Faërie Gold


Dolbury Camp

In one of her County Folklore (Somerset) volumes, Ruth Tongue records a comment collected in 1907 about the legend of buried treasure on Dolbury Camp:

“ but but nobody hasn’t found the treasure yet. And for why? Well, to start up with it don’t belong to they, and so they won’t ever meet up with it. Twill go on sinking down below never mind how deep they do dig. I tell ee tis the gold of they Redshanks as used to be seed on Dolbury Top. To be sure there’s clever book-read gentlemen as tell as they was Danes, and another say twere all on account of their bare legs being red with the wind, but don’t mind they.

My granny she did tell me they was fairies, ah, and all dressed in red, and so if the treasure med be theirs. If they was Danes how do ee explain all those little clay pipes as ee can find on Dolbury? They did call em ‘fairy pipes’, old miners did. An if there be fairy pipes then there was fairies, and nobody need doubt they was the Redshanks.”

It’s interesting that these faeries wear red. Green is a more usual colour, though red caps are often worn. Sometimes they are naked, or wear old brown-coloured rags. So there is no consistency. Faerie treasure can never be found and even if bestowed may become worthless if misused. Here it is said that it can only be found by those it belongs to.

These faeries have departed, as often with stories about them. Often they leave a place because they don’t like the bell installed in the church or because some human development gets too close. As there is less wild land the faeries shrink into smaller spaces and become less visible. There are many stories of the last of them on their way to somewhere else. But there are always traces. They do not leave entirely, or at least have not done so yet.

Their gold still gleams in hidden caverns out of sight. Its story brightly seams the lands we love; we cannot own it but it is ours to cherish with delight.

Author: Greg Hill

Awenydd/Poet, Cultural Critic

3 thoughts on “Faërie Gold”

  1. Isn’t it wonderful that only 100 years ago people still talked about faeries as being real. I wish we still lived in a world like that, where certain trees could not be cut down as they possessed faerie enchantment and certain places were dangerous to stop in because you may enter the fare realm and not emerge for seven years, when all the world has carried on without you. I think it is sad that we no longer revere nature in this way.

  2. Yes Lulu , the ‘withdrawal’ of the faeries is an indication of our distance from the natural world, so it’s not so much them that are leaving as us.

  3. In the folklore my local fairies are said to wear red caps 🙂 I like the notion of faerie gold seaming the lands in layers of magic and memory. And dream of the day the faeries come back.

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