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Monday, 26 November 2012

Byards Leap

Byards Leap

According to folklore, these four horseshoes recall a prodigious leap made by a knight`s steed during a fight to the death with a malignant witch called Old Meg.

Now read the legend of Byards Leap

The hamlet of Byards Leap, near Sleaford, is situated along the busy B1209 to Cranwell and is best known for it’s RAF College. It is also the setting for one of Lincolnshire’s most enduring legends. Long ago when the area was a wild and desolate tract of land, there lived an evil witch known as Old Meg, who was the terror and scourge of both man and beast. At length a champion emerged who vowed to rid the district of her. In some versions he is a Cromwellion solider, in others a chivalrous knight, and in yet another he is the witches former lover, but whatever the hero’s guise the components of the tale are the same. The man had the pick of a dozen horses on which to ride to battle. Realizing that whichever mount he chose needed to be quick and alert, he devised a plan to test their reactions. While the horses drank at the village pond he tossed a large pebble into the water and noticed the quickest to react to the splash was a horse called Blind Byard. He took this as a good omen, because a blind horse would not be scared by the loathsome appearence of the witch. The hero mounted Bayard and, armed with a sword, he rode to Old Meg`s den and called out to her. In answer, a sepulchral voice replied mockingly:

I must suckle my cubs (children) I must buckle my shoes, and
Then I will be with you my Laddie.”

No sooner had these words been uttered than the door of the hovel burst open and the witch appeared. On her hands and feet, Old Meg wore razor sharp, Freddy Kruger-style claws. But before she could use them, the rider slashed down with his sword and sheered off her left breast. Howling in pain and anger, the witch sprang towards her assailant, digging her claws into Byard`s flanks. The horse reared up in pain and made an almighty leap of some 60 feet, dislodging the hideous hag, who fell headlong to the ground. Seizing his chance, the champion ran her through with his sword this time killing her outright. However, the death blow was so forceful that the blade passed clean through the witch and mortally wounded the gallant Byard. Old Meg was taken to the crossroads and buried in the time-honored fashion, with an iron stake hammered through her black heart. The man returned to the village a hero, and the grateful villagers set up a memorial to mark Byard`s prodigious leap.

The impression where his hooves struck the ground are marked by a set of four horseshoes set in concrete. They can be found by the side of the Leadenham to Sleaford road.

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