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

Folklore Posts by phil

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Sancreed Holy Well (Sacred Well)

The many strips of cloth (or "clouties") which adorn the trees here. This tradition is still quite common in Britain as it is in many other parts of the world. The idea being to tear a piece of cloth from the part of the body which is ill, and as the cloth rots on the tree so the hurt disappears with it.

A few years ago there was great consternation in the local pagan community when unidentified persons took offence at the "heathen" practice and cut down the branches to which the clouties were tied. An act showing great disrespect for the beliefs of those who left offerings. On the other hand, however, some people miss the point and leave all sorts of things - plastic bags, crisp packets, foil wrappers - which can be an eyesore.

Eggardon Hill (Hillfort)

local saying…

"As old as Eggardon"

Gwallon Menhir (Standing Stone / Menhir)

A giant travelling one night over Gwallow downs, near Charlestown, was overtaken by a storm that blew his hat off. He immediately ran after it, by having a large staff in his hand, which rather impeded his progress, he pitched it in the ground, until his hat was secured’ but after wandering about for some time in darkness, without being able to find his hat, he gave over the pursuit, and returned to secure his staff, but this, also, he was unable to discover, and they were both irrecoverably lost. When daylight appeared, the hat and staff were both found by the inhabitants, about a mile asunder’ the former lying on the ground, the latter in a perpendicular- position. The hat lay on Whitehouse downs, and bore some resemblance to a mill- stone, very thick, but not of great diameter. This singular stone continued in this place till the autumn of 1798, when some regiments of soldiers being encamped round it, fancied, as it was a wet season, that this giant’s hat was the cause of the rain; so they raised it on its edge and rolled it over the cliff into the sea. His walking staff still remains stuck in the ground near the Charlestown mills, being an enormous pillar of granite, about twelve feet high above ground, commonly called Longstone. It is no less curious than true that the Longstone is a perfectly isolated piece of granite, there being none within miles of the position it has so long occupied.

Maen Ceti (Dolmen / Quoit / Cromlech)

At midnight, when the moon was full, young maidens would test the fidelity of the men they loved by offering the stone a cake baked from Barley meal and honey wetted with milk. They would then circle the stone three times on their hands and knees, knowing that if their man appeared before they finished their final circuit he would make a faithful husband.


Hawkesdown Hill (Hillfort)

Hawkesdown hillfort is haunted by a warrior and a fire-breathing dog!
Steven Shipp, 'East Devon hillforts', Wisht Maen 4: 17-18 (1995)

Bincombe Down (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

Bronze Age barrows on the down are known as the music barrows, and are traditionally thought to be home of the fairy folk. According to folklore it was possible to hear the fairy revelry if you placed your ear to the barrows at midday.

Flower's Barrow (Hillfort)

The area is said to be haunted by phantom Roman soldiers seen several times over the years. Traditionally they are said to appear at times of national crisis. They have also been seen at Bindon Hill and Knowle hill.

Bossiney Mound (Artificial Mound)

It is thought that King Arthur's Round Table is buried at Bossiney Mound.

Once a year, at midnight on Midsummer Eve, it is believed that the table rises out of the ground and stands in the moonlight.

Kelly Rounds (Hillfort)

And from thence they both went to Gelli Wic, in Cornwall, and took the leash made of Dillus Varvawc's beard with
them, and they gave it into Arthur's hand.

-Kilhwch and Olwen in Guest.

Giant's Hedge (Dyke)

An Old Cornish rhyme says..

One day the Devil having nothing to do,
Built a great hedge from Lerryn to Looe

St. Levan's Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

The stone in the Churchyard is said to have been split open by St Leven.

According to tradition if the gap becomes wide enough for a horse and cart to pass through it, it will signal the end of the world.

Carn Brea (Tor enclosure)

According to folklore, a giant called John of Gaunt lived on this ancient site. The giant had a rivalry with another local giant called Bolster.

The two would often engage in battle and throw boulders at each other. The many large erratics found in this area are supposed to be remnants of their battles.

Carne Beacon (Round Barrow(s))

Said to be the burial place of the Cornish saint, King Gerennius. The burial mound is said to house a golden boat with silver oars, on which his body was brought across Gerrans Bay.

