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  • The tale of the standing stones of Stanton Drew you may choose to dismiss or believe.

  • It happened they say many years ago on the night of a midsummer's eve. A young man and

  • woman had plighted their troth and been married that same afternoon. And now with their guests

  • they determined to dance til the rise of the midsummer moon. They'd hired a harper and

  • offered them coin if merry dance tunes they would strum. So the harper he played and the

  • hours flew by 'til the poor harper's fingers were numb. Tomorrow's the Sabbath the harper

  • cried out. You should go to your home and your bed! Or the Devil will come here and

  • make you his own. But they laughed and kept reveling instead. The

  • bride called to a piper to play on their pipe and the poor harper left them to rest. And

  • the piper piped up and the midnight hour passed and they danced on like they were possessed.

  • Next morning the harper returned to seek out a hood they'd mislaid in the night. In the

  • glow of the dawn of the midsummer sun they saw a remarkable sight.

  • Of the bride, groom and guests who but hours before had danced, there was nowhere a trace.

  • Instead where they'd capered and croused without care a stone circle stood in their place.

  • A circle of stones on the undisturbed grass where no circle of stones stood before. And

  • as for the revelers who danced past the dawn they were heard of and seen of no more.

  • To all wedding parties on midsummer's eve do not dance when the sabbath is due. Heed

  • this warning or you may find yourselves transformed like the standing stones of Stanton Drew.

  • The Stanton Drew circles are supposed to be people who gathered for a wedding long, long

  • ago. They had the wedding on the Saturday but they didn't know when to stop. They didn't

  • realise that their dances and celebrations were going on through Saturday night towards

  • Sunday morning and they were encouraged by a mysterious musician who arrived from nowhere

  • and got them to keep on dancing. But when they passed the fatal division into Sunday

  • morning they were profaning the sabbath by making merry upon it and so automatically

  • got turned to stone to punish them for their sins. All of course except the mysterious

  • musician who was probably the Devil himself and vanished cackling to head on for another

  • misdeed.

  • The story is first recorded in the 17th century by one of the great founders of the discipline

  • of archaeology, a man called John Aubrey. He said that the circles were called the Wedding

  • in his time which commemorates the fatal wedding which ended up in the petrified dancers. There

  • are no less than three magnificent stone circles at Stanton Drew and another three stones set

  • in near the church so this is quite a spread-out magnificent elaborate site. They are a series

  • of ceremonial monuments. You can call them temples for short, built around about four

  • and a half thousand years ago to celebrate a religion of which we know absolutely nothing.

  • To keep people from dancing on the Sabbath, to point to something in the landscape and

  • say that could be you if you don't pay attention is an absolutely wonderful way of seizing

  • people's imaginations. Legends work really well if you can literally touch them, in other

  • words if they're about solid objects which you can see to the present day and to which

  • you can relate and Stanton Drew hits that one absolutely straight on.

The tale of the standing stones of Stanton Drew you may choose to dismiss or believe.

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B1 stanton harper sabbath drew wedding danced

Tales from English Folklore #2: The Dancers of Stanton Drew

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    Summer posted on 2020/06/08
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