A giant granite stone weighing several tonnes will be the centrepiece of a ritualistic ceremony to ward off the devil in North Devon this evening.
The ceremony, known as the Turning of the Devil, takes place every 5 November in the village of Shebbear. It is so old that no-one is sure when it began, although it is thought to predate Guy Fawkes' gunpowder plot by several years.
The stone is situated opposite the village church and pub, the Devil Stone's Inn. Martin Warren, vicar of Shebbear, said the stone weighs "a good few tonnes" and does not belong in the area. No one knows exactly where it comes from.
In keeping with tradition, the stone will be turned over by six men, who first ring a peal of bells. Warren said the ritual "is associated with the devil and the pursuit of the devil. The stone was thrown at him and crushed him."
Legend states the stone fell out of the devil's pocket when he fell from heaven to hell and by turning it, the bell ringers keep the devil away.
It is thought that the stone ensures good luck for the village over the year to come.Warren said that between 150 and 200 people usually come to see the ceremony.
Michael Collins 2012 - www.Shebbear.NET