The Dwarfie Stane

The Dwarfie Stane, Orkney. A sandstone monolith with carved interior chambers, a tiny door aligned exactly west, and a plug that fits snug yet allows a little air inside. The chamber has a sonic resonance near identical to that of the box in the Kings Chamber at Giza.
The earliest Vikings found the monolith sealed with no one inside, and by their time no one knew who carved this or why. The design is alien to Britain, its roots lie in Domus the Jannas Salixi (Chamber of Faeries) in Sardinia, whose chambers were cut exactly in the same shape and manner, with an identical sonic fingerprint. This resonant frequency of 116 Hz acts like a switch between the brain’s hemispheres to facilitate an alternate state of awareness. Curiously, both sites were associated with initiatory rites, and folklore describing their creation by very very tall people.

St. Frideswide’s well

St. Frideswide’s well is located in the small village of Frilsham, Berkshire.

This is one of the many holy wells you can find within the British Isles + a places that folk practitioners will frequent if nearby. Holy wells and springs were used for many different situations from healing to cursing.

In folk magic, we work with the spirits of these wells, from the saints to the fair folk.

St. Frideswide is an Anglo Saxon saint + it’s said that whilst she was fleeing a Mercian Prince, she fled to Frilsham + hid in a pig sty until she was safe. The location of the pig sty is now believed to be where the local church is situated.

Fridewide was believed to use the well for healing, esp healing of illnesses and in some cases within localised lore, she was believed to heal the blind to allow them to see again.

Although St. Frideswide’s well was reconstructed in 2007, it’s believed to be built on the ruins of the original well’s site.

Holy wells + Holy springs tend to be located in countryside and rural locations, some, like this well, in the middle of woodlands, others sat in the middle of fields, occasionally some will be found on church ruins or opposite + holy wells from the Roman era, would more likely be within town and city settings.

The saints you’ll find in the UK aren’t commonly known from the bible but localised saints, although there are some biblical saint locations

Witchcraft Museum Boscastle

Nestled in the valleys of North Cornwall, you will find a quaint village that attracts tourists throughout the year. This village is called Boscastle + is home to the famous Witchcraft Museum and Magic, that was founded by Cecil Williamson, then bought by Graham King + now owned by Simon Costin. All of which were and are practitioners + authors in their own right.

Boscastle is a unique little village, where the River Valency runs through + joins the Celtic sea. It’s harbour once boasted to be a popular trading place for coastal lines and is now a popular quiet holiday destination for those wanting a more quieter vacation.

There often were ships + traders who travelled the seas from Scotland down to Cornwall on a regular basis. This may contribute to why there could be similar lores or beliefs between Cornwall, Scotland, even the Ísle of Man, Ireland + Wales.

Cornwall is home to alot of folklore that spreads out across the UK, it’s where King Arthur’s alleged birth place lays, at Tintagel Castle (first noted in 1480 by William Worcester as Arthur’s birth place).

Tintagel is a short 20 minute drive to Boscastle along the beautiful north Cornwall’s coast, a drive I would highly recommend to take if you are able to, with many beautiful spots along the way (St. Nectans Waterfall is a must visit but when the weather is better, due to the 30min walk through the forest).

To get to Boscastle, you will travel down into the valley, which you can drive, catch a bus or go via a coach trip, passing through the beautiful village of Trevelga into the small street of Boscastle. You can walk this along the coast from Tintagel to Boscastle but it is a fair old trek if that’s something you would like to do, I would have loved to take this hike if the weather was more generous during my stay.

Walking along the River Velency, towards the witchcraft museum, it was a tranquil moment and although I was surrounded by tourists rushing about, there was something surreal + peaceful about the area. It feels, if I dare say, otherworldly.

Cornwall it’s self is full of mystical + mythical beliefs, especially surrounding the piskies. They say if you were to find yourself lost on the moors, that you were being piskie-led. But villagers would appease the piskies in their areas by leaving offerings of food, as they say ‘a happy piskie is a happy life after all’. Some one would offer the piskies warmth, in return for good fortune and help.

In Boscastle the Piskies weren’t forgotten, tradesmen, workers, villagers + the poor would welcome piskies at a distance to keep the peace + bring good fortune to trades passing through, the land + people’s homes.

