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Garth y Foel (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork)

Back at Croesor, where you parked, is the spring Ffynnon Elen. It's named after Saint Elen, who features in the Mabinogion. She was Romano-British, and noted for founding churches in 4th century Wales. Since Garth y Foel looks like something out of Welsh mythology, here's some local folklore.
The following story is handed down, generation after generation, in this parish, of Cidwm and Elen Lleuddog. When Elen was marching with her army from the south to Caer Eryri, her youngest son marched his men from Segontium to meet and welcome her. One of her sons, whose name was Cidwm, - the Welsh for wolf, - was an impulsive and prodigal fellow; he was filled with a deep rooted jealousy toward his youngest brother, and was ever planning to take away his life.

He had heard of this march, and had hid himself on the high and precipitous cliff on Mynydd Mawr, close by Llyn Tarddeni, beneath which ran the Roman road. He had watched his opportunity, bent on shooting his unsuspecting brother as he passed with his men.

In the meantime Elen had marched as far as the hills which join the hills of Nanmor, and was resting herself and her men by a sweet, clear spring on the roadside, in the parish of Llanfrothen. In marching through Nant y Bettws, her son had taken the rear of the regiment, and walked behind them all.

Cidwm's opportunity had come, but as he emerged from his hiding-place, one of the soldiers saw him and recognised him. His bow was bent, and his arrow aimed, before his cruel intention flashed upon the mind of the soldier, who, as soon as he could collect himself, shouted, "Llech yr Ola'" (Last man, hide). Quick as lightning was the cry taken up by the whole regiment; but before the last man had time to take in the warning, the arrow of the fratricide had dealt him a deadly blow.

The sad news was immediately conveyed to his mother by a batch of soldiers, and when she heard it she threw down her sword, lifted up her hands, and cried, "Croes awr, croes awr i mi!" ("Sad hour, sad hour for me!").

The well at which she sat is called "Ffynon Croesor" (Croesor Well) to this day, and the village which has grown within a couple of hundred yards of it has been named "Croesor" from it.
From Bedd Gelert: its facts, fairies and folk-lore. by D E Jenkins, 1899.

Drombeg (Stone Circle)

The Stone Circle is situated two miles east of Glandore and half a mile south of Kilfaughnabeg Roman Catholic Church. It is composed of fourteen stones, arranged in the shape of a large circle. Some of the stones which form the circle are small and others tall. There is one horizontal stone inside the circle on the west side and if you stand on that stone with the rising of the sun on a May morning the sun points to a stone on the south east side of the circle and if you stand on the same horizontal stone on the morning of June 21st the sun points to a stone in the north east of the circle.

Some of the old people say that Cliodna is buried here and that each stone has certain meaning.

The stone circle was ancient when St Patrick came to Ireland and it is the unwritten history of our ancient civilisation.
Seán Ó Cárthaigh, as part of the 1930s Schools Collection of folklore. Digitised at Dúchas.ie.

Castletimon (Standing Stone / Menhir)

There is an Ogham stone on Castletimon road between Dunganstown and Ballinacarrig, and it is believed that a Queen was buried under it. There is no writing on it except lines and strokes. It is also believed that there is money under it. It is about two and a half yards long and two feet wide.

A story is told of a woman who took that stone to make a doorstep, but on the following morning she found it had returned to the place from which she had taken it.

Another story relates that when the Wicklow pier was being built, men were travelling through the county, gathering up big stones to help to build it, and a man named Dickenson now residing in Rathnew brought the Ogham stone in Co. Wicklow and wondering at the marks that were on it, showed it to a priest who told him to take it back to its former place. It is also believed that a priest explained the meaning of the marks thus:- "Here lieth a princess; she was possessed of the devil."
Kathleen Lott retells her grandfather's stories for the 1930s Schools Folklore Collection. dúchas.ie.

Castleruddery (Stone Circle)

This is the field on the opposite side of the road from the 'Druidical Circle' in Castleruddery Lower.

There is supposed to be a big crock of gold hidden in Tutty's Terrace field. The name of the man that put it there is Pat Kenny.

