Mitchell's Fold (sometimes called Medgel's Fold or Madges Pinfold) is a Bronze Age stone circle in south-western Shropshire, found near the small village of White Grit on dry heathland at the south-west end of Stapeley Hill, at a height of 1,083 feet above sea level.
The origin of the circle's name is unknown. It may derive from a name, or from the Old English micel meaning 'big'.
Its doleritic stones came from nearby Stapeley Hill. Many of them are now missing and others are fallen. One example is that “This circle was the site of vandalism by a local farmer in the summer of 1995 when several stones were uprooted by a mechanical digger. The stones were promptly righted and "planted" again and the culprit punished. Ongoing unsympathetic use by both local youth and townie pagans, such as the creation of numerous fire pits and the leaving of litter and broken glass after the festivals, does nothing for the atmosphere of this site.”
In the beginning there may have been some thirty stone pillars. The survivors that still stand range in height from 10 inches to 6 feet 3 inches, and stand in an ellipse 89 feet NW-SE by 82 feet. The tallest is at the south-east end of the major axis, standing, perhaps by coincidence or design, close to the line of the southern moonrise. This pillar and a companion have been taken to flank an entrance about 6 feet wide.
Aubrey Burl has stated in his 2000 book 'A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany' that "There was a claim for a central stone and a very dubious eighteenth-century report that 'there was a stone across your two Portals, like those at Stonehenge, and that the stone at eighty yards distance was the altar.'" but that the "probability of a trilithon, otherwise unique to Stonehenge, at Mitchell's Fold, like an identical claim for Kerzerho in Brittany, should be regarded as rumour rather than reality."
As with most sites of this type, its true history is unknown, but that does not stop the romantic imagination, and local folklore fills in where fact leaves off.
There is a traditional folk story of a giant whose marvellous cow gave unlimited amounts of milk, to aid the village in a time of famine. However a malicious witch milked the cow through a sieve until it was drained dry. As a punishment, the witch was turned into stone and surrounded by other stones to prevent her escaping.
Anothr local tale claims the circle as the place where King Arthur withdrew the enchanted sword from one of the stones in the circle to prove himself the rightful King of the Britons.
Other nearby prehistoric sites
The only other known stone circle in Shropshire is the Hoarstones, only 1½ miles northeast of the Fold, and the Whetstones, less than half a mile to the east of the Fold. So this area is a concentrated area of activity. Nearly all the latter's stones were blown up in the 1860s; now there is only a collapse of stones. When the last stone was uprooted in 1870 charcoal and bones were seen in its hole.
The circle is six miles north of Bishop's Castle, a mile north of Corndon Hill over in Montgomeryshire in the small village of White Grit and within a few miles of the Late Neolithic-Early Bronze Age picrite stone axe factory of Cwm-Mawr.
To the south-east is a weathered cubical block on a small cairn. Along the path leading from the Fold which crosses Stapeley Common, home to the Cow Stone, a single standing stone, and the Stapeley Hill Ring Cairn.
| ("Wikimedia Commons" has material|
about Mitchell's Fold)
- Location map: 52°34’43"N, 3°1’34"W
- Shropshire Tourism boards entry for Mitchell's Fold
- Mitchell's Fold Stone Circle – English Heritage