In 1813 Joan Wytte, known as the local fairy fighting witch or Wytte Witch, was imprisoned into Bodmin Jail. She wasn’t persecuted for her practice but actually for fighting. However, when Joan passed away she wasn’t laid to rest, infact her bones were used for séances, paranormal evenings + taunting the public. Joan’s remains were used for money + she eventually had her bones displayed in the witchcraft museum in Boscastle by Cecil Williamson. Cecil Williamson states that he acquired Joan’s bones from an antique dealer of sorts.

However, during Joan’s stay at the witchcraft museum, it was reported on many occasions by staff, visitors + Cecil himself, of paranormal activitity + hauntings, particularly poltergeist activity. Which Cecil attributed to Joan’s remains being there.

And even though this issues continued to happen, Cecil still kept the remains of Joan, on display for all to see.

It wasn’t until Graham King took over the Museum, that Joan Wytte’s body finally was laid to rest. In 1998, King and associates moved Joan’s skeleton to a sacred + secret burial site nearby but Joan’s memorial grave stone can be found in minster woods just off of minster church. Graham King felt that Joan deserved to finally rest in peace, he buried her with a bottle of brandy, loose tobacco + a clay pipe. This was with the help of a local wise woman, to find out what Joan truly wanted, she wanted peace.

I have to say that my trip to the museum of Witchcraft + Magic, was eye opening. Getting to see artifacts from many different walks of life, was an amazing opportunity. Boscastle it’s self is a lovely Cornish village, not only is the museum there but little shops to treat yourself with local products, second hand book shop with some fabulous finds and quaint eateries. However, I much enjoyed my walk along the river valency and wish I could have stayed longer than the hours I did.

There were some experiences from Boscastle that I will take away for myself and one experience that has left a mark on my memory! Let’s just say that the folkmagic of the past, is still very much ingrained into the soul of Boscastle Village.

A To Z of Sacred Sites in the UK

AVEBURY (nr Marlborough, Wiltshire)

One of Britain’s most well known stone circles, dating from around 4000 years ago and originally consisted of 180 stones. Today it is possible to see two stone circles surrounded by an outer circle. The larger circle is surrounded by a henge and at the southern entrance; the stone avenue used for processions still stands.

BOSCAWEN-UN STONE CIRCLE (nr Lands End, Cornwall)

Famous stone circle that is still used by the Cornish Gorsedd today. Many votive offerings have been found here, and the whole place has very much a faery ring feel to it. The central impressive stone is made of quartz.

BRYN-CELLI-DDU BURIAL CHAMBER (nr Llandaniel Fab, Anglesey)

This Stone Age burial mound is around 4000 years old. A short passage leads to the central chamber, which has an upright stone that is believed to have been used in rituals. Outside is a replica standing stone with spiral marks on it, though the original is in the National Museum of Wales.

BUTSER HILL (nr Petersfield, Hampshire)

An Iron Age farm was found here and has been reconstructed at the famous Ancient Farm Project. The site is also an ancient hill fort and abounds with barrows, and has been used by local pagans today for ceremonies.


No relation to the chocolate company, this ancient hill fort is said to be the site of King Arthur’s Camelot. The ramparts date from the Iron Age, but the place was well occupied into the Saxon times.


A unique cross shaped arrangement of standing stones dating from around 3000 BC can be seen here. This is a rare construction from this time, and local legends abound. It is believed that the Stones may have stellar alignments.

CASTELL DINAS BRAN (nr Llangollen, North Wale)

This Iron Age hill fort was well used right into the Middle Ages. The name Bran comes from the Celtic hero King, whose head is said to be buried at Tower Hill in London. The site is also said to be the resting place for the Holy Grail.

CASTELL HENLLYS (Pembrokeshire, Wales)

This ancient Iron Age hill fort has been reconstructed with three roundhouses. The site was used for the programme ‘Surviving the Iron Age’.

CASTLERIGG (nr Keswick, Cumbria)

This site consists of 33 standing stones, including the King Stone, and is generally thought to be one of the oldest stone circles in Britain. Set into the mountains of the Lake District, this place has appeared on many book covers. The place has suffered from seismic disturbances, but it doesn’t distract from the beauty.


This famous naked figure holding a club is believed to be 1500 years old, and thought to be either Hercules or a local Celtic god. Local legend states that any maidens who sleep on the giant will surely become pregnant.

DANEBURY RINGS (nr Andover, Hants)

This is the well preserved site of an Iron Age hill fort. Excavations from the place suggest that it was quite well developed with streets at the time of the Romans.

