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by the Celts in Britain may be inferred from the archaic
superstitions which survive among the Bretons of the
Lconnais, a district chiefly colonised by emigrants from
Britain, where the peasant-women make offerings for good
fortune in marriage to the fairies and dwarfs who are
believed to haunt the graves.

The other example relates to the cromlech called
" Wayland's Smithy,"^ at Ashbury, in Berkshire, so named

et Sedibus Francorum ; Matthaeus, Analecta, i. ^6. It may be useful to
collect some of the references to ancient writings which notice the
Continental ' long barro\^'s.' Some will be found in the Baltic and Northern
Newsletters (published in Latin) for 1699, i/oo, 1702. The altar near
the Elbe was described by Ristius, Colloqu. Menst. Dial. 6; others in
Holstein by Torkill Arnkiel,'De Religione ethnica Cimbrorum ; IFormius,
Monum. Dan. i. 8 ; Schaten, Hist. Westphal. vii. 4865 Hamcon. Frisia, 76 ;
Van Slichtenhorst, Geldersse Geschieden. 78. For the pyramidal tiunuliis
at Mentz, see Schedel, Chron. Nuremberg, 39, and Tenxel, Colloqu. Menst.
(1698), 270. A catalogue of early tracts upon the subject is given by
Keysler, pp. no, 113.

^ "Quae faciunt supra petras." Seethe Indiculus Superstitionum, among
the Ordinances of the Merovingian kings.

^ For " Wayland's Smithy," see Dr. Thurnam's tract in the Wilts.
Archaeol. Mag. vii. 321 3 Archceologia, xliii. 205; and Akerman's account,
Archccologia, xxxii. 3123 Hoare's Anc. AVilts. ii. 473 and the notes to Sir
W. Scott's Kenilworth. Aubrey's description in his still unpublished
Moiiumenta Britannica was as follows : " About a niile from White
Horse Hill, on the top of the hill, are a great many great stones,
which were layed there on purpose ; but as tumbled out of a cart, without
any order; but some of them are placed edgewise." He added, after a
visit to the place, that " the sepulchre was 74 paces long and 24 broad,"
and was like "the rude stones" of the cromlech called Y Leche at



Origins of Eiiglish History. 127

after the hero Weland, the Vulcan of the Teutonic mytho-
logy. The monument consists of a ruined chamber, of
some remains of a gallery, and of a second chamber to
complete the cruciform plan, which were all at one time
buried in the earth and surrounded by a ring of stones, or
" peristalith " of an oblong form. It is a Long Barrow of
the type which is common in the neighbouring districts of
North Wilts. " At this place " (so the legend runs) '' lived
formerly an invisible smith, and if a traveller's horse had
lost a shoe upon the road, he had no more to do than to
bring the horse to this place, with a piece of money, and
leaving both there for some little time, he might come
again and find the money gone, but the horse new shod."
A similar story is said to be current in Oldenburg, where
an invisible smith called the Hiller shoed horses in a



Caer-Gebi, near Holyhead: "and this great sepulchre called Wayland
Smith is not unlikely to be a great and rude monument of Hengest
or Horsa, for in their countrey remain many monuments like it." Compare
Lambarde's account of the Kentish cromlech called Kits Coty House,
near Aylesford : " The Britons returning from the chase erected to the
memorie of Catigern, as I suppose, that monument of foure huge and
hard stones, which are yet standing in this parish, pitched upright in the
ground, &c. For I cannot so much as suspect, that this should be that
which Beda and the others do assigne to be the tomb of Horsa." (Peranib.
Kent, 409.) The oldest mention of "Wayland's Smithy" implies that it
had been long uncovered. King Edred, in a.d. C)



Online LibraryCharles Isaac EltonOrigins of English history → online text (page 12 of 38)