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

Devil's Den

Chambered Tomb


It is naturally the subject of many legends in the district, and few, we imagine, of the people about would care to find themselves too close to it at the solemn hours of midnight, though one of the stories necessitates such a state of things; for we were told that if any one pours water into any of the natural cup-shaped cavities on the top stone at midnight, it will always be found in the morning to be gone, drank by a thirst-tormented fiend; while another of the local stories tell us that as twelve o'clock arrives each night Satan arrives with eight white oxen, and vainly endeavours to pull the structure down, while a white rabbit with fiery eyes sits on the top stone, and aids matters by his advice and general encouragement of the proceedings. Another belief is that if a good child walks seven times round it nothing in particular happens, but that on the seventh revolution of the bad boy or girl a toad comes out and spits fire at them. This legend has probably been constructed by some posessor of ne'er-do-weels, as a sort of bugbear or bogey to hold over them, in the same way that our immediate ancestors were scared into propriety by the terrors of "Boney," and its efficacy having been proved, it has been incorporated in the mass of beliefs floating in the rustic mind. The examples given are only a very few out of the many stories associated with this ancient pile.
From p121 of 'Town, College and Neighbourhood of Marlborough', by F E Hulme (1881).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
23rd August 2012ce

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