The Devil at Barnard Gate
27 March 2023 (Updated 31 March 2023)
In Folklore of the Cotswolds, Katherine M. Briggs references a strange tale recorded by Angelina Parker in the journal Folklore.
According to the story a man travelling from North Leigh to Barnard Gate was accosted by the Devil in the form of a fiery serpent. The serpent surrounded the man so that he could not escape for a number of hours, but the man did eventually manage to escape and fled back to North Leigh.
The man later returned to the spot in the company of a group of friends, presumably hoping to confront the creature, but the serpent was nowhere to be seen. There seems to be no further explanation of why the man was targeted by the devil in this way.
The devil has appeared portrayed as a serpent many times, going back to his famous appearance in the Garden of Eden, and specifically fiery serpents make an appearance in the Hebrew Bible.
Given that serpents are often a symbol of temptation, I wonder if the man in question had paid an extended visit to the inn at Barnard Gate and found himself looking for an excuse as to why he had arrived home hours late and in a dishevelled state!
- 'Folklore of the Cotswolds' by Katherine M. Briggs (Batsford Books, 1974, ISBN: 0713428317)