Monday, 7 November 2011

Mikelmerck - the Fend Goat

High on crags he tore his rags

Down by thorn he blew his horn

Hid in lee, brak' his knee

Over beck he brak' his neck

Under Fend we'll mak' his end

Each year as the Progress comes to its end, the villagers of Fend enact a curious ritual.  A visitor describes it like this.

"We arrived a week before the festival and the whole village was engrossed in the construction of an effigy.  Everyone contributed, whether clothing or stuffing, but only the smith makes the mask.  They call it the Goat and set it on display at the edge of the village facing out towards the moors.  Everyone who arrives at this time is expected to pay their respects - and maybe even leave a small gift.

After the three days of feasting and honour, the Goat is carried around the village and treated most regally.  At the smithy however, the Goat is adorned with his new mask and the villagers now start to drag him around their boundaries.  At each stopping point, the village gathers and chants a verse  before carrying the Goat to a bonfire and burning him.

I asked what was the origin of this tale and was told that it was very ancient and believed to have once been part of the king-making of Mikelmerck.  If this is the case, I am glad I did not live in such times!"

(from "Mikelmerck's Customs and Places" by Scrivener Wainwright)

Mr Wainwright's description is accurate.  He may have romanticised the mythic elements and it the opinion of most that the Goat represents nothing more than an opportunistic thief who met his end at the hands of the villagers of Fend.


  1. Nicely done. Has an air of versimilitude about it--and subtle menace.

  2. Thank you. It's a re-skinned (which may be an unfortunate turn of phrase) version of an annual event in one of our more remote villages. The whole thing has always given me deep creeps and I wanted to include it.