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The Legend of Devil's Dyke

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Many places in this area have names, which seem to suggest 'strange goings-on' in the past. The Devil's Dyke is a large ditch, stretching from the Suffolk Hills to the fen edge at Reach. The name 'Devil's Dyke' probably came from a belief that the land had been shaped by some supernatural force! It is an area steeped in myths and legend.

Long, long, ago, when the area around Reach was a forest, there lived a chief called Hrothgar. He lived at a time when gods and demons were thought to control the earth and one demon in particular was terrifying - the fire demon!

To the horror of the chief, it appeared that the fire demon desired his beautiful daughter, Hayenna. Hrothgar told his daughter not to worry, as his very good friend, the water god, was the sworn enemy of the fire god. He knew that the water god could communicate between the under and over world and would keep her safe.

One night Hrothgar had a dream. In his dream, an old man appeared and told him that the fire demon had a new ally in the tempest god.


"You must prepare for a great battle", the old man told him. The next day, Hrothgar told all the giants of the forest his plans.

First, they cut down all the trees to make a wide clearing. During the next three days, they built a great ditch from the river to Mount Dithon (Wood Ditton), many feet deep and seven miles long.

The tempest god had watched their work with interest and scorn. Just as they were starting to tire from the hard work, he sent a great storm to blow down the trees on top of them. The storm also brought rain, hail and snow in great quantities. The giants of the forest rounded on Hrothgar, saying he should not have angered the gods and should not have crossed the powerful fire demon.
"Do not be afraid," Hrothgar told them. "My good friend, the water god will protect us."

At that very moment, the rain ceased. Suddenly, under a great cloud of smoke, a terrifying wall of fire rushed towards the ditch. All but Hrothgar fled. Despite his fear, he came out from shelter and, with his bare hands, dug away the remaining strip of earth, separating the River Cam from the ditch.

The water poured into the ditch with a mighty, deafening roar! The fire demon was powerless against this mighty wall of water and the fire died down, the tempest stopped and his daughter was safe.

Rejoicing, the local people placed treasured items in the new stream, to thank the water god for his help. The ditch, the Devil's Dyke is still there. The fire demon never troubled the population of Reach again.

However, not all the demons have disappeared, for there have been many sightings of a large black dog with fire in his eyes. He is said to bound along Devil's Dyke, his blood-red eyes as big as saucers, guarding the dyke and, some also say, the treasure buried deep beneath it.

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