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Folklore Posts by Rhiannon

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Knockfeerina (Sacred Hill)

The Boy Who Was Taken By The Fairies Of Knockfierna.

Elm Park is a townland situated in the County Limerick, about five miles to the west of the city. About fifty years ago there was an old man and his wife living in a farmyard in this place. One night, about eleven o'clock, the old man heard someone moving about in the yard. He opened the door and saw, standing about ten yards from the door, a little boy about twelve years of age. He called him in and asked him who he was. He could get no answer from the child, who appeared to be in a dazed condition. They kept him throughout the night, and in the morning the man sent for the priest. The latter came and prayed over the child.

When the prayers were finished, the child seemed to regain the use of his faculties and he told the priest his name, and said he was from Knockfierna. He further stated that at about 7 o'clock on the previous evening he was looking for the ass about two miles from his home. As he approached the "lios" a horseman came forth from it, snatched up the boy, placed him in front of him and galloped off. The boy remembered nothing until he found himself at the place mentioned above.

The priest communicated with the parents of the child, and on the following day he was taken home, much to the relief of his people, who had spent the previous night searching for him. The belief was that he was taken by one of the fairy huntsmen of Knockfierna.

W. J. Carey.
Munster News, 11th October 1930.

The Blind Fiddler (Standing Stone / Menhir)

As to the searching beneath ancient monuments for treasure there was a story that years ago when search was made near the large stone just above Catchall for a crock of gold, the stone groaned fearfully and the pit was filled with blood.
Mentioned at the annual meeting of the Penzance Natural History and Antiquarian Society in 1881, and reported in the Cornish Telegraph (17th November).

Drumanone (Portal Tomb)

My grandfather James Carroll who lives in Spa Boyle told me the following story about the Druids altar. There is a Druids altar in Tinnecara to the north side of the railway in Thomas Ballintinels land. The altar is made of three large stones two uprights and one over head. Each stone weighs about ten tons weight. The druids used to come home from Knockadoo and swim across Lough Gara to worship their god at this altar.
Recorded as part of the Schools Collection in the 1930s, and online now at Duchas.ie.

Brewell's Hill (Stone Circle)

There is another stone circle on "Brewel Hill" known as "The Piper's Stones.
The tradition about these stones is A lot of maidens were tempted to dance on an holy day, while a piper played for them. Like a flash of lightening they were all changed into stones.
Collected as part of the Schools Collection in the 1930s, and now online at Duchas.ie.

Crehelp (Standing Stone / Menhir)

There is a standing stone in Cryhelp about three miles west of Dunlavin. It has a hole in the top of it about nine inches long and four inches wide. There is an old tradition about it, that it was not aways in that place, it was moved to mark the grave of Harold, chief prince who was killed in the battle of Glen Mama.
The corner of the field in which the Cryhelp stone is standing is said to have been a cemetery a long time ago, covered with trees. Near at hand is a nettle-covered hollow, which was at one time opened; there is an underground passage leading to a mound not far away. It is not said that this hole was used to cure anything.
Recorded as part of the Schools Collection in the 1930s, and now online at Duchas.ie.

The Split Rock, Killeenduff (Natural Rock Feature)

This rock is probably over 300 tons in weight and is in a field beside Killenduff National School. It is split in two as if it were hewn by a saw. This is the tradition connected with it:-
Ages ago two fierce giants lived on the Ox Mountains. They argued about their respective strengths and what they could do. They agreed to put the argument to a test by throwning a stone. They selected two large stones of similar size, several tons in weight. The idea was to see who could throw the stone from the Ox Mountains to the sea, five miles distant.
The first took up the stone, flung it, and it fell into the sea. The second took his throw and it fell about half a mile from the sea in its present position. The second giant's rage was so great seeing that he had failed in his attempt that he seized his sword, ran towards the rock and with one fierce cut, split it in two.
Collected from Peg Judge in Croagh, and recorded in the Schools Collection of the 1930s (view at Duchas.ie.

Also in the Collection:
The tradition says that any body who walks through the Rock three times shall surely meet their doom. I have never heard of any body to go through it three times.
The DromoreWest website suggests your doom might come a bit quickly, as the rock will slam shut on you.