DIN LLIGWY ANCIENT VILLAGE (nr Llanallgo, Anglesey)

This is the remains of a Romano-Celtic village that was finally abandoned in the 5th century AD. The remains of a Chieftain’s dwelling complete with hearth, workshop and ritual place with an altar can still be seen here.


The legendary site of King Arthur’s island paradise, Avalon. It is said that Arthur and his queen Guinevere are buried in the ruins of the Abbey. It is also believed that the Holy Grail lies below Chalice Spring on the Tor. Also, Glastonbury Tor itself is believed to be the entrance to the Land of the Faeries.

IONA (off Mull, Argyll and Bute)

This sacred isle was once home to the early Celtic Christians. St Columba built the earliest monastery here in 563 AD. The burial place of 48 Scottish kings, the abbey seen today dates from the 13th century and the oldest surviving relic is St Martin’s Cross, dating from the 10th century.

LINDISFARNE (Northumberland)

Otherwise known as Holy Island, this place was first founded by St Aidan of Iona who built a monastery in 635 AD at the request of King Oswald. The place soon developed a reputation for scholarship and was plundered by the Vikings around 875 AD. The last of the monks left at the time of the Reformation.

LONG MAN OF WILMINGTON (nr Eastbourne, Sussex)

This famous chalk figure stands on Windover Hill. The Long Man (or Woman), holds two poles, one either side, suggesting a doorway beyond. It is not known how old this site may be, perhaps 2000 years old at least.

LONG MEG AND HER DAUGHTERS (nr Penrith, Cumbria)

One of the largest stone circles in Britain, dating from the Bronze Age. Long Meg herself is a large sandstone heel stone said to be a local witch turned to stone, and it has interesting cup and ring marks and is oddly outside the circle. The other remaining 70 odd granite stones are believed to be her coven.


Was recently the subject of a ‘Time Team’ dig. These are fine (if abit spooky) examples of megalithic cairns. They have large mounds that cover a stone built passage leading into a burial chamber inside. Mine Howe is though to be the more ritualistic, whilst Maes Howe was broken into by the Vikings.

MAIDEN CASTLE (nr Dorchester, Dorset)

This is one of the finest surviving Iron Age hill forts in Britain. Its enormous earthworks make it an unmissable sight, linked with ramparts and entrances. Sadly, its defences were not enough to hold of the Roman army and the fort fell in AD 43, leading to most of the inhabitants being killed.

MEN-AN-TOL (nr Lands End, Cornwall)

Famous three stone monument, looking like a prehistoric ‘101’. It is traditional to climb through the ‘O’ or holed stone nine times as a cure for disease and as an aid to fertility and safe childbirth.

MERRY MAIDEN’S STONE CIRCLE (nr Land’s End, Cornwall)

Another famous Cornish monument, the Maidens are said to be have star alignments. Local legend has it that the Maidens were a bunch of maidens turned to stone for dancing long after a party on a Sunday.

MONA (Anglesey)

Otherwise known as Holy Island, this is the place where the last of the Druids were massacred by the Romans at the time of the Boudiccan revolt in AD 69. For this alone reflect on what was lost, but also on what has been gained since then.

NEWGRANGE (nr Drogheda, County Meath)

This is the famous Irish passage tomb near the Boyne. Dating from around 3000 BC, this Neolithic monument is well known for its spiral carvings inside, and the fact that the sun makes its entrance as a ray of light through an aperture at the Winter Solstice down the passageway to the end of the tomb.

OLD SARUM (nr Salisbury, Wiltshire)

This great hill fort was first built in the Iron Age and was taken over in later times by the Romans, Saxons and Normans. At the time of the Normans, it reached its peak and had a castle along with a cathedral. By the Middle Ages, the settlement had fallen into disuse with the construction of modern day Salisbury’s cathedral.


Spectacular portal burial chamber, very much a gateway to the stars. Dating from around 2500 BC, this is one of Ireland’s finest surviving monuments.

ROLLRIGHT STONES (nr Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire)

These three groups of stones are known as the Kings Men, the Whispering Knights and the Kings Stone. They were constructed round the Neolithic to Bronze Ages. An old tale recounts how Mother Shipton changed a local king and all his men into the standing stones that we see today.

