Rillaton Barrow

The Rillaton Cup

A Druid sat on his daily seat offering a drink to all who passed by. He held a beautiful gold cup which would mysteriously refill after every drink. One day, three huntsmen rode across the marshes. The Druid offered them a drink and each rider drank a long draft as it had been a hard ride across the moors. The third huntsman drank and drank until he felt quite sick and still the Druid’s cup was full of a fine golden liquid. The huntsman became angry that the cup wouldn’t empty. He spat out the wine, threw some at the startled Druid and galloped off with the cup in his hand. The Huntsman didn’t get far; his horse stumbled as it ran down the stony hill, the huntsman tumbled off and cracked his head, dented his skull, broke his bones. The cup landed soft in a grassy hollow – no cracks or breaks or dents to mar its gold.

Many years later, the Huntsman was found buried in a barrow, the cup lay by his side along with a bronze sword. For a while it was used as a shaving mug by a king, but today the Druid’s cup is kept very safe in a museum. It’s now known as The Rillaton Cup, but without the Druid it remains empty to this day.

The round cairn stands 500 metres north-northeast of The Hurlers stone circles on a rise of land known as Rillaton Moor in an area rich in round barrows, cairns, standing stones and natural rock features. It consists of a mound of stone and earth that has a diameter of over 35 metres and stands over 2.5 metres high despise a crater dug into its top by stone robbers. What is most interesting though is a slab lined cist on its eastern side and what it was found to contain. This cist which is aligned north-south and is about 2 metres long by 1 metre in width and height was opened by in 1837 by workmen looking for building material who found a skeleton along with a bronze dagger, several faience beads and a decorated pot that contained a corrugated gold cup with a riveted handle. This spectacular find, now known as the Rillaton Cup and thought to date from 2000-1500BC, was handed over as treasure trove and found its way into King George V’s dressing room where he is said to have used it for storing collar studs! It is currently in the British Museum

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