One time there were three men who went to dig up the gold. The names of those men were Tom Cullen, Peter Condron and Jim Toole. But when they dug down they met a big stone, and then a goat with three legs came running across the field. The men paid no heed to the goat. But when they went to raise the stone, the goat leaped in on them and killed one of the men. The other two jumped out and filled in the hole and no one made any more attempt to dig for the gold.

And another strange thing about that same place is that there is a light seen at three special times of the year. The light goes all around the place for about a quarter of an hour and then it disappears again.
Larry Daly recounting his father's stories in the 1930s, for the Schools Folklore Collection. Digitised at dúchas.ie

Proleek (Portal Tomb)

Proleek is suituated about four miles from Dundalk. To reach the big stone you have to travel over some fields before you arrive at the spot. There are three massive horizontal stones in shape on which the big stone rests which weighs a few tons. Not far away from the stone is the giant's grave.
The people of the district tell us, that if you can place three stones without falling on top of the big stone you will be married inside a year. Old people warn us to clear out of the place before 6'oclock or wee people will carry you away for ever.
It is said to be a great meeting place of the fairies. The old people tell us that they have often seen the small red man.
Collected from Betty Bowden of Drogheda, in the 1930s. Now digitised at Dúchas.ie.
Another informant says:
This is an outstanding monument in the district. In consists of three upright stones about eight feet in height supporting an enormous boulder of about 50 tons. It is locally called the giant's load and it is said the giant who put it up got his death of drinking of waters from the river these being poisoned by an enemy. Others say it is a monument over some mighty chieftain of old, but in truth little is known about its origin.

Giant's grave.
About 100 yards from the cromlech is an enclosure in the shape of a grave. It is locally called the "giant's grave" meaning of course that the giant who met his death as the result of the poisoned waters lies in it.

Moylisha (Portal Tomb)

The name of the monument is variously given as Lob-in-a-sigh, Leaba an Sidh; on the Ordnance Survey map it is recorded as Labbanasigha. O'Donovan says the monument was called "Leaba na Saighe (Lectus canis venatica) where it is supposed a famous huntsman of old interred a favourite greyhound bitch." Perhaps it is not unreasonable to suggest in the light of the discovery of the javelin mould that the name may have some connection with the Irish word saighead (spearhead).
When the cairn was excavated, there were found two halves of a sandstone mould for a loop-socketed spear head, in the base of the cairn at the east end of the main chamber.

In 'The Moylisha Megalith, Co. Wicklow' by Gearóid Ó h-Iceadha, p119-128 in The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland Vol. 76, No. 3 (Oct., 1946).

There are many sites in Wales with 'Filiast' in their name: also meaning 'Greyhound Bitch'. I think Leaba an Sidh would mean the bed of the fairies?

Calverley Woods (Natural Rock Feature)

Calverley Woods at one time had a wishing well, of the ebbing and flowing type, and more than a local reputation for the quality of its water.

Also in the woods was a rocking stone. This was a huge block of stone which at the slightest touch rocked.

On wild, dark nights it was said that a headless horse rider could be seen. The rider was supposed to be Sir Walter de Calverley, who murdered his two sons, Walter and William, but the locals added: "It had to be very dark," or you could not see him, he rode so fast.
Shipley Times and Express, 26th May, 1943.

I'm thinking the rocking stone could be the same thing as the Hanging Stone? There's a picture of this at the Leodis photographic archive. It certainly looks precarious.

All in all it sounds a strange spot, and not entirely encroached upon by the quarrying and industry that was once there, an exploding fireworks factory and the gardens of big houses that are very close by.

