TWENTY MILES distant from the town of Ludlow, on a windswept common beneath Corndon Hill, is a quaint circle of some fifteen standing stones.
Known locally as Mitchell’s Fold, it is one of several Stone Circles which stood in this district, once upon a time. Or so the story goes!
Ninety feet in diameter, the Circle’s largest stone monolith being just six feet tall.
This modest but evocative monument dates back, according to the history books, to Neolithic times; an incredible 3,000 years old. Or so we’re told!
VICTORIAN RAIL EXCURSION
With the arrival mid-19th century of the railway to rural south Shropshire, the Stones became a popular local attraction. Just a short pony-trap ride from Lydham Heath, the nearby halt on the long-defunct Bishops Castle Railway. 
The Stone Circle brought within reach of enthusiasts and professional antiquarians from Birmingham, London and beyond.A megalithic magnet drawing visitors from afar, beating their path to our early human history. A haunting link to our Bronze Age forebears. And yet a reassuring relief from the ethereal nature to life itself.
A remarkably preserved relic of primitive man, and his religious rituals, evident even today on the bleak Marches landscape. A sacred site where ancient Druids gathered in worship of their mystical Sun God, all those millennia ago. How romantic. Or so the story goes!The Stone Circle is protected today under the guardianship of English Heritage (scheduled ancient monument no. 107448). 
Unsurprisingly, the Circle has grown a folklore of its own. Legend that serves well to reinforce and emphasize its apparent antiquity. LEGENDS, FABLES & FOLKLORE
One tradition has it that — “during a time of dreadful famine, a fairy left a magic cow to provide villagers with endless milk. One night an evil witch milked her into a sieve. When the cow realised the trick, she vanished. The witch was turned to stone, and this circle of stones was erected around her, to prevent her escape.”
Another fable — “in quite recent times a tenant removed one of the stones to use in his cowshed, but was so alarmed by a violent thunderstorm in the night that he returned it the very next morning.”
More folklore to warn meddlers — “There was a farmer who lived by there, and he broke up some of the stones, and took away the pieces to put round his horse-pond but he never did no good after.”
A modern Shropshire tourist guide even claims that — “King Arthur drew Excalibur from one of the stones here to become king of the Britain’s.” (sic) 
So there is the authoritative official history, and the underpinning folklore, too. Fact and fiction fudged together; all rolled into one.
For those visiting Mitchell’s Fold today, the circle stands some 1,200 feet above sea-level, on a stark but flat plateau of Stapeley Common, in the parish of Priest Weston. Not readily accessible by motor vehicle; an unmetalled track leads westward towards the Circle from the White Grit road. GPS coordinates are (52.5787,-3.0282). The nearest Google Street View is here: 
HISTORIANS OF THE CIRCLE, PAST & PRESENT
The Mitchell’s Fold Stone Circle has been documented by many. In reverse chronological order, we shall examine literature from the following authors:
Dr Harry (Aubrey) Woodruff BURL MA, DLitt, PhD, FSA, HonFSA Scot; 1926- — British archaeologist; authority on megalithic monuments; prehistoric rituals associated with them; and author of more than a dozen books on Stone Circles.
Dr William (Peter) Francis GRIMES CBE; 1905-1988 — Authority on the pre-history of Wales; Professor of Archaeology, Univ. of London; Director, Institute of Archaeology.
Miss Lily “Lal” Frances CHITTY OBE FSA; 1893-1979 — British antiquarian, amateur archaeologist of prehistoric sites in the Welsh Marches; local gossip; distant relative of Gladstone.
Rev Charles Henry HARTSHORNE MA FSA; 1802-1865 — local Anglican curate; author of Salopia Antiqua (1841): An Inquiry from Personal Survey into the “Druidical” Remains of Shropshire & The Marches.
Mr James DUCAREL, Esq; late-C18 — alleged descendant of Du Carel dynasty of Huguenot bankers, family friends and business partners of Robert Clive of India, Oakley and Walcot.
Those are the learned men and women behind the documented history of Mitchell‘s Fold.
Yet, perhaps, as with so much of our history, Mitchell’s Fold may not be quite what it seems…
MITCHELL’S FOLD: MODERN FAKE?
Could this Stone Circle be a much more recent fake? Let us examine the evidence for ourselves as we find out.
Our first hint, in fact, a huge hat-tip of historical foul-play, comes courtesy of Dr Aubrey Burl.
In his 2005 book A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Burl obliquely remarks that — “aerial photographs have revealed mediaeval ridge-and-furrow plough-marks not only running up to the ring, but also through it as though this ‘prehistoric’ megalithic ring might postdate the Middle Ages! It does not.” [6a]
Good grief, Dr Burl! The reader deserves to see for himself the aerial photography of this site; to be his own judge of these extraordinary plough-marks!
That is what this blog shall do.
BIRD’S EYE VIEW!Graciously taking up our request to photograph Mitchell’s Fold Stone Circle from the sky was professional Ludlow photographer, Kevin Didlick. 
Kevin used a remote-controlled quadcopter fitted with a digital video camera to capture high-quality footage of the stones.
Indulging us with a unique low-altitude, birds-eye view of this “ancient” Stone Circle. 
The results are as impressive, as they are revealing! Thank you, Kevin!
