HAY STREWING



Many ago, Andy York and Paul Devereux researched the landscape and customs of Leicestershire. They came across several traditions of "hay strewing", in which hay from a particular spot had to be taken on a specified date and scattered along the nave of a nearby church. No one sees to know the origins of this custom (which occurs elsewhere than In Leicestershire). One exciting case was the hay strewing associated with a meadow called "The Wethers", near the former site of old Enderby, They tracked this meadow down, and discovered there a setting of modest stones - presumably where the grass for the special hay was grown. The custom was that the hay had to be carried in a straight line to the (now vanished) church at Enderby. Interestingly, a straight half-mile section of an ancient "green road" led out from the rneadow. We wonder if there is a connection with this custom and church paths/corpse roads? Straw is associated with death (see for example 'Todaustragen': The Ritual Expulsion of Death at Mid-Lent", Robert Pearson Flaherty, Folklore, Vol. 103, c1992i), and perhaps hay, too, may have similar associations'. We have yet to research it - has anyone else already done so?'

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