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17th-century woodcut of fairies dancing near a doorway in a hill.

17th-century woodcut of fairies dancing near a doorway in a hill.

Fairies and Goblins at Adwell Cop

29 November 2021 (Updated 2 December 2021)

The hill to the southeast of the village of Adwell is topped with a bronze age barrow, but the site has also been long associated with fairies.

Long barrows in fairy folklore

In folklore, barrows such as Adwell Cop were often considered to be doorways or portals to the fairy realm and it is not uncommon to hear tales of people encountering fairies such sites.

In fact, the fairy connection is often celebrated in their names, for example Fairy Toot and Pixie Mound in Somerset, and Pixie's Cave in Hampshire.

Adwell Cop map circa 1921

A map of Adwell Cop circa 1921.

A 18th-century fairy encounter

The 18th-century Oxfordshire antiquarian Reverend Thomas Delafield recorded the story of a traveler who saw a group of fairies singing and dancing on top of the barrow at Adwell Cop. The song the fairies sand went:

'At Adwell Cop there stands a cup.
Drink the drink and eat the sop,
And set the cup on Adwell Cop.'

Adwell Cop

Adwell Cop. Credit: Photo by Andrew Smith, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0, via Geograph.org.uk

If you'd like a closer look at Adwell Cop, the highly estimable Loremen Podcast have done a very enjoyable field report video about the site.


The fairies seen at Adwell Cop may not be the only supernatural creatures living in the area. A mile to the northwest near Stoke Talmage is a hill called Poppet's Hill. According to British History Online, Poppet's Hill derives its name from an Old English word meaning 'Goblin's pit'!



  1. 'Folklore of Oxfordshire' by Christine Bloxham (Tempus Publishing, 2005, ISBN: 9780752436647)
  2. Adwell (British History Online)
  3. Stoke Talmage (British History Online)
  4. Field Report | Adwell Cop, Oxfordshire (Youtube)