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Folklore Posts by formicaant

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Robin Hood's Butts South (Otterford) (Round Barrow(s))

Robin Hood's Butts. Nearly all the recorded folklore seems to relate to the South Group (6-9a).
"On the top of each barrow was a small excavation like a bowl....This hollow was sagaciously alleged by a neighbouring farmer as a proof that the popular tradition whence these monuments have derived their name was well founded. "Robin Hood and Little John undoubtedly used to throw their quoits from one to the other......for there is the mark made by pitching the quoits!" (English Traditional Lore (Gent's Mag. Library, 1885) quoting from Vol.88(1818), ii, 306-7).

Thorncombe Beacon (Round Barrow(s))

"Some mounds on the Thorncombe Beacon and Langdon Hill are called the Devil's Jumps". It is said that the mounds were made where the devil bounced when the abbott of Forde Abbey kicked him out to sea.

Bloxworth Down (Round Barrow(s))

"There are some burial mounds in a field by the road between Bere Regis and Wimborne. It is said that treasure is buried in these mounds." The legend may have been caused by the barrow digging of Shipp and Durden here in 1854. (Palmer 1973 p149)

Bulbury Camp (Hillfort)

In 1881 an Iron Age smith's hoard was found within the earthworks of this fort, and Edward Cunnington investigated the discovery. He found the old woman and the conversation went much as in Rhiannon's post, however he went to the sons house and found the animal nailed above the front door. The "little dog" was in fact a bull, one of two now to be found in Dorset County Museum.

Coney's Castle (Hillfort)

"Conig or Kings Castle, as its name implies, is said to have been the headquarters of King Egbert when he fought his brave, but losing battle against the Danes at Charmouth beach in 833" (Turner 1947). The same romantic etymology has occured to other authors, with similar developements: in fact the name means what it says, rabbits' castle.

St Catherine's Hill (Barrow / Cairn Cemetery)

This was to be the site of Christchurch priory. It was said that everytime stones were laid on the site, by morning they had moved from the hill to where the priory now sits, over 2 miles away.
A similar tales exists in the parish of Fordington in Dorchester, which involved the siting of the parish church. The twist is that an ancient stone returned to the site after having been removed.

Both these stories appear in Peter Knight's "Ancient Stones of Dorset"

Cold Pixie's Cave (Round Barrow(s))

The name of the barrow is thought to be a corruption of "colt-pixie". These creatures were supposed to lure young ponies to their deaths in the water logged marshy parts of the heath. Another explanation is that the creatures were part horse and called other horses into the barrow.

Round Hill Tump (Round Barrow(s))

From Somerset Brrows by L.V.Grinsell.
This is said to contain the remains of a saxon chief killed in battle, or of soldiers killed in a battle. An oak or elm, which grew on this barrow until 1937, is said to have bled when cut with a knife.
Wedlake, W.J. (1958) and Tongue, R.L. (1965).

Deverel Barrow (Round Barrow(s))

From the Salisbury and Winchester Journal, 2nd June 1828.

"notable antiquity of the Druids on Deverell down, which is only a short distance from the turnpike road....E.M.Pleydell, Esq. has had a wall about 46 yards in cicumference built around this ancient consecrated spot, within which are 25 stones, from 1 1/2 to 25cwt, now lying in the same plan of iconography as when the Druid's antimensum of earth was spread over this sacred spot. Here the Druids met as judges and arbiters for public and private judgements, took cognizance of murders, inheritances, and boundaries, and decreed rewards and punishments".

Thickthorn Down (South) (Long Barrow)

"When Stuart Piggott and his team of excavators from the Royal Commissiom on Ancient Monuments began digging a neolithic period oval shaped barrow on Thickthorn down, above Gussage St Michael in the foothills of Cranborne chase, they were constantly asked if they had yet discovered the golden coffin. Not only was there no gold, however, but Piggott's excavation in 1933 found nothing else either of what should have been the primary interments in the 5,000 year old mound.
The barrow may have been the cenotaph for a warrior who was killed elsewhere. All that was left by the original builders were a couple of chalk-cut phallic objects which were found in the lowest layer of silting in the ditch which surrounded the mound. Hundreds of years later the mound had been dug into and re-used for three other burials. Piggott and the locals were equally puzzled that it had been built to cover nothing whatever; the story of the golden coffin stuck tenaciously until the site had been completely cleared. the mound was reconstructed after the excavation had finished."

