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Who, that has not seen, but has heard of Roseberry Topping? – The pride of northern England – familiar as household words to a wide and wealthy district – a subject of enquiry and wonder unto all who have for the first time looked upon its isolated and lonely magnificence, its gigantic cone, like some eastern pyramid, now lit up, glowing suddenly as a huge furnace, now black and bare, its narrow peak shooting abruptly into the sky, the very image of solitude and desolation. No wonder that its neighbourhood is the deposit of many of those grotesque and fearful legends, arising out of, and connected with, the most ancient of our superstitions; and that the almost universally exploded belief in supernatural agency, witches, fays, and all their subsidiary marvels, should linger in these comparatively untraveled recesses, unquestioned and undenied.
The opening lines of The Witch of Roseberry Topping or the Haunted Ring.
Available via Google Books.
The following folklore is taken from, Dolmens & menhirs de Provence by Daniel Riba (pub. Equilibres 1984). Riba credits the tale to J. P. Clebert.
The tale was written in french all I have done is is typed it into the babel fish translator. I could have paraphrased the tale but I have decided to paste the translation it its entirety as I believe that the babel fish adds its own poetry to the tale.
It was time a fairy which liked has to be disguised as a shepherdess. Thus disguised, it from went away, under the thickets of oragers and pomegranates, and played of the mandoline. The false shepherdess, thanks to her beauty and, fear-to be, has some magic melody, arrived has to inspire a great passion has a young genius of the vicinity which finishes by him requiring its hand. The fairy authorized to grant it to him, if it accepted, of its dimension, that the marriage was famous on a table formed of three stones of which she made him a meticulous portrait. The young man recognized in the description of his beloved the stones which, for ten centuries, had had descends the mountain of Frejus to pile up with the bottom of the close throat. Joining together all its supernaturelles forces, physics and, he arrived has to draw up the two first stones, but was unable of deplasser third. Overpower, it believed to have lost the hand of the shepherdess.
But the fairy, has which it was not indifferent, took it in pity. The following night, it approached the recalcitrant stone and traced around it a magic circle. At once, an immense flame rose and the heavy flagstone was transported on the two others. At dawn, the shepherdess magician supervised her lover to share her joy at the time or he would discover the wonder. But the young man understood only that it was a quite modest genius and that it was condemns has to die because it liked a fairy more skilful than him. He thus died, followed soon by the fairy, insane of despair.
Another legend makes following the preceding one and the end disputes some, since it holds for ensures that the fairy survived has his/her unhappy companion it disappears only in smoke, without to join the kingdom of the shades. During the clear nights of winter, it returns to contemplate its jewels, masks under the dolmen. A pure young girl who would see it then would be likely to receive in gift a handle of pearls or diamonds. For reaches the treasure, the fairy seizes the horizontal flagstone, then of only one gesture, it makes half-open the ground: it is which pile up of the trunks loads of gold and precious stones. But of all the young girls who came there to spend a sleepless night, none has borer never yet the secrecy of the dolmen. From where the legend concludes that the purity is a difficult way
So I returned [from Lowther Hall] 4 mile back to Peroth ... and came by a round green spott of a large circumfference which they keep cut round with a banke round it like a bench; its story is that it was the table a great Giant 6 yards tall used to dine at and there entertained another of nine yards tall which he afterwards killed; there is the length in the Church yard how farre he could leape a great many yards; ...
Travel book, manuscript record of Journeys through England including parts of the Lake District, by Celia Fiennes, 1698.
Taken from the very excellent website
Guides to the Lakes
At one stage, the stone leaned markedly, rather than standing fully erect, and was known locally as "The Dean". This name apparently had something to do with an elderly dean of the island who had recently married a woman very much younger than himself
Jersey in Prehistory
La Haule Books
The late Archdeacon Wilberforce, who was at that time Rector of Burton Agnes, had come over to make an archdiaconal inspection of the Church, when he met an old parishioner in the Church yard. The Archdeacon said to him,
" Well ! my good man, can you tell me anything about this wonderful stone ?
" Na, I can't say as how I can," was the answer.
"Why ! you've lived here a great many years, and surely you must know something about it," said the Archdeacon.
" Na, I doint," was the laconic reply.
"Well then if you don't know anything about it and can't tell me anything about it," said the Archdeacon, " you can tell me what they say about it."
