Hidden East Anglia:

Landscape Legends of Eastern England

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tannington:

 

Fiddler's Hill

 

Fiddler's Hill was a high mound enclosed within a moat "so deep that no bottom in some places can be found". This was close to the boundary with Dennington, "on the right and two fields from the road from Maypole (Green) to Tannington". A raised track or causeway ran from the hill southwards to the road. The 19th century antiquary David Elisha Davy speculated it might be a barrow, and with others, opened up a section in 1836, but found little of interest. Davy included with his notes an account by Edward Dunthorne, who said: "I viewed this hill, which is about 12 or 13 feet higher than the field in which it stands; the moat is not so deep as has been represented. There are three oak timber trees growing upon the hill, one of which is dying at the top from old age. This tree cannot be less than 150 to 200 years old, or even more. Width of moat is about 11 yards. The base of the hill within the moat is a complete circle, and its diameter is 33 yards".


Davy came to doubt the hill's identification with a burial mound, saying "If this be a barrow, it is the only one I recollect seeing enclosed in a moat; it appears to me more probable that it was originally intended as a place for security...This place may afterwards have served as a mill mount; or there may have been a beacon on it....It was, or is, supposed to be haunted, either from some person having been murdered, or drowned in the moat. Music has frequently been heard at night from the hill..."


Under the date March 18th, 1836 he noted the following: "Robert Fisk, aged 84, says he heard his grandfather talk of Fiddler's Hill, and that it had a fixed mill upon it...and that the man who had it was a fiddler. He says he and his wife and children were at work 30 years ago picking stones in a field by the hill, and on coming back from taking some stones his wife said, 'Robert, didn't you hear the fiddle, how nicely it did go?' And the children all said they heard the fiddle playing...The hill has the appearance of its formerly having had paths about it, and might very probably have been the resort in the evening of some musical person". In a will of 1554, the hill is referred to as Mill Mount.1

 

This has to be the feature recorded by English Heritage as monument no. 390354, now only visible in aerial photographs as a very faint circular cropmark, at TM261675. According to later maps, Fiddler's Hill must have been destroyed by ploughing before 1904, but the 1842 tithe map shows the moat to have been about 54 metres in overall diameter.2

 

Sources:

1. 'The East Anglian Miscellany', (1908), Notes 2652, 2657, 2660.

2. pastscape.org.uk - Tannington

 

 

Theberton:

 

The Armada Beacon

 

At the edge of a wood in the grounds of Theberton House, by the roadside and very close to the boundary with Leiston, stands a 20 foot high earthen mound (TM448647) sometimes known as the Armada Beacon. This was one of three along the Suffolk coast traditionally connected with defences against Spain. The other two were burial mounds, one that went into the sea at Dunwich, the other still existing at the northern edge of Westleton parish (TM454727).

 

Henry Doughty in his 'Chronicles of Theberton' says that the House was sold in 1805 along with some of the surrounding land, and "among the items referred to in the particulars, I find the 'Mount, or Prospect House'. The mount or mound remains, but the prospect or summer-house, which then stood upon it has disappeared. The origin of the little mound is unknown; but parish wiseacres 'know it for sure' that from it Cromwell bombarded Leiston Abbey!"

 

Source: Henry M. Doughty: 'Chronicles of Theberton' (Macmillan & Co, 1910), p.222.

 

 

Thorington:

 

Fairies Hill

 

Unfortunately, I know neither the location nor any legend associated with this site. Somewhere in the parish is or was a field with the name of Fairies Hill. A suggestion has been made that this may mark the site of a lost prehistoric burial mound, but it certainly implies to me a bit of folklore yet to be uncovered.

 

Source: P. M. Warner: “Blything Hundred” (University of Leicester PhD thesis, 1982), p.45.

 

 

The witch tree

 

At TM419739 is the 16th century Laundry Farmhouse, in the grounds of which is a large holly tree. Local legend says that beneath it a witch was buried, with a holly stake thrust through her heart. The tree has grown from the stake, and new owners of the house have been warned that, should the tree ever be cut down, then the witch will return to life and be released.

 

Source: Information gratefully received from Gary Walker.

 

 

Thornham Magna:

 

Secret tunnel

 

From the 12th century Four Horseshoes pub (TM104707), a tunnel is said to run to the 17th century former coaching inn, the White Horse (TM113709), not far away to the east along Workhouse Road.

 

Source: http://www.suffolkcamra.co.uk/pubs/pub/965

 

 

Trimley St. Martin:

 

Secret tunnel

 

Grimston Hall (TM268365) is an early 18th century farmhouse, containing remnants of the earlier residence of the Elizabethan adventurer Thomas Cavendish, the second Englishman to circumnavigate the globe. Local tales say that a smugglers' tunnel runs from here to 16th century Alston Hall (TM264368) just over 500 yards away.

 

Source: M. Berryman, R. Gitsham, A. Thomson: 'Glimpses of the Trimley Villages' (Suffolk Federation of Workers' Educational Association Branches, 1991.)

 

 

Troston:

 

Troston Mount

 

Troston Mount (TL896741) is a tree-covered (probably Bronze Age) barrow visible from the road, between Thetford and Bury St. Edmunds. Here, says the archaeologist L. V. Grinsell, "all the guns and everything" are said to be hidden, a fragment he obtained from the occupant of the cottage opposite. It was once used as a 'moot hill' for the Bradmere Hundred, and is marked on an 1842 tithe map as a gibbet. (See also other 'Moot mounds').

 

Source: L. V. Grinsell: 'Folklore of Prehistoric Sites in Britain' (David & Charles, 1976), p.137.