Willy Howe


Willy Howe
   The fullest English version of the 'stolen fairy cup' legend is localized at Willy Howe, a large round *barrow near Wold Newton in Humberside (formerly East Yorkshire); it was recorded as a real event by *William of Newburgh (died c.1198), who had been born nearby and had known about it since childhood. A village man, riding home late one night and rather drunk, heard singing and laughter coming from the mound; then he saw an open door, and people feasting inside. When a servant came out and offered him a cup, 'he wisely forebore to drink, but, pouring out the contents, and retaining the vessel, he quickly departed,' pursued by the furious guests.
   It was a vessel of an unknown material, unusual colour, and strange form. It was offered as a great present to Henry the Elder, King of England, and then handed over to the Queen's brother, David, King of Scotland, and deposited for many years among the treasures of his kingdom; and, a few years since, as we have heard from authentic relation, it was given up by William, king of the Scots, to Henry the Second, on his desiring to see it. (Trans. Joseph Stevenson (1856/1996), 438)
   Clearly, the cup was real, even though the tale is an international legend. *Gervase of Tilbury knew a similar story about a mound in the Forest of Dean where thirsty travellers were offered drink in a jewelled horn 'such as was used among the old English', by a silent servant; eventually, a knight stole the horn and gave it to Robert, Earl of Gloucester, who then gave it to Henry I (Westwood, 1985: 25-6, 350-2).
   There is yet a third version allegedly attached to Rillaton Barrow in Cornwall, and purporting to explain a prehistoric gold goblet found there (now in the British Museum, after having been used by George V as a shaving mug). However, the goblet was found in 1837 and the story first appeared in 1899 in A Book of the West: Cornwall by the Revd Sabine Baring-Gould, who was familiar with medieval material; its authenticity is more than dubious.
   Stories of fairy treasure continued to be told about Willy Howe. A man once found a chest of gold there, so heavy that it took a train of horses a quarter of a mile long to drag it out, but lost it at the last minute by blasphemously exclaiming, 'Whether God's will or not, we'll have this ark'. Another man used to find a guinea on the mound every morning, left for him by fairies, but boasted of the gifts, after which they ceased (Hone, 1827: 92).
   See also *Edenhall, the Luck of.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Duggleby Howe — (also known as Howe Hill, Duggleby) is one of the largest round barrows in Britain, located on the southern side of the Great Wold Valley in the district of Ryedale, and is one of four such monuments in this area, known collectively as the Great… …   Wikipedia

  • Yorkshire Wolds — Geobox|Region name = Yorkshire Wolds native name = other name = category = Hills etymology = official name = motto = nickname = image caption =A winter view across the Yorkshire Wolds symbol = country = England state = United Kingdom region =… …   Wikipedia

  • Rudston Ley — is a ley line which runs from St. Peter s Church, Willerby to South Side Mount, Rudston.It starts at St. Peter s Church tower, then runs in a South Easterly direction, passing through a tumulus at the top of Staxton Brow, then through Willy Howe …   Wikipedia

  • barrows —    Prehistoric burial mounds commonly attract legends. The fact that they are graves was often correctly remembered (or guessed?), but the dating would be inaccurate they might be linked to Vikings, medieval heroes, or men killed in the Civil War …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • Edenhall, the Luck of —    In the Victoria and Albert Museum is a delicate painted and gilded glass beaker, made in Syria in the middle of the 13th century. How and when it reached England is unknown, but some verses of 1729 mention it by name, and indicate it was a… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • Gervase of Tilbury — (c.1150 c.1220)    Born at Tilbury in Essex, he was a lawyer and cleric who lived most of his life abroad in the service of various rulers and prelates, notably the Emperor Otto IV, for whom he wrote, probably about 1211, a compendium of history …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • prehistoric sites —    Visible landscape features which seemed artificial, yet had no practical function and no known history, frequently feature in local legends. They are associated with the Devil, giants, fairies, and legendary heroes or wizards. Many are said to …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • treasure —    Buried treasure is a favourite theme in popular lore; many, if not most, ancient earthworks, barrows, standing stones, and similar sites are alleged to contain it (Grinsell, 1976), as are old churches and mansions, ruined castles, crossroads,… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • William of Newburgh — (1135/6 ?1198)    A monk at Newburgh Priory (Yorkshire), William wrote a chronicle covering the period from 1066 to 1197. He was a careful historian, rejecting the idle lies of *Geoffrey of Monmouth concerning *Arthur and *Merlin. He included… …   A Dictionary of English folklore

  • WHA 1975/76 — Die Saison 1975/76 war die vierte Saison der World Hockey Association (WHA). Nach drei Spielzeiten des Wachstums ging man mit großen Hoffnungen in die neue Saison. Mit den Chicago Cougars und den Baltimore Blades waren zwei Teams, die in der… …   Deutsch Wikipedia