" Whoy ! yaas, I can tell you what they say about it," was the information derived this time.
" Come then, my friend, let me hear what they do say about it," said the Archdeacon.
" Well ! " replied our Rudstonian friend,
" they says it was put up here to com-memorate a great vict'ry 'tween Danes and Roman Cath-licks."
Rudston A Sketch of its History and Antiquities
the Rev. P. Royston.
Publications of the Folk-Lore Society
County Folk-Lore Vol VI
Examples of printed folk-lore concerning the East Riding of Yorkshire
Collected and edited by
Roulston Scar, Hambleton Hills. In some parts the rock is perpendicular, and has the appearance of an irregularly built castle. The foreground of this for fifty or one hundred yards is covered with massive blocks of stone, evidently thrown off by some convulsion of nature. On the side of the rocky wall is a fissure opening into a small, narrow cavern, called the Devil's parlour, from the common disposition to attribute what is at once gloomy and marvellous to infernal agency, especially when in any way connected with heathen worship, of which there are not wanting traditions in the immediate vicinity.
For instance, the vale below dividing Roulston Crag from Hood Hill is called ' The Happy Valley' but the intermediate distance is less auspiciously named ' The Devil's Leap! for which this reason is given by the village oracles. The Happy Valley was a famous retreat of the ancient Druids, who without molestation or disturbance had for centuries practised their incantations upon the poor deluded inhabitants.
When the first Christian missionaries visited Yorkshire, they sought out the hidden retreats of Druidism, and one of them had penetrated the Happy Valley to the no small dismay of the Druidical priest The ancient Britons listened patiently to the statements of the Christian missionary, weighed the evidences in their own minds, and were perplexed as to their future procedure. In this dilemma a conference was appointed, in which the advocates of Druidism and Christianity were to meet in public contest in order to decide which of the two systems had the best claim to their worship and submission. The meeting, as usual, was appointed in the open air, at the foot of Roulston Crag. The intellectual assailants met, and the devil, in the garb of a Druidical priest, came with the worshippers of Baal. The Evil One placed his foot on one of those mountain rocks, and being foiled in his arguments by the powerful reasoning of the missionary, flapped his brazen wings and fled across the valley with the stone adhering to his foot, the heat of which (they say) melted a hole in the top, until he came to the ridge of Hood Hill, where he dropped the massive block, leaving the missionary the undisputed master of the field. This account will of course be received as a legend, but it is a matter of fact that a large stone weighing from sixteen to twenty tons of the same rock as Roulston Scar, is deposited on the ridge of Hood Hill, bearing a mark on the top not unlike a large footprint.
Vallis Eboracensis : comprising the History and Antiquities of Easingwold and its Neighbourhood.
By Thomas Gill.
Publications of the Folk-lore Society
Lowick. About three miles wast of the village is Renting Lynn. ... A cataract, 18 feet high, the sounds of which can be heard a distance of 200 yards . . . near this spot is a well, in which, according to an improbable tradition, King James of Scotland washed the blood off his hands after the battle of Flodden.
History, Topography, and Directory of Northumberland, Tyneside Division.
Addleborough. Tradition tells of a giant who was once travelling with a chest of gold on his back from Skipton Castle to Pendragon ; while crossing Addleborough he felt weary, and his burden slipped, but recovering himself he cried
' Spite of either God or man,
To Pendragon Castle thou shalt gang ! '
when it fell from his shoulders, sank into the earth, and the stones rose over it. There the chest remained, and still remains, only to be recovered by the fortunate mortal to whom the fairy may appear in the form of a hen or an ape. He has then but to stretch forth his arm, seize the chest, and drag it out, in silence if he can, at all events without swearing, or he will fail as did that unfortunate wight, who uttering an oath in the moment of success, lost his hold of the treasure, and saw the fairy no more as long as he lived.
A Month in Yorkshire.
By Walter WHITE.
PUBLICATIONS OF THE FOLK-LORE SOCIETY
Roseberry. Towards the weste there stands a highe hill called Roseberry Toppinge, which is a marke to the seamen and an almanacke to the vale, for they have this ould ryme common,
' When Roseberrye Toppinge weares a cappe
Let Cleveland then beware a clappe.'
