Thursday, 9 April 2015

H is for Hurlers and Huers …



The Hurlers is a group of three stone circles near the village of Minions on the edge of Bodmin Moor in north Cornwall.

 
Standing Stones in middle circle of
The Hurlers


“Hurlers” derives from a legend, in which men were playing Cornish hurling, a Celtic game, on a Sunday and were magically transformed into stones as punishment.





Pub sign - Hurlers


The earliest mention is by historian, John Norden, who visited the stone circles around 1584, and were described by William Camden in his Britannia of 1586.





Positioning of three circles:
The Hurlers, with the Pipers also marked


The Pipers, a pair of entrance standing stones, according to folklore represent musicians playing for the three circles of dancers “The Hurlers”, who had been turned to stone for engaging in festivities on a holy day.






The area around the Pipers is notable in archaeology for the discovery of a bronze dagger and gold beaker along with some beads and flint at Rillaton Barrow in 1818.





Shoal wave of sardines

Huers were lookouts, who stood on high points near fishing villages, to signal to the fishers which way the shoal of herrings or pilchards passed – the shoal’s course being more discernible to those standing on high cliffs, due to the blue shimmery, splashing of the waters made by the fish kittling together …




Huer - the look out point on Towan
Head overlooking Newquay Bay
Not many Huers had a hut as this one here on Towan Head … the Huer would alert the fishermen by blowing a horn.  The old Cornish word heva, or hevva, was used by the lookout to shout through the speaking trumpet upon sighting a shoal of pilchards (or sardines) … and hevva means just that "a shoaling place" (gathering of the shoal)





That is H for the hurled to stone Hurlers and the happy Huers, who shout hevva, hevva - ensuring Harvested Hordes for the year ahead ... from Aspects of British Cornish …


Hilary Melton-Butcher

Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

59 comments:

Empty Nest Insider said...

The happy Huers were a lucky bunch; the Hurlers, not so much! Lovely lookout point on Towen Head! Now that's a hut! Thanks Hilary!

Julie

Clarabelle Rant said...

I love the story behind the Hurlers. The legend gives you a glimpse into a lost culture. I wish more was known about the standing stones. They are very majestic. I almost feel sad for them. They stand ready for some purpose that no one remembers how to fulfill.

You can find me here:
ClarabelleRant

Elephant's Child said...

Loved learning these snippets from my mother's culture and background. Thank you.

Rosie Amber said...

Love your posts, Makes me want to visit these places on my next travel down to Cornwall.

Christine Rains said...

That's a lot of tongue twisting H's today! I've never heard the stones called Hurlers before. Very neat! :)

Ruchi Singh said...

I have learnt new things from your post. Thanks Hilary!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Turned to stone. That's why you should always honor the day of rest.

Out on the prairie said...

What a interesting tale to share today. I want to go out fishing.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, this was fun--two new interesting bits of information I didn't know. Love the hurler legend for the stones!

Susan Scott said...

Thank you for this LOVELY post Hilary! Truly I am more and more keen to come! The photographs are lovely and the history/legend. So steeped! What does heva or hevva mean?

Your name of course begins with H..

River Fairchild said...

I loved seeing Stonehenge in person but I've yet to visit any other circles.
Do you think anyone would mind if I moved into the Huers hut on Towan Head? It's lovely!
River Fairchild – A to Z April Challenge
Untethered Realms

Natasha Duncan-Drake said...

Playing games on a Sunday, well I never! ;) I love the legends around stone circles and I hadn't heard of these circles. Thank you for the tale.
Tasha
Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

loverofwords said...

How did they ever get those stones to stand vertically? But I like the later legend. All those stories from different periods in British history, even a lesson for not honoring Sunday! Always interesting, Hilary.

Jo said...

What a great legend Hilary, do the Cornish people still hurl? I seem to remember seeing something about it on TV.

Huers are fascinating too. Pilchards and herrings. Not so many of them about these days.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

I might want those wonderful stones in my garden unless they are actual people turned to stone.

Bob Scotney said...

'm interested in stone circles but I had not heard of the Hurlers.
I didn't hear anyone shouting heva on Poldark when the pilchards came in there two weeks back!

Mark Koopmans said...

Wow... if they were first recorded in 1586... how old are the hurlers...

I remember the opportunity to play hurling when I was a kid in Dublin... I declined.. my buddy, Richard went... and came back to school missing his two front teeth!

Hurlers are tough cookies!!

Margie said...

Those stones are remarkable!
Thanks for sharing the legend, so very interesting!

Have a wonderful day, Hilary.

Nick Wilford said...

Kids are always playing football in the park on Sundays, so I'm glad this was a one off incident!

Never heard of the huers. I guess with mass fishing fleets that is a lost trade.

Chrys Fey said...

I'd like to see The Hurlers. I love stones, especially standing stones. They're mystical to me. :)

blogoratti said...

