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Popping Stone

Natural Rock Feature


This page at the Woodland Trust suggests that people chipped bits off the stone to pop them under their pillows - that way they'd dream of their future lovers. Or spouses, as the page so primly puts it.

The Spa at Gilsland obviously got popular in Victorian times, but could chalybeate and sulphurous springs have gone unnoticed before this (you doubt it). This extract from 'Northumbria' (1920) tries to suggest the fad was a survival of the past.. though who knows. Gilsland Spa was obviously used as such before the Victorians (Kentigern's website says it was on a map from the 1770s).
Gilsland Spa has long been a noted resort, and an account is given even within recent times of the yearly pilgrimage to the chalybeate and sulphur waters as a modern survival of well-worship. On the Sunday after old Midsummer Day, called the Head Sunday, and the Sunday after it, hundreds if not thousands used to assemble from all directions by rail when that was available, and by vehicles and on foot otherwise. From North Tynedale and the neighbourhood for many miles round these unconscious adherents of heathen rites visited the wells.

[With regard to the 'synthetic folklore' derided in the post above, I would say that folklore is being created all the time (think urban myths) and even if it is made up on the spot it is clearly to fill a certain gap that is perceived to require some, and generally draws on ideas of what folklore should be about (midsummer meetings etc). I don't think I should only be recording 'genuine folklore', whatever that's supposed to be - if ideas get told, believed and retold, then that IS folklore, surely.]
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st March 2006ce
Edited 26th April 2006ce

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