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The Wrekin



Wrekin Wakes, held on the first Sunday in May, were distinguished by an ever-recurring contest between the colliers and the agricultural population for the possession of the hill. This is said to have gone on all day, reinforcements being called up when either side was worsted.

The rites still practised by visitors to the Wrekin doubtless formed part of the ceremonial of the ancient wakes. On the bare rock at the summit is a natural hollow, known as the Raven's Bowl or the Cuckoo's Cup, which is always full of water, supposed to be placed there as it were miraculously, for the use of the birds. Every visitor should taste this water, and, if a young girl ascending the hill for the first time, should then scramble down the steep face of the cliff and squeeze through a natural cleft in the rock called the Needle's Eye, and believed to have been formed when the rocks were rent at the Crucifixion. Should she look back during the task, whe will never be married. Her lover should await her at the further side of the gap, where he may claim a kiss, or, in default of one, the forfeit of some article of clothing - a coloured article, such as a glove, a kerchief, or a ribbon, carefully explained the lady on whose authority the last detail is given.
I like that, the 'carefully explained' bit, it sounds like it's so people didn't get The Wrong Idea. That might be just me though.

As I recall the Needle's Eye is a bit of a squeeze.

From Charlotte S Burne's article in 'Memorials of Old Shropshire' by Thomas Auden (1906).

More on the Wakes here:
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th December 2009ce
Edited 18th December 2009ce

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