For indeed yt seldome hath a cloude on yt that some yll weather shortly followes yt not, when not farre from thence on a mountayne's syde there are cloudes almoste contynually smoakinge, and therefore called the Divels Kettles, which notwithstandinge prognostycate neither good norbadde ; . . . yt hath somtymes had an hermitage on yt, and a small smith's forge cut out of the rock, together with a clefte or cut in the rocke called St. Winifryd's Needle, whither blynde devotyon led many a syllie soule, not without hazard of a breaknecke tumblinge caste, while they attempted to put themselves to a needlesse payne creepyng through that needle's eye.
A Description of Cleveland in a letter addressed by H. Tr. to Sir T. Chaloner. [From the MS. Cotton. Julius F. VI., p. 431.] Printed in the Topographer and Genea-
logist, edited by John Gough Nichols. Vol. ii., pp. 405-430. London 1853.
PUBLICATIONS OF THE FOLK-LORE SOCIETY
A granite menhir at Holne, on the spurs of Dartmoor, was associated with a May festival known as "the Ram Feast". Before daybreak the young men of the village would assemble at the pillar, and having run down a young ram from the moor, they fastened it to the stone, killed it and roasted it whole and undressed. At midday struggles took place for slices of the animal, and these collops were esteemed as mascots for the ensuing year. Dancing, wrestling and drinking prolonged the festival, which did not cease till midnight.
The Minor Traditions of British Mythology
Many years ago the number of the stones was twelve, and the following amusing story is told about the removal of the missing one. A ploughman, while at work in the field, broke his plough against one of the stones, and, in the absence of his employer, took upon himself to remove the obstacle, and left it in the waters of Gluden. The farmer on his return was rather alarmed about the sacrilege, as he considered it to be, for the twelve stones represented the twelve Apostles, and he, being fearful that some calamity would follow, took the ploughnlan to task, but the man was ready with the answer : Hoots, there's nae fear o' ill. Ane o' the Apostles was a traitor ; weel, it's him I've ta'en awa', and gin the Gluden disna' wash him, it'll droon him.'
PROCEEDINGS OF THE SOCIETY OF ANTIQUARIES OF LONDON
SECOND SERIES, VOL. X.
In Myth and Magic of Northumbria, Coquet Editions 1992
There is a tale of a man who decided to dispel the myth of the mischevious dwarfes who inhabited the Simonside hills and waylaid strangers by spending a night in the hills.
He wandered about for some time and saw nothing and so decided to pretend he was lost and in the local dialect shouted "Tint! Tint!".
Immediately he saw a light in front of him.
To cut a long story short he found himself surrounded by ugly dwarves, each carrying a club and a torch, their evil faces twisted with menace. The man falls unconsious and lays until dawn. When he awakes the dwarves had gone.
"At the extreme edge of the Plains on the brow of a cliff overlooking Sale Bottom is another mound composed solely of stones; it is twenty-six yards in diameter, and has originally been about seven or eight feet high. It is known as Hollinstump, a corruption, as some think, of Llewellen's Tomb. Llewellen was the last of the Welsh Kings, and was beheaded about 1280 in the reign of Edward I., but it is improbable the King would trouble to send his mangled remains for interment to such a distant part. It was opened by some gainseeking hill-breakers, who say they found a large slab of sandstone, under which was a full length skeleton and a small implement – in the words of the finder: - "He seemed t'eve been buried in his cleayse wid a jack-a-legs knife in his waistcwoat pocket." Of the sandstone slab: - "They brak it up an' gat three carfull o't finest sand et iver was carried to Appleby Low Brewery." Bone dust was not then come into fashion, or else we may be certain his bones would have been sold to the crushing mill. This place is said to be haunted, the apparition being a headless horseman who dashes along at a furious yet noiseless speed. Those who have seen him describe him as having in place of a head something like a blaze of fire, and others like a backboard laid upon his shoulders – perhaps the distinguished spirit of the wronged and headless Welsh King, whose sole revenge is to dash on the midnight wind around his tomb, to the terror and dismay of each benighted wanderer."
From The Vale of Lyvennet
by J.S. Bland
With reference to Rhiannon's comments about Robin Hood's Pillars.
These can be found at NZ918095.
Stanhope White describes them as
"two saddle-like stones, round pillars with small mushroom caps; the rim of the first is engraved Robin Hood Close and the other Little John Close......