Sharpitor Nutcrackers (Rocking Stone)

"Have you any pixies in this neighbourhood?"
A rustic, who hesitated at first, shook his head, and said he "didn' think any ov 'em was left now," induced a woman standing by to say, "Ees there was;" and she pointed to a high ground covered with granite boulders (the scene was at Lustleigh), and said "You may go and zee the pixy holes for yourself up there. They comes there be night, and people goes to zee 'em; but they don't come out by day."
"Did you ever go? did you ever see them?"
She did not like to go there by night, but she had herself seen the "pixy holes," and she "knaw'd that volks did go there, and did zee 'em in the moonlight."
One of the company asked what they could find to eat in that wild place? and the answer was, "Perhaps 'twas mushrooms."
"Oh," said one of the listeners, "then they did not get any thing to eat for more than six weeks of the whole year," when a rustic wit responded, "Perhaps they larn'd how to pickle 'em."
Rustics and their quaint spelling. From "Devonian folk-lore illustrated", by John Bowring. In Reports and Transactions of the Devonshire Association vol. 2, 1867-68.

Knocklearoch (Standing Stones)

Knocklearoch, in Islay, stands for Cnoc-Cleireach - i.e., the Hill of the Clerics. The following tradition regarding the locality, as told by Mr Hector MacLean of Ballygrant, Islay, is cited by Captain Thomas: "There is a tradition that two clerics were hanged, and that the day on which they were hanged was remarkably stormy. So it has been a byword in Islay ever since I remember, when a cold and stormy day came on, 'This day is worse than the day on which the clerics were hanged.' At Knocklearoch are two monoliths called Na Cleirich, 'The Clerics,' and under these, tradition relates, the two clerics were buried. (PSAS vol. xvi, p267).
From The influence of the pre-reformation church on Scottish place-names, 1904, by J.M. Mackinlay.

Knocksouna (Hillfort)

I couldn't find out how old the earthworks on this hill are. But I'm hoping because it's a weird lump with folklore I might be allowed it until someone shows it's too modern and it is deleted mercilessly. Its name is 'Cnoc Samhna' (the Hill of Samhain, now aka Halloween) and connected with Mongfind, a queen from Irish mythology.
Cnoc-samhna (Knocksouna) is a hill on the south of Kilmallock. There is an opening in the side of the hill and a person could enter it. Often, at night-time a hunt in full cry has been heard round about the hill.

also:
There's no doubt about it, the fairies are there. My own daughter saw them in a field near Knocksouna - a host of them, little people wearing red coats. Of course they never appear to people in sin, and they never harm the innocent.
1930s folklore digitised at Dúchas.ie and here.

Carnroe (Chambered Tomb)

A big giant long ago threw a large stone from Carn Roe outside Scotshouse to Shontamon Mountain in the County Cavan. The giant was about nine feet high and had two heads. He was afterwards buried under a big stone on Carnroe because Carn was the highest hill in the district. There is some mark on the stone which can still be seen.
From Jack Donohoe, Scotshouse.

There are many versions of this story in the neighbourhood. Some say the giant threw a stone from Sliabh Glah in Cavan to Carnroe, whilst others say it was from Cuilcagh Mountain he threw the stone. All are agreed that the giant was buried in the old "Giant's Grave" on Carnroe.

There is a "giants grave" on my father's farm in the townland of Carnroe. There are three stones, two standing upwards and one across. One of the stones is about four feet long and the others about three feet long. On one of the stones the letter "J" was cut, but it is not to be seen now. It is at the head of a field beside the road. - Edmund Burke.
From the 1930s collection of schools folklore, now being digitised at Dúchas.ie. The information via the Historic Environment Viewer map says: "Located on a W-facing slope of Carn Hill. Three stones, representing two sides of chamber are situated on the E side of a N-S field bank and drain at the edge of wood. Two other stones on the W side of the field bank c. 10m further S could also be part of it at the edge of a disused trackway to W of Cairn Hill wood. The remains are insufficient to allow a closer classification."

The Hanging Stone (Natural Rock Feature)

From the Lichfield Mercury, 9th March 1906.
From the summits of a hill in the Deer Park at Swythamley two great stones which manifestly must be heavily counterpoised at the other end project themselves some eight feet into space where they hang in the air as if they were the beetling brows on the head of this pine-clad eminence.

Here they have hung through untold centuries - local tradition says, ever since they were left there by the Flood; when, maybe, they frowned upon the slow subsidence of the sullen waters.

