians were notably fond.

Tempted by the wide smoothness of the river and the beautiful new scenery along its banks, the three pioneers went on for days, camping at nights on the bank, till they emerged on to what is now the Bristol Channel.

Turning westward into the calmer waters sheltered by South Wales, the three fishermen came to a very pleasant coast, seemingly abandoned by human beings. It was deserted because its sole inhabitant was an enormous giant, who tyrranised so cruelly over people of normal stature that the latter preferred to keep away altogether from his oppressive dominance.

Like all giants of antiquity, the South Walian individual was of incalculable strength but excessively lazy, stupid and revengeful of small injuries.

The Shrewsbury men knew naught of this. They came to a pretty little river tumbling into the Channel from beautiful mountain scenery.At the mouth of the river were some gigantic eel traps full of huge eels. Amazed at first by the stupendous size of the traps, the voyagers were so tempted by the excellence of the eels that they decided to help themselves, arguing that a few out of such quantities would never be missed.

As the three Shrewsbury fishermen finished loading their boat the giant woke from slumber on the other side of the hill. His yawns sounded like thunder, and his taking deep breaths was the wind in the tree tops. Greatly alarmed, the eel stealers got out their oars and pulled away. Fortunate for them that they did so. A few minutes later the immense hair-fringed face of the giant appeared over the hilltop. Seeing what had happened the giant strode slowly down the to the shore, and in a voice like the roaring of many bulls commanded the fugitives to stop. The tide was running up, the wind filled the sail, the two at the oars pulled strenuously, and the boat sped northward. Feeling themselves safe, the Shrewsbury men gathered courage. The steersman, a fellow with a stentorian voice, was foolish enough to shout back 'we be Shrewsbury men, and we always get what we want.'

Hearing it, the giant fell into a paroxysm of rage. He shook his fist, cursed, and swore he would exterminate the whole tribe of Shrewsbury folk, the three representatives of which only derided the more. Whereat the giant picked up rocks large as houses and threw them after the retreating boat, which narrowly escaped being swamped by the big waves set up.

Safely back in Shrewsbury, the three men excited astonishment and some incredulity by the story of their adventures, but the eels were incontrovertibly the finest ever brought into the town."

This is what got the giant mad, leading to his cross-country trek with the shovel-full of sand and mud that would become the Wrekin.

From "Legends of the Severn Valley" - Alfred Rowberry Williams (Folk Press Limited).

Carreg Maen Taro (Standing Stone / Menhir)

From Coflein:

"This is an ancient standing stone erected (according to tradition) in early British times to commemorate a battle which was fought here between two kings or chiefs, one of whom was named Ifor.


About 1km to the south east of Carreg Maen Taro is the site of two burial cairns called Careg-Croes-Ifor (nprn 405021), presumably the same Ifor mentioned above, and Pen-ffordd-goch (the head of the red road) (nprn 404999), 1.5km to the south east, is said to take its name from a battle waged there; there thus seems to be a vague tradition of a battle fought somewhere in the area.

B.A.Malaws, RCAHMW, 13 October 2006."

Birdlip Camp (Hillfort)

"Black dogs are scattered fairly widely over the Cotswolds and are of different kinds; some of them are human ghosts, some of them doggy and some are evil spirits. One on Birdlip Hill is a helpful spirit who guides lost travellers. Ruth Tongue however heard of another visitant on Birdlip Hill, the Devil. She heard the following tale from a groom in Cheltenham in 1926:

'There was a shepherd above Birdlip Hill, and there was Old Nick on the road to catch travellers. The shepherd wanted a potion for a sick ewe from the farm below.

He went afoot - horses and carts never went that road. Horses don't care for devils. So Old Nick was glad to see him pass. 'I'll have him on the way back' says he.

The shepherd had a black jack there and his drinking-horn filled to cheer him on the long uphill road, and he wrapped up the sheep's medecine which smelt nasty and hot, and started off. Up he goes and up till he comes to the turn near Black Dog's Lane.

He'd a notion that Old Nick might be about there, so before he passes it he has a swig of ale from the horn to hearten himself, and pours back in some of the sheep's tonic, well-boiled.

Then he goes on up.