Tober Grania (Wedge Tomb)

The floor of the chamber is covered with a deposit of mud. The tomb is locally considered to be a holy well and offerings of coins, some quite recent, medals, broken glass, etc., lie on the lower roofstone. The interior of the chamber is littered with broken glass.
From p128 in 'Survey of the Megalithic Tombs of Ireland, vol 1 - County Clare' by Ruaidhri de Valera and Sean O Nuallain (1961).

In an article called 'A Folklore Survey of County Clare' in Folklore v22, 1911, it says, "The mud of the dolmen or "well" of Tobergrania at Ballycroum cured sore or short-sighted eyes."

The Three Brothers (Natural Rock Feature)

On the lower declivity of Warton Crag, in the parish of Warton (which abuts on Morecambe Bay and the Westmorland border), commanding a beautiful and extended prospect of the bay, a seat called "The Bride's Chair" was resorted to on the day of marriage by the brides of the village; and in this seat they were enthroned with due solemnity by their friends; but the origin and the object of the custom, which has now fallen in disuse, are unknown.

Not far from Warton Crag are three rocking-stones placed in a line, about forty feet asunder, the largest stone lying in the middle.

A cave is also mentioned by Lucas, named "The Fairy Hole", where dwarf spirits called Elves or Fairies, were wont to resort.
Lancashire Folk-lore: Illustrative of the Superstitious Beliefs and Practices, local customs and usages of the people of the county Palatine. By John Harland and TT Wilkinson, 1867. Online at the Internet Archive.

Ruborough Camp (Hillfort)

It is traditionally supposed that beneath the surface of this camp vast stores of gold and silver are hid in an iron castle, the door of which is guarded by spirits and can only be found at the full moon.

It is stated that many years ago some labourers dug there with the hope of finding the treasure, but were obliged to desist because of the mournful sounds they heard, caused no doubt, by the howling of the wind among the trees.

A story is also told of a Dr Farrer, who lived in the parish and was learned in books and who found out from them how to get into the castle. The day before the full moon he went over the field with a hazel rod, and when he came over the door, the stick stood upright in the ground. The doctor returned at night with his servant and tools for digging and also took his bible with him. He set his servant to work, giving him particular instruction that whatever he saw or heard he was not to utter a word for his life.

The man went on digging, and at last his spade struck on the iron door of the castle, when horrible groans and cries were heard, and spirits began to come out of the door. The man was so frightened that he forgot his master's instructions, and cried out "Lord, have mercy on my soul," when one of the spirits caught him by the leg and would have carried him off, but the doctor put the bible on his head and dragged him out with the other hand.

The pit was closed up, the door banged together, and its position was changed so that no one has been able to find it since.
ETNE.
In the Taunton Courier, 12th April 1958. It rather served him right, expecting his servant to do all the dangerous work. I have a vision a bit like 'Raiders of the Lost Ark'. Also, the castle being made of iron rather discounts the involvement of the fairies in this case.
There is a story told locally of two men, who, many years ago, lived on the Quantock Hills. One day, finding themselves in financial difficulty and not knowing where to obtain any money, they decided to go over to Ruborough Camp, Broomfield, to try to discover some of the money and treasure supposed to have been buried there. As soon as it was night-time they left their homes and with picks and shovels on their backs, proceeded on their way. As they entered the tree-covered lane leading to the camp, they walked with caution in case they disturbed the stags and foxes resting there, but all was well and at last they reached the Camp.

It was a clear moonlit night and no doubt they could see the old castle at Enmore and further away the town of Bridgwater. They found the mound of earth where money and treasure were supposed to have been buried and after removing their coats, started to dig. Suddenly the ground gave away from beneath them and they disappeared.

After some hours had elapsed their relatives at home became alarmed at their not returning and decided to go to look for them. On reaching the old Camp they discovered to their amazement two coats beside a very large hole, but there was no sign of the two men. Being superstitious people they hastily returned to their homes saying that the pixies had captured the two men, who were never seen again.

This story may not be true, but it was told to me by old people living in the district years ago.
A.H., BRIDGWATER.
In the Taunton Courier, 29th March 1958.
These stories seem pretty similar to the ones written down with even more elaboration by the Rev. J W Collins in 1857.

