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Some background (what little there is) on the saint after whom the stone is named. And it's a big stone, it needs a name. From the second edition (1956) of Butler's Lives of the Saints.
In the churchyard of Llanfan Fawr (i.e. Great Avanchurch), in the hills a few miles north-west of Builth Wells in the county of Brecknock, is an ancient tombstone bearing the inscription Hic Iacet Sanctus Avanus Episcopus: "Here lies Saint Avan the Bishop." The existence of this stone, which naturally arouses the interest of the visitor or reader, is the sole reason for mentioning St Afan here, since nothing whatever is known about his life. The lettering is said to be not older than the end of the thirteenth century, but St Afan certainly lived long before that: by some he has been identified with a holy Afan, of the house of Cunedda and a kinsman of St David, who lived during the early part of the sixth century and was the leading holy man of his district, being known as Afan Buellt, i.e. of Builth. According to the local legend he was put to death by Irish raiders.I beg to differ: it tells us that not unreasonably he didn't like dogs in his church. And maybe he didn't like hunting either. Anyone who is prepared to go blind into battle can't be very sensible anyway.
The following is related by Gerald the Welshman in the first chapter of the first book of his Itinarary through Wales: "In the reign of King Henry I, the lord of the castle of Radnor, the territory adjoining Builth, went into the church of St Afan (called Llanafan in the British tongue) and rashly and irreverently spent the night there with his hounds. When he got up early the next morning (as hunting men do) he found his hounds mad and himself blind. After living for years in darkness and misery he was taken on pilgrimage to Jerusalem, for he took care that his inward sight should not similarly be put out. And there, being armed and led to the field on horseback, he spurred upon the enemies of the faith, was mortally wounded, and so ended his life with honour."
An anecdote which tells us something about the religious ideas of the twelfth century, but unfortunately nothing about St Afan.
The Rev. Baring Gould (Lives of the British Saints) says Afan
..is traditionally said to have been murdered by Irish pirates - by Danes, according to another account - on the banks of the Chwefri, and that the tomb here marks the site of his martyrdom. In the neighbourhood are a brook called Nant yr Esgob*, a dingle called Cwm Esgob, and a small holding called Derwen Afan (his Oak).*Bishop
Naturally this camp hasn't really anything to do with the Danes, but is a hillfort from the Iron Age. When some of the site was excavated in the 1990s, various earlier artifacts were found too, so it's known the promontory was being used in the Bronze Age and Neolithic too. It's right on the cliff overlooking the Thames, so it only has earthworks on three sides. The SMR says "The site offers a clear vantage point onto the river, and wide views across the flood plain into Berkshire." This attractive spot wasn't overlooked by more modern settlers either, so that is why there is now a hotel there. Alas when the house was built c1900, they just flattened the western banks entirely and bunged the building on top. Apparently "A short section of the inner bank and ditch survives as earthworks to the south of the mansion, adapted in the early 20th century to serve as a rock garden with an ornamental walkway." So that's handy isn't it. You can even be taken on a tour of the gardens this summer, as part of the National Gardens Scheme.
My attention was drawn here by a totally unprehistoric but weird bit of folklore, about the Uncorrupt Hand of St James. Yep that's (allegedly) St James the apostle himself, Jesus's mate - here in Buckinghamshire. Who'd have thought it. His hand used to be kept in a chapel that was right here in the fort (the chapel, along with another house, got knocked down to be replaced by the present Danesfield House). Once upon a time it was kept in Reading Abbey and was a big draw for pilgrims. And today it resides at St Peter's church in Marlow, and you can see it there for yourself. There's a colour photo on Elizabeth Chadwick's blog, if you've got the stomach for it. I was reading about some of its adventures here in a 1901 book called 'Memorials of Old Buckinghamshire', by P H Ditchfield. So, not prehistoric. But says something about how we give meaning to and value the ancient past perhaps.
The Cornwall HER says that traditionally, people used to stroll out here after their Sunday lunch (= after church?). And why not. Surely they might like to yet (despite the doubting of the HER).