SEAHENGE (nr Flag Fen, Norfolk)

Sadly there isn’t much left of this now. Subject to an English Heritage excavation recently, this consisted of one of the rarest timbered circles dating from the Bronze Age. The great central timber was removed for conservation work. However, a reconstruction does stand nearby built by the ‘Time Team’ programme.

SILBURY HILL (nr West Kennet, Wilts)

Part of the Avebury complex. This artificial prehistoric mound dates from the Neolithic period and is the largest of its type in Europe. Sadly, has been subject to some collapse in recent times due to past excavations. It is not known what this was used for, though it is thought to have been processional.


Local legend has it that you only have to scratch the surface of Orkney to find archaeology. Here we have one of the best preserved groups of Stone Age houses in Europe. It laid buried beneath sand until a storm revealed it in 1850. It consists of 5000 year old beds, cupboards and dressers.


One of the finest Neolithic sites in Britain. It consists of three stone circles, two stone avenues and a burial chamber. Recent excavations have revealed a temple similar in construction to Woodhenge, also.

STONEHENGE (nr Amesbury, Wilshire)

I could not write a piece on Sacred Sites without including this one. This great and ancient Stone Circle is considered to be one of the wonders of the world. The place was originally built between 3000 to 1600 BC. Amongst the stones used, was bluestone from the Preseli Mountains in Wales and sandstone from the local Marlborough Downs. Various theories have surfaced in recent years to how the place was built and what it was used for, though no one knows for sure. However, ceremonial meeting place, observatory or whatever, there is no doubt that certain stones are aligned at the summer and winter solstices. The place has also lost none of its mystery and magic, a testament to the many pilgrims who still gather today.

TARA (nr Newgrange, County Meath)

Famous ancient ceremonial site of the High Kings of Ireland. Dating from around 500 BC, this is the place setting of many of the legends of the Tuatha de Danaan.


Legend has it that this is the place where King Arthur was born to Queen Igraine after her seduction by Uther Pendragon, aided with the help of Merlin. However, Geoffrey of Monmouth in the 12th century was responsible for this tale. Tintagel was originally a Roman fort, and then fell into the hands of the Normans. The place is also thought to be where Tristram fell in love with Iseult.

UFFINGTON WHITE HORSE (nr Wantage, Oxford)

This site lies along the Ridgeway, an ancient route. There is a large Iron Age fort and ramparts, a natural mound known as Dragon Hill, and of course, the famous White Horse cut into the chalk. It is believed that this site may have some star alignments and was used in rituals.

WEST KENNET LONG BARROW (nr West Kennet, Wiltshire)

This Neolithic chambered tomb consists of a long earthen mound that contains a passage and side chamber. The entrance is guarded by a large stone. When the tomb was first excavated, the remains of more than 30 people were found inside.

WOODHENGE (nr Amesbury, Wiltshire)

This Neolithic ceremonial place is the forerunner of Stonehenge, and is thought to date from around 2300 BC. It consists of a bank and ditch and six concentric rings of timber posts. The entrance points to the rising sun on Midsummer’s Day and in the centre, a burial can be seen


One of Britain’s most well known stone circles, dating from around 4000 years ago and originally consisted of 180 stones. Today it is possible to see two stone circles surrounded by an outer circle. The larger circle is surrounded by a henge and at the southern entrance; the stone avenue used for processions still stands.

The most important and oldest megalithic henge in Britain, predating the Druids with active use between 2600–1600 b.c.e.

Avebury is said to be the largest henge in the world, covering 28.5 acres and including most of the village of Avebury, located six miles west of Marlborough in Wiltshire, southern England.

The site may have served Neolithic Goddess worship and is considered a center of Earth and psychic power by Witches, Pagans and others.

The original purpose of the stones is shrouded in mystery.

Site and layout.

The henge is surrounded on three sides
by the Marlborough chalk downs and consists of a 15-
foot-high bank, 1,200 feet in diameter, encircling an outer
ditch. The bank is intersected by four roads, three of
which, and possibly the fourth, are thought to have been
causeways to provide access to and from the henge. From
the air, Avebury looks like a Celtic, or circled, cross.
Within the large outer circle stand the ruins of two
and perhaps three smaller circles. The outer Great Stone
Circle once contained about 100 upright sarsen stones
which are hard, sandstone rocks found in the downs.
Only 27 remain, due to massive destruction by the Puritans
in the 17th and 18th centuries. The largest of these
weigh about 60 tons and stand around 25 feet tall.
The circle to the north is known as the Central Circle
and was composed of about 30 stones, four of which
still stand. In the center were three stones forming a ring
called a Cove or Devil’s Den; only two of the stones survive.
The Cove may have been used for funeral rites for
bodies that were buried elsewhere.