Out comes Old Nick and grabs him. 'Ale!' says he. 'Good brown ale.'

'Spiced for you, sir, special,' says the shepherd civilly, handing the horn, and taking to his heels.

Old Nick was in such a hurry to catch him that he gulped the drink down first, and then it - the sheep tonic - caught him. They heard him roar right away in Cheltenham.

He never goes near Birdlip Hill now!'"

From "The Folklore of the Cotswolds" - Katharine M. Briggs (1974 Batsford).

Titterstone Clee Hill (Hillfort)

"Until the mid-19th century the Titterstone Wake was held on the hill every last Sunday in August. Young women 'fine stand-up handsome wenches they were', would meet up with their menfolk and indulge in games such as the beguilingly named 'Kiss-in-the-ring'."

From "Shropshire - An Archaeological Guide" Michael Watson (2002 Shropshire Books).

See also:

This site comes free with "interesting" faux-medieval Casio keyboard soundtrack.

Garway Hill (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Folklore associated with the White Rocks on Garway Hill:

"These boulders, some of Whetstone* proportions, lie scattered in a little valley near the top of Garway Hill, where they were dropped by the Devil. The story is that 'The Devil was helping Jack [O'Kent, a local wizard] to stop up the weir, at Orcop Hill, in order to make a fishpool. But as the Devil was coming over Garway Hill, his apron strings broke, and down fell all the stones he was carrying. Then the cock crew, and he had to go home, so there are the stones to this day.'"

From "Stone Spotting in Herefordshire" - Jonathan Sant (2000 Moondial), quoting "Folk-lore of Herefordshire" - E. M. Leather (1912).

A very obliging Devil who helps make fishpools. And a pretty poor one who has to go home when the cock crows. Perhaps his mum had his breakfast ready? Mind you, this seems to be a very common occurence - a search of TMA for "Devil's Lap" produces numerous similar tales of broken apron strings and dropped stones. A bad workman always blames his tools (or his sweat-shop made clothes), eh?

*The Whetstone is natural boulder on Hergest Ridge near Kington, which also has associated folklore.

Bambury Stone (Natural Rock Feature)

In"On The Ancient British, Roman, and Saxon Antiquities and Folk-Lore of Worcestershire" 2nd ed (1852), Jabez Allies includes an entire chapter on the stone, including entymology of the name and a woodcut. He refers to a reference to the site in Laird's "Topographical and Historical Description of Worcestershire" (1814), which gives the opinion:

"Near the Prospect House, is Bramsbury Stone, an immense mass of rock, but of which there is no traditionary account; and which is, most likely, merely a natural production, without any reference to ancient events."

It is shown on Dr Nash's plan of the camp (1781) and on Greenwood's map (1820).

Allies gives a full description of the stone, which also mentions a line of other stones, nearly aligned with the Bambury Stone (as shown in his woodcut).

He concludes the chapter as follows:

"From all that has been said, and considering that Ambreley, Amberley, Ambresbury, and Ambury [as in Croft Ambrey ], are common names of old earth works all over the kingdom, it appears more than probable that Amber Stones stood at such places in primitive times, which gave the names thereto; and that the Banbury or Bambury Stone or Rock in Kemerton Camp, otherwise Bambury Camp, on the top of Bredon Hill, was one of these Ambrosiae Petrae, or Amber Stones, dedicated to the Sun by the Celtic Druids, either in imitation or independently of the form of worship of the Amonians, Phoenecians, or Tyrians. This would, if so, tend to confirm my idea that the Kemerton Camp is ancient British, although afterwards occupied by the Romans, Saxons, and Danes."

Not sure if any of this helps the question of "disputed antiquity" in any way shape or form!

Sutton Walls (Hillfort)

A small bubble-burst regarding the Ethelbert story:

"Around AD25, the ramparts were raised and the huts rebuilt on the same layout. Then, as Roman power extended into the area in the middle of the first century AD, a grisly episode in the history of the settlement occurred. As the Roman army advanced, the ditch at the western entrance was hurriedly recut. Immediately afterwards, many battle-scarred bodies -some of which were decapitated - were thrown into the ditch and covered with a layer of soil. It seems the Romans, under Ostorius Scapula, attacked the settlement, massacred the inhabitants and pulled down the defences over them.