Two centuries ago, however, it was proved by a local antiquarian that the construction is palpably an artificial one; that it constitutes what has been called a "Charemluach," or Hill-altar, such as certain ancient races were accustomed to offer their sacrifices upon. This Staffordshire example of a Charemluach is known as The Hanging Stone, a name to which the word Stone-henge is literally equivalent.
In the 21st century the 'literally' makes the author sound all the more desperate to connect their local stoney site to the famous druidy sacrifice place in Wiltshire. I think I'd prefer a trip here though; it looks solidly monumental and cool.

Balfarg (Henge)

An Historical Sketch of Markinch.

Boulder Stones.

About five hundred yards west from the farm of Balfarg, which is situated about one mile from Markinch, are two large stones, one about six feet in height and the other a little less.

According to legendary lore they are two 'tackets' which have fallen from the boots of a great giant who had been taking a quiet walk in that part of the district.

Another version is that the devil was carrying a quantity of stones in his apron when one of the strings broke, thus scattering his load on the ground. He picked them all up except two of the smallest, which he thought he would leave to puzzle the brain of geologists and antiquarians. Kind old gentleman!

Some folks suppose they are two Druidical stones but we think that they are two stones of the Siberian strata, which lies below the old red sandstone. In many parts they lie above the lighter limestone formation which, according to geology, ought to be the uppermost of the two. The explanation which science gives regarding the boulder stones is that they have been deposited there by icebergs or glaciers.
From the Fifeshire Advertiser, 29th July 1887.

It's quite strange to look at an old map of this area from when it was all farm and fields, and then now with all the houses circling the henge.

Machrie Moor

There is more than one tale told of 'Domhnull-nam-mogan's' encounter with a 'bocan'. A bocan is one of those dreaded visitants from another world, sometimes taking human form, sometimes animal form, and sometimes the form of inanimate things such as a ship. Domhnull-nam-mogan, a religious man who lived in Tormore, was returning late from a visit to a friend in Machrie, by way of Machrie Water and Tormore Moss, when he was met at a spot near the standing stones by a 'bocan'.

The bocan was of such a size that Donald could see all Aird Bheinn between his legs. Quite undaunted by such stature, Donald requested that the 'bocan' assume the size and appearance he had when living on earth, and the latter complying, Donald immediately remarked that he now recognised him.

He further remarked that the 'bocan' must be in possession of the secrets of a good many mysteries. 'Would he say what had happened to Angus Dubh when the latter was lost on a journey from Lamlash to Shisken [Shiskine] by way of the Clachan [Clauchan] Glen? He (the bocan) in all probability had a hand in doing away with Angus.'

The 'bocan' denied that he had any hand in the crime, but he knew plenty about it, and who did hurl Angus over a certain cliff. Donald then asked to be shown a treasure, and was told to come to a certain place in Gleann-an-t-suidhe on the following night, but without the darning needle in his bonnet, the little dog at his heel, and the ball of worsted in his pocket. Donald took counsel as to the advisability of such a course, and as a result did not keep the appointment.
From The Book of Arran, volume 2, p275 (1914).

King's Cave (Carving)

There is a legend about the King's Caves to the effect that there is a subterranean passage from the caves to somewhere else in Arran. An adventurous piper undertook to explore this passage, armed only with his bagpipe and accompanied by his dog. After he had proceeded some distance he met with enemies, because the following wailing words were played loudly upon his pipe, which clearly indicated that he could proceed no farther.

Mo dhith! Mo dhith" 's gun tri laimh agam.
Bhiodh da laimh 'sa phiob 'us lamh 'sa chlaidheamh;

which might be literally rendered in English -

Woe's me, woe is me not having three hands,
Two for the pipe and one for the sword.

He, the piper, never returned; his dog, however, made his way out, but bereft of his hair.
From The Book of Arran, volume 2 (1914), p273.

