Welcome to the vale...

Moelbryn is the ancient celtic name for the Malvern Hills, a dramatic ridge of volcanic rock that spans the counties of Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire and dominates the surrounding countryside. Towards the south of the Malverns lies the Eastnor Vale, a picturesque valley amongst the woods and ridges of which lies the village of Eastnor.

This weblog focuses on the stories, folklore and history of the area - the hills, buildings, woods and ruins, tales of faerie folk, witches, druids and giants.

Please leave a comment if you have found this blog useful or have enjoyed reading.

Peace x

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Ragged Stone Hill

At the southern end of the Malvern ridge the hills trail off into rolling hills and fertile valleys. Chase End Hill is the southernmost hill and is also sometimes known as the Gloucestershire Beacon. Moving northward along the ridge the next hilltop that is encountered are the rugged twin peaks of Ragged Stone Hill, so called for it’s exposed and rocky hilltop.

Ragged Stone Hill seen from Clenchers Mill Lane

There is much folklore and superstition that surrounds the ‘Accursed Shadow’ of the Ragged Stone Hill. One tale tells of how the curse was said to befall the family who at the time resided at Birtsmorton Court in Worcestershire. It was said that were the shadow to fall upon the house then the eldest son of the household would die within twelve months. There have even been numerous mysterious or unusual deaths and accidents attributed to the shadows curse.

One story entitled “The Shadow of the Raggedstone” by Charles F. Grindrod tells the tale of a monk who lapsed from his vow of chastity. He lived in the vicinity of the Ragged Stone Hill and his punishment was to climb unceasingly to the top of the hill on his hands and knees and descend in the same fashion. This sentence he was to serve every day and throughout every season, asking forgiveness of his sins with each step. After many months of this torment he reached the summit of the hill and rose up, outstretching his arms to the heavens exclaiming: “My curse be on thee, thou Heaven-blasting hill, and on those which laid this burden on me, and on all that be like as they are. May thy shadow and my shadow never cease to fall upon them, and upon this place which holdeth them.”

Immediately after proclaiming the curse the monk died and it is said that a strange dark column of dust clouds arose from the hilltop, seemingly to issue forth from the earth itself. It swelled to a vast size resembling in form the image of the monk, and slowly the huge dark cloud advanced across the hillside and over the valley that cowered below it.

A more probably origin of the legendary curse may stem from a much earlier period when the Druids encamped on the British and Midsummer Camps fought against the advancing Roman armies. Defeated and forced from their encampments the Druids made a last stand on the twin peaks of the Ragged Stone. In final despair they raised their voices and the brave and noble-souled men accursed all those who would fall under the shadow of the great hill, on which they were to imminently meet their end.

Though it may be impossible to be certain of the form and nature of the accursed shadow, for it is only present at certain points of the year and dependant upon the cloud layer, it would not be considered wise to find oneself sat in the shade of the mighty hill on a summers day. However, Rector Henry Somers-Cocks comfortingly reassured his parishioners that the shadow does not fall or does not hold sway upon the western, Herefordshire side of the hill. Fortunate this may be for the residents of Eastnor and neighbouring hamlets, but of little comfort to those who reside on the Severn plain in Worcestershire!

Ragged Stone from the summit of Midummer Camp

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


Am new to this - but I have some FAMILY history - you may be able to help me!

I travelled to UK in 2005, and found the family home of my great-geat grandmother, Fanny Summers. They lived in the cottage in front of Midsummer Hill, and she was born in 1870. Her father was Samuel Summers, and his wife was Frances Summers. When I found the house, it was not lived in - no furniture, etc, so I guess it must now belong to someone who rents it out. Name on the front gate is "Westfields". The important thing is that in 1923, Rev Somers-Cocks "presented it to the nation". I would like to know if he bought the house, and if he may also be a distant relative (as I research I am finding variants in the spelling of the surname).
My name is Kathleen Taylor, I live in Australia, and my private email is enchantsong@yahoo.com.au.
Looking forward to more info