Friday, 4 November 2011

The Legend of the Wiltshire "Moonrakers."

The Crammer Pond with the church of St James in the background.
"Listen 'ere, whyle e tell ye a tale of contraband and excisemen and thik gurt yaller cheese int pond and us group yokels."  That is the limit of my Wiltshire dialect, which is still going strong in Devizes.  It sounds lovely, but I fear it will disappear completely, now that standard English has reached Salisbury Plain and the Vale of Pewsey.  The photo above shows the "Crammer" pond,  a word probably coming from the German for "Kramer" meaning tradesman.  This area was formerly part of the wasteland forming Bishops Cannings, and was used for fairs and stalls.  The plaque below gives another possible meaning for the word "Crammer."   I hope you can enlarge my photo to read the information.

History has it,  that  one evening a group of canny Wiltshire smugglars tricked the local excisemen, by throwing their contraband kegs of brandy into the Crammer pond.  They thought they would come back and retrieve it when the coast was clear.  One moonlit night they  returned, and as they were raking the kegs  out of the pond,  the  excisemen arrived.  "What ye doing?" they shouted.  Thinking quickly the smugglars replied, "We're raking the thik gurt yaller cheese out of pond." 

They were, of course,  trying to rake the reflection of the moon out of the pond.   The excisemen continued their journey thinking,  "what a bunch of stupid yokels we 'ave here."   Meanwhile the smugglars laughed to themselves,  they had  safely retrieved their contraband.  This old story is popular in other parts of England,  but folk born and breed in Wiltshire are still known as "Moonrakers."   Unfortunately I am not a "Moonraker."
The Crammer Pond and its Legend of theWiltshire Moonrakers.

No comments:

Post a Comment