Interesting stuff, thanks for sharing!

blogoratti said...

Interesting stuff, thanks for sharing!

Suzanne Sapsed said...

I'm a big fan of stone circles - didn't know these ones existed so will add them to my list :)xx

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Such grim punishment for some fun on a Sunday. Clever way to find fish.

Bish Denham said...

A interesting story behind the Hurlers. All of those standing stones are fascinating to me and I suppose each has it's own mythology.

It must have been a rather lonely job being a Huer.

Deniz Bevan said...

So fascinating! Do you know, I haven't visited any standing stones in the UK at all? Must remedy this situation!

Lisa said...

I want to see the Hurlers. Haven't heard of them before but love to see these kinds of stones. I've been to Avebury and of course Stonehenge, and seen some farther north, but missed these. I think I would prefer to be a Huer than a fisherman! I love the words you use in your posts, Hilary, so very British when thinking in US terms, "Kittling" "Fishers" Love them! Lisa, co-host AtoZ 2015, @ http://www.lisabuiecollard.com

M. J. Joachim said...

Folklore is very interesting, as we learn so much about history back then, through its tales. Religion was very significant, as was fear of God, thus men being turned to stone for playing on a holy day.

Having grown up near the ocean, I understand well the need for huers to spot large schools of fish for a day's catch. Fishermen have to use whatever means they have available to make the most of their trade, and lookouts definitely come in handy.

Keith's ramblings said...

I've always been fascinated by Cornwall and drive along the coast from my home to visit quite often. There is so much history and folklore, and always another tale to hear. And pasties of course!

Rhodesia said...

I have never heard of the Hurlers or the Huers, interesting post. Diane

cleemckenzie said...

It's always so interesting to hear the stories behind something. When I first visited Stonehenge, it was open and you could walk up to the Hurlers and touch them. I'm so glad I visited before the gates and ticket booth popped up.

D.G. Hudson said...

Love all the history behind the H letter, Hilary (another H letter). Especially the stone circles and the legend around it. Have you read any of Diana Gabaldon's novels where the heroine travels back in time to Scotland from the 1940s to the 1700s? She does so via the stone circle she has visited. Stone circles are intriguing with all their associations.

Maria said...

I wonder what those men did so badly for playing "Hurling" that they were turned into stones. What a pity!

Nilanjana Bose said...

Well, the hurlers were an unlucky bunch...and kittling is my favourite new word for today..

mail4rosey said...

The first I heard of Hurlers was in Dublin. DEFINITELY not the same kind of hurlers. ;)

Mark Clough said...

I have a feeling I climbed up the huer's look out at Towan Head during a childhood holiday in Newquay. It was a much more sedate place in the "old days".

TexWisGirl said...

huers are pretty neat! hurlers, well, that's some strict punishment. :)

Jerralea said...

The huers had a neat job. I like the picture of the Shoal Wave of Sardines. I like the idea of shouting "Hevva."

Silvia Villalobos said...

Interesting story behind this, Hilary. The men were only playing a game, though, poor fellows. Punished for a little entertainment. :) Interesting-looking hut, but not all had it, like with everything, some do, dome don't.
Thank you for sharing another amazing post.

Jeffrey Scott said...

I'm positive I liked this post. Always cool to learn something new.

A Katy Did Gig said...

Happy Huers, can't beat happy and a very interesting story behind all of them.

As I See It Daily

Sue McPeak said...

Folklore tales...can't beat them for an interesting explanation for the unexplainable or the real story. Enjoyed these Letter H tales.

Sue at CollectInTexas Gal
AtoZ 2015 Challenge
Minion for AJ's wHooligans

LD Masterson said...

Turned to stone for playing on Sunday. Should someone warn the NFL?

Manzanita said...

Well that is an interesting bit of historical folklore. Why do the stories remind me of "The ghost and Mrs.Muir?" Not much of a connection really .... must just be the sea and fishing.

Michele Truhlik said...

Now there's a big chunk of tongue-twisting H's! I love the folklore about the standing stones. Kind of eerie. Love the Huer hut too. Thanks for sharing these stories!
Michele at Angels Bark

Paula Kaye said...

Positively interesting! Thank you Hilary

Sridhar Chandrasekaran said...

You have such an insightful blog. Thanks for sharing. Reading blogs is my hobby and I randomly found your blog. I enjoyed reading your posts. Interesting! All the best for your future blogging journey.

Tammy Theriault said...

It's the stones you promised me!!! Beautiful ;)

Sara C. Snider said...

I love the history and folklore behind standing stones. It's always fascinating, and this one does not disappoint.

And the Huers, I had no idea that was done. Very cool!

Cynthia said...

love the stories behind the stones! if only we could go back, for a day or two anyway ;)

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Julie – yes the Huers were happy when they sighted the frothy waters of a shoal, while the Hurlers: exactly .. not so much. The little hut a great looking restoration isn’t it ..

