Sunday, 31 July 2011
Untruths in Stone
The Anglo-Saxon origins of the town of Stone are told in these fine iron railings at the end of its High Street - telling the story of Rufin and Wulfad, who were killed by their father King Wulfhere for converting to Christianity. Their mother buried them under a cairn of stones nearby - and so the town came to be called 'Stone'.
The trouble: the story's a lot of nonsense. Wulfhere did, yes, have his issues with Christianity, but there's no evidence at all of the existence of the two boys, or the terrible deed.
I'm conflicted about this. Is it right to deceive people with this 'untruth' (such a nicer word than lie), or am I being stuffy? What would most English towns do without their origin myths???
Or... as Dick Cheney might say, should we just tuck it away, defining it as a 'known unknown'?