Tuesday, 13 April 2021
Wednesday, 7 April 2021
In Slavic folklore it is believed that the hedgehog can lead the way to the magical plant, raskovnik, which could be used to unlock doors and find hidden treasure. Apparently the plant is difficult to recognise and only chthonic (subterranean) creatures are able to find it.
Saturday, 3 April 2021
Shute's Lane and Hell Lane, Symondsbury, Dorset are ancient track ways known as Holloways, and are two of the best examples in the country.
The name Holloways come from the old English word 'hola weg' meaning sunken road.
They connect the tiny village of Symondsbury to North Chideock.
The name Symondsbury comes from the Old English meaning hill or barrow belonging to the man named Sigemund. It was listed in the Domesday Book as Simondesberge.
The hill relates to the nearby Colmer’s Hill, a conical mound topped by trees which is the highest point in the district.
It is said that it is not uncommon for children to hear faerie music issuing from the depths of the hill. A tale dating from the previous century relates to a young girl who was drawn to the hill by the sound of beautiful music, so entranced she began to dance and dance. Under the spell of the faerie music she could not stop cavorting around the hillside until she eventually collapsed and died from exhaustion.
In past times the main economy of Symondsbury centered around flax and hemp production for Bridport’s rope and net manufacturing trade
These sunken lanes are common in the west country due to the underlying rock being soft sandstone.
Worn down over hundreds of years by the passage of feet, livestock and wagons; the weather also plays an important part in the formation of these lanes, the deep sides funnel the falling rain from the surrounding land which then pours down the narrow space. At times the lanes can become a rushing stream wearing the soft sandstone down further.
Shute's Lane and Hell Lane, which are about ten metres below the surrounding countryside, are believed to be about 300 years old although others date back centuries starting as drovers or pilgrims paths.
Hell Lane, deeply rutted, was believed to have been formed by the passage of wagons transporting stone from the nearby Quarry Hill at North Chideock.
Heavy carts transporting the local Forest Marble and Oolite a form of limestone, struggled along these Holloways carrying the stone to the nearby villages.
The parish church of St John the Baptist in Symondsbury was built in the early 14th century from this stone.
The soft stone in Shute's Lane has been carved over the last few decades by passing visitors. The results are quite amazing and well worth a visit.
If you intend to visit these Holloways be advised to wear suitable footwear as Hell Lane in particular can be hard going, wet and muddy.
To see the video of our recent visit follow the link:
Saturday, 20 March 2021
‘The Land of Bone and Stone’
The Valley of Stones lies in a secluded valley near the quaint little village of Little Bredy.
It is part the South Dorset Ridgeway. an ancient trackway which runs along the ridge of high land.
A prehistoric ceremonial landscape which has been used for thousands of years and is believed to be a place to celebrate life and death, hence it's name ‘The Land of Bone and Stone.'
Link to the video of our visit
Archaeologists have dated flint tools found at nearby Bincombe Hill to 500,000 years ago; they were made by a nomadic people who had followed herds of wild animals north when there was still a land bridge between the Britain and Europe.
At first glance this site is fairly insignificant when compared to the larger henges of Stonehenge or Avebury although just as important in archeological terms. A durable rock, it was used in the construction of Stonehenge, the Avebury stone circle , and closer to home the Hell Stone.
This is a Neolithic Dolmen with the roof still intact, built on a ley line its entrance is aligned with the midwinter solstice.
The Grey Mare and her Colts, also to be found on the Ridgeway is the remains of Neolithic chambered long barrow. Its entrance also aligns the winter solstice sunrise and the sunset of the summer solstice.
The valley floor is strewn with boulders, washed down from the surrounding valley sides during the ice age and are the post glacial remains of cenozoic silcrete that once covered much of southern England.
This particular sarsen boulder train is one of the best British examples and is the same conglomerate stone that ‘The Nine Stones’, a prehistoric circle near Dorchester is constructed.
This particular stone circle is featured in the paranormal mystery The Doll
This is the experts theory of how the valley of stones came to be but local legend tells otherwise... that the stones were deposited there during a throwing contest by local giants.
The giants, during a particularly violent altercation, instead of coming to blows decided that they would settle the disagreement by having a throwing competition. The winner would be the giant who could throw the most, the farthest. They each scooped up a handful of boulders from the hillside and took turns to hurl them as far as they could down the valley. The grassland soon became littered with hundreds of boulders as they continued for days until they finally, exhausted, gave up.
Which giant was declared the winner nobody knows but the result was the line of sarsen stones leading up the valley floor, which sounds a much more interesting explanation...
Of course this doesn’t explain the stone cicle set in the middle of the sarsen stones!
Or the stone circle could have been created by the famous white witch that lived in a tumble down cottage on the Ridgeway.
