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Circles under churches
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Littlestone
Littlestone
5381 posts

Re: Circles under churches
May 16, 2005, 22:20
Just received this from Mr Michael Murray (which nicely knits together several Threads :-)

More at http://www.celiahaddon.co.uk/stones.html

<b>The Legend of the Hangman's Stone</b>

One shaft he drew on his well-tried yew,
And a gallant hart lay dead;
He tied its legs, and he hoisted his prize,
And he toiled over Lubcloud brow.
He reached the tall stone standing out and alone.
Standing there as it standeth now;
With his back to the stone, he rested his load,
And he chuckled with glee to think
That the rest of his way on the downhill lay,
And his wife would have spied the strong drink,

A swineherd was passing o'er great Ives Head,
When he noticed a motionless man;
He shouted in vain, No reply could he gain,
So down to the grey stone he ran.
All was clear: there was Oxley on one side the stone,
On the other the down-hanging deer;
The burden had slipped, and his neck it had nipped;
He was hanged by his prize all was clear.
FourWinds
FourWinds
10943 posts

Re: Circles under churches
May 16, 2005, 22:52
Yes, it's true on both counts. They also banned football, because it was stopping people practicing their archery

http://www.footballnetwork.org/dev/historyoffootball/history8_18_1.asp
Wiggy
1718 posts

Re: Circles under churches
May 17, 2005, 09:06
Interesting stuff .... Lots of towns have a "Butts rd" which I guess would be where people shot arrows. The one in Salisbury, I seem to remember, now has a little park where kids like playing football.
Rhiannon
5222 posts

Re: Circles under churches
May 17, 2005, 10:13
..and some barrows were used for target practise like the Butt hill: http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/7082
or are butts in folklore at least
http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/3515
http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/5017
http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/2908
http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/4214
Wild Wooder
225 posts

Re: Circles under churches
May 17, 2005, 10:34
Not quite the same sort of yew. The best longbows would have been made of wood with grain that was straight, close and free of knots. Churchyard yews tend to be rather twisted and knotty, ideal for very attractive furniture but not for longbows. In the middle ages the best staves came from Spain and I think the Mary Rose bows were all extremely good quality yew, Henry VIII was a keen archer and wanted the best artillery for his troops (artillery from artil roi - king's archer) At one time there was a tax on imports from Spain in the form of specified numbers of yew staves, so that an English army could be readily equipped and the French readily wopped!

Nowadays, the best yew comes from Oregon. I am the proud possessor of a longbow made from Oregon yew by Roy King about 20 years ago. A very fine bowyer, he was also involved in the research into the bows excavated from the wreck and, I believe, made a number of the replicas on display in the Mary Rose Museum.
Wiggy
1718 posts

Re: Circles under churches
May 17, 2005, 14:33
Big targets, I imagine.
FourWinds
FourWinds
10943 posts

Re: Circles under churches
May 17, 2005, 21:26
While we're talking churches I just want to slip one in. There are many tales about holy wells that tell of monks striking the ground and water sprouting forth. Were they just very good dowsers?
Rune
288 posts

Re: Circles under churches
May 17, 2005, 22:08
<i>While we're talking churches I just want to slip one in. There are many tales about holy wells that tell of monks striking the ground and water sprouting forth. Were they just very good dowsers?</i>

Could well be <g>

It's also possible their staffs acted as a "listening stick".

The Water Board still use these to find leaks in the mains water supply.( They thought there was a leak somewhere on my drive, that's how I found out about it.) The stick itself is like a straight walking-stick but the top end is wider than the bottom and chopped off flat. Basically, you put the thin end of the stick on the ground and listen to the thicker end. You can clearly hear running water. I was fascinated as I'd not seen anything like this before but apparrently "listening sticks" are in common use particularly in engineering for tuning engines.

If the monks' staffs were shaped correctly*, then they could have easily located a source of underground water. I'd guess after a little practise, you could tell how close the water that you could hear was to the surface.

* I've not had a go with anything other than the purpose made one that the guy from the Water Board was using, but it's possible some wood is better at transmitting the sound than others. Also, I don't know if listening sticks go by any other name, that's what the Water Board Guy called it.

Rune
FourWinds
FourWinds
10943 posts

Re: Circles under churches
May 17, 2005, 22:46
A few things on Listening Sticks. I knew a deaf piano tuner that used one. When Beethoven went deaf used to wedge a walking stick between his jaw and the piano so that he could hear what he was playing. Yes, mechanics used to use them for tuning cars - some probably still do.
Littlestone
Littlestone
5381 posts

Re: Circles under churches
May 17, 2005, 23:45
Seems we have gone through stones and springs, yews, longbows, poems and listening sticks all in the gentle pursuit of Circles under churches - fascinating! And though it's not my place to say 'thank you' for each piece of information, suggestion and a memory or two freely given, I'll say it anyway - thank you.

In the end, however, I feel the need to be in Wiltshire again so I'll pack the car on Thursday and head off down the A12 and out of Essex; round the Road to Hell and by Friday I'll be where it all started - Pewsey churchyard and later in the day Alton Priors (I'll check out Alton Barnes as well this time Peter).

In the end you sometimes just need to be where you need to be and let the spirit of the place come sifting through - I'll do that. And as I'm in the area I might just pop into the Barge Inn at Honey Street and let the 'spirits' in there work their salubrious magic (before dinner at the Barge perhaps :-)
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