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December 2017: A West Country Christmas – Dorset in December

Thomas Hardy’s celebration of Christmas in Dorset in his early novel Under the Greenwood Tree is perhaps second only to A Christmas Carol (a version ...More
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The Fairies of Burrow Hill, Berkshire

Tales of fairies (or for those of a cheesecloth persuasion ‘faeries’) abound in British folklore, and one of the most common themes is of little people who live in ancient barrows, some of which are in fact burial mounds. Just such a tale attaches to Beedon in Berkshire, with a nice little twist of mystery that has even those of us who are sceptics pondering.
Local legend it seems had long told of the fairies that dwelt in the barrow or burrow on a farm near Beedon. There was supposedly a golden coffin buried beneath the mound which contained a supernatural creature given the rather uninspired named Burrow. These legends warned of consequences for anyone disturbing the little inhabitants, although mainly they were thought friendly – a ploughman who abandoned his broken implement near the burrow while he went to fetch the tools to repair it returned to find it perfectly fixed.
In the mid-19th century when excavations of such mounds became somewhat fashionable among the scientific minded, a party decided to explore the Beedon Barrow. They were warned about the dangers, but with the promise of possible riches to be uncovered got permission from the landowners. The dig was hampered by unexpected and violent storms, and only dug enough to find a small piece of a broken incense cup; and strangely, they were told that a similar expedition 20 years earlier had been forced to quit by similar thunderstorms. Makes you wonder doesn’t it?

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