Thursday, 31 March 2016

Writing - Word of mouth #FolkloreThursday

We humans have passed on knowledge through families and communities by word of mouth for as long as there have been humans walking the earth. We have also passed on tales, laws ways of life ans superstitions in the same way. The internet will not stop that and in fact it is making it available to all who are connected.

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folklorethursday.com is the official website of #FolkloreThursday which exists to encourage the passing on of people knowledge. 
There are a wealth of stories and folklore there already and here some samples. To read them at length you will need to go to the site and I recommend the you give it five minutes.

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The Calderstones: Invoking the spirits of place

Robin Hood’s Stone stands on the pavement at the junction of Booker Avenue and Archerfield Road surrounded by green painted metal railings. The stone was given its name on account of a series of deep grooves, once believed to have been used for sharpening arrowheads. The grooves are now considered to have occurred naturally when the rock was formed, and been further ingrained as the sandstone was worn away by the elements. Other, more intriguing marks lay buried beneath the concrete into which the stone was set eighty-eight years ago, having been relocated when houses were built on a nearby field where it once stood. These are known as cup and ring markings and are believed to have been made in the Early Bronze Age –  four-thousand years ago.
Robin Hood’s stone does not stand alone in South Liverpool however; one mile North East as the crow flies is Calderstones Park where The Calderstones – Liverpool’s oldest monument – are kept. The Calderstones are six sandstone stones which once formed part of a Neolithic passage grave – the only such grave ever discovered in England.

The Curious Cures for Warts and Wens

These cures are from Herefordshire.

They are a mix of religion, folklore and rural witchcraft, typical, I imagine, of isolated rural communities where old practices and beliefs remained. There is often an element of secrecy, hiding the ‘magic’ from public gaze, and of burying the evidence. The number nine appears more than once, so does the proximity of cross-roads. Christianity and the power of the cross is not entirely divorced from these cures. 

Here are a couple of examples,

1. Steal some beef from a butcher’s shop, rub the warts with it and bury it. As the meat decays so the warts will disappear.


2. A wen on the neck could be cured by the application of a dead man’s hand. This should be the hand of a malefactor immediately after execution. Persons with wens, it was recalled, attended the gallows on the occasion of a hanging to make trial of this method.

Pretty gruesome and quite illegal.

We all know of such tales and as for Robin Hood I live a mile away from where the arrow was fired to ascertain his burial place and it is a good 70 miles from Liverpool!

My own piece of medical folklore.

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My grandmother living in the 1920s and 30s, suffered from rheumatoid arthritis and had a deal of pain. This was twenty years before the advent of the National Health Service when the working classes were poor and couldn't afford to buy painkillers. It was recommended (probably by an old wife!) that she drank the water from boiled celery as a painkiller. Rather you than me.

All great stories!

God Bless