Tom Thumb (so the 1621 pamphlet by Richard Johnson goes) was a very tiny person "of the bignes of my thumb." He was born to a ploughman and his wife - they'd specifically asked Merlin for a bit of assistance, and the birth was attended by the queen of the fairies. "After some boyhood adventures appropriate to his size and character, he is eaten in succession by a cow, a giant, and a fish, by which means he ends up at King Arthur's court (the fish having been caught for Arthur's table)." He sits at the round table and is the king's companion, and goes out riding with him. "For more than a century, the tale of Tom Thumb was the most widely known and popular version of the Arthurian legend in circulation in England". Which seems quite strange now. The Tom Thumb stories have international parallels too.
Later, Henry Fielding wrote a satirical book in which Tom was a giant-killer, and there was lots of murder and love-intrigue. Later on he became a more child-friendly figure.
(quotes and info. from 'Tom Thumb and Jack the Giant-Killer: Two Arthurian Fairytales?' by Thomas Green, in
Folklore , Vol. 118, No. 2 (Aug., 2007), pp. 123-140.)
But what does this have to do with the rock? Is it just supposed to be amusing because Tom Thumb is tiny and the rock is massive? Or is it related to his giant-slaying days? The rock gets a slight blob on the map in the 1870s, but only gets its name marked in the 1970s. The HER suggests that this means the name is quite recent (it being English too). But who knows.
More juicily, the HER says "There is a piece of oral folklore associated with the rock that suggests it was used as a place for sacrifice at the time of the St Just feast." Those druids eh. Though I don't know what they were doing following the Christian calendar. I notice that the St Just festival "was always held on the nearest Sunday to All Saints-day"* so maybe the druids were celebrating more of a Samhain thing instead. All a bit muddled up but never mind.
*Cornish Feasts and 'Feasten' Customs - M A Courtney, The Folk-Lore Journal v4 (1886).
Part of a letter in the 'Royal Cornwall Gazette' on March 18th 1869:
... the rock rests at the bottom of the quarry, precisely as it stood in its former proud pre-eminence; and the sacrificial basins, lips, and channels, described by Borlase, may now be seen as they have probably existed for two thousand years. I saw it yesterday in deep grief and mortification, for I am a Cornishman, and have Constantine blood in my veins. I don't here mention the tradition that exists throughout this district against him who injures this Tolmen. I would rather believe that his own reflections will be sufficient punishment for the irreparable loss he has occasioned to the antiquities of Cornwall.
I have taken the stone's grid reference from an 1880s map which shows its ex-location.
Ceidio, in the promontory of Lleyn, is under the remarkable isolated hill of Carn Madryn, which takes its name from Madrun. The local tradition is that on the burning of the palace of Gwrtheyrn, under Tre'r Ceiri, Madrun fled with Ceidio, then a child in arms, to the fortress on Carn Madryn; and that later in life Ceido founded the church that bears his name beneath the mountain.Lives of the British Saints, v2, by Sabine Baring-Gould and John Fisher (1908).
About half a mile east of Rhayader, in Radnorshire, there is a barrow, in a field called Cefn Ceidio, under which it is supposed that he has been buried.
A clue to the name in the 18th century Statistical Account of Scotland:
Towards the end of the last century, a man was burnt for a wizard, at the foot of the Gloom Hill, not many yards from the town of Dollar.
Zealous Antiquaries, strange to tell, have not yet succeeded in manufacturing the Standing Stones of Torhows into pigsties and byres 'for their better preservation,' as they have done with most Galloway antiquities; and so they stand there yet, and enduring testimony to the authenticity of the ancient traditions of the district.A not altogether serious account from Galloway Gossip by Robert Trotter (1877).
In my young days there used to be four stones standing on the high side of the road, and twenty three on the low side of it, and they were arranged in a circle.