Bolster Bank (Dyke)

A popular story connects St. Agnes with the giant Bolster. This relates how, in order to rid herself of his persistent wooing and the countryside of his tyranny, she (St. Agnes)challenged him to fill a small hole in the rocks at Chapel Porth with his blood as a token of his love. To this the giant agreed, not knowing that the hole emptied into the sea, with the natural consequence that he bled to death!

The hole at Chapel Porth still retains the evidence of the truth of this tradition in the red stain which marks the track down which flowed the giant's blood!

Dingerein Castle (Hillfort)

King Gerren of Dumnonia was killed in the fighting at Battle of Catterick in 598

It is said that he is buried at Dingerein.

Carn Gluze (Chambered Cairn)

before 1878 miners returning from work reported lights "burning and fairies dancing on and around it"

Tolvan Holed Stone

In 1885 it was recorded in living memory that this stone was used for curing infirm children by passing them through the hole.

Roche Rock (Natural Rock Feature)

The Story Of Tregeagle
Tregeagle, the Cornish Bluebeard, was popularly supposed to have sold his soul to the devil that his wishes might be granted for a certain number of years. He is supposed to have married and murdered several heiresses for their money. One day, just before his death, Tregeagle was present when one man lent another a large sum of money without receipt or security on the behalf of Tregeagle. Soon after Tregeagle's death the borrower denied he ever had the money. He was taken to court and there said "If Tregeagle ever saw it I wish to God that Tregeagle may come into court and declare it." As soon as the words were spoken Tregeagle appeared and gave witness for the plaintiff against the man saying that he could not speak falsely "but he who had found it so easy to raise him would find it difficult to lay him." The money was paid, but Tregeagle's spirit followed the man day and night. Finally the Parson was able to exorcise the spirit from the man with great difficulty. There are variations on this story, including that Tregeagle himself received the money but failed to enter it in his books. His ghost was doomed to do many impossible things, such as to empty Dosmery Pool, near Bodmin Moor, with a shell with a hole in the bottom. This pool had the reputation of being bottomless.

Strange tales are told of Tregeagle appearance to people and his dismal howls at not being able to fulfill his tasks. Mothers say in Cornwall of their crying children "He is wailing louder than Tregeagle!" Other stories have ghosts on the shore of this lonely pool trying to bind sand into bundles with bands of sand. Tregeagle had to remove sand from one cove to another only to have the sea return it. On one of these sand hauling expeditions he is supposed to have dropped a bag of sand at the mouth of Loe-pool, near Helston. Now, in the wet seasons, the waters of this pool rise and obstruct the workings of the mills on its banks and heavy seas silt up the mouth of the pool. At these times the mayor of Helston by ancient custom presents two leather purses with three halfpence each as his dues to the Lord of Penrose who owns the pool and asks for permission to cut a path through the sand to the sea. Another task for Tregeagle is to make and carry away a bundle of sand tied with a rope of sand near a cove at Land's End. But the spirit never rests with these never-ending tasks and the devil haunts the spirit until it hides for refuge in a hermit's ruined chapel on St. Roche's rocks. Near Land's End, when the sea roars before a storm, people say "Tregeagle is calling!" and his voice can be heard around Loe-pool.

Popular Romances of the West of England
by Robert Hunt

Hunt, Robert, editor (1807-1887). Popular Romances of the West of England: Or the Drolls, Traditions, and Superstitions of Old Cornwall. 2nd Ed. 1871. London: John Camden Hotten, 1865.

King Arthur's Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

I have only read about this stone in local history books. I know the sight is near Devil's Quoit very very little is known about locally.

There is a ref to the site at

The stone is now lost but local legend says that this stone was once close the the Devil's Quoit on the edge of Goss moor. The large stone was said to be deeply imprinted with the four horseshoes but the stone was overturned by tresure seekers.
The stone hasn't been seen in living memory.

There is local legend that King Arthur lived at Castle-an-Dinas and nearby Goss moor was known as King Arthurs hunting ground.
Born in Cornwall 1966.

Main interests include Hillforts and barrows. I try to cover mainly Cornish sites but about five times a year get to visit Dorset where my wifes family live. Fairly keen on folklore and earth mysteries etc.

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