Open main menu

Page:A book of folk-lore (1913).djvu/73

This page needs to be proofread.

I have quoted this at length, as it comes from Worcestershire, on the borders of Wales; and as it presents an earlier phase of the superstition than that of the death-coach.

There are stories in Henderson's Northern Folklore of coaches with headless horsemen, but I lay no stress on them, as these are evidently late developments of an ancient belief that Death, the Ankou, went about picking up souls as they departed.

To turn now to the celt or hammer figured on the graves of prehistoric peoples.

Both Strabo and Herodotus speak of peoples in Asia who, when their parents grew aged and useless, killed them. This was absolutely averse from the customs of the Aryans, who made the family and the clan a sacred centre. But it was quite possible with the non-Aryan natives before Britain was invaded by the Celts.! Aubrey has preserved an account of how in churches hung behind. the door "the holy mawle", with which sons might knock on the~ head their parents when they became effete and of no more use; and; in a prose romance, Sir Percival congratulates himself that he is no in Wales, where sons pull their fathers out of bed and kill them. A Count Schalenberg rescued an