The local legends that surround stone circles often have one thing in common – petrification, or turning humans to stone.
The British Isles have the highest number of stone circles in the world, the most popular of course is Stonehenge. There has always been scientific and religious speculation over the origins and purpose of the circles, but the legends that are known locally provide much more interesting stories.
Local legends say that a single stone on its own was said to have been thrown or dropped by the Devil, a giant or a mighty hero. However, multiple stones were thought to be living people that had been petrified because of wickedness. At Mitchell’s Ford in Shropshire, a wicked old woman milked a Fairy cow dry so was turned to stone. Other stones were placed around her to pen her in. Whilst in Oxfordshire, the Rollright Stones were once thought to be an invading king and his army, thwarted by a witches power.
When writing the Moon Stealers, I wanted to choose a mystical location where a magic portal could open to another world. The stone circle on the hill overlooking Parsley Bottom is thought to be the site of Lud’s Chapel where the marriage between a human, Sir Gawain of the Knights of the Round Table, and Belphoebe, a Faerie Princess, was taking place. Faerie lore forbid marriages between humans and Faerie, so the Faerie Queen turned the couple, as well as the attending guests and Bishop Baldwin, to stone.