@ Clarabelle – it’s a fun story and there is so much myth and legend arising from our lost cultures. We are finding out more about various Neolithic sites and attempting to logically understand our past …

@ Elephant’s Child – is this where your mother is from … I hope I am giving you some enlightening posts, which you’ll enjoy …

@ Rosie – thanks so much .. and I hope you can get to visit a few of the places I show, when you’re next down in Cornwall.

@ Christine – lots of Hs, yes .. and I’m not sure I was aware of the Hurlers either before I wrote this up …

@ Ruchi – thanks for coming over .. and hope you enjoy some of the other posts about Cornwall

@ Alex – yes, keep Sunday for church going – sadly times have changed for many.

@ OOTP – well I know you love fishing … and I’m sure you’d enjoy our Cornish shores … and I’m happy you enjoyed the tale …

@ Hart – how lovely to see you and I’m glad you enjoyed the snippets and hurler legend .. fun isn’t it …

@ Susan – wonderful to see you enjoyed the H post … well Cornwall’s not going away for some time! So would love to see you .. there is lots of history here …

Heva/Hevva – means “a shoaling place” – where a shoal of fish is gathering ... thrashing of water … and yes, I’m another H

@ River – Stonehenge is an incredible monument … and they keep uncovering more and more about it, and trying to work out the hows and whys of its origination.

Sadly I do think the locals would object if you moved into the Huers hut … sorry! It is a lovely looking little lookout point isn’t it …

@ Natasha – I know dreadful scenario … people out and about playing games on a Sunday – and then the curse of the stone … to these Standing Stones …

@ Nat – I’ve no idea … an engineer is needed for that – and even today they’re not sure ... they’ve tried to recreate the work involved and have done it – but who knows. Stonehenge’s stones came from Wales – which is some fair journey: 250 miles … I wrote about Stonehenge in 2009.

There are so many stories surrounding our lands, ancient cultures and prehistoric periods … and I’m sure there are many more tales for remembering to honour Sundays …

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jo – it is a great legend, and yes they still have hurling matches … there’s a good article in Wikipedia on “Cornish Hurling”.

They are conserving the stocks of fish in our seas – thankfully …

@ Teresa – well I think for the helpfulness of your bank account – I’ll say they are people turned to stone! I hate to think how much it’d cost to ship one over … let alone the legal hoops to be clambered over!!

@ Bob – yes I know you have Stone Circles in Yorkshire and from your geology back ground I can understand your interest in stone circles. I waited for the call too – especially as I knew I was going to write about Hevva – but it never came in that Poldark episode .. they shouted and waved didn’t they …

@ Mark – the Hurlers’ age – the Stone Age lasted 3.2m years they estimate, finishing when the metal working ages came in 8,000 years ago … no answer as such was given.

I see that Irish hurling is slightly different, but it is likely the ‘game’ has been adapted – and various theories are given. Well that was a sensible move not to play … ooh missing his two front teeth – how very uncomfortable. I bet Hurlers are tough, as too Cornish Wrestlers .. which I’m not touching!

@ Margie – these Stone Circles are really incredible and then the folklore/legend attached to them are interesting as you say …

@ Nick - yes if our kids were turned to stone today for being out on a Sunday playing … life would be somewhat different wouldn’t it! Sadly the huers went out when steam came in, when there was no longer a need …

@ Chrys – the Hurlers aren’t moving! All the standing stones are very mystical aren’t they … and we have lots of them across the country …

@ Blogoratti – thanks for the visit .. glad you enjoyed the post.

@ Suzanne – Stone Circles and Standing stones are incredible monuments aren’t they … that’s great you’ve added them to your list.

@ Susan – yes I know .. turned to stone doesn’t sound very kind does it. Looking for shoals while at sea is nigh impossible .. but from up high .. it is clever isn’t it ..

@ Bish – the Hurlers tell a fascinating tale .. and each standing stone does have its own tale – mythological or otherwise. I think many jobs were lonely back then .. but good eyes, and a loud voice must have been pre-requisites to be a Huer.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Deniz – well that’s great .. when you come over to visit us again .. standing stones will be on your list.

@ Lisa – well sometime I hope you can get down to Cornwall and see these and some of the other areas. I haven’t been to Avebury, which I should rectify … I too would rather be a Huer than a fisherman, though my throat wouldn’t hold out and I’d be useless .. but I can flap my arms about!!

Thanks so much re “kittling” and “fishers” … I try and use my language, but with cognisance that many of our group of bloggers are American … it gives it character – which from the comments seems to come out as a good thing – thankfully!

@ MJ – lovely to see you again .. Folklore is interesting and the myths and legends that give us our background stories are fascinating … and reflect as times change – Sunday being the Holy Day – not so much here today.

