Stanton Drew (Somerset)

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The name of the standing stones near this village is recorded as ‘The Wedding’ in 1644, and more recently as ‘The Fiddler and the Maids’. The account by William Stukeley in 1723 explains: ‘This noble monument is … a company who assisted a nuptial solemnity, thus petrify'd. In an orchard near the church is a cove consisting of three stones … this they call the parson, the bride, and bridegroom. Other circles are said to be the company dancing: and a separate parcel of stones standing a little from the rest, are call'd the fiddlers, or band of music’ (‘The History of the Temples of the Ancient Celts’, unpublished MS).

Other more recent writers explain that the party were dancing late on a Saturday, but at midnight their piper (or harper), a pious man, refused to play on the Sunday, at which the bride angrily swore that ‘she would find someone to play if she went to hell to fetch him’. The Devil then appeared, disguised as an old man, and played so wildly that the dancers could not stop; by morning they had all turned to stone. Similar legends are told of various groups of standing stones in Cornwall and Devon. They are of medieval date, reinforced later by Protestant teaching.

S. P. Menefee, Folklore 85 (1974), 23–42;L. V. Grinsell, The Megalithic Monuments of Stanton Drew (1994).

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