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Dressing The Stones
Raising The Foreign Stones
Salisbury Plain
Stonehenge Summarised Useful Facts For The Attention Of Visitors
Tenons And Mortices
The Barrows Of Salisbury Plain
The Building Of Stonehenge
The Druid Question
The Earthwork
The Foreign Stones
The Hele Stone Or Friar's Heel
The Legend Of The Friar's Heel
The Lithology Of Stonehenge
The Men Of The Barrows
The Process Of Erection
The Round Barrows
The Slaughtering Stone
The Stones Without The Circle
The Story Of The Sarsens
What Was Stonehenge?
When Was Stonehenge Erected?

The Legend Of The Friar's Heel

The devil, so the story runs, determined one day to undertake some
great and stupendous work, for the like of which he is famous
throughout the world. In this devil we can still discern the
Scandinavian giant legend, which in later Christian times became
devil legends. The work had to be great, puzzling, and amazing to
all beholders, for as the Wiltshire story-teller adds, he had let an
exciseman slip through his fingers. In the course of his wanderings
up and down the earth, he had noticed some huge stones in the garden
of an old crone in Ireland; and he determined, therefore, to transport
them to the stoneless waste of Salisbury Plain as being the most
unlikely spot in which to find such things. There yet remained the old
woman's permission to be obtained before he could commence his labour.
His request was at first met with a flat negative, but eventually the
devil so played upon her cupidity, by the assurance that she could
have as much money as she could count and add up while he was engaged
in the work of removal, that she readily gave her consent. As usual
the devil had the best of the bargain, for he, knowing her powers of
arithmetic to be but scanty, handed her a number of pieces of money,
whose value was fourpence halfpenny, and twopence three-farthings.
The dame had barely managed to add the first two coins together, when
the devil called upon her to stop, and looking round she saw the
stones were all removed, and had been tied with a withe band into a
neat bundle which was slung upon his shoulder. Away flew the devil
towards Salisbury Plain, but as he sped onwards the withe cut deep
into his shoulder, so heavy were the stones. He endured it as long as
he could, but just towards the end of his journey, while passing over
the valley of the Avon, he winced, and re-adjusted his burden; in so
doing one of the stones fell down and plunged into the river at
Bulford, where it remains at the present day, as witness to the
veracity of this legend. Right glad to be rid of his burden when he
reached the Plain, the devil made haste to set up the stones, and so
delighted was he with the result of his first efforts, and with the
progress he was making, that he cried aloud with glee, Now I'll
puzzle all men, for no one knows, nor ever will know, how these stones
have come here. Unluckily this bold boast was overheard by a holy
friar walking near, who straightway replied in right Wiltshire
fashion, That's more than thee can tell; and then realising who the
builder was, turned and fled for his life. Enraged at his discovery by
the friar, and perceiving that his scheme had failed, the devil, who
had just taken up a stone to poise it upon its two uprights, hurled
it at the holy man, and struck him on the uplifted heel as he made
haste to run. The friar's sanctity was evidently greater than his
personal courage, for it was the stone and not the friar which
suffered most from the impact. Even to-day the huge impress of the
Friar's heel is to be seen upon the stone. At this juncture the sun
rose, and the devil had perforce to relinquish his task. This accounts
for the present scattered appearance of the stones.

Turning from fancy to fact, the word Hele, from which the stone takes
its name, is probably derived from the Anglo-Saxon verb helan = to
conceal, and is so applied to the stone because it conceals the sun
at rising on the day of the Summer Solstice.

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Previous: The Hele Stone Or Friar's Heel

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