THE MERRY MAIDENS plays with the idea that the early Christian church didn’t know what to make of the various stone circles, barrows and megaliths that dotted our land. They had to be seen as more clever than their congregation so they simply made things up. Sadly, there are instances today where those in religious power still use the name (or wrath) of God as a means of controlling their people.

“What we call God’s justice is only man’s idea of what he would do if he were God.” Elbert Hubbard (1856-1915) writer, publisher, artist, philosopher



Stood here since time immemorial;

Nineteen stones in perfect formation.

Not knowing why they were put here

Leaves it open to interpretation.

Calendar, congress or cenotaph?

And I do wish to labour the point;

That they were here a long time before

Christ had mastered his first dovetail joint.

Imagine times past, a parish priest,

The Whit Sunday walk to Lamorna.

A girl asks about the standing stones;

He seizes the chance to forewarn her,

“Of heedless young maidens who wanted

To dance on the holiest of days.

The Lord in his ire, turned them to stone;

Once wilful…they’re now set in their ways.”

“That’s harsh…just for dancing” said the girl.

The priest had to strengthen his purpose.

“See those two other stones…there and there.

Well…that’s all that’s left of their pipers.”

The girl’s eyes widened and then narrowed;

A smart girl, not easily smitten.

“Why are they all in different fields?”

The priest said, “Because it is written.”

The party processed down the valley

But the priest turned to Boskenna Cross

And prayed to his Good Lord for guidance

In enlight’ning his people who’s boss.

Inspired by what happened to Lot’s wife;

Paradigm of the Lord’s will defied.

Turned from pillar of society

Into one of sodium chloride.

Thus so inspired, he marched to the cove

And preached to his flock a fine sermon.

How failure to observe the Sabbath

Could turn people into…a dolmen.

He told how the girls danced regardless;

It was almost the new Sabbath day.

On hearing that first chime of midnight

The pipers thought they best get away.

The maids, so wrapped up in their dancing

Were just slaves to the rhythm and pace.

God decided to punish them by

Firmly putting them all in their place.

The girl still had questions unanswered

But knew not to challenge her ‘betters’.

The priest knew his tale was not binding

Until it was marked out in letters.

Once the tale’s written and set in stone

It favours the writer’s agenda.

Be it fable, Bible, Daily Mail…

Manipulative propaganda?

It seems that God’s mercy or fury,

At least as far as I can perceive,

Depends on who’s telling the story

And what control they wish to achieve.

God only appears unforgiving

In places like Islamic Asia

Where evil medieval thinking has

A will to apply certain pressure.

Which brings us back to that Cornish priest

And the power he needed to wield

That left us with petrified burkhas;

Ne-ne-nineteen of them in a field.

Stifling free will before it can breathe;

Imposition of his church’s stance;

Our priest was just squaring the circle

To stop maidens from wanting to dance.

So why is God no longer angry

And showing a certain forbearance?

Why aren’t we all turned flesh into stone

For failing our Sunday Observance?

No sandstones stand swearing in bunkers

On golf courses all over the land;

No milestones sit in just-polished cars

In lay-bys with a thermos to hand;

And why aren’t there 70,000

Basalt columns supporting their team

The eleven menhirs of Man U

At Old Trafford’s Theatre of Dreams?

No Granite stacks shelves at Sainsburys;

And no Serpentines service the tills.

The Millstone-Gritts don’t meet the Flintstones

While out walking in the Malvern Hills?

Are megaliths spending megabucks

In a search of thrills and adventure?

Does Stonehenge see its sarsens ringed by

Smaller ones impressed by their stature?

Of course God had previous for smiting;

At Minions, Bodmin Moor it is said,

A despicable meanness took place

That killed Sunday League Hurling stone dead.

So with dancers, pipers and hurlers

Turned to stone by God’s act of revenge

It does sort of beg the question

What on earth were they doing at Stonehenge?

© gray lightfoot

Hear Gray read the poem…

maidens & me

The large upright stones of Stonehenge are called sarsen stones because the early church didn’t know what to make of them. They knew they weren’t Christian so they must be Saracen (Moslem) stones… hence the name.