Friday, 8 March 2013

The Treasure Of Callow Pit.

I have recently resolved to read more local folklore - folklore from the places close to home, so that I am able to visit the sites where they took place. One such story which I happened across is 'The Treasure Of Callow Pit', which is a piece of folklore from Norfolk UK - the place I call home.
"The village tradition states that an iron chest, filled with gold is engulfed in Callow Pit. Many years ago, two adventurous men, availing themselves of an unusually low state of the water, determined to obtain the treasure. Having formed a platform of ladders across the pit they inserted a staff through the ring in the lid of the chest, and bore it up from the waters; and placed the staff on their shoulders, preparatory to bearing off their prize... Unluckily, however, one of them triumphantly exclaimed: 'We've got it safe, and the devil himself can't get it from us.' instantly the pit was enveloped in a 'roke' (reek, or cloud of steam) of a strong sulphureous smell and a black hand and arm - no doubt belonging to the personage thus gratuitously challenged - emerged from the water, and grasped the chest. A terrific struggle ensued: one party tugging to secure, the other to recover the prize. At last the contest ended by its subject parting, being unable to bear the enormous strain on it. The chest, with the treasure, sank beneath the water, never again to be seen." 
- from 'The Lore Of The Land'
At the end of the tale we are told that all the two treasure seekers managed to walk away with, was the ring from the top of the chest. The ring was placed on the door of Southwood church and apparently 'the incredulous may convince himself of the truth of the legend by beholding it.' Southwood church fell into ruins in 1881, and the ring was moved to the neighbouring village of Limpenhoe, where it was fixed to the church's north door there. The north door of a church was commonly known as the Devil's Door, so this placement seems very appropriate.

Limpenhoe Church.
So off I went with my story and my sat-nav (a modern treasure seekers must-have item!) and had a lovely drive to Limpenhoe. The day was extremely misty and it only got worse as I drove deeper into the countryside. I took this as a very good sign indeed! The devil must have known I was coming and was either warning me away or trying to hide his treasure - obviously my reputation as a world-class treasure hunter proceeds me.

I tried not to get my hopes up too much as I walked towards the church - there was no guarantee that the ring would still be there. As I drew closer I let out a squeal of delight. There is was! In all its ring-like glory!

The Devils ring on the door of Limpenhoe church.
Theres only so many photos you can take of a ring and a door...
I can quite believe that this is a ring off of an ancient, lost treasure chest. It certainly looks old enough, and the surroundings were perfectly spooky enough. Nothing weird or suspicious happened when I touched the ring, which I was quite disappointed about, but for my first little 'Folklore Tour' I couldn't have asked for better! Unfortunately I could not go on a search for Callow Pit and the treasure itself due to the fog, and the fact that I was alone. I certainly want to have someone with me if theres a chance I might meet the Devil! I will definitely be looking for it when the weather brightens up a bit though and I'll let you know if I ever find that chest full of gold. Keep your fingers crossed for me!

This little trip has certainly made me want to delve further into my local folklore. Being able to actually visit the places I read about, and touch the relics from the stories is bringing a whole new depth to my obsession!

1 comment: