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The Fantastic Folklore of Mitchells Fold

Mitchells Fold is the remains of a modest little stone circle on the border between Shropshire and Wales. Archaeology tells us that this was an early Bronze Age arrangement built next to a much earlier Neolithic dolmen, of which very little remains now, while around a dozen outlying stones lie recumbent in the grass nearby.

Folkore gives us a more exciting origin story however. The Dun Cow is a mysterious creature that has tales attributed to it in nearly every county in England. The version here was a benevolent beast, a huge cow that wandered into the area at a time of great famine. The Dun Cow was happy to be milked by everyone, on the condition that each household only take one bucketful at each milking.

Two witches lived in the area, one a powerful cunning woman who used her knowledge of magic to help the local community, while the other was evil to the core, bitter and resentful of the people of the area. This one decided to abuse the good faith of the Dun Cow one stormy night by lulling it into a doze while she milked it - into a sieve. The milk poured and poured through the mesh, the cow no wiser until a sudden flash of lightning awoke it from its trance and revealed the witch with her holed bucket.

The great cow snorted, bucking the witch away with its hind legs before dashing away at breakneck speed, never to return. The first people to arrive at dawn for milking were dismayed to find their endless source of nutrition gone, but also baffled at the sudden appearance of a ring of stones, one bigger than all the others.

The good witch stood nearby, her cloak flapping in the wind, and with a smile to the gathered folks she turned and walked away. She had captured her sister by surrounding her with a circle of enchanted stones before turning her into stone herself, trapped forever.

Mitchells Fold is a very atmospheric place on a windy day, with magnificent views into Wales, well worth a visit with some great walking routes nearby.

I tell the stories of the real witches of the Midlands in my new book The Magic Of Mercia, available at

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