From Mysterious Dorset by Rodney Legg.

This is very similar to the story about Cowleaze barrows near Milborne St Andrew, minus the lightning.

Wynford Eagle (Round Barrow(s))

From Rodney Legg's Mysterious Dorset.
"Dr William Sydenham of Wynford Eagle, near Maiden Newton, is one of Dorset's earliest recorded barrow diggers but what makes him unique is his remarkable description of supernatural heat emanating from the centre of an ancient burial mound. Whether or not you can believe it, the description is clear enough but it's location has been misplaced by field archaeologist Leslie Grinsell in his Dorset Barrows. Grinsell places it at Wynford Eagle but Sydenham's original letter about the discovery, which I transcribed for the first edition of John Aubrey's Monumenta Britannica, says the barrow was "nigh the sheephouse in the road going to Bridport".
This suggests the high sheep pastures, where isolated sheephouses were erected, on the upper downs to the south-west of Wynford Eagle. The road from Wynford Eagle to Bridport crosses the great sheep-runs at Eggardon hill, where there are barrows which must have been prominent landmarks on the open uplands (such as that which lies in Powerstock parish at O.S.ref SY546946).
Sydenham writes that he had already dug a barrow near his house - which he thought roman, though we would now describe as bronze age - but found only "black cinders like smith's coal" so he had promised a cousin from Devon that he would "try twenty more ere I found something to satisfy her curosity".
The remainder of this description is in Sydenham's own words, in a letter of 19 November 1675 to his uncle, Dr Thomas Sydenham, who was in London. Only the spellings have been modernised and my amplifications are parenthesised in brackets:
"some of my workmen advised me to dig up the barrow in the ground, if you remember it, called Ferndown nigh the sheephouse in the road going to Bridport and my men offered me that if there was nothing in it they would loose their day's hire (forgo their wages), which I agreed to; and on they go, and on they go, and when theyhad cast away the earth it was full of great flints. At length we came to a place perfectly like an oven curiously clayed round, and in the middest of it a very fair urn full of bones very firm and the urn not rotten, and black ashes a great quantity under the urn, which is like a butter pot, made of potters' earth, but I must not omit the chiefest thing that at the first opening of this oven one of my servants thrust in his hand and pulling it quickly back again, I on demanding the reason of him, he told me it was very hot. I did also put in my hand and it was warm enough to have baked bread. Several others did the like, who can all testify to the truth of it. This urn stood in the middle of this oven which I preserve with the bones but it is since fallen asunder, and digging further I found sixteen urns more, but not in ovens, and in the middle, one with ears (lugs) to it falling to pieces, being all full of sound bones and black ashes. I think it would puzzle the Royal Society to give a reason of the heat of the oven being fifteen hundred years old."

Although the text places this not at Wynford Eagle exactly, but just over the hill I thought it interesting enough, and strange enough to include here.

Cowleaze Barrows (Round Barrow(s))

According to Rodney Legg's excellent book "Mysterious Dorset" another golden coffin myth is told about this site.
"A golden coffin is said to be buried in one of the three prehistoric round barrows on the Cowleaze, a former pasture half a mile south-east of the village (Milbourne St Andrew O.S. ref. SY811967).
Thunder and lightning begins if anyone starts to dig for it, members of the Women's institute were told when they recorded village folklore in the 1930s.
These barrows don't appear on multimap at the co-ordinates given , however they do appear on magic in roughly the right place . I must go and have a look at them.
Always been interested in old stuff and making sure it stays in good nick.
I grew up within a hundred yards or so of Pounbury hillfort and within a mile of Maiden castle and have long wondered about the peoples who built these and the many other sites which proliferate in Dorset. My special interest is in the many barrows of all kinds in the area.
Have recently moved near to Weymouth and am lucky enough to be able to see barrows, a cross ridge dyke and an ancient trackway from my back garden.

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