About two weeks ago I was looking in my late father`s garage for a collection of his doodles (as one does) when I came across a facsimile of part of an old British atlas, which I guess originally dated from the 17th century; the original map I mean not the reproduction. So I thought, well, this looks very interesting. I found a part of it covering the East and North Riding and read the following: (Original spelling adhered to)
“Places of memorable note are Whitby, where are found certain stones fashioned like Serpents, foulded and wrapped round in a wreath, euen the very pastimes of Nature, who when shee is wearied (as it were ) with serious workes, sometimes forgeth and shapeth things by way of sport and recreation: so that by the credulous they are thought to have beene Serpents, which a coate or crust of stones had now couered all ouer, and by the praiers of S.Hilda turned to stones: And also there are certaine fields here adoining, where Geese flying ouer fall downe sodainlie to the ground, to the great admiration of all men:…At Skengrause ( a little village) some seventie yeeres since , was caught a fish called a Sea-man, that for certaine daies together fedde on raw fishes, but espying his opportunitie escaped agiane into his waterie Element…..At Huntley Nabo, are stones found at the rootes of certaine rockes, of diures bignesse, so artificially shaped round by nature, in manner of a Globe, as if they had beene made by the Turners hand. In which (if you breake them) are found stony Serpents, enwrapped round like a wreath, but most of them headlesse”.
I have asked the Bodleian Library if they can provide me with any information about this atlas but so far without success. Dr Darren Naish informed me that the Whitby and Huntley Nabo stones were ammonites and the latter were nodules but William Corliss (who I rang) and I noted that the Huntley Nabo stones were globular. Indeed, I sent Corliss the information in this blog. He had never heard of such a thing. Strangely a day or two after I had found the facsimile map I found my dad`s doodles and he seemed to have specialised in ammonite-like drawings!