Excavation has revealed no evidence of Saxon occupation to support the folk-tale that Sutton Walls was the site of one of Offa's palaces. The story of Ethelbert's bloody murder may represent a hazy folk-memory of of the actual slaughter which took place there many centuries earlier, though recent work has suggested that Offa may have had a palace at Freens Court, just below the ramparts of Sutton Walls*."

From "Prehistoric Sites of Herefordshire" - George Children and George Nash (1994 Logaston Press).

*On the 1:25000 OS at SO521458 there is a "moat" near Freens Court Farm, not sure if this is relevant.

Wall Hills (Thornbury) (Hillfort)

"The Lady Well

This well has now been tanked and there is a small reservoir. It is beside an old stretch of track on the footpath leading east from St Anna's church.

The well is said to have been the source of water for Wall Hills hill fort. There was supposedly a secret tunnel from a pair of yew trees formerly on the edge of the camp all the way to the yew that still overshadows the well."

From "The Healing Wells of Herefordshire" - Jonathan Sant (1994 Moondial).

The well is not marked on the OS 1:25000, but the work above gives the NGR as SO6262 5962.

Wapley Hill (Hillfort)

"This parish [Staunton on Arrow] has one of the few chalybeate or iron-rich springs in Herefordshire. However, it is the stone-built well on Wapley Hill that is known as a holy well.

The well is within the Iron Age earthworks known as 'The Warren'. This site supposedly belonged to Caractacus and his people, and is a perfectly situated 'fort' in a very beautiful spot. A footpath leads from Stansbatch through the Forestry Commission woodland, round Warren House, and up to the well. There was clearly a spring here which encouraged the well-builders to dig this deep shaft; and despite its position almost at the very top of the hill, it has never been know to dry up.

The Warren is believed to have been less a fort than a Celtic religious centre, and the well shaft may have been sunk early in the Iron Age as a 'sacrificial pit'."

From "The Healing Wells of Herefordshire" - Jonathan Sant (1994 Moondial) referencing "An Archaeological Survey of Herefordshire" vol II - Davies & Bevan (1897).

Risbury Camp (Hillfort)

"Near the camp is Hill Hole or Hell Hole Dingle, locally Hello Dingle*. This is said to have been named after the holy well at Pencombe, whose water meets the Humber Brook near the spot, but it is more likely that there was a holy well at Hollywell or Hollywall Farm on the old Roman road above the dingle."

From "The Healing Wells of Herefordshire" - Jonathan Sant (1994 Moondial).

*On the OS 1:25000 (2006 ed) this is shown as "Hill Hole", at SO537542.

Aconbury (Hillfort)

Some more on the well(s):

"Washing in the waters of St Ann's Well is said to cure various ills, particularly eye troubles. The first bucketful of water collected after Twelfth Night was supposed to be the best, and was considered worth competing for. It is said that the water in the pool [St Ann's Pool, to the NE of the well] bubbles up at midnight on this day, and is seen to emit blue smoke. However, this is of course according to those who had gone there in the hope of curing their bad eyes.

Presumably before the calendar reform, this was a Yule custom, although New Year's Day was the favoured time for collecting medicinal waters at Dinedor Cross and elsewhere.

At the top of the field is a scrubby piece of woodland containing the Lady Well, a holy spring which is haunted by the ghost of a young woman who killed herself there. In another more elaborate version of the story she killed her lover, wrongly suspecting him of infidelity, then died of heartbreak; as a result both spirits haunt the well where this happened and where they often meet.

There is a local memory that this well is dedicated to St Catherine. 'Lady Well' is a common name for a well and it naturally usually be assumed to be dedicated to St Mary, as for instance at Bodenham. But if the well was pre-Christian, the 'Lady' would simply have been the local goddess, who in this part of Herefordshire was more probably Christianised as St Catherine."

From "The Healing Wells of Herefordshire" - Jonathan Sant (1994 Moondial) with reference to "The Folk-lore of Herefordshire" - Ella Mary Leather (1912).

