The Hurlers

The story of men playing hurling on a Sunday were turned to stone as an act of retribution.

Groups of men strolled up the hill from the neighbouring parishes of St Cleer and Linkinhorne to play a much anticipated game of hurling on Craddock Moor near Minions. It was a clear summer Saturday, the sky was huge and the breeze light. As the two teams gathered, the mood was raucous and excited. The men breathed in sweet summer. The cork ball was hurled across the moor, its silver casing glinting in the sun. The fun had begun. One man caught it and ran and the others pursued him. They tumbled in a bundle that became quickly rough and heated, the men fought and rolled, the ball hidden in a boggy pool. The first man dived for the ball but the opposition dived with him and the chase was on once more. The men had such a heated tournament that the winning side was as yet undecided and dusk was already draping the moor. As this was the grand summer tournament it wouldn't be much without a winner so they agreed to continue the next day.

Now, the next day was Sunday and a morning usually spent attending church. Sport and revelry was prohibited on the Sabbath and the parishioners usually followed the rule but this was the grand summer tournament after all and a bit of fun once in a while wouldn't harm anyone. The game got off to a good start with a race through Withy Brook marsh; the hurlers were looking rather rugged with bits of green slime, and mud on their faces and blackthorn in amongst their beards but the fun radiated from their ruddy faces and their cries of glee could be heard for miles. Then, a warning shout went up.

Standing on a large granite boulder on the edge of the moor was the vicar of St Cleer. He was dressed in his Sunday silks, his gown and ribbons flapping in the wind. There was a pause in the game as the hurlers looked at him in surprise. Then a few sniggers and hoots and an invitation to play. But the vicar had not come to the moor to join a team, he has come to warn of the terrible punishments that befell those who defied the parish law and played sport on Sunday. All those who continued would surely regret it and he was here to give them a warning and to guide them back to the village.
Well, that was all very considerate of the vicar and nobody wanted to upset the serious man in his Sunday garb but this was also the Grand Summer Hurling Tournament and it had to be decided no matter which day of the week so the hurlers returned to the game.

And it was the best they had had in years. Rough, tough and hilarious every man felt on top of the moor. By evening a feasting and a revelling had been organized with two pipers entertaining as they formed three rings and began to dance.
In the morning the villagers who had not joined the hurling set out to search for their missing loved ones. When they walked up onto the moor by Minions all they found were three rings of standing stones and two lone stones at the edge. Every Hurler had been turned to stone where he danced as had the pipers who entertained them.

And if you go up on to the Hurlers on Craddock Moor to the edge of the village of Minions you will see them for yourselves and perhaps, if you look very carefully you will find the gap in the rock or the dip in the grass in which they hid their ball.

 retold by Anna Chorlton

 THE SILVER BALL  Audio drama about  the Hurlers and Merry Maidens stone circles, written by Anna Chorlton.

  • Caradon Hill - Moor Stones