“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Turning the Devil’s Stone

I recently happened across the village of Shebbear in Devon and found out about an interesting piece of local folklore.

On a patch of grass just outside the village churchyard lies a large boulder (estimated to weigh about 1 tonne). The stone is believed to be a glacial erratic i.e. a rock that is not from a local rock formation, but one that was probably transported to the area as part of prehistoric glacial movements.

Local folklore however proposes that the stone arrived in the village as a result of a battle between the Devil and God, a battle that the Devil lost. It seems that the Devil dropped the stone during the conflict and that the stone fell on top of him and flattened him under it. The local tradition states that it takes a year for the Devil to dig down and then back up the other side of the stone, and so every year the village bell ringers flip the stone over in a bid to re-trap the Devil and to protect the village from harm. This stone flipping ceremony occurs on the 5th November every year, in an alternative celebration to the typical Guy Fawkes night antics of bonfires and fireworks.

This turning of the Devil’s Stone to keep the Devil trapped beneath it is not a unique piece of folklore. Recently Fortean Times (FT303:30) ran an article on the “Witch of Scrapfaggot Green”, which explains how witches were sometimes buried at crossroads and their graves covered by a large stone. The idea being that the stone would prevent the spirit of the witch from being able to escape from its interment and from getting up to any mischief.

So if you ever happen to be near Shebbear on Guy Fawkes night, it might be worth a visit to see the turning of the Devil's Stone.

The Devil's Stone outside the village churchyard.
Shebbear village sign showing the Devil's Stone.
The Devil's Stone, and the impression of its previous resting place.
Another village sign showing the Devil's Stone.
The local ale house.
The pub's sign.
The most amusing grave stone in Shebbear's churchyard.

Pictures, Devon (August 2013).

If you find this post interesting please share it using the buttons below.

1 comment:

  1. Locals have several legends about the Devil's Stone. The first talks about the devil made a bet with God. The devil wanted to gain control over mankind and God persuaded to make a bet with him to achieve his goal. http://daciangold.blogspot.it/2015/02/devils-stone-legends-about-demons-and.html