English Folktales: The White Cow of Mitchell’s Fold


White Cow by Niko Piromani – Public Domain

Mitchell’s Fold

Today, Mitchell’s Fold is the remains of a stone circle standing on a bleak heath in South West Shropshire.  A local folktale tells of how the stone circle was originated. It tells that there was once a time of great and grievous famine that fell upon the country thereabouts. Many  were faced with starvation and the people had to endure the most terrible struggle to survive. Fortunately for them there was a Good Witch who sent them a most wonderful cow that grazed upon the heath.

This cow was pure white and allowed folk to milk her as long as they took no more than one pail, or container, of milk for each person, each time she was milked.  If that one simple rule was followed she never ran out of milk and could be milked all day and all night any number of times.  She would even fill different kinds of containers, but the rule of one applied also to them and as long as that was followed she never once ran dry.  Local folk were grateful and obeyed the rule fearing that if she should be milked dry she would leave and never return leaving them with no form of nourishment.

Witch Mitchell

Now there was a bad old woman by the name of Witch Mitchell who hated everyone and took delight in causing harm and misfortune to people.  She took it on her to take a sieve up to the moor and milk the cow into that.  Well, as can be expected the sieve never filled up  and eventually the cow ran dry.  The cow was at first content to yield up her milk but with the milking seeming to take an age she looked around and saw a great pool of milk all over the heath.  The white cow,  perhaps feeling that her good nature had been abused, ran off and was not seen on the heath again.

As is so often the way of the world the many suffer from the abuses of the few and the poor people she left behind suffered greatly from starvation and many died all because of the evil Witch Mitchell.


West side of Mitchell’s Fold – photo by Dave Coker

The Good Witch was angry  with Witch Mitchell and punished her by turning her into a standing stone that stood on the heath.  She caused standing stones to be placed all around her to imprison her there for all time. That place on the moor became known as Mitchell Fold after the bad Witch Mitchell.  Some say the the cow ran all the way to Warwickshire changing her color on the way to become known as the Dun Cow, but that is another tale.

© 22/06/2016 zteve t evans

References and Attributions

Copyright June 22nd, 2016 zteve t evans