Standing alone between the main circle and the South
Circle at the other end is a stone with a natural hole. It
is now referred to as Stukeley’s Ring Stone for William
Stukeley, the 18th-century antiquarian-archaeologist
whose investigations provided much of what is known
about the site before modern developments.
The South Circle has two large stones still upright at
its entrance. Originally there were about 32 stones, five
of which remain, and there are markings where others
once stood. Some theorists believe that this inner circle
was the site of fertility ceremonies during which human
bones were used.

A large stone, called the Obelisk, stands in the center
with smaller stones, called Z stones, surrounding it. The
Obelisk may have been the site for an ancestor cult, for
human bones were found at its base. At this end are also
some tall standing stones and smaller stones in triangle
or diamond shapes, perhaps depicting the male and female

A double row of stones forms West Kennet Avenue
and leads toward the Kennet valley from the South Circle.
Originally, the avenue comprised about 200 standing
stones set in pairs and was the link between the Great
Stone Circle and another small circle known as the Sanctuary,
one mile away on Overton Hill. One researcher,
Alexander Keiller, excavated the site in 1934 and found
burials at the bases of four of the large stones. Keiller also
learned that the avenue was crossed by early Iron Age and
Roman field boundaries.

The Sanctuary might have been built on the site where
wooden rings stood and where corpses were stored until
the flesh decayed. The dead may have been carried along
the avenue to this circle. The Sanctuary also was part of
Stukeley’s theory that the Druids were serpent worshipers
and Avebury, like Stonehenge, was a serpent temple
of ‘Dracontia.’ The Sanctuary was the head of a snake, the
West Kennet Avenue stone paths formed the neck, and
the sarsen circles were the coils of the body.
At the western entrance of the henge once stood Beckhampton
Avenue. It was destroyed by the Puritans and
now only two stones, known as Adam and Eve or the Longstones,
stand. No one knows where the avenue ended, but
it is thought to have extended a mile and a half. Stukeley
claims that it stretched from the two stones to the sarsen
circles. Sir Norman Lockyer, a 20th-century astronomer,
asserted that the Beckhampton Avenue and Cove features
were orientated to the May sunrise and May ceremonials,
and the West Kennet Avenue was once used to observe the
morning rise of Alpha Centauri in November.
Silbury Hill is built on a natural chalk ridge covering
about five acres and rising 130 feet in height. It is the largest
man-made mound in Europe, and while its purpose
and relationship to Avebury have not been determined,
the carbon date for its first phase of use is c. 2600 b.c.e.
and suggests it was built about the time of the first construction
stages of Avebury. However, West Kennet Long
Barrow, a mound about 350 feet long with a long passage
and five burial chambers, was built c. 2700 b.c.e.
Windmill Hill, 1.5 miles northwest of Avebury, has an
earthwork on the top that was built around 2500 b.c.e.
Animal bones uncovered here suggest it may have been a
cattle market, trading post and ritual site.
The antiquarian John Aubrey visited Avebury in 1648
and observed that the stones were either standing in their
original places or had fallen nearby. Shortly after, the Puritans
began destroying sarsens by breaking them with
hammers or by burning them. In 1649, stones were removed
to clear the land for farming. Local inhabitants
used them in their own buildings; fragments can still be
seen in the village manor house, church and homes. Aubrey’s
notes provide modern investigators with their only
clues for defining the stones’ original positions.
Purpose and uses of the stones. Excavations at Avebury
and monuments in the surrounding area have failed to
14 Avebury

determine a definite origin, purpose or interrelationship
among the stones. According to various theories, the entire
site may have comprised a single religious, magical
or psychic center, or one specific set of stones may have
served as sites for fertility, religious or burial rites or for
astronomical purposes.

The most widely accepted theory holds that Avebury
was built by prehistoric Beaker folk, so named for their
beaker pottery, over a period of five centuries. Beaker
pottery has been found in the area, and timber buildings
were uncovered at the site, suggesting that Avebury might
have once been a settlement of huts. The name Avebury,
however, implies that at some time in its history, it was a
burial site and was referred to as such in the 10th-century
charter of King Athelstan.