The tradition about them was that in those ancient times the Picts, when hard pressed, formed themselves into a ring and defended themselves in that way from attacks on all sides, and as soon as they saw a weak place in the ranks of the enemy, they lengthened the ring into a triangle or wedge and forced a way through their opponents; and it is recorded that the Galloway men or Albanich as they called themselves, who were the descendants of the Picts, fought in a wedge-shaped phalanx at the battle of the Standard in eleven hundred and something.
Well, it happened that the Picts at Torrhows were like to be beaten at one time, and were obliged to form a circle, and there was a most desperate struggle till the king came up with assistance, and a great many of the chiefs or great men, who fought in the front rank, were killed by the Danes.
When the battle was over and they assembled to bury the dead, a great stone was set up wherever any of the chiefs fell fighting, to mark the spot, and it is said that there were originally sixty stones, one for every chief killed, and the place was therefore called Torrhows, which means something about a bur[y]ing-ground, though I never heard it said that any of the chiefs were buried at the stones.
It was said at one time that the Laird was going to hoke them all up to send to Edinburgh, to try if they would give him F.S.A. to put to his name, but I think it hasn't been done yet.
[Having crossed the Ochils and descended to the moor below..] The whole moor was covered with a luxuriant crop of bent and heath, and while surveying the modest blossom of the latter, we could not help heaving a sigh for the many brave hearts which had sunk there to "fill a nameless grave." After having made a circuit of the scene of the battle, we directed our steps to a number of large stones, almost in the centre of the field, and upon which, tradition avers, the Highlanders sharpened their broadswords, dirks, and axes, the evening previous to the engagement. Indeed, from the appearance of the stones, one would be led to suppose as much, for they are all more or less scratched, as if they had been acted upon by these warlike weapons; but, judging from the date of the battle, it surprised us how these marks could remain so long without suffering from the effects of the weather, situated as the stones are in a cold moorland district, where the snow lies long, and where they are beat upon by every blast that blows. If these marks have been occasioned by what tradition says, they will, in all likelihood, remain for many years to come. In The Scottish Journal, 1848. Has the belt joined up I wonder. And how scratched does the poor thing look.
One of the stones is called the "Belted Stane," from a grayish sort of belt encompassing it. A few inches still remain between the two extremities of the belt; but we are informed that this space has become gradually less within these fifty years, and the credulous peasantry around are in the firm belief, that as soon as
The twa ends o' the belt embrace,
A bluidy battle will tak' place.
A pertinent question is, how did these stones come to be placed in their present situation? They are of great size, and must have been carried a considerable distance. There is no tradition as to their being of Druidical origin.
In the vicinity of the village of Dunlop, writes Chalmers in 1824, "there was in former times a chapel dedicated to the Virgin Mary [..] After the Reformation, this chapel was allowed to fall in ruins, but the remains of it are still to be seen on the side of a small rivulet which was here crossed by stepping-stones called the Lady's Steps, and this name is still continued altho' the steps have been superseded by a bridge." (Caledonia, vol. iii. p 556.)From 'the Church of Dunlop', a chapter in Archaeological and Historical Collections relating to the counties of Ayr and Wigton, v4 (1884).
[..] In a field in the neighbourhood is a large detached stone, round which, if tradition is to be believed, it was customary for persons attending the chapel to perform part of their devotions. It is called the Thugart Stane, supposed to be a corruption of the grid stane. This stone, the name of which is by the inhabitants of Dunlop commonly pronounced "Ogirtsane," is composed of a variety of trap rock, differing from the trap formation in the surrounding country. What appears of it above the surface measures about 12 feet by 8, and its greatest height is about 4 feet.
"Grisly Draeden sat alaneIt is probable not, I think. But I do love how he spins pagan weirdness out of the elemental boggy environment. I can sympathise at least. From Mr Henderson's reporting of 'Popular Rhymes of Berwickshire' in the Scottish Journal, 1848.
By the cairn and Pech stane;
Billy wi' a segg sae stout,
Says - 'I'll soon turn Draeden out' -
Draeden leuch, and stalk'd awa,
And vanish'd in a babanqua."
