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Folklore Posts by UncleRob

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Temple of Diana

This Brutus chap who turns up in London folklore is not the one from Shakespeare's Julius Caesar, but a supposed survivor from the sacked city of Troy. Have a look at "Brutus of Troy" on good old wikipedia for an excellent summary. The notion that a handful of Trojans would leg it all the way across Europe to settle down anew in misbegotten and backward Britain is probably a little far-fetched. There probably was a Troy (there is a corresponding archaeological site at Hisarlik in Turkey) and it may well have been sacked by a load of dudes from Mycenae about 1200BC, but there is no Brutus or similar name in the Iliad, which was written down from oral history about 800BC. So all in all a load of old cobblers? Not entirely as there have been waves of invasions from the continent, notably the Roman colonisers, and one feature of colonised literature is that old native stories are given a flavour of the occupying culture as a way of making them seem more respectable, a little like building a church in the middle of Knowlton Rings. Old stories about legendary king Bran/Bendigeidfran sounded much better in the early middle ages once they had been given that Latinate gloss. I find it easy to believe there was a native hunting ritual that took place here, which was assimilated and survived in some form until the 1500s, given a respectable "Diana" label. Corresponding Christian saints would be Hubert or Eustace (both symbolised by a stag's head with a cross between the antlers, which will sound familiar to those of you who have read Riddley Walker), but I'm not aware of any old City churches dedicated to them geezers. Anyone up for a re-enactment?

Giant’s Grave (Round Barrow(s))

"Dorsetshire Folk-Lore" by John Symonds Udal gives the quote Rhiannon has found, and then goes on:
"To this another correspondent in Notes and Queries (p.187) 'C.W.' - under which initials it is not difficult, I think, to recognize the well-known Dorset antiquary, the late Charles Warne, F.S.A - replies:
"Your correspondent 'C.W.B.' has not aluded to a mythological tradition connected with the 'Giant's Grave' and the stones adjoining it, which is popular in the neigbourhood. It is to the following efect. Two giants standing on Norden (an adjacent hill) were once contending for the mastery as to which of them would hurl the farther, the direction being across the valley to Hanging Hill. He whose stone fell short was so mortified at the failure, that he died of vexation and was buried beneath the mound which has since been known as the 'Giant's Grave'. Myths of a similar kind are often found attached to blocks of erratic stone.""


Every parish in Dorset (and many other parts of the country too) seems to have acquired its own version of this stone-hurling. Sometimes it is the Devil that does the chucking. It's tempting to view this as medieval ignorance but perhaps each succesive trend in superstition going back to ye Stone Age has had its own version. But here it's nice to see the two sites being woven together in one narrative.
Twice and future Wintonian

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