barrows


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. Long barrows naturally suggested the idea of a giant's grave, as at Castlecarrock (Cumbria). The idea that *fairies live inside them is much rarer in England than abroad, but see *Willy Howe; at Pixies' Mound at Stogursey (Somerset) it is said a passing ploughman once mended a broken tool for the pixies and was rewarded with a delicious cake.
   *Treasure legends are numerous, encouraged no doubt by occasional finds of prehistoric gold, and of money buried in later centuries for safety; local names such as Money Hills (Hampshire), Goldenlow (Bedfordshire), and Dragonhoard (Oxfordshire) refer to this, even where the tale itself has been forgotten. But it was also thought that to dig into a mound brought supernatural retribution, either immediately in the form of violent thunderstorms or fearsome apparitions, or in long-term bad luck and illness; tales about this seem to be particularly common in Devon.
   ■ Grinsell, 1976.

A Dictionary of English folklore. . 2014.

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