Wincobank (Hillfort)

Reporter lays the Sheffield "ghost"!
Early to-day I learnt the truth about the Wincobank ghost - there isn't one! All the "ghost's" visitations, beginning eight weeks ago with "a white form standing rigid under a gas lamp," can be accounted for. The "apparitions," like the figure under the gas-lamp, are now declared to have been really live persons ignorant of the scare they were creating.

[...] The "ghost" that disappeared from the top of a banking or ridge on Newman road was undoubtedly a man who had been collecting some white flowers from a garden and had tripped on the banking and fallen backwards. There is not the slightest doubt that a man did fall in this manner at the same place where the "ghost" was seen, and at the same time, and some time later this same man was helped home by a friend. I talked this morning with some of the searchers, who were of the opinion that mysterious "objects" which they had seen were nothing more than the result of white smoke from a smoldering garden fire shimmering against the background of the trees.

[...] But Wincobank is a place with a history, and there are some who will never allow their "ghost" to escape them. If you talk to some of the oldest residents you will hear tales of the old Roman settlement and the ghosts of Roman soldiers which march up and down, and of ghosts of more recent days which are connected with old Wincobank Hall, which is said to have been full of secret passages and panels.
From the Sheffield Independent, 11th August 1937.

Cley Hill (Hillfort)

BUGLEY FAIR. - There was a very small attendance of pleasure seekers at this fair, which as usual was held on Cley Hill on Palm Sunday. It is to be hoped that next year a still smaller number will be present.
Straight from the Warminster Killjoy Association. The miserable beggers. Reported in the Warminster and Westbury Journal, 8th April 1882.

Whether a relic of Druidism, or whether merely the vestige of some observance of Roman Catholic times, it has been a well-known custom for many generations to hold certain festivities on Palm Sunday upon Cley Hill, Bidcombe Down, and other lofty elevations in this neighbourhood. Crowds used to assemble in times past on these hills upon this particular Sunday, and amuse themselves in a variety of rough sports, from backsword playing to harmless competitions in rolling down the hill. It may be well imagined that such proceedings were not always of the most orderly kind, and that they were not particularly desirable on Sunday of all days of the week. Fortunately of late years the observance has almost entirely declined, and though a few people still keep up the old custom by walking up the hill and walking down again, no harm is now known to result from their so doing. It was stated that the old observance was to be revived on Sunday last by the Salvation Army, who, it was understood, intended to hold an open air service of a very demonstrative kind upon the top of Cley Hill. It had been feared that such a proceeeding might have revived the old abuses of the day to a certain extent, and it is therefore probably a matter for thankfulness that the Salvation Army did not carry out any such intention.
Warminster and Westbury Journal, 24th March 1883. What's worse, riffraff or noisy evangelisers?


But
The usual practice of setting fire to various parts of Cley Hill on Palm Sunday was again observed this year. On the Warminster Downs, too, a fire was kindled in the afternoon, leaving a big black patch.
Bad luck, sounds like things got even more anarchic.
Wiltshire Times, 26th March 1910.

St Patrick's Chair and Well (Bullaun Stone)

Altadavin - St. Patrick's Altar and Chair.

Altadavin though belonging to this parish of Errigal Truagh is situated in the County Tyrone. It is a picturesque wooded glen. Various explanations of the name have been given:- "The high place of Daimen." Daimen was high King of Airghialla 513 AD. It also means "Glen of the Gods" or "Glen of the Demons."

The glen is entered by a narrow path running by a clear stream, the precipitous sides being clothed with a dense growth of under wood surmounted with stately forest trees. About midway down the glen, a vast mass of rock, some three or four hundred yards long, covered with wood of natural growth, rises up leaving a choice of paths in the two narrow ravines. Keeping to the right a little green velvet lawn opens out before us. Right under the rock, that rises sheer and steep from the green sword, is a spring well issuing from a stone.

This lovely glen has an interesting history, a mingling of the older and the newer faiths. Tradition has it that in Pagan times the glen was sacred to the rites of Druidism. It is a very reasonable probability that St Patrick, on one of his visits to Clogher, made it his object to overthrow this centre of Druidical Cult, and following his usual course, dedicated this home of heathenism to the true God. Here, surrounded by tangled under wood is a rude altar formed of solid rock. The ledge that forms its table is four feet high, six feet long and two feet wide. Towards its centre is roughly chiselled to a smooth surface. It shows no other tool marks.