One scenario holds that Avebury was built for seasonal
festivals, and the stones were arranged for processionals.
Some observers see male and female aspects to the pillars
and diamond shapes of the stones. Silbury Hill may be
an image of the pregnant Goddess, another fertility symbol.
Still another symbol is the Devil’s Chair, a huge stone
that measures 14 feet wide by 13 feet high and contains a
ledge. In folk tradition, Avebury village girls would sit on
Devil’s Chair on Beltane (May Eve) to make wishes.
The stones of Avebury are widely believed to be the
collectors and repositories of Earth and psychic energy,
which supposedly was known to the original users of the
site and which can be dowsed. The area around Avebury
has been popular with the makers of crop circles.

Chanctonbury Ring

In England, Chanctonbury Ring is one of the time-honored meeting places of the Sussex witches.

A well-known landmark and local beauty spot, it is a green, rounded height, crowned by a fine clump of trees.

Newcomers often believe these trees to be the ‘ring’ of Chanctonbury.

However, they were planted in the eighteenth century; the real ‘ring’ is a prehistoric bank and ditch, of which traces can still be found.

Many legends cluster around Chanctonbury.

The local people call the spot ‘Mother Goring’; and at one time there was a custom of coming up to the Ring to see the sunrise on the morning of May Day.

The Ring is said to be haunted by the apparition of a man on horseback.

Ghostly hoofbeats are heard, and then the rider comes galloping past and vanishes.

The main local legend, however, is the one that connects Chanctonbury with witchcraft.

Go to the Ring at midnight, says the story, and run around it seven times.

Then the Devil will appear, and offer you something to eat or drink.

“A bowl of soup,” says one version; which sounds rather prosaic, unless the contents of the witches’ cauldron are intended.

But if you accept what the Devil offers, you are his forever.

It will be seen how this legend, and the custom of seeing the sunrise from the Ring on May morning, both tie up with the Ring’s being used for the witches’ Sabbats.

To see the sunrise on May morning means that you have been out all night on May Eve, the old Walpurgis Night, and one of the four Great Sabbats.

In modern days, archaeologists have examined Chanctonbury Ring and found it to be the site of a Romano-British temple.

So the old
sacred place of the pagan gods became the meeting place of the witches.

Witchcraft in the Cotswold

The area of the Cotswold Hills has long been famous as a centre of witchcraft lore.

In modern days two events have brought this fact to notice:

the so-called ‘Witchcraft Murder’ on Meon Hill in nineteen forty five, and the opening of Mr Cecil H Williamson’s witchcraft museum at Bourton-on-the-Water at Easter nineteen fifty six, which aroused considerable controversy in the area at the time.

The museum closed about ten years later, Mr  Williamson having opened another at Boscastle in Cornwall.

During the years it remained at Bourton-on-the-Water, this witchcraft museum, arranged in a picturesque fifteenth-century Cotswold stone house provided a fascinating panorama of objects connected with magic and witchcraft.

It contained, among innumerable other exhibits, an indoor shrine used by a witch for thanksgiving to the Old Gods in recognition of spells successfully
accomplished, and a life-size representation of a scene in an old-time witch’s cottage, showing how a ‘divining familiar’ worked.

A wax figure of a witch sat before a big old-fashioned table, on which was a skull draped with a black shawl; also on the table were a black hilted knife, and four candles in crude, home-made candlesticks of bone.

Specimens of different herbs were displayed before the familiar, a small animal.

It was explained that the animal became possessed by a god or a spirit and indicated the right herb to use in a particular case.

This was in fact a correct representation of a ‘divining familiar’.

It has been known for a cat to be used in the same way, to divine by selecting cards from an outspread pack with its paw.

The exhibit which aroused most controversy, however, was a lifesize wax figure of an almost nude witch-priestess lying upon an altar.

She was described as a priestess ofTanat, the Phoenician moon goddess, whose worship, it was claimed, was still carried out in Cornwall and
the West of England, being celebrated by ritual bonfires on the old pagan festival dates.

In June nineteen fifty-six someone hanged a cat from a beam outside the museum.

Mr. Williamson interpreted it as a ‘death warning’, from one who objected to the museum’s being opened.

Mr. Williamson’s museum would have been controversial anywhere.

It was doubly so in the Cotswolds, where fear of witchcraft as a sinister influence is still lively today.

