Each month, James Franklin, online and educational resources officer at Culture Vannin, looks at a particular place in the island and gives a guide to some of its folklore.

A Guide to the Folklore of the Isle of Man was published earlier this month, so it is now much easier to look up a good location with a bit of Christmas-related folklore.

Actually, one of the questions on the back of the book is, ‘Where is the Cursed Stone of Destiny?’

We can answer that here, because it is in the wall of St Luke’s, up over the Baldwin valleys.

Over the eastern window, below the bell on the outside of this small church is a small stone marked with a simple cross.

This is the grandly-named stone, the Cursed Stone of Destiny, which caused a lot of trouble before it was safely lodged here.

Many years ago, the stone was foolishly taken from the old keeill site that was once visible here, and, of course, terrible things followed.

No one in the household could sleep for all the strange noises to be heard during the night.

One minute there was a strange bleating, the next a sudden terrible crash as if a cartload of rocks was being tipped out.

In the morning, the marked rock was moved to a hedge outside, but the hedge fell over and refused to stand again as long as the stone was there.

Indeed, some versions of the story even tell of cattle dying on the farm while the stone was there.

Wisely, the stone was moved to safety, onto sacred ground, into the gable wall of St Luke’s, where it has remained ever since.

Woe betide anyone who might ever think of taking it, should the opportunity arise in the future.

Hunt the Wren, thankfully, is well-known all over the Isle of Man today, with communities coming together to dance and sing around the wren bush on the morning of December 26.

No harm has been done for more than 100 years, however before 1800, of course, they had an actual bird in their bush.

It was in the graveyard of St Luke’s that a part of the custom took place which few will know today.

The people of Baldwin took their wren around the houses ‘with drums beaten and colours flying,’ undoubtedly singing their song about ‘the king of all birds.’

They would sell its feathers for luck to those they met, until the procession reached St Luke’s.

Here, ‘with much solemnity,’ they would bury the bird in a corner of the graveyard.

After this, the gathered crowd would have fun playing ‘all kinds of athletic games’ on the open land which then adjoined the graveyard.

What a wonderful picture it presents of Christmastime here long ago, but we wonder what the vicar thought of the tradition.

If we were to continue up past the church, we would be on the slopes of Carraghan, a hill at the top of which lies a king buried under the cairn.

It was on these slopes that the infamous Ben Ven Carraghan would be seen.

A ghostly figure with her spinning wheel, the sight of her was an ill-omen for the near future.

One version of her story has the ‘little woman of Carraghan’ on the hillside spinning the history of those being born in the Baldwin valleys.

Although she sits silently, her lips move constantly and her eyes are like stars as she spins at her wheel.

But beware; the person who witnessed this died suddenly, along with all his family, very soon afterwards.

Take care when in the hills of Braddan!