The Devil has long featured in British folklore, where his supposed sinister acts have marked the landscape. There are innumerable Medieval tales of devil-stones flung at churches and mounds earth dug up to bury villages, all allegedly orchestrated by the devil for the purpose of seducing and gaining souls.
Devil's Punch Bowl, Hindhead
Legend has it that this large hollow of dry sand heath, known as the Devil's Punch Bowl, was created by the Devil. It is said that the Devil became so agitated by the upsurge of churches being built in Sussex that he retaliated by digging a stream from the English Channel to flood the area. However whilst digging up huge lumps of earth, he was disturbed by a cock crowing and abandoned his mission in fear of being caught.
Silbury Hill, Wiltshire
The tallest prehistoric man-made mound in Europe is found in Wiltshire, commonly known as Silbury Hill. According to folklore the hill is said to have been dropped by the Devil who was carrying earth to bury the whole village of Avebury. The priest of Avebury however, prayed for redemption, and the devil was forced to drop the load of earth short of the village.
Cley Hill, Wiltshire
Cley Hill rises dramatically from the flat fields south west of Warminster in Wiltshire. An old legend tells that the Devil was angry that the citizens of Devizes had converted to Christianity, and decided to bury the town under a pile of earth. However on his way he was discouraged by an old man who tricked him into thinking the journey would be too long, so the Devil abandoned his journey, dumping the pile of earth beside the road.
Devil's Arrow, North Yorkshire
These standing stones in North Yorkshire are the second tallest in the United Kingdom. The name Devil's Arrow comes from the common belief that the Devil was shooting or throwing arrows from a neighbouring hill at the town of Aldborough a few miles away but, much to his frustration, he fell short of his target. It was also said that human sacrifices were made on top of the pointed stones, where the bodies were left to rot.
Devil's Chair, Wiltshire
The largest prehistoric stone circle in Britain can be found in the Wiltshire village of Avebury. By the Late Medieval period, when most of England had converted to Christianity, non-Christian monuments like this were commonly associated with the Devil. The largest stone at the southern entrance became known as the Devil's Chair. Local legends attribute mystic powers to the stone, such as the power to beckon the Devil if you run around it anticlockwise 100 times.
This Halloween, why not go out and visit a historic place, soak up the spooky atmosphere, and learn something about our fascinating history?
Also of interest...
Witch fever swept across the country when witchcraft was made a capital offence in 1563.
Tales of queens and Roman soldiers to artists and evil masterminds, many of whom are believed to have passed away in unusual ways.
Stories of a vampire rabbit perching above a doorway in Newcastle to a Printer's devil crouching in a York shop.