This rhyme, which I picked up when a boy from an old man (David Donaldson), who posessed a rich collection of old sayings, songs, and rhymes, which I never heard anywhere else, evidently relates to a large cairn which was situated about half-way between two streams (Draeden and Billyburn), on the farm of Little Billy, in the parish of Buncle. The cairn was surrounded, except on the south-west side, by a circle of large whin stones, many of which would have weighed several tons. At the distance of about 200 yards to the east of this cairn stood a large block, of a reddish sort of granite, which the old man already mentioned used to call "The Altar." The cairn is now removed, but this stone still stands in its original situation.
It is probable that the circle of stones surrounding the cairn had constituted, in remote times, a place of Druidical worship: and it is also probable that the small stream, a little to the north of the site of the cairn, derives its name Draeden, from this circumstance; the affix draed being similar in sound to Druid, and den, a dean or vale - The Druid's Vale.
When a moss, which skirted this stream, was begun to be drained about twenty years ago, many pieces of oak were dug out; and I recollect of being shewn, near its northern extremity, a quagmire or babanqua, with a slit or opening in the middle of it, on which no grass or any other plant grew, owing to the constant oozing of the water from its bottom, and into which, it was said, a horse and his rider had sunk, and were never more seen.
[..] It is probable, I think, that this curious rhyme has some distant allusion to the introduction of Christianity into our island, to the discomfituer of a dark and horrid superstition, which formerly held in bondage the souls and bodies of our Pagan progenitors.
The Canmore site record calls this 'The Witch's Stone'.
On the top of the Craigs of Kyle there was, in former times, a chapel dedicated to Saint Bride. The only vestige of it now remaining is the well, which is still called Saint Bride's Well. No notice is taken of this ancient place of worship in Chalmer's Caledonia, or the Statistical Account of Scotland: but it is worthy of remark, from the existence of another remain of antiquity which has hitherto escaped the observation of topographical or antiquarian writers. This is a Rocking-Stone -- adding another to the many proofs, that the early propogators of Christianity invariably planted the Cross where the inhabitants had been in the habit of assembling under the Druidical form of worship.From The Scottish Journal, 1848.
The Rocking-Stone occupies the summit of the highest of the Craigs. It is an exceedingly large elongated block of granite, but must have been at one time much larger, as several pieces seem to have fallen from it through the action of the weather, being much exposed to the moisture and storms of the west.
We regret our inability to take an accurate measurement of the stone at the time of our visit, not having been aware of the existence of such a relic. Tradition is silen in reference to it, though it is pointed out as a curiosity by the people in the vicinity. There can be no doubt, however, of its Druidical character. Although it has now lost its vibrating power, being propped up by stones, the pivot is easily discernible.
I've been puzzling about this, because there must be (or was) a stone called the Deil's Cradle very near to this. I've been scouring the 25" maps without success, though the Wizard's Stone is marked. Yet the WS, with all due respect, doesn't look very exciting. It gets marked, while the infinitely more peculiar sounding Cradle sadly does not. I figure 'Burngrens' below is another version of 'Burngrange', which is on current maps - about a spit from the WS. If you were in the area and took a wander along the burn, you might find the stone yet? There's a Grey (or Gray) Stone marked at Lawhill Farm, which is very close by too. But Coflein declines to comment on any of the three.
The "Deil's Cradle."From The Scottish Journal, 1847.
On the confines of the parish of Dollar, not far from Hillfoot, the seat of John McArthur Moir, Esq., lies a glen, called Burngrens, watered by a small stream, and planted with numerous large trees. A great number of these, however, have fallen, during the last few years, beneath the unsparing axe; but strong, healthy saplings are rising rapidly to supply their place.
In this glen there is a large stone, of peculiar formation, in every way like a cradle. It is currently believed by the superstitious in the vicinity, that the stone, every Hallowe'en night, is raised from its place, and suspended in the air by some unseen agency, while "Old Sandy," snugly seated upon it, is swung backwards and forwards by his adherents, the witches, until daylight warns them to decamp.
