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24 September 2014

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Mitchell's Fold stone circle
Mitchell's Fold
Mitchell's Fold

High up in the hills of West Shropshire, close to the Welsh border, is Stapeley Hill, some 1,000 feet above sea level.

And on Stapeley Hill lie the remains of a once great stone circle, which is known as Mitchell's Fold.


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About 400 years ago, the rural landscape of Shropshire could be a dangerous place to be.
But nowhere was as dangerous as Nesscliffe, the lair of the notorious highwayman Sir Humphrey Kynaston.

Apparently there used to be three circles in the area, but now just two survive, and Mitchell's Fold is the best-known.

And as you'd expect, there's a legend of how the stone circle came to be.

Click to see our panoramic  view from Mitchells Fold  stone circle
Click here to see our panoramic view from Mitchells Fold stone circle

Many years ago a great drought hit the country, drying up wells, causing crops to fail and causing the death of the livestock that people depended on.

Mitchell's Fold
Mitchell's Fold

However, a kind witch took pity on the starving people and provided a magic cow, which was kept on Stapeley Hill.

This cow had a seemingly inexhaustable supply of milk and would produce enough for everyone who came to her - as long as they only took one bucket to be filled.

Unfortunately, this good deed attracted the attention of a bad witch determined to ruin it for everyone.

This bad witch visited the cow at midnight and attempted to milk her into a sieve. The cow gave enough milk to fill the bucket over and over again as the witch went on milking.

Apparently the cow was a little confused by this, and when a great storm broke over the hill, she looked around. By the light of a lightning flash the cow saw a great pool of wasted milk on the ground.

Realising she had been fooled, the cow kicked out at the witch and galloped away, never to be seen again.

The next morning, the locals arrived with their buckets to find the cow had gone. But they realised what had happened when they saw the sieve and the spilt milk.

They also found the bad witch - she'd been turned into stone as punishment.

The people set a ring of stones around her petrified body to stop her from escaping.

Mitchell's Fold
Mitchell's Fold

The legend of the witch and the marvellous cow has been literally set in stone - it was carved in 1879 around a sandstone pillar in Middleton Church, which is near Stapeley Hill.

In reality the stones were probably placed on Stapeley Hill by Bronze Age man - about 4,000 years ago.

Perhaps there were once as many as 30 stones on the site, although there are less than half that number left now. The tallest remaining stone today stands at six feet, while some are just stumps sticking out of the ground.

Nearby lie the remains of another circle, the Hoarstones, and there used to be a third, which was called The Whetstones and was supposedly destroyed in the 19th Century.
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