28 OCTOBER 2019

BYARD'S LEAP

HALLOWEEN SPECIAL · PART I

byardsleap.jpg

There was once a man-eating ogress called Black Meg. Like another mother of Grendel, she lived in a cave on the wild and lonely expanse of Ancaster Heath. With foul and evil spells she made the land barren, and with her long iron claws she would strip the skin and flesh of any living thing she came upon as she roamed up and down the roads in that place...

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Byard's Leap is a local legend from the village of Byard's Leap in North Kevestan, Lincolnshire. The hamlet resides in a civil parish with the village of Cranwell (around 3 miles away) and Brauncewell.  The land where Byard's Leap lies was once in the ownership of the Knight's Templar, who are said to have used it for great mock battles which they ran as tournaments.

There are many versions of the Legend of Byard's Leap, differing in their details. While most of these legends revolve around a malignant female character called 'Old Meg' or 'Black Meg', and her defeat at the hands of a horse-riding knight or soldier, they disagree about the nature of Meg and the role of the horse.  Our version casts Meg as a cannabillistic ogress with 'iron claws'. Other versions of the legend state that Meg was a witch with 'long nails'. The most elaborate versions of the legend state that Meg was a happy and attractive girl who fell in love with a young man, but was abandoned by him when he went to the wars or the Crusades. After he left, she fell into despair and was seduced by a mysterious stranger, almost certainly the Devil.  The identity of the champion who kills Meg changes as well. Often he is a knight, and Meg's former lover in that version of the tale. In some he is a Cromwellian soldier at the time of the Civil War.  Sometimes he is a man called Big Jim; some even say that it was the knight, not the horse, who was called 'Bayard'.

Regardless, the tale is firmly entrenched in local folklore: the spot where Blind Byard landed is marked by a commemorative stone, although some sources state the actual site of the leap and the marks of Byard's hooves were destroyed by the widening of a nearby road. 

For this Halloween special we followed one of the simpler and more grotesque incarnations of the tale. We took the bare bones from the version contributed by Peter McHugh to the Mysterious England and Ireland website. Rick confesses he mis-remembered the name of the knight as 'Old' rather than 'Big' Jim, but enjoyed the unlikely pairing that came out of it. He was particularly attracted to the idea of the blind horse being ridden an unlikely hero who appears somewhat doddering at first, and the possible link between the blind horse Byard and the mythical French stallion, Bayard.  This magical horse featured in several European chivalric romances, where he was distinguished by the ability to split hills in two with his hoofs, to leap great distances, and change his size to perfectly seat his rider. However, from the 13th century 'Bayard' became a common name applied to any bay-coloured horse, and in Chaucer's writings was used to describe clownish, blind and foolish horses, making Byard's Leap an interesting fusion of these two traditions.

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Rick: Interestingly, there are also many English pubs called 'Byard's Leap', although the one here in Sheffield is sadly out of business, leaving us unable to raise a glass to the leaping bay!

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EPISODE CREDITS

Stories interpreted and performed by Rick Scott.
Sound editing, audio design and original illustrations by Rick Scott.
Lore & Legend Series Theme composed and performed by Robert Bentall.
Original incidental music and chords also by Robert Bentall.

Podcast hosting by Anchor. Video and audiogram creation using Headliner.
 

With special thanks to Ian Topham and Paul McHugh for the Black Meg legend as related on the Mysterious Britain website (see Sources above); and to Paul Jackson for supporting us through Patreon.

AUDIO CREDITS

 

Additional incidental music, background ambience and sound effects by multiple authors sourced from Freesound.org.

See below for the full list of audio files and attribution credits:

  • S: full circle str dtb 2.wav by toiletrolltube | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: processed guitar -p3b.wav by toiletrolltube | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: Rain and Thunders by humanoide9000 | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: Synthesized_Thunder_06.wav by RSilveira_88 | License: Attribution

  • S: Thunder_close.wav by hantorio | License: Attribution

  • S: Thunder Clap OWB KY 441x16.wav by Dave Welsh | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: sfx_thunder blast.wav by bajko | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: Thunder3 by Yoyodaman234 | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: Rain Thunder.mp3 by Nimlos | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: Ear Ringing (After explosion) by dbdarby | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: Rocks.wav by adamgryu | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: Dust Scatter, A.wav by InspectorJ | License: Attribution

  • S: Huge Cinematic Explosion.wav by musicace17 | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: Gravelanche 2 by jorickhoofd | License: Attribution

  • S: Smoke Bomb by vckhaze | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: Poof of Smoke by Planman | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: Puff of Smoke by Natty23 | License: Attribution Noncommercial

  • S: hit with dust fall.aiff by SoundCollectah | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: bang crash.aiff by benjaminharveydesign | License: Creative Commons 0

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  • S: Big Crash by PatrickLieberkind | License: Attribution

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  • S: 071416 Victor Victrola spring noise.wav by thaighaudio | License: Creative Commons 0

  • S: VICTROLA VV XI--Victor Talking Machine Phonograph by hendmik | License: Attribution

  • S: press 2 to disconnect your internet (voice mail spam) 2 nr.wav by toiletrolltube | License: Creative Commons 0

RICK SCOTT
STORYTELLER

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