Dark Dorset Online Scrapbook is an archive of current and past events relating to local history, folklore and mysteries that can be discovered in the English county of Dorset.

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Saturday, 30 May 2009

New Video: May Day Morris Dancing at Cerne Abbas 2009

Every May Day (see previous blog entry Maypoles and Mayhem - The Traditions of Mayday) morning at dawn, the The Wessex Morris Men climb up to the top of Giant Hill, above the famous chalk figure and fertility symbol 'Cerne Abbas Giant', to welcome in the coming of Summer with a set of traditional morris dances on the site of an ancient earthwork enclosure known as the ' Trendle', where once a May Pole was erected. This is also the one time of year when the horned Dorset Ooser is brought out from the Dorset County Museum to make its annual appearance.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Have you seen painted ladies yet?

A mass migration of butterflies into Dorset over the weekend has delighted conservationists.

Not since 1996 have the butterfly recorders and members of Butterfly Conservation been so excited about the numbers of Painted Ladies alighting.

Up to 100 an hour were counted, dozens arrived at Dancing Ledge from across the Channel and the total numbers will have been in the tens of thousands.

“It is good to see the Painted Lady back again in good numbers and hopefully, a good summer with the other migrants, the Clouded Yellow and Red Admiral too,” said Bill Shreeves, county butterfly recorder.

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Wednesday 27th May 2009

Monday, 25 May 2009

Garland Day says it with flowers

According to a report by Dave Stevens our local village historian Garland Day was first described in Hutchins history of Dorset published in 1867. (see previous blog entry Herald the spring its Garland Day - the custom of Abbotsbury's Garland)

In those days the wives of the fisherman using flowers collected by the children made the garlands.

The floral tributes were then paraded around the village and pennies eagerly collected by the children.

Dave has an archive of old photos of this village tradition.

The garland was then taken down to Abbotsbury Beach and tossed into the sea, with ceremony, to ensure a good years fishing. Seine fishing being a major source of income for the villagers then.

In 1993, the Swannery 600 took place in Abbotsbury the garland was indeed taken to the beach as part of a theatrical performance by Theatre of the Heart.

This took place through the fields of the village and down to the beach where a young woman, gauzily dressed in green, threw the garland into the waves.

I seem to remember that the weather was far from kind that day.

Today two garlands are paraded keeping the old custom alive.

In the past one was of wild flowers and the other of garden flowers, however in recent years bearing in mind conservation, the garland makers use only those from village gardens.

Today monies raised are given to charity and the garland placed by the War Memorial.

Claire James with her children Max and Shannon and Oliver Matthews brought one garland to our house at west end. We had relatives staying who were thrilled to bits.

Well-done ladies for organising this. The garlands were beautiful.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Thursday 21st May 2009

Friday, 22 May 2009

Bees swarm on car

A swarm of bees landed on a yellow Mini parked on the High Street, Wimborne, this afternoon.

Passers-by stopped and stared as the swarm descended on the brightly-coloured car.

Fiona Hammick, owner of gift shop Just B Inspired just around the corner from the swarm joked: "The bees have come to see me!"

READ MORE - Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Friday 22nd May 2009

Traditional British culture has been forgotten

Simon Costin is taking his Museum of British Folklore around the country in a caravan. Here he argues for its relevance

Most European countries celebrate their national indigenous culture, but in Britain folklore has been totally overlooked. It is often trivialised, reported as being all quirky little Morris dancers and cheese-rolling.

In fact there are around 730 recorded annual seasonal customs, from the May Day festivals to the Lewes bonfire or the barrel-burning at Ottery St Mary. They are a fantastic way of bringing people together, celebrating life.

Read More: The Times 22nd May 2008

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Cliff erosion on Golden Cap estate exposes Bronze Age settlement

Archeologists working on the National Trust’s Golden Cap Estate have uncovered a rare find – a Neolithic settlement exposed by cliff erosion.

The test trenches are being dug this week by National Trust archaeologists Martin Papworth and Nancy Grace, and a team of experienced archaeological volunteers, on Dog House Hill, near Thorncombe Beacon.

Mr Papworth said everyone at the site was excited by finding such rare Bronze Age settlement in the area.

READ MORE - Source: Bridport and Lyme Regis News Thursday 21st May 2009

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

I saw a ghost at Corfe Castle

It's several hundred years since Cavaliers were last at Corfe Castle, but one villager reckons there might still be some around.

Keen fisherman Don Goodwin, 68, who has lived in the village for 24 years, was out at a playing field in the early hours last Friday morning collecting worms for bait when he saw a ghostly figure.

Don said: “I do a lot of fishing and I use a lot of garden worms. The way to get them is to go out on a wet night with a torch and a bucket.”

He chose the village’s playing field as his hunting ground and added: “This time of year it’s not worth going down there until about midnight. I’m used to other creepy-crawly things like deer and badgers and whatnot – it’s a spooky little place.”

Don said it was about 1.30am when the ghostly figure appeared.

He continued: “I looked up and there’s this chap standing in the middle of the field. I was thinking ‘What’s he doing here at this time of the morning?’”

Don said the figure must have seen him, as he had his torch on. He described the ghost as tall and said he saw it move as if to pick something up.

He added: “He had a long cloak on with a very high collar. I thought that was very unusual. He also had a small floppy-browed hat and he looked just like one of those Cavaliers.

Don made a drawing of what he saw.

“I bent down to pick a few more worms up and then I got back up and he vanished. It was a long way from the perimeter of the field and he would have had to run at full tilt to get to the bushes.

“It didn’t frighten me, but I didn’t know where he would have just disappeared to.”

Don also says he and other villagers often hear a gate at the park being opened and closed when there is no-one there. But before you accuse Don of having one too many whiskeys, he doesn’t drink.

Read More: Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Wednesday 20th May 2009

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Lawrence of Arabia's headdress up for auction

An Arabian headdress believed to have been worn by TE Lawrence is expected to create plenty of interest at a vintage clothing auction in Dorchester.

The Keffiyah has been put up for sale by a private vendor and it is claimed it once belonged to Lawrence of Arabia himself. The headdress, which will go on sale at Duke’s auction house on June 30, was apparently given to a close friend by TE Lawrence shortly before he was killed in a motorcycle accident near his Clouds Hill home in 1935. (view previous blog entry On this Day: May 18th 1935 - T. E. Lawrence aka Lawrence of Arabia died 6 days after his motorcycle accident near Bovington)

Read More: Dorset Echo Tuesday 19th May 2009

Saturday, 16 May 2009

£5m Island project to build memorial to extinct species

An Ambitious £5million project to create an extinct species memorial on Portland has been unveiled.

And this weekend stone-carvers will begin to chip away at the founding blocks for the scheme.

A festival is being organised at Bowers Quarry tomorrow and Sunday offering young and old the chance to make their contribution to the Mass Extinction Memorial Observatory project, known as MEMO.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Friday 15th May 2009

Friday, 15 May 2009

Seahorse that dropped in, 3 miles from the sea

A Seahorse found barely alive in a garden miles inland after being dropped by a seagull has made an astonishing recovery.

Karen Warr, 46, was on her way to the shops when she glanced down and saw the 5inch-long creature on her lawn.

It was still breathing so she carefully scooped it up with a fish slice and placed it in a bowl of tepid water.

READ MORE - Source: Daily Express Friday May 15th 2009

Lyme's biggest fossil festival looms

Fossil festival organisers say the nerves are starting to build as the start of Lyme’s biggest ever fossil festival looms.

The fourth Lyme Regis Fossil Festival launches on Friday, May 22 and runs over three days, when thousands of people and hundreds more schoolchildren are expected to flock to the town.

The internationally acclaimed science event – in collaboration with the Natural History Museum – this year takes the theme Evolution Rocks!

READ MORE - Source: Bridport and Lyme Regis News Thursday 14th May 2009

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Lucky seahorse is found in garden miles inland

This seahorse came up smelling of roses at Chickerell in Weymouth.

The marine creature, believed to be three or four years old, was found by chance in a garden miles inland.

The long-snouted seahorse, which is native to British waters and is endangered, was alive but in desperate need of help.

Staff at Weymouth’s Sealife Park believe the animal may have been dropped by a bird and are now nursing it back to health in a darkened aquarium.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Thursday 14th May 2009

Friday, 8 May 2009

Dorset UFO sightings - the explanation

Was it a UFO? A flying saucer? A celestial message from on high? Sadly none of the above.

The conspiracy theorists can pack up their notebooks for now.

The mysterious orange orbs spotted floating across Weymouth and Portland at the weekend can now be identified merely as Chinese lanterns.

The paper objects, which glow with the light of candles placed inside, were released over Portland on Friday and then from two different locations around Weymouth on Saturday.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Friday 8th May 2009

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

It’s ghost to coast as paranormal investigators celebrate successful first year

If there's something strange in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call... ?

Weymouth’s Paranormal Investigation Team (PIT), that’s who.

Celebrating their first birthday this month, Dorset’s supernatural spies have found themselves in demand for checking out ghostly goings-on across the South West.

Read More: Dorset Echo Wednesday 6th May 2009

Mystery sightings of orange orbs floating across evening sky

Puzzled residents are trying to solve the mystery of orange ‘flame-like’ orbs spotted floating across the sky.

Several sightings of the strange spherical objects have been reported in recent days.

Nina Seymour said she saw the object travelling north-west to south-east over the Haylands Estate on Portland at around 9.20pm on Saturday night.

“It was silent and rapidly disappeared into the clouds,” she said.

Read More: Dorset Echo Wednesday 6th May 2009

Quirky village knob-throwing contest takes the biscuit

The chance to toss a few knobs in the sunshine was irresistible to more than 5,000 people who came to Cattistock to pit their skills.

It was the village’s second ever knob-throwing contest and beat last year’s rain-drenched affair by miles, said organiser Nigel Collins.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Wednesday 6th May 2009

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

YOI is setting for kids' May Day fun

The Portland Young Offender Institution gardens were the setting for Grove Infant School and Little Stars Pre-School May Day celebrations.

The darling buds of May sprang into the minds of the many adult spectators as they watched the small boys and girls, all dressed in white and carrying garlands, dance their way through the grounds to the splendid maypole.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Tuesday 5th May 2009

Monday, 4 May 2009

UFO over Southbourne? (or just another Chinese Lantern)

Southbourne man Chris sent us this video, which he thinks could be of a UFO.

Mysterious lights are often seen over the town, but they usually turn out to be Chinese Lanterns or the SBS on late night training.

Source: Bournemouth Daily Echo Monday 4th May 2009

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Upwey Well Dressing 3rd May 2008

Tommorrow 3rd May 2008 at 12.30pm Upwey near Weymouth will be holding there annual Well Dressing at Upwey Wishing Well. This is the 23rd Well dressing and is expected to last throughout May.

This years theme is a nostalgic reminder of childhood days along the river based on a poem by the 18th Century poet. James Hogg called "A Boy's Song".

Where the pools are bright and deep,
Where the grey trout lies asleep,
Up the river and over the lea,
That's the way for Billy and me.

Where the blackbird sings the latest,
Where the hawthorn blooms the sweetest,
Where the nestlings chirp and flee,
That's the way for Billy and me.

Where the mowers mow the cleanest,
Where the hay lies thick and greenest,
There to track the homeward bee,
That's the way for Billy and me.

Where the hazel bank is steepest,
Where the shadow falls the deepest,
Where the clustering nuts fall free,
That's the way for Billy and me.

Why the boys should drive away
Little sweet maidens from the play,
Or love to banter and fight so well,
That's the thing I never could tell.

But this I know, I love to play
Through the meadow, among the hay;
Up the water and over the lea,
That's the way for Billy and me.Well dressing was introduced to Upwey in 1986. Some Derbyshire Ladies who moved to the area started the tradition of dressing the well, as per Derbyshire custom. Thus The wishing well is now dressed each year at around May Day. The Upwey Well Dressing is very much a community effort, which raises good money for local charities. This year 2008, they are raising funds to improve wheelchair access for the disabled to the Old School Village Hall.

The origins of the tradition are alternatively said to lie in pagan tradition or in giving thanks for the purity of the water drawn from certain wells during the period of the Black Death. It is often said to have originated in Tissington, Derbyshire, though other claims can be made for Eyam and Stoney Middleton. Whatever its origins it was historically a custom exclusive in England to the Peak District of Derbyshire.

Below: Last years Well Dressing theme 'Ancient Landscapes' incorporating Stonehenge and Maiden Castle.

The information accompanying the Upwey Well Dressing reads:
"Well Dressing

Springs and wells all over the world have been revered since ancient times. In Britain the most famous examples of this tradition are Well Dressings in the Peak District villages of Derbyshire, where, during the time of the plague, communities with fresh water supply were able to protect themselves by sealing their village off from sealing their village from the outside world. Weymouth is were the Black Death entered the country in 1347. Since then wells and springs were dressed annually in thankfulness and celebration.

Here at Upwey Wishing Well is the main source of the River Wey - the largest natural spring in the south - and local people with Derbyshire connections introduced Well Dressing to the local community in 1986. Ever since the Wishing Well has been dressed annually at the May Day weekend.

Planning and designing takes several months but work starts in earnest during the week leading up to the May Day Bank Holiday.

First, a wooden framework is made and soaked for a week or so in the water gardens. Then, in the week before installation, a layer of clay is laid out on the framework of boards and the design marked out. Over the following three days the picture is built up with leaves, seeds, and other natural materials. Finally, on the day before installation, thousands of flower petals are added to give brilliant colour. Local gardeners are very generous and no wild flowers are used. The work is very intensive and painstaking and has to be completed within this short period. Although it is at its best in the early days, the Well Dressing last for three to four weeks."
Brief History of the Wishing Well

The Wishing Well at Upwey is a natural spring and source of the River Wey. The tradition as a wishing well is said to have begun as a visitor attraction in the early 20th century.

Visitors would often participate in the ritual by taking a few sips of well water from a glass. And throwing the rest of the water backwards over their left shoulder while wishing.

The Wishing Well waters are thought to also have healing properties especially in the healing of sore eyes. (see article 'Bincombe's Link to Ancient Spring 10th March 2004')

George III often visited the village of Upwey during his stay at Weymouth. He was particularly attracted by the spring that it is said that this caused a seat to be set nearby for his use. It is also said that the gold cup that the king drank the spring water from later became the Ascot Gold Cup.

Cerne Valley Beating of the Bounds Ceremony

A reminder that the Beating of the Bounds will take place on Rogation Sunday, May 17th 2009

Following a very successful walk last year, another huge turnout is anticipated and there will be two routes to choose from this year.

For all of those not in the know: The custom “Beating of the Bounds” is over 2,000 years old and used to determine and re-establish parish, farm or civic boundaries before maps came into use.

Young and old were involved in this custom, traditionally performed on Rogation Sunday.

Following the walk there will be a barbecue and performance by the Wessex Morris Men in The New Inn.

Barbecue tickets are £ 6 and are on sale in Cerne Abbas Stores now.

Walkers meet in front of St. Mary’s Church in Cerne and at the Smiths Arms in Godmanstone respectively.

There is no entry fee for the walk but collection boxes will be placed at Nether Cerne and at the barbecue in aid of the Redundant Churches Fund.

Please be aware that this walk is not suitable for very young children but dogs on leads are welcome.

Any further queries including details of the route can be directed at organiser Mike Clark (01300 341269) or visit the website at www.cerneabbashistory.org

Click map of route below to enlarge

This takes the biscuit - Dorset Knob Throwing 2009

If you’re in Cattistock, Dorset, tomorrow why not try a spot of knob throwing? A knob, of course — for those of you not from these parts — is a round, crispy biscuit.

The second “Dorset Knob Throwing and Frome Valley Food Fest” is being held in Cattistock on Sunday 3rd May 2009. Once again Moores, the producers of the famous Dorset Knob

in association with Direct from Dorset and the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) partnership have agreed to assist us in supporting the event.

The Festival will run from 10am until 4.00pm and besides Knob Throwing there will be additional fun knob attractions including Knob Painting, a Knob & Spoon Race, Guess the weight of the Big Knob, Knob Darts and a Knob Pyramid. Free parking and other more traditional entertainment will be laid on to make this a really enjoyable day out with a difference.

Even the Wessex Morris Men will be there to dance at around 2.00pm on the village green

The Frome Valley Food Fest will run along side the Knob Throwing. There will be a the opportunity to sample, taste and purchase a fine range of foods including breads, cheeses, ciders, meats game & poultry, pies, preserves, and puddings in addition to chocolate, coffee and wine supplied by well respected local businesses.

For more details visit http://dorsetknobthrowing.com

Friday, 1 May 2009

Nessie of Lyme Regis

A Loch Ness-style monster fossil has been discovered on the Lyme coast.

The four-metre plesiosaur was unearthed on Monmouth Beach.

The extinct marine reptile lived in Dorset’s Jurassic seas around 150 to 200 million years ago, although in popular culture it has been likened to ‘lake monsters’.

READ MORE - Source: Dorset Echo Friday 1st May 2009

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