Hidden East Anglia:

Landscape Legends of Eastern England











Landscape Features





Secret tunnel


On the eastern outskirts of Rampton is a low, rectangular, flat-topped mound, the remnant of a 12th century castle motte (TL431680). Known as Giant's Hill, the local children used to believe that a giant actually once lived there. A tunnel was supposed to run from the hill to All Saints church, about 100m to the west.1 A tree-covered oblong mound close by is called Giant's Grave,2 but I can find no folklore related to it.



1. Former webpage: http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/GiantsHill.pdf

2. Charles C. Babington: ‘Ancient Cambridgeshire’ (Cambridge Antiquarian Society, 1883), p.81.





Devil's Dyke


Stretching for seven miles between Reach (TL567661) and Woodditton, the Devil's Dyke is a well-preserved and probably Anglo Saxon bank and ditch earthwork that blocked a land corridor between marshy fen and dense woodland. Referred to first as Reach Dyke in the 11th century, in the Middle Ages it was known as the Great Ditch, or St. Edmund's Dyke. It was only in post-medieval times that the name Devil's Dyke became attached to it. Legend tells that the Devil arrived at a wedding at Reach church, but uninvited as he was, the guests turned him away. As he fled in anger, his huge flaming tail scored a groove in the earth, forming the dyke.1 As with most such monumental works, some have believed that it was created by giants.2



1. http://web.archive.org/web/20130209063347/http://www.devilsdykeproject.org.uk/index.html

2. 'Folklore, Myths & Legends of Britain' (Reader's Digest, 1973), p.244.



The Devil at Reach church


Although the Devil fled from the church in the story above, tradition says that you can make him reappear if you walk around St. Etheldreda's seven times.1 Another version says that running round it seven times will make the Devil appear at the ruined archway behind the 19th century church, all that remains of the former chapel of St. John that used to stand there (TL567662).2



1. Enid Porter: ‘Cambridgeshire Customs & Folklore’, (Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1969), p.377.

2. Daniel Codd: 'Mysterious Cambridgeshire’ (Derby Books, 2010), p.55.