The story I will write about today is "Uter Bosence and the Piskey" which can be read here.
This is a story involving an old man Uter Bosence who lived in Sancreed parish in the west of Cornwall. He had a son also called Uter who was a champion at wrestling and hurling and a great horseman, in fact he had a mysterious ability to tame wild horses. The action takes place on Midsummer's Eve.
After describing a hurling match between the men of Sancreed and St. Just, the story talks of midsummer bonfires at which there was music and dancing. Uter having remembered that he had promised to join his father and cousin at one of these bonfires on Trannack hill, crossed some fields in order to reach it.
At which point he was surrounded by a cloud of fog. He found himself unable to cross a hedge and heard mocking laughter. The field he was in, "Park an Chapel" contained the ruins of an old chapel, and strange apparitions were said to be seen there, so it was avoided by most people after dark. Uter didn't believe in these tales of small people, but he began to feel stiff and weary and decided to stop for a smoke before heading home. He heard strange noises from the building, and saw it filled with frightful "sprights and spriggans", ugly creatures who hissed like serpents. He saw a bring like a goat, with horns and a long beard, who despite Uter's attempt to fend it off with a stick, laid Uter on his back and sent him rolling down the hill, tossed over hedges and pushed through brambles and gorse, driven against a rock where he was found the next day.
The story also mentions the belief that the dancing around the bonfire on midsummer's eve in a ring ensured good luck for the year and protected against witchcraft.
In this story we have a belief that there are certain places that are haunted by spirits. These spirits were quite malevolent given poor Uters' rough treatment. We are not told why Uter had been singled out for this kind of treatment.
One wonders what Uter had been smoking...