It is not improbable that these two stones have replaced two Bronze Age standing stones; they would have attracted tales of Robin Goodfellow; when Robin Hood began to appear as a folk hero his name replaced the earlier leaders name, and no doubt some good burgher of Whitby replaced the ancient stones with these more decorative modern ones!"
Standing Stones & Earthworks on the North Yorkshire Moors.
With regard to the folklore below, it seems like Sir John and the Wyverne got about a bit. This is from Walter Whites 1861 book A Month in Yorkshire.
"And it was near Lofthouse the Sir John Conyers won his name of Snake-Killer. A sword and coffin , dug up on the site of an Old Benedictine priory were supposed to have belonged to a brave knight who "slew yt monstorous and poisonous vermine or wyverne, and aske or werme, overthrew and devoured many people in fight, for yt ye sent of yt poison was so strong yt no person might abyde it." A grey stone standing in a field still marks the haunt of the worm and place of battle.
Tradition tells, moreover, of a valliant youth who killed a serpent and rescued an earls daughter from the reptiles cave, and married her: in token whereof Scaw Wood still bears his name."
Lofthouse is Loftus, a small town on the coast about 30 miles from Sockburn.
The sword which Sir John slew the worm with, the Conyers Falchion, is now kept in Durham Cathedral and can be seen here http://bjorn.foxtail.nu/h_conyers_eng.htm
The above web page also mentions Lewis Carroll's connection with Sockburn.
"The Sockburn Worm itself was almost certainly immortalized by Lewis Carroll in his famous nonsense rhyme, "Jabberwocky", as he lived in Croft on Tees as a boy and it was there he wrote the first verse of the rhyme."
"Sockburn has its legend, one of those interesting dragon stories which enrich our northern folk lore. It is thus told in the Bowes MSS p.57: " Sir John Conyers, Knt., slew yt monstorous and poisonous vermine or wyverne, and aske or werme, overthrew and devoured many people in fight, for yt ye sent of yt poison was so strong yt no person might abyde it. But before he made this enterprise, having but one sonne, he went to the church of Sockburn in complete armour, and offered up yt his onely sonne to ye Holy Ghost. Yt place where this serpent laye was called Graystane: and thisw John lieth buried in Sockburn church in complete armour, before the conquest."
The Grey Stone beneath which the monster was buried, is still pointed out in a field near the ruins of the church."
Bulmers Directory of North Yorkshire 1890
In his 1829 work entitled 'The History of Initiation 3 courses of lectures', the masonic writer, George Oliver described Mayburgh and Arthur's Round Table. He then goes on to quote an anecdote related to him by the late Mr Briggs of Kendal.
Not many years since, an old man in the neighbourhood told me, there were four stones at the entrance, and he had heard the old folks say that there had been four stones in the centre, but he could not recollect them. Those at the entrance he remembered well, and they were destroyed by the landlord of the public house by the side of Arthur's Round Table, and his servant man. But, added he, I think they did wrong to meddle with these ancient things, for one of the men soon hanged himself, and the other lost his reason. What must have been the veneration for this place in the days of its greatest glory, when such a striking relic of superstitious respect is still fostered among the peasantry of the neighbourhood!
Old Meg she was a Gipsy,
And liv'd upon the Moors:
Her bed it was the brown heath turf
And her house was out of doors.
Her apples were swart blackberries,
Her currants pods o' broom;
Her wine was dew of the wild white rose,
Her book a churchyard tomb.
Her Brothers were the craggy hills,
Her Sisters larchen trees--
Alone with her great family
She liv'd as she did please.
No breakfast had she many a morn,
No dinner many a noon,
And 'stead of supper she would stare
Full hard against the Moon.
But every morn of woodbine fresh
She made her garlanding,
And every night the dark glen Yew
She wove, and she would sing.
And with her fingers old and brown
She plaited Mats o' Rushes,
And gave them to the Cottagers
She met among the Bushes.
Old Meg was brave as Margaret Queen
And tall as Amazon:
An old red blanket cloak she wore;
A chip hat had she on.
God rest her aged bones somewhere--
She died full long agone!
With reference to Rhiannons excellent post
"Morden carre will suffer for that."
Morden carre is probably Morten Carr which is about a mile and a half north west of Roseberry at NZ552143
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