Sam McLoughlin & David Chatton Barker Tales Of The Monstone

Folklore Tapes
26th January 2022

Format Info

LP with Bookbound insert
Twelve-inch Vinyl (20min each side) Housed in a litho-printed gatefold sleeve 30x page full colour stitched storybook featuring artwork by Bob Frith & Lucy Atherton Paper stone rubbing taken from the surface of the Monstone Comes with D/L code Limited to 250

Comes with Exclusive The Spirit Of Place, 10 Years of Folklore Tapes CD Sampler, exclusive to Monorail Music.

‘Our nursery legends and superstitions are fast becoming matters of history, except in more remote quarters of the country’. It is found that many of these imperfect, sometimes grotesque, traditions, legends and superstitions are, in reality, not the “rubbish” which the “learned” have been in the habit of regarding them, but rather the crude ore, which, when skilfully smelted down, yields, abundantly, pure metal well worthy of the literary hammer of the most profound student in general history, ethnology, or phenomena…”

Charles Hadwick,

‘Traditions, superstitions and folk-lore of Lancashire, 1872”

The Monstone stands quiet and content between forgotten and formless boundaries on the moors above the vale of Whitworth. Standing like a guardian over thousands of years, it has collected many carved marks, initials, symbols, elemental ware and much varied multi-coloured lichen patterns that have grown over its hoary body. In relatively recent times, the stone has also collected many stories and names. Located at a natural lookout point, I enjoy sitting or laying on its cool marked surface, gazing out across the moors toward Brown Wardle Hill, feeling the sense of timelessness that prevails, most days, where land and sky meet closer.

After moving to the valley, I heard of the large handprint on the stone from locals and sought to find the Monstone or Manstone as it is marked out on maps. Antiquarians and megalithic monument seekers have picked up on its supposed prehistoric ritual uses and this has shrouded the stone in an air of casual mystery. Over time, I have collected more stories associated with the stone, from books found in local archives such as Touchstones in Rochdale and Kellsall’s bookshop in Littleborough. For this project I have chosen two tales which feature: faeries; witches; the plague; occultism and spectral rabbits!

The legend of the Baum Rabbit is known to inhabitants of the Rochdale area, due to its association with St Mary’s Chapel – next to The Baum Pub (Baum referring to Lemon Balm which was once grown on the site and used for healing). Little, however, is known of the rabbit’s associations with the Monstone and the faeries (usually associated with nearby Healey Dell). The presence of a set of Tarot cards on the stone is another unusual element, which brings an astrological and even occult aspect to the story. Then, there is of course, the plague, a shadow that gives the story a much more pertinent edge in the year 2020.

The tale of Mother Red Cap is one of many layers of history…the name was given to wise woman and witches during the medieval period and it was the red hood or cap associated with witches. Mother Red Cap is also known as an old folklore archetype, from which Little Red Riding Hood might be traced. The cap or hood belies the girl’s collusion with the wolf and her penchant for straying. To me, the tale speaks of natural warning and a tension, exemplified by the blood red colour throughout, which perhaps can be associated with the coming-of-age into womanhood and the natural power that comes with this. The inclusion of the very real figure John Dee in the story anchors it with an interesting time in British history, a time when astronomy, science and magic were all embroiled in a dance together, perhaps a time we are finding ourselves back within?

This project is the second part (The Queen of The Well being the first chapter) of an ongoing journey of discovery across these moors and attempts to bring together these captivating tales through a forging of word, image and sound, for a contemporary audience of any age, whenever and wherever they may be…

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