Clauchlands (Stone Fort / Dun)

This story actually applies to the next hill but despite being called a 'Dun', it's not marked on Canmore's map as such. Clauchlands, or Dun Fionn, is marked as a vitrified fort. It might be advisable to take your darning needle with you on an expedition to either.
A hill at Corriegills, called Dundubh (Black Mount), was said to have a cave in which the fairies lived, and this cave was full of treasure. To this home of the fairies an old man called Fullarton would betake himself, as often as he felt inclined. He frequently took a stocking with him and sat knitting and talking with the fairies. But the fairies were not always inclined to let any one away if they could detain him. Fullarton was aware of this fact, and always placed a darning needle in the collar of his jacket, or took a piece of rowan with him; when these precautions were taken by a person, the fairies had no power over them. On one occasion, however, he had omitted to take either of these objects, with the result that the cave nearly closed before he could escape.
From The Book of Arran, volume 2, by W.M. Mackenzie (1914), page 269.

Lamlash Stone Circle

Three men were returning home in a cart, when, at the top of the hill on the road between Lamlash and Brodick, the horse stood still and snorted, and showed signs of fear, and as though it saw something it did not want to pass. After much urging on the part of the driver, the horse made a bolt forward past a certain spot. The men looked back to see what had frightened the animal, and saw a number of small figures, twelve to eighteen inches in height, on the road behind them. The fairies did them no harm beyond taking the door off the cart. This occurred within the last fifty years, and the relater heard it from one of the men who had been in the cart.
From The book of Arran, volume 2, by W.M. Mackenzie (1914), page 269. These stones definitely seem to be at the highest point of the road and surely must contribute to any high strangeness at the spot. The Fairy Glen is also not far away.

Oscar's Grave (Chambered Cairn)

In bygone days it is said a battle had been fought near Slidderie Water between Fionn's forces and some others. A great many were slain and buried near the field of slaughter.

This had become a dreaded place by the natives, as it was said to be haunted, owing to the ground having been tilled, which disturbed the rest of these dead warriors.

The shades of the dead that traversed these quiet regions in the lone hours of night were awesome in the extreme, and had evidently been visible not only to persons but also to animals; and the following instance is related.

A certain man had been on the road with his horse and cart, when without warning the horse stood still and would proceed no farther. His ears stood up, while he snorted and was sweating from evident fear. The reason of this soon became known, for there rose before the man's vision like as it were a small cloud or mist, which grew larger and larger till it became a great size, but it was not only a cloud; whether in it or of it the cloud had taken an uncanny form of a wraith.

This man had met this unwelcome thing more than once.
In The book of Arran, volume 2, by W.M. Mackenzie (1914), p252.

Schiehallion (Sacred Hill)

Here's a video (on YouTube) which is a clip from a documentary called The Fairy Faith. Steve Oldale(?) recounts his encounter with two of the Good People near Schiehallion. He was just sat down enjoying the scenery; he saw a rainbow and a strange cloud; he started hearing the noise of the stream as music - then lo and behold there are two wizened creatures trying to roll up his shadow. He sounds as surprised about it as you'd be.

King and Queen Stone (Natural Rock Feature)

Bredon Hill Ramble.

Members of the Cheltenham Rambling Club enjoyed a ramble to Bredon Hill. Alighting from the train at Ashchurch they went to Tewkesbury by road. The party then divided, some members taking the river path to Twyning whilst the others went via Shuthonger Common.

The whole party then crossed the river by ferryboat, and made their way by fieldpath to the picturesque village of Bredon. After lunch the ramblers ascended Bredon Hill and spent some time examining the King and Queen Stones reputed to be capable of curing rickets. ...
There's something about squeezing through a gap that works in these cases isn't there. Is it like popping out reborn? Reported in the Gloucestershire Echo, 29th May 1945.
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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.


I'm currently mad on visiting Anglo-Saxon and Norman carvings and enjoy the process of drawing them:
http://wiltshirewandering.blogspot.co.uk/

and I've been helping digitise the Schools' Collection of the National Folklore Collection of Ireland... you can also at
http://www.duchas.ie/en

Some interesting websites with landscape and fairy folklore:
http://earthworks-m.blogspot.co.uk
http://faeryfolklorist.blogspot.co.uk

My TMA Content: