Friday, 31 October 2008

The Devil's Chimney (a Halloween tale)

As its Halloween I thought I'd share a tale of local folklore with you. This rocky pile is known locally as the Devil's Chimney and it sits on the side of Leckhampton Hill, over looking Cheltenham.

The story goes that these stones form the Devil's chimney, on top of the Devil's dwelling deep beneath the ground. Supposedly the Devil, angered by the many churches in the area, would sit on top of Leckhampton Hill and hurl stones at Sunday worshippers. However the stones were thrown back at him, driving him beneath the ground and trapping him there so he could not further harass the villagers. Now he uses the mass of stones as his chimney to let free the smokes of hell.

That's the tale, now some other facts. In the past visitors to the Devil's Chimney would climb up and leave a coin on top of the rock as payment to the Devil in exchange for his staying in his underground home and not leaving to create mischief and spread evil in the local area. People would often climb to the top, thirteen is the largest number of people known to have been there in one go! In August 1926 the Devil's Chimney was left with several large cracks following an earthquake. In 1985 the Chimney was fenced off to stop erosion and also for safety (it is quite a drop below!)

Other theories surrounding the mysterious rocks include it being a "rude creation of some fanciful shepherd", a practical joke dreamt up by bored quarry workers in the 18th Century looking for a way to immortalise their work, and "differential erosion over many years which has left a column of harder rock free-standing as the softer rock has been worn away around it." (Boring!)

Hope you've enjoyed this Halloween tale. Have a spooky day!

12 comments:

babooshka said...

This is right up my street. Fascinating myth and legend, and superbly taken. A for the "boring" geology bit, I get this all the time. Gary's degree geology, masters environ. science. Obviously he put them to good use as a cartoonist? Give me the mtyh over rcok formation anyday.

Lori said...

Oooh, what a great Halloween post. That rock is very mysterious. I enlarged it to get a better look. I can't imagine how it got there, but I like your theories! Happy Halloween!

Tash said...

But how did the pile of stones get together so nicely. Fascinating tales - I like the bored quarry workers one (although I don't believe it much). Have a spooky All Hallows Eve.

Jackie said...

That is a good picture, and I love the various myths! I think the bored quarry workers one is my favourite!

Abraham Lincoln said...

That's really a good piece of rock to have withstood ages of soil and water erosion and still stand tall when the dinosaurs used it to scratch their backs.

I am glad our Halloween is past. Not to wish my life away but I felt sorry for the little legs and cold feet who trudged half a mile, or more, to our house only to discover the light was off and no treats this year, thanks to George W. Bush.

Tanya said...

Interesting story Marley, it sure looks old and has a beautiful view. Much too good a view for the lamo devil ;) Happy Halloween!

Neva said...

All good stories but I love thinking it was quarry workers immortalizing their work....very good! an interesting figure of stone to be sure.....

Mo said...

I'm with Babooshka on this one. If there isn't already a good story associated with the place then make one up. Hey politicians are skilled at it.
Yes the Annie Lebowitz exhibition is great. I was particularly interested in her selection of photos for the book. More personal photos. I guess to be expected after the death of ones partner.

Knoxville Girl said...

Marley, thanks for the interesting photo and stories. Now I have a picture in my head of the devil lobbing stones at everyone and laughing maniacally. Or maybe that was me laughing.
Happy Halloween!

lynn said...

What an interesting...er...shape.

Mewli said...

Great photo again Marley

ash said...

do you know any more info on the 13 climbers that hold the record? Is it just i personal record or more? I'm really really interested in the chimney if you could drop me an email if you know anything els i would be over the moon. Thanks so much. Ash.

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