The following rather curious affair is told in connection with the "Cradle:"
One Hallowe'en night a young man, who had partaken somewhat freely of the intoxicating cup, boasted before a few of his companions that he would, unaccompanied, visit the stone. Providing himself with a bottle, to keep his courage up, he accordingly set out. The distance not being great, he soon reached his destination. After a lusty pull at the bottle, he sat down upon the "Cradle," boldly determined to dispute the right of possession, should his Satanic majesty appear to claim his seat. Every rustle of a leaf, as the wind moaned through the glen, seemed to our hero as announcing the approach of the enemy, and occasioned another application to fortifying "bauld John Barleycorn." Overpowered at last by repeated potations, our hero, dreaming of "Auld Nick," and his cohort of "rigwuddie hags," fell sound asleep upon the stone.
His companions, who had followed him, now came forward. With much shouting and noise, they laid hold of him, one by the head and another by the feet, and carrying him, half-awake, to the burn, dipped him repeatedly, accompanying each immersion with terrific yells. The poor fellow, thinking a whole legion of devils were about him, was almost frightened to death, and roared for mercy so piteously that his tormentors thought proper to desist. No sooner had our hero gained his feet than he rushed up the glen, and ran home, resolving never to drink more, or attempt such a feat again. For many a long day he was ignorant who his tormentors really were.
We stood upon the stone about a week ago. Ivy and moss are slowly mantling over it, a proof that it is some considerable time since the Devil has been rocked on it.
Centuries ago, these hills were covered to their very summits with trees, consisting of pine, birch, hazel, but principally oak. Several trunks of this durable wood, black and hard as ebony, have been discovered deeply imbedded in the peat mosses which about there. In The Scottish Journal, 1847.
Wolves, boars, and other wild animals, were the inhabitants of this forest. Sometimes large troops of them, urged by hunger, left their haunts, and descending to the low grounds, spread devastation and dismay on every hand. Tradition tells of a boar, of huge size, which committed so many depradations, that the people complained to their king (Malcolm Canmore), who appointed a day for a grand hunting match, to destroy the boar.
The King, with a few attendants, took up a position on the top of a hill, still called the "King's Seat," there to await the issue of the hunt, while different parties beat the haunts of the animal. They were about giving up the search as fruitless, when the boar was discovered. Away through the forest dashed pursuers and pursued.
A youth, armed with a bow and quiver, and a short sword, outstripped the rest of the hunters. Three arrows from his hand had already pierced the bristly sides of the boar; but before another could be drawn, it turned upon its pursuer, and rushing towards him, bore him to the ground, inflicting a severe wound upon his breast. It was about to attack him again, when the huntsman drew his sword, and sheathed it in the body of the monster. The thrust was mortal, and it fell.
After cutting off the head of the boar, the youth, all bleeding, made his way to where the King sat - threw the grisly trophy at his feet, and immediately afterwards expired. But, as regards this,
"I cannot tell how the truth may be,
I say the tale as 'twas said to me."
13, Dalrymple Place,
Much giant related folklore connected with the broch:
The Scottish Journal, 1847.
The distance of the Hall from the Whitadder on the north, was two hundred yards, down a very steep bank. There is a deep hollow on the west, with a small run of water in it. This place has been sometimes called Woden, or Odin's Hall, but for what purpose it was erected nobody can tell. It is now completely levelled with the soil, and most of the stones have been removed. In the tradition of the neighbourhood, Edin's Hall is said to have been the residence of a giant - and Cockburn-Law, on the northern slope of which it stood, is reputed to have been the last place where the Picts made a determined stand in Scotland! G.H.Transactions of the Hawick Archaeological Society, 1863.
The country people in this neighbourhood call it Edin's Hold and Wodin's Hall, and ascribe its erection to a freebooting giant, who long carried on a successful system of depredation, and shut up in this his place of power, effectually screened himself from the hands of justiceProceedings at Meetings of the Royal Archaeological Institute, 1869.