Opposite the Gospel side of the altar is a large rock, in the form of a high-backed chair, known as St Patrick's chair. The seat of this natural chair is about four feet high from the present ground level, and the back rises to a height of eight feet from the ground.

On a rocky platform overlooking the stretch of green, and some twenty feet above it, is a large square stone about five feet high in the top of which is scooped out a basin fourteen inches in diameter and twelve inches deep. There is a detached boulder sitting on other detached boulders, yet the basin on the driest summer day is to be found half full of water. It is affirmed that as often as it is emptied, it will, with in half an hour, fill up to the same level, and except as a result of rainfall, will not rise to a higher level. Science has not yet explained whence the water comes, or why it rises to a certain height. That it does so is an undoubted fact, and equally undoubted is the fact that no natural source of supply can be discovered.

Local tradition affirms that when St Patrick turned this stronghold of Druidism to Christianity, he was attended by a great concourse of people. Having converted large numbers of them, he proceeded to baptise them. Water was necessary. Here at hand was a font, and what surer method of strengthening the faith of those who still wavered, than by drawing water from a rock. He did so and the font has never since dried up.

The wooded glories of Altadaven have departed, the venerable timber that shaded the glen and that lent enchantment to the scene have been cut down and turned into money. However the Department of Forestry of the Government of 'N. Ireland' have replanted Altadavan, but many, many years must elapse ere the charm of by gone days can return.
Altadaven still holds a high place in the popular respect for many miles around, when crowds assemble at the time that the blae-berries are ripe, which usually falls about the last Sunday in July and first Sunday in August, known in the district as "the Big Sundays".

Last Sunday was one of the "big Sundays". I was there and I saw crowds and crowds of boys and girls all enjoying themselves, laughing, courting, singing, and dancing, some picking the ripe blae-berries, some climbing up to see St Patricks altar and chair, all wearing happy faces and enjoying themselves to their hearts' content. I went to see St Patrick's Well. It is near the chair, but a little further down in the rocks. There was a great number of pins and needles and hair pins in it, also a few coppers left by those who made a "Wish" at the Well.

Cathleen Sweeney 4th August1938.
From the Schools Collection, now being digitised at Duchas.ie. Elsewhere the special days at Altadavin are just called "Blaeberry Sundays".

Cumin's Cairn (Cairn(s))

About a mile to the north-east of Loch Loch, among the hills of Ben-y-Gloe in Perthshire, is a cairn known generally as Mackintosh's Cairn, sometimes as Comyn's Cairn (Carn a'Chuimeinich). It is said by tradition to mark the spot where, some centuries ago, a great chief of the Comyns was killed by a certain Mackintosh, who raised the stones as a monument of his act.

The story of the feud which culminated in the erection of this cairn has been told more than once. The main incidents, asa narrated on the authority of local tradition by Col. J. A. Robertson (author of Gaelic Topography and other works) in a small volume entitled The Earldom of Atholl, privately printed in 1860, are as follows: - The Comyns, on obtaining a footing in Atholl, at once commenced their usual practice of attacking their neighbours. Among these were the Mackintoshachs, or Mackintoshes, descendants of the old Toshachs or Thanes of Glentilt, who were attacked by the Comyns at a feast and all murdered, except a young child in a cradle. This child, Ewen, also called "Sherigan," grew up, and some fifteen years after the massacre attacked the Comyns at a place called Toldamph (Tolldamh, near Blair Atholl) and defeated them. The Comyns fled up Glentilt, and turned in at the stream which issues from Loch Loch, but Ewen, taking a near way through the hills of Ben Gloe, by a stream called Cromaldun, met their leader at Loch-na-diodd, and shot him. Colonel Robertson says that these events are supposed to have taken place about or soon after 1260, and that Ewen had a son named Angus, who obtained a "bounding charter" to his lands.
There are other retellings mentioned in the article. One has rather striking image of Cumming the Big being shot just as he raises his hand to wipe away some sweat from his brow, so getting his hand pinned to his head by the arrow as he drops down dead.

