The standing stones and portal tombs of Britain and Ireland are among some of the most enigmatic reminders of the fact that people walked the isles thousands of years ago. They were astronomical calendars, burial places, and sites of long forgotten ancient rituals. More recently, they’ve given birth to myths and legends that attempt to explain just how they came to be—and what happens to those who disrespect them.
10. Nine Stane Rig
The Nine Stane Rig (aka the Nine Stanes Stone Circle or the Ninestane Rig) is nestled among trees in the borderlands between Scotland and England. The prehistoric stones are thought to have been erected as a calendar for local farmers, telling them when to plant their crops by measuring the movement of the Moon against the circle. Later, it became a cairn, and that’s where the creepy part comes in.
The circle is only a few miles away from the now-abandoned Hermitage Castle. According to local legend, the castle was once home to William de Soulis (or de Soules), the second inhabitant of the castle. The 13th-century lord was popularly known as “Bad Lord Soulis” and occasionally as “Terrible William.” With those nicknames, it’s no surprise that the stories told about him include his penchant for practicing black magic. It was a pastime that necessitated the torture and murder of local children, whom he kidnapped and killed in the dungeons of the castle.
At first, the locals could do little to stop him, as he was under the protection of a spirit familiar named Robin Redcap. When de Soulis sold his soul to the Devil, he gained the protection of Redcap and was promised that the only thing that could ever kill him was a rope made of sand. He made no secret of that fact, so the townsfolk recruited the help of a wizard of their own, Thomas of Ercildourne.
While the wizard created a sand-filled lead belt, the townsfolk revolted against their lord. They stormed the castle and dragged him to the nearby Nine Stane Rig. A cauldron was waiting for him, and they bound him with the magic belt, rolled him up in a sheet of lead, and melted him down.
Both Hermitage Castle and the Nine Stanes Stone Circle are supposedly still haunted by the spirit of Bad Lord Soulis, and people have claimed to still hear the screams of the children he murdered for his black rites and rituals.