Maybe she has something to do with it, who knows...local legend has it that she was the local healer and midwife to the area. During phases of the moon she would transform herself into a white hare and was often seen running across the surrounding hills.
The locals had come to avoid her when she assumed this form as tales were told around the fire in the winter of some huntsman who were foolish enough to try and hunt the hare, not knowing it was the witch. They set their dogs to chasing it across the grassland of the hills. The hounds finally caught up with the hare and set up on it, the men soon followed and set to, trying to beat the animal to death. Somehow,maybe using her magical powers she escaped and although seriously wounded made her way back to her cottage. Here she collapsed on the cold floor and lay there close to death as the men pounded after her. They burst into the cottage and saw with horror that it was the witch whom they had attacked, terrified of reprisals they ran for their life except for one young man who stayed to help the old woman. He lifted her into her bed and tended her wounds, making a healing potion under her direction and waited until she had recovered before leaving.
The hunters of Little Bredy learnt their lesson and never hunted hares again...It is said that sometimes the white hare can still be seen running across the ancient grasslands.
It's an interesting place to visit but I would suggest you do it in conjunction with another of the mentioned sites.
Tuesday, 2 March 2021
We decided to chance another visit to this amazing hill, located on the chalk uplands near Bridport in Dorset it was once the site of an Iron Age fort dating from 300 BC.
It was first documented in The Domesday Book of 1086. There are several barrows on the site but the hill has never been excavated
It has an excellent defensive position with its steeply sloping sides and excellent views over the surrounding countryside and Jurassic coastline. The view to the sea is so good that the notorious local smuggler Isaac Gulliver 1745 -1822 planted a grove of pine trees on the hill to guide his ships as they approached the shore. The trees were later felled on Government orders but the octagonal earth works built to protect them can still be seen today.
The weather forecast wasn't too bad, in fact it was quite mild when we left our little village but as usual, and as many locals will tell you, Eggardon is a law unto itself.
I don't know if its due to ghostly hordes that haunt the hill but it was freezing up there and blowing a gale!
Even on a summers day it has strange atmosphere but today, with a mist rising from the valley, it was downright spooky...
No other brave soul had ventured up there, just us...
But the dogs Millie and Mabel enjoyed themselves however....
For the full windy experience of our day on
Eggardon Hill click the link to the video below
Saturday, 20 February 2021
Despite the endless rain and cold, spring is at last making an appearance. Snowdrops have been pushing through the sodden earth ( what plucky little flowers!) and little green buds have been bursting from the stems and branches of the shrubs in the garden.
My thoughts should be turning to seed brochures to plan this years vegetable plot but looking out the window at the pouring rain I can't just get enthusiastic... so I will read my folklore books instead and dream of warm spring days.
So I am waiting for the Cuckoo to arrive, might have a bit of time to wait as it traditionally doesn't appear until April.
The cuckoo comes in April
Sings a song in May
Then in June another tune
And then she flies away
It is quite apt that the Snowdrop is also known as the Flower of Hope as we are all hoping; after the past months, for better times.
Other names for Snowdrops: Candlemas Bells, February Fair Maids, Snowbells and Snowpiercers. On the Welsh borders they are gathered to purify the house but in some counties this is a no no as they are known as Death flowers, maybe because they grow in so many graveyards and recall the white clothes traditionally worn for the death of a child.
'The snowdrop in purest white arraie, first rears its head on Candlemas daie' Circa 1500
The second of February is Candlemas Day, St Mary's Feast of the Candles. Officially the Feast of Purification and the presentation of the Christ in the Temple.
When Christ was presented to the aged Simeon, forty days after his birth, he prophesied that Jesus would be a light to lighten the Gentiles. So hence the candlelit services and processions.
Back to gardening... it is on this day that we are supposed to plant beans...don't think so!
Just found this in The Perpetual Almanack of Folklore by Charles Kightley
One day in February in 1799 a passing farmer noticing a handkerchief hanging on a bush, rescued Elizabeth Woodcock of Impington, Cambridgshire from the snowy hole in which she had taken refuge from a blizzard eight days previously. Drifting snow had covered her to a depth of six feet and she had become to weak to climb out; during her confinement her only sustenance was two pinches of snuff!
So avoid travelling by night in snowy weather...
"For she was all froze in with frost
Eight days and nights poor soul
But when they gave her up for lost
They found her down the hole"
One has to wonder what was in the snuff??
Saturday, 13 February 2021
Queenie and Sybil, The Psychic Sisters.
Ghosts, witches, hell hounds and all manner of paranormal mysteries to get your teeth into...
The whole series of their adventures is available on Amazon either as a kindle download or in paperback.
If you wish to just whet your appetite on the first in the series The Lavender Witch, it is available as a free download until the 16th of February.