Skirrid myths and legends

The remains of the chapel and trig point on the summit of Skirrid Fawr, Monmouthshire

There are many intriguing myths and legends around the Skirrid and surrounding area.

St Michael's Chapel

The now ruined chapel of St Michael’s perched on the top of the summit of the Skirrid was used by Roman Catholics during and after the Reformation. Services were held at the chapel until at least 1680, when John Arnold of Llanvihangel Court said he had seen ‘a hundred papists meet on top of this hill called St Michael’s Mount where there is frequent meetings, and, eight or ten times in the year, sometimes sermons are preached there’.

The Holy Mountain

Known locally as the ‘Holy Mountain’, a popular legend tells how the dramatic landslide on the north of the mountain was caused by an earthquake or lightning strike at the moment of the crucifixion of Jesus.
There was a local tradition that earth from the Skirrid was holy and especially fertile, and it was taken away to be scattered on fields, on coffins, and in the foundations of churches. Pilgrimages were made to the summit, especially on Michaelmas Eve.

Jack O'Kent the giant

A local story tells of a giant known as Jack O’Kent who had an argument with the Devil over which was bigger, the Sugar Loaf or the Malvern Hills across the border. Jack’s argument that the Sugar Loaf was bigger proved to be right. In his disgust the Devil collected a huge apron of soil to tip over the Malvern Hills to make them higher. But just as he was crossing the Skirrid the apron strings broke, dumping the soil on the Skirrid and forming the tump at the northern end.