Open main menu

Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 8, 1897.djvu/202

This page needs to be proofread.

1 78 Correspondence.

sacrifice, does not concern the point to which I desire to draw attention.

The taboo on cutting the beam indicates its sanctity, and the incident reminds one of a Scandinavian custom. When Ingolf, the Norse chieftain who first colonised Iceland, set sail, he took with him the two sacrod wooden columns which had stood on either side of his high seat in his old home. On approaching the shore of Iceland he threw these columns into the sea, and the place where they were washed ashore was the site supernaturally marked out for his future abode. This was at Reykjavik, after- wards the chief town of the island. The custom was followed by other colonists. In the legend of Barn Hall, I think, a remi- niscence of it cannot be mistaken. Is there any parallel incident in British tradition ?

I believe it will generally be found that there is some substra- tum of fact in legends of the change of site of a building, espe- cially where, as in the case of Barn Hall, a definite spot is pointed out as the site originally intended. Could we have an excavation made on the original site, that substratum of fact might be revealed, as in the remarkable instance of Bisley Church {^Gloucestershire County Folklore, p. 14). At all events, I want to call the atten- tion of students of folklore and archaeologists to the point, with a view to local investigations where the legend occurs.

E. Sidney Hartland.