From a report of a meeting of the Gaelic Society of Inverness, in The Northern Chronicle for April 15th 1885.

The cairn actually looks like it's on the banks of Loch Loch. It's miles from anywhere near a road and must be quite a spot. Frankly I doubt I could have been bothered to raise a cairn for the person who'd murdered my entire family, but you never know - it could well be older than the story purports, couldn't it (the record on Canmore hasn't assigned it a date yet).

Cock-Crow Stone (Natural Rock Feature)

I don't have a good grid reference for this, but if you were climbing up Wellington Hill to the monument, then it wouldn't hurt to keep an eye out (especially if it's very early in the morning).
There is near the 'Cat and Fiddle' on the hill a large boulder stone known as Cock-Crow Stone, and it is said of the stone that every time it hears the cock crow it gets up and turns round.
An attempt was once made to move this stone, for it is believed that there is hidden beneath it a crock of gold. The stone, however, resisted all attempts of a team of horses to move it. When old houses are being pulled down it is a very common question to ask for 'the Crock.' Hoards of money have, indeed, been found which were hidden away in stormy times.
In 'The Materials for the History of the Town of Wellington, co. Somerset' (1889) by Arthur Humphreys.
The 'Cat and Fiddle' was a pub to the south of the road near Woodside (about ST13271680) - still marked in the 1960s, but I can't see any trace on maps or aerial photos now. On page 230 of the book, the pub is mentioned as being on the route of those 'Beating the Bounds' of the parish, and I can't help but wonder whether the stone, if it's that obvious, would be on the parish boundary as well, and so on the road's south (the boundary nearby is actually the county boundary too).

Simons Barrow (Round Barrow(s))

Simon's Barrow, Wellington.
The Devil's Lapful.
The Blackdown Hills.
The Devil was carrying a load of stones to drop on Wellington Church. He had so many in his apron that he carried a few in his glove as well. Just on the top of the hills the strings of his leather apron broke, and the stones, scattered over an acre of ground, formed the Devil's Lapful, while in his flurry he dropped the rest, which formed the five small barrows known as the Devil's Glove.

There is a crock of gold buried somewhere near, but no one has found it. Many have tried, just as many have taken away the stones to make walls and gateways; but the Devil always brings them back, and inflicts some terrible punishment for disturbing Simon's Barrow.
Story by Miss R. Clatworthy in Taunton, around 1908, recorded in Ruth Tongue's 1965 "Somerset Folklore".
On the Black-down Hills, just above the town, is a place named Symonsborough. Local tradition ascribes the name to the supposed fact that a British chieftain named Simond or Symmond fell in battle just at this spot. It used to be confidently asserted by the people living near the place that the barrow could never be lessened, because as fast as the stones composing it were drawn away more would miraculously come to fill their places. A man named James Bale, who died only a few years since, tested the correctness of the old legend, with the result that now neither the barrow nor any sign of it exists; but the spot is remembered in the name of Symonsborough hamlet, Great and Little Symonsborough farms, and the field names of Great Barrow Close and Little Barrow Close. A story which alternates with the foregoing in connexion with Symonsborough is that the stones were brought there by the Evil One in his apron. The place is, therefore, known to many as the 'Devil's Lapful'.
From 'The Materials for the History of the Town of Wellington, Co. Somerset' by Arthur Humphreys (1889).

I found the site of the barrow on an old map, so it should be an accurate grid reference, even if there's nothing left. The dates don't add up, I realise, but maybe Miss Clatworthy didn't get out much.

Caratacus Stone (Standing Stone / Menhir)

Many of the stones and most of the barrows are supposed to have treasure buried under them or near them, but it is dangerous to look for it and there are many stories of foiled attempts. The Caractacus Stone, for instance, standing on Winsford Hill, Exmoor, is said to be haunted by a ghostly team and their foolhardy driver who tried to uproot and drag the stone away to get at the treasure it conceals. The stone overturned the waggon and team and crushed the greedy waggoner. On foggy nights they are still to be heard and met.
From the 1965 book of 'Somerset Folklore' by Ruth Tongue (p12) - she heard the story from "A Bossington blacksmith, 1946, and a Hawkridge gardener, 1956."

