Ippikin probably looked a bit like this
Legends: Ippikin, the robber knight of Wenlock Edge
The steep limestone escarpment of Wenlock Edge has spawned a fair few legends over the centuries, but the legend of Ippikin is perhaps the most chilling.
Not far from the village of Easthope is the Wenlock Edge Inn. Just across the road is a wooded section of Wenlock Edge and a steep cliff dropping away to the valley below.
Close to the cliff edge and a stunning viewpoint across to the Stretton Hills lies a large outcrop called Ippikin's Rock. Even on a summer's day it can be a lonely place up here, but on a grey, blustery day the atmosphere is more than a little foreboding.
Especially if you say out loud: "Ippikin, Ippikin, keep away with your long chin."
The consequences, we are told, could be fatal.
Haunt of Ippikin, the robber knight
So who was Ippikin and why is/was he so sensitive to criticism?
That depends on who you listen to, but the general consensus is that he was a knight who lived in the 13th Century. But he was not the sort of knight who darted here and there on a white charger, rescuing damsels in distress.
Rape and pillage was more his style, and Ippikin and his band of robbers terrorised the area from his base in a cave on Wenlock Edge. No-one would go near the cave for fear of attack, and the cave was rumoured to be full of the gang's ill-gotten gains - gold and precious stones.
Ippikin, according to some versions of the tale, was also endowed with supernatural powers that allowed him to renew his youth every 70 years or so.
He and his gang were seemingly unstoppable, until nature stepped in - as she often does in these tales.
One night Ippikin and his band were sheltering from a violent storm when a bolt of lightning struck the rock overhanging the entrance to the cave, causing it to fall across the entrance.
It's a long way down....
Ippikin and his murderous band were trapped inside, yet the legend says his spirit still stalks the edge with his men.
And those foolhardy enough to challenge the murderous knight to 'keep away with his long chin' will find out to their cost as Ippikin rushes out and pushes them over the cliff to their deaths.
Apparently, Ippikin's Rock also carries a reminder of this nasty character - the imprint of a gold chain he used to wear. But it's most likely the imprint of a fossil - a chain coral - and a result of Wenlock Edge's past as the floor of a sub-tropical sea.
Not far from Ippikin's Rock is the Major's Leap, which is the source of a slightly more credible legend that goes back some 350 years to the time of the Civil War.
A certain Royalist Major Smallman is said to have leapt on his horse from this spot on the edge in order to evade his Roundhead pursuers. It is said that he made it in one piece, and this romantic story was the inspiration for the ending of Mary Webb's 1917 novel, Gone to Earth.
last updated: 30/04/2008 at 12:14