..Edin's Hall, which at that time present little beyond a green mound, with a little rough masonry visible here and there, in the centre of an extensive system of earthworks. Local tradition connected them with a certain giant who, "once upon a time," made it his abode, and lived, as giants were wont to do, on his neighbours. Returning one day with a bull over his shoulders, he was incommoded by a pebble in his shoe, and jerked it to the side of the opposite hill, where it is still to be seen in the form of a good-sized boulder.From Chambers's Journal, v1 (1854).
The history of the building is totally unknown. The ordinary name is Eetin's Hald; though usually presented in books as Edin's Hall or Ha'. Antiquaries speculate on its having been a palace of Edwin, king of Northumbria in the seventh century - the same prince from who Edinburgh is supposed (altogether gratuitously) to have taken its name. From Robert Chambers' Popular Rhymes of Scotland (1826). There's more about this giant in a later edition here, as well.
It is to be feared that here an obvious meaning of the name has been overlooked. The Etin, in old Scottish tradition, is a giant (from the Danish Jetten:) thus we hear in our early national literature, of the tale of the Red Etin. Sir David Lyndsay, in his Dreme, speaks of having amused the infancy of King James V. with 'tales of the Red Etin and Gyre-carling.'
Considering that the people of Lammermuir have a fireside story representing Eetin's Hald as having been anciently the abode of a giant, who lived upon the cattle of his neighbours, and did not always respect their own persons - whose leap, too, they shew in a narrow part of the streamlet near by - it is rather strange that the name of the place has not been detected as meaning merely the Giant's Hold.
The red-etin is a monstrous personage, supposed by the common people to be so named on account of his insatiable penchant for red or raw flesh. [...] He is still a popular character in Scotland, and is supposed to go about searching for what he may devour, and constantly exclaiming, as in the story of Jack and the Bean Stack,
Snouk Butt, Snouk Ben,
I find the smell of Earthly men.
Snouk signifies, to search for with the nose like a dog or hog, and here communicates a dreadful idea of the personal habits of the Red-etin.
This typed compilation of information about the souterrain comes from the Highland HER. It seems that the names of the clans responsible for bad behaviour / revenge are fairly loose. I guess it depends on the ancestry of who's telling the tale.
An excerpt from a booklet written in the 1970s says:
The cave [..] is thought to have formed a refuge for persecuted worshippers at various times in its history. There is also an old legend that it was built by giants while giantesses carried the soil to the River Spey in their aprons.Again there's the curious assertion that the cave was only discovered in the Victorian era, yet it's simultaneously stated it was used after the Jacobite rising of 1745! Remember, things do not really exist until a Victorian man belonging to an Intellectual Society has looked at things Properly.
From a name of a farm in the immediate vicinity -- Dunree, in Gaelic Dun-righ, signifying the king's stronghold -- it is inferred that the fort was distinguished by a royal appellative. From The Scottish Journal, 1847.
[..] In former times, Cassillis Downans was regarded as a favourite haunt of the fairies of Ayrshire, and a popular tradition still exists illustrative of their peculiar attachment to the locality. The old house of Cassillis, it is said, was originally intended to have occupied a site on the top of the hill, but the fairies were so much opposed to this that they invariably demolished at night what had been built during the day -- removing the stones and other material to the spot where the castle now stands -- until the proprietor, convinced of the folly of contending with his invisible opponents, at length gave up the contest.
The Devil's Stane.A note to accompany a poem about the stone, in The Scottish Journal, 1847.
This is a large rock which stands in the middle of a cultivated field near the parish church of Kemnay, Aberdeenshire, and which, tradition affirms, the Devil threw at the church from the neighbouring mountain of Bennachie, in order to revenge the good deeds of the parish priest.
The photos on the Megalithic Portal suggest this place is rather superb. Far from being discovered in 1835 (as the Canmore record suggests), this souterrain must surely have been known for long before that? The story is a bit wordy but bear with me.
