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The Toots

Long Barrow


Looking across the western valley that bounds Minchinhampton Common, we see Selsley Hill, which is partly Common, and has earthworks, including a tumulus called "The Toots." On Selsley Hill is a small enclosed piece known as "Kill Devil Acre." An old farmer accounted to me for the name by the story of a man who was promised that he should have as much land as he could fence round in a day. He fenced in this piece (no doubt with a dry wall, as is usual here), and then fell down dead of overwork. Another version of the story was given me in these words by Miss Fennemore, of Randwick:- "Some man, having taken a fancy to this piece, determined to enclose it for his own use. To ensure safety and success, he determined to do this by night, so that he might not be disturbed, as his success depended on being able to build a row of stones round it, make a rough chimney, and light a fire therein, after which no one dared molest him. He worked all through the night, but died as he finished the task.
I'm not sure what all that's about. It sounds more than usually confused. Wasn't there a law where you could build a house quickly and thereby become a 'legal squatter'? And where's the connection with the devil anyway?? From Cotswold Place-Lore and Customs, by J. B. Partridge, in Folklore, Vol. 23, No. 3. (Sep., 1912), pp. 332-342.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
30th September 2006ce

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