You would understand about the plight of the fisherman in the old days, before satellite navigation, trying to find their catch for the day. Or when the hungry giants of the oceans came in and took the catch away from the fishermen …

@ Keith – thank you for visiting … and you obviously live near enough to visit Cornwall … and catch some of those tales … and of course pasties …

@ Diane – it’s good to write these posts up – as I learn too ..

@ Lee – I’m always amazed that so many stories and tales exist, and that the folklore has stood the test of time. The stones at Stonehenge – aren’t Hurlers as such … the name refers to that particular set of Standing Stones in Cornwall.

The Stonehenge stones came from Wales (250 miles away). I too am glad I went when we were able to wander around the stones … and I went about 20 years ago – when it was a dire place to visit … now with the new centre – I guess it’d be more interesting …

@ DG – lots of Hs around and history. I haven’t read any of Diana Gabaldon’s novels – where the heroine travels back in time to Scotland … sounds a fascinating novel … especially with the Stone Circle associations … I’ll check out her Outlander series …

@ Maria – in those days they were playing on Sunday and should not have been – it was a day of rest: Sunday.

@ Nila – yes very unfortunate to be forever turned into stone. I’m glad you enjoy the word Kittling .. I did too ..

@ Rosey – I’m not sure what sort of hurlers you are referring to – but hurling is played in various forms in Celtic areas – Ireland and Brittany .. in one form or another.

@ Mark – I’ve never been up to that Huer’s hut – I suspect it might be on my list next time I get down to Cornwall. I’m sure it was much more sedate in those days ..

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Teresa – the Huer hut is very pretty isn’t it .. and yes very strict punishment for the hurlers …

@ Jerralea – waiting for a shoal to arrive .. could take a while – but at least they’d be on land. Thanks the Shoal Wave was a good find and shouting Heva, or Hevva … at the sighting of the shoal … a loud voice and trumpet was definitely required.

@ Silvia – I know .. but in those days you didn’t play anything on a Sunday! Times have changed a great deal … in St Ives – there’s a Steeple that a rich man built ... which is a good lookout point across the bay, where the St Ives Huer stood – no pretty hut though …

@ Jeffrey – I’m so glad you enjoyed the post and good to meet you …

@ Katy – yes these snippets of lore, and also how others lived a few centuries ago are interesting .. thanks for the visit …

@ Sue – folklore tales we can’t beat – I agree with you here. They add to the mystery of life .. and an understanding of our history …

@ LD – I know … it was a long time ago – so I think the NFL should be ok! Interesting thought though …

@ Manzanita – I’ve never heard of the ghost and Mrs Muir – what a delightful tale … I’m glad you mentioned it, even if there’s no apparent connection …

@ Michele – lovely to meet you from Angels Bark … and thank you re my alliteration. The Standing stones can be eerie in the mists that can descend .. but I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

@ Paula – delighted and thank you …

@ Sridhar – good to see you and thank you for visiting. My blogging journey is ongoing and thank you for looking in …

@ Tammy – well it’s one brief mention of Stones … more to follow .. thanks for remembering!

@ Sara – there are lots of tales, and stories behind so much of our ancient land … and I’m glad you enjoyed these tales. I knew about the lookouts – but not about the Huer cottage, or name of the callers …

@ Cynthia – good to meet you … and yes, I agree, it would be interesting to find out the meaning behind so many things …

Thanks everyone for your visits … lovely having you here with your comments – cheers Hilary

Michelle Wallace said...

Such beautiful stones and interesting folklore behind them.

Imagine being employed as a Huer at that time? An interesting and exciting job... and sometimes dangerous too...? I wonder.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Michelle - the Standing Stones and Circles are a wonder to modern man .. making sense of them is difficult. Folklore provides some tales or ideas.

Being a Huer I guess meant you weren't strong to be out fishing .. but needed good eyes - constant watching to see the shoal pass. It was an essential - I doubt they got paid ... probably in kind as the family would be out on the fishing boats ... not really dangerous - well shouldn't have been ...perhaps cold at times!

Cheers Hilary

Sara said...

I had to skip a few letters and come back to this one because your later post referenced it. This was interesting about the stones. I couldn't help but wonder what the real reason for the stones were, especially given their position of three circles and the two piper stones...it's interesting.

I also like the part about the Huers. That was new to me, but a good idea.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sara - no-one knows exactly what the Standing Stones mean or were put up for - sometimes there are links to tombs ... but sadly with the passing of time - it's become difficult to ascertain, or even guess.

It is interesting and combined with folklore ... gives a mysticism to the areas that have Standing Stones ...

The Huers were invaluable to the fishermen ... so they could catch the most fish possible - to top up their stores for the cold winter months ahead. You'll see it happen in Poldark when the new series gets released in the States ...

Thanks for coming back and commenting ... cheers Hilary