The events of the Meon Hill murder have not been forgotten; nor how the famous anthropologist, the late Dr Margaret Murray, spent a week in the area of the murder, ostensibly as an artist with a sketchbook, but actually carrying out her own investigation.

Later, she stated publicly that she believed the murder victim, an old man named Charles Walton of the village of Lower Quinton, had been killed because of the local belief in witchcraft.

Walton was found dead under a tree on Meon Hill, on 14th February, nineteen forty five.

His body was pinned to the ground by a hayfork, and his throat and chest had been slashed in the form of a cross.

Police investigating the murder came up against a wall of silence, and no arrest was ever made.

February 14th is Candlemas by the Old Calendar, which is twelve days behind the present dating; and Candlemas is one of the Great Sabbats of the witches.

Recently another investigation into this mysterious killing has been carried out by Donald McCormick, who published his findings in his book Murder by Witchcraft (John Lorig, London, nineteen sixty eight).

Mr McCormick has uncovered new facts about the man who was killed, which have convinced me personally that witchcraft, or rather the fear of witchcraft, was the motive for this murder; Charles Walton was slain because someone feared his powers as a witch.

He was slain bloodily because to spill a witch’s blood destroyed their influence.

In eighteen fifty six an old woman named Anne Turner had been killed in a similar manner, in another Cotswold village, Long Compton, by a
man who believed her to be a witch.

He was influenced by an old local saying :

“There are enough witches in Long Compton to draw a waggon load of hay up Long Compton Hill.”

The traditional meeting place of the Cotswold witches is the Rollright Stones, a prehistoric stone circle between Long Compton and Chipping

Outside the circle and across a road is a big standing stone called the King Stone, strangely weathered by the passing centuries; and nearby in a field is a cromlech of big stones called the Whispering Knights.

On  the twelfth of May nineteen forty-nine, a witches’ Sabbat was held at the Rollright Stones which was observed by two independent witnesses, whose
stories got into the local and national press.

It was the night of the full moon, and May Eve by the Old Calendar.

The latter, as stated above, is twelve days behind the New, or Gregorian Calendar, which was adopted in Britain in seventeen fifty-two; but traces of the old reckoning can still be found in custom and folklore.

The man who witnessed the rites had gone there because he had heard rumours of witch meetings there before, and curiosity attracted him.

He was unable to get very close, but he saw a number of people, both men and women, performing a ritual around the Kings Stone, with chanting and dancing.

The leader wore a disguise, which the observer thought was a goat-headed mask.

The other eye-witness, a woman, was afraid to remain, and fled from the scene.

Since this time, traces of bonfires have been found at the Rollright Stones on various occasions; but since the newspaper publicity, witches have tended to avoid using the Stones for their meetings.

However, the magazine Life International, in its issue dated the eighteenth of May nineteen sixty-four, carried a detailed article about witchcraft in Britain, which included photographs of a special meeting at the Rollright Stones organized by a London coven under the leadership of Mrs. Ray Bone, whose witch-name is

She invoked the Old Gods of the witches, and the coven joined hands to dance round a bonfire lit within the circle of stones.

Then the witches jumped over the flames of the fire, which according to their ritual symbolized the life-giving properties of the sun.

The rite was held to celebrate May Eve, the traditional beginning of summer.

A remarkable historical novel, based upon fact, and dealing with witchcraft in the Cotswolds in the seventeenth century, is The Silver Bowl, by Hugh Ross Williamson, first published in nineteen forty-eight.

It deals particularly with Chipping Campden, and the strange events are known as the Campden Wonder, when three witches, Joan Perry and her two sons were hanged for the supposed murder of a man who had disappeared, but who later returned alive to the village.

It mentions Seven Wells, within a circle of trees on a hill south of Chipping Campden, as the meeting place of the seventeenth-century coven, and contains many unusual details about witchcraft, which it calls “the Craft of the Wise”.

At the old Fleece Inn at Bretforton, near Evesham, on the edge of the Cotswolds, the custom is kept up of drawing three white circles on the hearth, “to stop witches from coming down the chimney”.

This derives from the old idea that the influence of witchcraft could enter a house through the windows, the doors, or the chimney; and protective amulets
were hung or placed in these locations to prevent it.

The number three has always been sacred and magical, while the circle was anciently regarded as the symbol of perfection and eternity, and whiteness as the
colour of purity. Hence the protective magic of this traditional rite.