British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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352                                        LAMMAS DAY.                           [AUG. I.
which was to serve as the place of their rendezvous on Lammas Day. This tower was usually built of sods, for the most part square, about four feet in diameter at the bottom and tapering to a point at the top, which was seldom above seven or eight feet from the ground. In buiilding it, a hole was left in the centre for a flagstaff, on which to display their colours.
From the moment the foundation of the tower was laid, it became an object of care and attention to the whole com­munity ; for it was reckoned a disgrace to suffer it to be defaced; so that they resisted, with all their power, any attempts that should be made to demolish it, either by force or fraud; and, as the honour that was acquired by the de­molition of a tower, if effected by those belonging to another, was in proportion to the disgrace of suffering it to be de­molished, each party endeavoured to circumvent the other as much as possible, and laid plans to steal upon the tower unperceived, in the night time, and level it with the ground* Great was the honour that such a successful exploit con­veyed to the undertakers; and, though the tower was easily rebuilt, yet the news was quickly spread by the successful adventurers, through the whole district, which filled it with shouts of joy and exultation, while their unfortunate neigh­bours were covered with shame. To ward off this disgrace, a constant nightly guard was kept at each tower, which was made stronger and stronger, as the tower advanced; so tha frequent nightly skirmishes ensued at these attacks, bu were seldom of much consequence, as the assailants seldom came in force to make an attack in this way, but merely to succeed by surprise; as soon, therefore, as they saw the; were discovered, they made off in the best manner the; could.
To give the alarm on these and other occasions, ever; person was armed with a "tooting horn," that is, a horn perforated in the small end, through which wind can be forcibly blown from the mouth, so as to occasion a low poise ; and as every one wished to acquire as great dexterity as possible in the use of the " tooting horn," they practise( upon it during the summer while keeping their beasts; an( towards Lammas they were so incessantly employed at this
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