Cave Hill (Cairn(s))

Belfast without the Cave Hill, the Cave Hill without Belfast: Killarney without its lakes: the causeway without guides or specimens. We love the old mountain still, but the attention which was paid it in days of yore has ceased, I am afraid, for ever. The al fresco feasts, the joyous junketings, and the explorations of its wonderful caves no longer take place on its breezy slopes. Time was, and not so long ago, when the Cave Hill was famous for its Easter Monday revellings. The vicinity was thronged with country cousins, who gazed with awe at the Corsican's Head or scaled the dizzy height towards McArt's Fort [...]

A few years ago, when a local geologist discovered a marvellous diamond - a ponderous stone which weighed pounds avoirdupois instead of orthodox carats - I thought it would boom the Cave Hill into activity again. This matchless diamond was stated at the time to be a relic of Finn McCoul, the head of his breastpin in fact, but personally I do not believe the giant cared for, or wore such an adornment as a breastpin. I don't believe he even wore a waistcoat [...]
In the Belfast Telegraph, 18th June 1891.
In fact, you can see a picture of the gem on the Culture Northern Ireland website, with lots more details. It's not really a diamond but quartz, and quartz isn't even part of the geology here. So what its true history is, is anyone's guess.

The Hill is also the legendary location of gold:
One might have supposed that a belief in magic and spells and fairies had all died away, and that in this very vulgar and materialistic and somewhat sceptical age, none could have been found, at least in this part of Ulster, to credit the tales of our grandmothers, and to act upon them. But there are some good people in Sandy-row who still retain the elder faith on these subjects - and, if works can prove the sincerity of conviction, theirs must be very sincere indeed. [...]

It is not gold, scattered about in dust or even in "nuggests," which formed the object of this search, but compactly laid up in chests - deposited, as the fairy records say, upon the summit of the "hill" by the Danes, in those days when they were compelled to make a hasty retreat from this part of the isle.

More than once have these gold-seekers struck upon these iron chests, but, just at that moment, the propitious influence was absent, and a kind of mysterious darkness and confusion fell upon their eyes. They believe, too, they heard a voice - "procul, o procul este profani" of the ancients. However this be, the chests still remain precisely where the Danes placed them, and these indefatigable Sandy-rowites are, at the present time, making inquiry, far and wide, for the seventh son of a seventh son, gifted with seventh sight, and possessing the power, as the legends tell, to take off the spell which has for ages rested upon this gold.

[...] You must not suppose that I am calling upon my imagination in this narrative. I give you the facts in my own way, it is true, but in substance exactly as I learned them from a person most intimately connected with one of these gold-seekers. [...]
The Reverend W.M. O'Hanlon isn't very happy because "the persons engaged in it have abjured religion, and deem those members of their family who know aught of Christianity as serious obstacles in the way of their success, because 'the spirits of the vasty deep' cannot come so freely where these are."
In an article in the Northern Whig, 2nd October 1852.

Tar Barrows (Round Barrow(s))

The Torbarrow Legend at Cirencester.

Barrows in particular have been the objects of superstition. They have been looked upon as haunted by supernatural beings. They have been regarded as dwellings of ogres, or magicians, or the spirits of the dead. In the Bodleian library at Oxford is preserved an account printed in 1685 of the opening of a barrow near Cirencester. It is to the following effect:

"Two men digging a gravel pit at the foot of the hill or barrow, having sunk four yards deep, discovered an entrance into the hill, where they found several rooms with their furniture, which, being touched, crumbled to dust. In one of them were several images and urns, some with ashes, others full of coins, with Latin inscriptions on them. Entering another, they were surprised at seeing the figure of a man in armour, having a truncheon in its hand, and a light in a glass-like lamp burning before it. At their first approach the image made an effort to strike; so at the second step, with greater force; but at the third it struck a violent blow, which broke the glass to pieces and extinguished the light.

Having a lantern, they had just time to observe that on the left hand lay two heads emblamed, with long beards, and the skin looking like parchment, when hearing a hollow noise like a groan they hastily quitted those dark apartments, and immediately the earth fell in and buried all the curiosities."

