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Saturday, 16 July 2011

Lerrets and lucky stones

The picture above shows one of the lucky stones hanging inside Gail McGarva's new lerret Littlesea. The boat has two of these stones, one from Lyme Regis and one from Portland, to unite both ends of the coast (the boat is a double-ender too!).

Small pebbles with naturally-occurring holes in them have always been used as lucky charms. In other parts of the country they are known as "hag-stones", although Gail doesn't use this term herself. Neither does retired fisherman Ken Gollop, who simply calls them "stones with holes in 'em"! Ken says that in the old days, these pebbles were very rare in Lyme Regis -- you'd have to walk a hundred yards along the beach, scouring it carefully, before you found one. Nowadays, with the import of shingle from the Isle of Wight, the stones are far more common.

Hag stones have many uses besides protecting boats. They are often tied above windows or doorways for protection. There are numerous hag-stones in the Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle, including one that has been tied to a door-key to prevent it from being lost!

Thanks to Gail McGarva for the photograph and information, and to Ken Gollop for additional information.

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