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Twelve drummers drumming.

Scourge of those who enjoy the peace and quiet of our ancient monuments, here is a group of ‘healing(!) drummers’ serenading the Devil’s Chair stone at Avebury circle.

Eleven pipers piping.

Outliers to stone circles are often named the ‘Pipers’, from the legend that circles are maidens turned to stone for dancing on the Sabbath. But here is a lone piper, standing among 10 stones of the main monument at Callanish.

Ten lords a-leaping.

Back to Stonehenge and a morris side in mid-hey.

But all is not as it seems; These lords a-leaping are in fact female! The side is Wake Robin Morris, a women’s Morris team native to the Pioneer Valley of Western Massachusetts during their tour of England during 2015. The full dance, to the tune ‘The Nutting Girl‘ is available to view on YouTube.

For nine ladies dancing, what else could we show but this iconic scene from the 1973 film the Wicker Man? Sadly, the stones were just film props, located at Kennedy Castle Gardens, in Scotland. The fire leap scene can be seen in its entirety on YouTube.

Eight maids a-milking.

Cows getting their fill of the lush Cumbrian grass at Long Meg and her daughters (who may well have been the milkmaids!)

Seven swans a-swimming

This image of swans swimming gracefully through the air at Carahunge is by Nadya Johnson

Six geese a-laying. And here are their ‘eggs’.

Porth Nanven beach, at the base of Cot Valley near St Just in West Penwith is also known as ‘Dinosaur Egg Beach’ in the media because of a remarkable deposit of ovoid boulders covering the beach and foreshore. These boulders come in all sizes, from hen’s egg to a metre or more in length, and have proved so tempting as souvenirs that they are now legally protected by the National Trust which owns the beach.

Five Gold Rings. Ok, so it’s only four, who’s counting?

Yellowmead stone circle near Sheepstor in Devon, England, is a Bronze Age concentric stone circle consisting of four rings of stones set within one another. The largest is 20 metres wide and the smallest, 6 metres. It is located on Yellowmead Down.

There is a description and history of the monument on the excellent Legendary Dartmoor website.

Who’s surveying whom?

Four ‘colly’ birds. The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word’s use as an adjective to describe something covered in coal dust, or the colour of coal. I’m fairly sure the rooks(?) in the picture fit that description. A full explanation of the origin of the ‘colly birds’ line can be found here.

Three French Hens. Or rather, a couple of Romano-British mosaics along with a lovely ceramic example.


March 2023

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