The Bowl Rock (Natural Rock Feature)

Inevitably for this part of the country, the folklore relating to the Bowl Rock is giant-ish. The stone was used in the games of bowls (hence the name, nothing to do with soup or pudding) played by the giants who lived on Trencrom Hill.

Stanford Bishop (Standing Stone / Menhir)

"Stanford Bishop was probably named after the 'stone ford' at Jumpers Hole on the ancient trackway through the parish. Jumpers Hole in turn was named after a curious stone in the bed of the stream there, and the legend attached to it.

The stone at Jumpers Hole is on the north-west side of the crossing place, and it bears three very clear horseshoe-shaped dents, each about 7" long, and an oval hollow. The legend is that a witch stole a loaf of bread and fled on horseback*. As the horse jumped the brook, the loaf fell onto a stone; the impressions of the loaf and horse's feet are miraculously preserved in the stone.

One version of the tale is that the bread was stolen from Stanford Bishop: presumably from the church, hence the miracle. Another says that the witch went to a cottage at the Dovehills to beg a loaf; when the cottager refused she stole the loaf, and cursed both the farm and (oddly) the gate near the brook"

As told in "Stone Spotting in Herefordshire" - Jonathan Sant (2000) Moondial.

*What self-respecting witch uses a horse. Surely a broomstick or simply disappearing in a flash of smoke would be more suitable if wanting to make a quick exit?

St Weonard's Tump (Artificial Mound)

Some additional folklore:

There was a standing stone near the barrow*, which disappeared in the 1990s, which had the following associated with it:

"'when hanging was meted out to sheepstealers, a man was found one morning dead, leaning up against the stone, with a sheep tilted over the upper edge, with its four legs tied together for carrying'. The man had rested and the sheep to which he had tied himself had somehow slipped or struggled and strangled him. This was told to explain the bronze age cup marks on the stone, looking like imprints of a pair of sheep's trotters.

The road is said to be haunted by the ghost of the man, with the sheep on his back; he crosses the road and disappears into a yew tree."

As told in "Stone Spotting in Herefordshire" - Jonathan Sant (2000 Moondial)

*The stone was listed in "Herefordshire Register of Countryside Treasures" - E.C. Davies/County Planning Department (1981) published by H&W County Council:

"Standing Stone, St Weonards

A pillar of red sandstone lying N-S. 1m high with base section 0.6 x 0.3m. Two cupmarks discernable on the E side.

At roadside near to crossroads S of St Weonard's on A466. (497235)."

I wonder if anyone has any pictures of this before it went missing?

Wergins Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

A slight variation/addition to the folklore:
"at noon on Wednesday 16th February 1642 an extraordinarily strong wind dragged the upright Wergins Stone 120 yards away, making an 18" dent in the ground the whole distance, and carried the base stone 440 yards away through the air; a satanic black dog was seen running before one of the stones"
From "Stone Spotting In Herefordshire" - Jonathan Sant (2000 Moondial), referring to "Civil War in Herefordshire" - John Webb (1879)

St Paul's Epistle (Round Barrow(s))

The barrow appears to have had the name since at least 1777, when it was marked on Taylor's Map of Gloucester as "Paul Aposd".

"It has been suggested that an epistle was read there at the beating of the parish bounds, which run close by. In the mid 19th century, however, the name 'Paul and the Epistles' was sometimes used and was said to refer to the number of trees."

From: 'Parishes: Dowdeswell', A History of the County of Gloucester: volume 9: Bradley hundred. The Northleach area of the Cotswolds (2001), pp. 42-69. URL:

Rather less religiously, it is also known locally as "Bull's Pissel"!

Cleeve Cloud (Hillfort)

Generally the fort is thought to originally date from the early Iron Age, with the single bank and ditch being doubled in the last couple of centuries BCE.

Huddlestone's Table (information from "Cleeve Hill: The History of the Common and its People" - David H. Aldred 1990 [Alan Sutton Publishing Limited]):

Traditionally the stone is said to mark the spot where King Kenulf of Mercia took leave of various important guests after the 811 dedication of Winchcombe Abbey. In 1779 an article about the stone appeared in "Gentlemen's Magazine" linking it in true antiquarian style with Druids and so on.
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