In the time of the later Jameses, a noted freebooter of the name of Cumming, with his eleven sons, was the scourge of Strathspey and the more distant glens of Perthshire, and long baffled the feeble efforts of the law. To save you from the waffling, I'll summarise. The murderous Cummings finally wound up a Macpherson enough that he vowed to rumble them. He pretends to be a gravely ill beggar to gain admittance to the bothy (it's not explained how he actually knows about the bothy). He notices the old women are baking far more bannocks than they can eat and realises they're being transferred to the cave below. He dashes to Perth to call the authorities. The authorities haul them out one at a time and don't even bother with a trial, they just despatch them there and then. Which seems rather unfair. But there is an afterword:
An artificial cave, the retreat of the band, is still entire, and is known locally as "Uamh Mor," the great cave or den. It is cut in the face of a green hill, about a mile and a half east from Kingussie [...]. The cave is crescent-shaped, and about fifty feet from end to end; and, as the soil is friable, it must have been formed with great difficulty.
At the centre, the width is about six feet, and the height about seven; but towards the western end, both height and breadth contract so much that, at the mouth, the space will only admit, by crawling eel-like, one man at a time. A few feet from this narrow entrance, the passage has been guarded by a strong door; and the boles built in the walls show that the bar must have been a tree of at least three feet in circumference: at the eastern end, the cave widens to a breadth of eight or nine feet, adn the roof is of about an equal height, so that a somewhat spacious chamber is formed. The walls of the cave are of large stones, rudely built together; the roof consists of a series of large flagstones stretching from wall to wall; and the floor is of earth or clay. To the centre of the cave there is a second entrance, by a flight of steps, that seems to have been concealed by a trap-door.
Cumming and his eleven sons were all, according to tradition, tall and powerful men; and the cave was formed by them in the night time; the earth, as it was thrown out, being carefully carried down the hill and cast into a deep dark pool of the Spey. The stones for the walls and the roof were brought from a higher part of the hill; and such was the strength of the sons, it is said, that only two of them were required to carry one of the great flagstones down the hill.
This is the story told by tradition, and I give it without attempting to prove its truth. I have, however, visited the cave; and the story was told to me as I sat within the dark, grave-like, chamber. Reported by J.C.P. in The Scottish Journal in 1847.
I may add that, to this day, according to the belief of the district, the descendants of the Macpherson who betrayed the Cummings are troubled with the disease, the pains of which were feigned by their predecessor.
Druidical Temples in Scotland. Quoted in The Scottish Journal, 1847.
Severeal of the Druids' places of worship are still to be seen in the Highlands. [..] In our own neighbourhood, above Dochmaluag, there is a pretty large one, the stones of which, it is maintained by many of the peasants in the district, are said to have been, at one time, human beings, which were overtaken with judgment for dancing on the Sabbath day, and that the position of the stones exactly corresponds with the different attitudes of the dancers. Hence the name Clachan Gorach, or foolish stones. -- Rossshire Advertiser.
This bump in the landscape seems to consist of Spy Knowe (crowned by a cairn) and the slightly higher top of Green Hill. This area's landscape features in the Ayrshire ballad 'The Laird o' Changue', which is reproduced here in the Scottish Journal (issue 3, 1847). The notes explain some folklore associated with the top of (what I infer to be) this hill. I am resisting any unwarranted comparisons with the shape of cup and ring marks.
On the conical top of the green hill of Craganrarie, where the indomitable Changue took up his position, are two foot-prints, which tradition asserts to be his, indented deeply in the surface, and around which, at about a sword's length from the centre, are the "two rings" or circles which he drew around him, also strongly marked in the sward. Neither on them, nor on the foot-prints, does the grass ever grow, although it thrives luxuriantly around the very edges of the mysterious markings. Canmore's record notes that a Langdale/Scafell greenstone axe was found close by the hill in the 1920s.
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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.