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Wayland's Smithy

Long Barrow


In his book 'Villages of the White Horse' Alfred Williams writes about the legend of Wayland or Weland, the invisible smith who dwelt in the cave known as Wayland's Smithy. His forge was hidden far under ground and legend has it if a traveller wanted his horse shod and left some money by the entrance when he returned later he would find the horse newly shod. A well known legend; Alfred Williams adds to it this passage:

"One day old Wayland lost his temper and gave a thrilling proof of his mighty strength, striking fear into the folks of the countryside round about. Running short of nails, he sent his favourite imp, Flibbertigibbert, down the valley to obtain some from the other blacksmiths, and bade him to make haste about it, as a horse was waiting outside to be shod. After waiting several hours he looked out from the cave and saw the imp had yielded to the temptations of a mortal and gone bird-nesting in the fields, forgetful of the nails. Thereupon Wayland, fell into a passion, snatched a big round stone, used as an anvil, and threw it at the loiterer, two miles off; the stone shot through the air with a loud whizzing noise and, falling short of the mark, nevertheless slid along the ground and struck the imp on the foot retaining the mark of his heel on one side. Thereupon the imp appeared to the astonished rustics, limping and snivelling and rubbing his eyes with his fist, so they called the spot Snivelling Corner, and the name remains to this day."

Alfred Williams goes on to say "Others think the 'heel' on the stone at Snivelling Corner may be a clue to its true significance as a 'heol stone' or sun stone from 'heelios'. Greek for sun."

Source: "Villages of the White Horse" by Alfred Williams (first published 1913)
tjj Posted by tjj
1st July 2010ce

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