We may perhaps regard this as a highly-sensational account of a real incident, but as we could not for a moment admit the existence of the magical statue and the lamp, we must suppose that the idea of such things had been floating about in people's minds ready to root itself upon any convenient spot.
This supremely imaginative tale is retold in the Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard, 19th March 1892.

Cronk Howe Mooar (Artificial Mound)

The members of the Isle of Man Natural History and Antiquarian Society have had a pleasant and interesting excursion to the South of the Island. [...] The weather was delightfully fine and the excursion on that account proved most enjoyable. [...]

Making their way with some little difficulty along rocky paths and muddy lanes, the party passed Bradda Mountain Fairy Hill, which rises abruptly from a flat and rather boggy piece of land between Port Erin and the Rushen parish church. The origin of this mound is a matter of dispute. Geologists and antiquarians both claim it as their own, and until the mound is properly explored it is difficult to say whether it falls within the province of the one or the other, though certainly the theory that it was artificially formed appears the more probable one.

[...] Dr. Tellet remarked that it had been said the mound had been put up to commemorate the death of Reginald, son of Olave the Black, King of Man, who was slain in 1249, - Mr. Kermode said he thought it was Cumming who had first suggested that, but so far as he (Mr. Kermode) knew there was no authority for it.

[...] Mr. Kelly, of Ballaquinnea, some months ago had given them a sort of fairy story about this hill, which was known as Cronk Howe Mooar, which meant "The Big Hill." Howe was simply the Scandinavian word for cronk or hill.

The story was to the effect that a man, wandering about at night, saw a brilliant light on the hill and came there, when he saw great festivities going on amongst the fairies. He was invited to drink some wine, but a friendly voice whispered to him not to do so. He threw the cup to the ground, and immediately the lights were extinguished and the fairies rushed at him. He dashed along in an easterly direction through the bog followed by the fairies, and made his way towards one of the farms in the neighbourhood. In crossing the water he purposely stepped in the water and not on the dry stones. The fairies were calling out to him to keep on the stones and not in the water, but he was careful not to obey them.

[...] Mr. Kermode went on to refer to the tradition of the mound having been opened early in the present century, and said that might account for the deepening of the hollow in the centre of the top of the mound, nevertheless it seemed probable that the place had been fortified by the erection of a rampart round about the mound. The mound (he said) was private property; and on that account great difficulty had beenexperienced in trying to obtain permission to explore it.

[...] It afterward transpired that the land belonged to Mr. Turnbull, of Port Erin. Mr. Turnbull is himself interested in archaeological research, and would raise no objection to the opening of the mound, but objections have been raised - ostensibly on the ground of the injury it would cause to the adjacent fields. There is reason to think, however, that some superstition may underlie the difficulty encountered in regard to the proposed exploration of this interesting mound. [...]
From the Isle of Man Times, Saturday 15th September 1894.

Kempstone Hill (Standing Stones)

The Kempstonehill, the scene of this grim legend, is a moor several hundred acres in extent, about 432 feet above sea level. It is on the Cowie estate, and lies about two miles south of Stonehaven. On the summit of the ridge two unchiselled stones have stood up for untold centuries, and it is from these that the hill derives its name.

Tradition says that a battle was fought on the moor, and there can be little doubt that tradition in this instance is correct, though it is not necessary to agree with the belief strongly held by Robert Barclay of Ury that it was here that Galgacus was defeated by Agricola.

One of the stones, according to an immemorial legend, marks the spot where a chief of the defending army had his head cut off, and the other indicates the spot where he fell, after traversing the intervening eighty yards on horseback and headless.
J. D.
Aberdeen Press and Journal, 16th March, 1928.
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This hill, it has a meaning that is very important for me, but it's not rational. It's beautiful, but when you look, there's nothing there. But I'd be a fool if I didn't listen to it.

-- Alan Garner.


...I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn...

-- William Wordsworth.


I'm currently mad on visiting Anglo-Saxon and Norman carvings and enjoy the process of drawing them:
http://wiltshirewandering.blogspot.co.uk/

and I've been helping digitise the Schools' Collection of the National Folklore Collection of Ireland... you can also at
http://www.duchas.ie/en

Some interesting websites with landscape and fairy folklore:
http://earthworks-m.blogspot.co.uk
http://faeryfolklorist.blogspot.co.uk

My TMA Content: