‘Here be witches’ Introduction
This poem recalls some Anglo-Saxon place names that refer to witches.
Several old English words were often used to refer to a witch (hexe, hexen, haegtesse, hag and calliach). these names morphed over time. Walkern has been included as the name is said to have been chosen by the devil and the last person (Jane Wenham) to be condemned for witchcraft was ducked in the village pond in 1710.
Hekse and hexen, hægtesse and witch,
Since Saxon times did, our landscape enrich.
Cailleach kerling, and hag art the same,
Concealed and hidden, within a place name.
Valley of witch's, Hascombe in Surrey,
The hag she sleeps sound, no need to worry.
Still cleanses the land, no spell need she sing.
Carlinghow Yorkshire, the old woman's hill,
Much holly and oak, grows on the tor still.
Sacred oak grove, noble hag resting place,
Field names refer to, the sun and oaks grace.
Two old woman's hills, there be in Yorkshire,
This one worked iron, did hag interfere?
Coal pit long since closed, did kerling obstruct,
Flooded with water, now village is ducked.
Valley of witches, Hescombe Somerset,
Both hamlets were lost, when Black Death they met.
Now only fields on, the ground to be seen,
Removed without trace, did hex intervene.
Chosen by devil, was village Walkern,
Walk on one and all, and do not return.
The last witch was ducked, in dark village pond,
Saxon church still stands, till Jane points her wand.
Hessenford Cornwall, perhaps witch's ford?
This village still stands, ye witches ignored.
Beware of those that, thee can’t tell apart,
For they art adept, at Cornish dark art.
Copyright January 2012 Andrew Rea