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29 October 2014

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Devilish Wiltshire

The cloven hooves of the Prince of Darkness are said to have left tracks from Warminster to Devizes

Several parts of the county lay claim to their own devilish tales - hardly surprising when you consider Old Nick's role in the basic premise of good versus evil.

Devil sightings in Wiltshire

At Warminster, he appeared in the form of a hare during the public execution of two men in the town.

In the nearby village of Longbridge Deverill, he showed up on Palm Sunday as a black dog and in Blunsdon, near Swindon the Devil has been seen taking the shape of a crow.

It seems that the Devil really had it in for various Wiltshire towns and villages.

The Devil tricked at Silbury Hill

The most famous story concerning Beelzebub, and his devilish antics, involves Silbury Hill, near Avebury.

Click here to watch the story of Chiseldon's Devil Stone, embedded in the wall of a local farm...
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The story goes that the Devil was on his way to Marlborough to bury the townspeople under a huge pile of earth but luckily he was distracted by the magical mystics of Avebury who managed to persuade the Devil to drop his load just outside the henge - where Silbury is today.

The Devil lost in Devizes

Cley Hill near Warminster is associated with a similar tale concerning the Devil - but this time it was the do-gooders of Devizes who were on the Devil's burial list.

On this occasion, the Lord of Darkness lost his way, and left his load of earth where Cley Hill is today - although, why Warminster managed to escape his efforts remains a mystery!

last updated: 15/12/05
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Phil Jefferson
Cley Hill: in Crocodiles and Chicken Chasers, our Millennium Book p53 - the section written by Victoria Hutchings, sister of Joanna Trolloppe) The devil was angry with the folk of Devizes so he went down the country (that is, into Somerset) and found a big lump and put it on his back to carry and fling it at them. On the way back he met a man and asked him the way to Devizes. The man replied, "that's just what I want to know myself - I started for Devizes when my beard was black and now it is grey and I haven't got there yet". The devil replied, "if that is how it is, I won't carry this thing no further, so here goes," and he flung the giant hump off his shoulder and there it is. Talking of the devil, there is another story about Corsley in which he figures, albeit mistakenly. Corsley Manor, next to St Margaret's church, was once the dower house for the Thynne family (the Longleat Thynnes). One of the Thynne widows married the brother of Sir Walter Raleigh. Sir Walter visited his relatives, shortly after his return from America where he had discovered tobacco and one morning he decided to make a trip to the local pub. Sitting in the corner of the bar, sipping his pint, he decided he would like a quiet smoke and so he lit up his pipe - much to the concern of the landlord. Being a simple soul, and having paid careful attention in all the sermons at the village church on Sundays, the landlord knew that the only manlike creature that breathed smoke was the devil. Being in such close proximity to the devil himself caused the landlord to panic, wondering why God had much such a terrible judgement on him. So, when Sir Walter came to settle his bill, the landlord refused to accept his payment, as he knew that he had been taught never to accept money from the devil. (I've forgotten where I read this nice little story.)

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