British Folklore
Fairy Lore & Prehistoric Sites in Britain

Boleigh Fogou

Boleigh Fogou

Fogou is the ancient Cornish word for cave and there are many prehistoric fogou all throughout Cornwall. Boleigh Fogou is one of many but has many centuries of attached folklore relating to it.  It served as a hideaway during the Civil War but the greatest and longest standing lore related to this particular fogou is that it was the meeting place for witches.

It is a well known fact that hares are sometimes what witches can shapeshift into.  Many times people have witnessed hares running into Boleigh Fogou and never returning out.  The idea was that inside they went to meet the devil and he gave them some other shape to leave in.  These stories surrounding fogou were so common and pervasive that one story even worked it's way into the guise-plays that are performed in Cornwall around Christmas.

It is the dance of "Duffy and the Devil" - the story itself is similar to Tom Tit Tot from Suffolk and likewise, an almost perfect replication of Rumplestiltskin.  In the English versions, however, the poor girl does not marry a king, instead she marries a local Squire.  In this particular story Duffy marries Squire Lovel because he thinks she can spin and knit - but she can do neither.  A "queer looking little man in black" arrives, offering his help.  He has only one condition, however - that in three years time he can steal her away from the Squire if she cannot guess his name.  Squire Lovel chases and hunts a hare into the fogou, deep down for almost a mile and spies the little man, dancing around a fire with a coven of witches singing merrily;

Duffy, my lady, you'll never know - what?
That my name is Terrytop, Terrytop - top!

When the three years is over, Duffy is able to save herself by giving Terrytop his name.