Wayland Smithy

This is another beautiful site where legend carries us back at least a thousand years to the Wayland Smith who had his smithy in the megalithic chamber on The Ridgeway near the Uffington White Horse. In 1738 Frances Wise quoted the country people thus, ‘At this place lived formerly an invisible Smith, and if a traveller’s Horse had lost a Shoe upon the road, he had no more to do than to bring the Horse to this place with a piece of money and leaving both there for some little time, he might come again and find the money gone, but the Horse new shod.’

Wayland is a Saxon character closely related to the Norse myth of Volundr. In both Norse and English tradition Weland is ‘of the race of elves.’ There is much more about Weland in Jennifer Westwood’s ‘Albion’ (pages 278-282). He is mentioned in the epic ‘Beowulf’, in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s ‘The Life of Merlin’, in Sir Walter Scott’s ‘Kenilworth’ and in Kipling’s ‘Puck of Pook’s Hill’ (see illustration pg 51 in ‘Mythology of the British Isles’ by Geoffrey Ashe (Methuen 1990). Contemporary references include Radiohead’s ‘Pop is Dead’ video (filmed there) and Julian Cope’s song ‘Wayland Smithy Has Wings’ on ‘The Skellington Chronicles’. There is just something about Wayland’s Smithy, built in two phases from 3,590-3,550BC and from 3,460- 3,400BC, that captures the imagination. ‘Awe inspiring’ it is.

Location: B4507 from Compton Beauchamp towards Kingston Lisle. Turn left for Woolstone, turn right uphill, cross the Ridgeway, turn right again. The Smithy is in a copse 600 yards along the track.

Coordinates: 51° 34′ 2.02″ N1° 35′ 42.95″ W

Photo Credit: MSemmett, Wiki Images, Creative Commons Licence