Thursday, 13 June 2019

Storm Woman of Dozmary Pool

The lonely and isolated Dozmary Pool has many mysterious tales to tell. But there is one which is truly remarkable. In the murky depths of the pool a powerful vortex is rumoured to exist, like an underground waterfall. This strange watery realm is reputed to be presided over by the Old Storm Woman, a ghostly moor-land mermaid, who dwells in the cool peaty waters below the still surface of the lake. It is she who creates the winds which rip across the moor from the centre of the lake, as she gathers the power of the aqueous vortex; she blows the winds across eastern Cornwall from the dramatic cliffs of the north coast, across the granite tors to the lush river valleys in the south. Maybe the strange and seemingly out-of-place ancient carving of a mermaid, which resides in the parish church at nearby Linkinhorne, is an old half-forgotten reminder of her story? 

Above: Linkinhorne church mermaid by Paul Atlas-Saunders

Enys Tregarthen retold this tale in her children’s story entitled The House of the Sleeping Winds originally published in 1911. The most famous legend associated with Dozmary Pool is that of Sir Bedevere casting Excalibur into the lake, where the Lady of the Lake receives Arthur’s sword for safe keeping. Maybe the Old Storm Woman Mermaid and the Lady of the Lake are one and the same? 

Friday, 12 October 2018

Ghost-ship of Porthcurno

Onward came the ill-omened craft 
passing ominously through the breakers, 
up over the sands, steadily pursuing its 
ghost-path over the dry land.

Illustration copyright Paul Atlas-Saunders

The tale from Robert Hunt's "Popular Romances"

Friday, 14 September 2018

Guldize on Bodmin Moor

On Bodmin Moor, during the first half of the 20th century, Guldize, (the end of harvest) was marked by Crying the Neck and performing a Broom Dance.

At North Hill during the 1930s, Goldhys was celebrated with a broom dance to the tune of ‘So Early in the Morning’. This was recorded in Old Cornwall magazine in 1931, where the writer, E. Thompson says: 

“…I must not forget to mention the dance over the Broomstick. This is most interesting especially if someone is present with a concertina. The Dance, I think it is to the tune of So Early In The Morning. It’s fine when you hear the heavy boots beating a tattoo on the stone floors, as the dancers first lift one leg then the other, to pass the broomstick from hand to hand, as if they were weaving. What a wonderful time too. As the dance proceeds, the musician plays faster and faster and the dancers have to dance faster. It is a marvel how these men, some big and well built, can jump so nimbly as they do in this dance."

For more on this and other lore, check out From Granite to Sea