Sure enough, Kevin’s aerial camera-work captures those distinctive plough-marks which Burl noted.
Plough-marks running right through this “Neolithic” Stone Circle; a monument dating allegedly to 2500-4000 BCE.
Ridges and furrows that are clear evidence of recent agricultural use.
Gauging those furrows by their depth, these deep wounds to the soil are surely from powerful, modern ploughing. Indicating recent cultivation of the land under the Circle; certainly not the legacy of Neolithic man.
Furthermore, on closer scrutiny, some of those plough-marks pass actually beneath the standing stones themselves!
How ever can that be, if this Stone Circle truly is “Neolithic”?
But please don’t take this author’s word on it; please study Kevin’s amazing aerial footage on Youtube for yourself. 
Let’s explore deeper into the official history. Let’s try and discover the very first printed reference to the Stone Circle of Mitchell’s Fold. Hopefully gaining us a clearer insight into this “ancient” monument, and its true antiquity.
In the 2005 edition of his tome on megalithic monuments, Dr Aubrey Burl references a 1963 essay by Professor WF Grimes on these stone circles. Grimes’ essay is here. 
Grimes was a career archaeologist. In 1955 the Palace bunged him a gong for services to the rogue industry. Professor Grimes CBE claims to have conducted field-surveys of Mitchell’s Fold in 1933 and 1935.
As his authority, Grimes cites Rev William Stukeley FRS FRCP FSA; 1687-1765. Stukeley was an Anglican cleric, and apparently a practising Druid, like ex-Primate Rowan Williams.
Purportedly, Stukeley was also the antiquarian who “pioneered the archaeological investigation of the prehistoric monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury.” 
AN EARLY DRAWING OR NOT?
Grimes claims that Rev. Stukeley made a 1754 drawing of the Mitchell’s Fold Stone Circle. That drawing, reports Grimes, shows the stones “in exactly the same relationship as today.” But then it gets very curious.
In a brief footnote to his 1963 essay, Grimes qualifies that alleged “Stukeley” drawing of Mitchell’s Fold with the following comment:
“A photograph copy of this [“1754”] drawing was in a small quantity of papers on megaliths given to me some years ago by O.G.S. Crawford. It is not labelled and I have not been able to locate the original.”
So there we have it! In truth, Grimes never saw any earlier drawing of the Stone Circle; nothing that was verifiably drawn in 1754! And since his photograph copy was “not labelled”, how could Grimes know it was even a drawing of Mitchell’s Fold? And how was he sure the “original” was drawn in 1754, over two centuries earlier, by Stukeley?!
Grimes expects us to trust him on blind faith. Yet Grimes, like most of his contemporaries, had plenty form for archaeological fraud. Evident from his involvement in the Sutton Hoo hoax, and the “Roman” London Wall fraud in the City. Grimes, an accomplished charlatan; a persuasive hoaxer. Which is doubtless how he procured his CBE. Ahem!
With that “Stukeley drawing of 1745” discounted as an unattributable, undated, unlabelled modern photographic “copy”, we must continue our search elsewhere for the true antiquity to Mitchell’s Fold.
THE “DRUIDICAL” REVEREND HARTSHORNE
In 1841, a Rev. Charles Henry Hartshorne published Salopia Antiqua. Which he subtitled his “Personal Survey of the Druidical remains of Shropshire and the Marches”. A digital copy of Hartshorne’s book is here:  Mitchell’s Fold is explored from page 30 onwards.
Wikipedia tenders the following character reference for Rev. Hartshorne: 
“The popular 19th century periodical [John Bull magazine] repeatedly hinted that Hartshorne was in a homosexual relationship with Richard Heber [a wealthy Shropshire landowner and High Sheriff of the county]..Hartshorne had thought of applying to work at the British Museum, but after the scandal had little choice of career [so] he was ordained.” (!)
It’s likely that Hartshorne, a homosexual in 19th century England, was compromised with little scope for academic integrity. The gay cleric probably wrote what ever he was told! Just to preserve his living and his liberty.
In his 1841 Personal Survey of Shropshire’s Druidical Remains, Hartshorne cites an undated, “Addenda” to Camden’s Britannia. That unidentified Addenda, claimed Hartshorne, carries a much earlier reference to the Stone Circle,
However there were so many revisions of Camden’s Britannia. And, worse, there were also countless Addenda to the main work itself. Many of those Addenda being unofficial; some published only privately; none peer-reviewed.
Hartshorne makes no attempt to illuminate his readership here. Neglecting, wilfully, to identify his precise primary source. Frustratingly, denying us the chance to verify his claims of the supposed antiquity to Mitchell’s Fold.
THE DUCAREL LETTER
In a separate footnote to his 1841 Personal Survey of Shropshire’s Druidical Remains, Hartshorne quotes what he claims was a “1752” letter mentioning Mitchell’s Fold as “Medgley’s Fold”.
Except that letter wasn’t published until 1822, at its earliest. See page 621 in  Nevertheless and perhaps with reservations, that later date of 1822 can, tentatively, become our new date-stamp for the earliest printed reference to Mitchell’s Fold.
Yet that “1752” letter (published seventy years later in 1822) feels very curious. Unnatural and forced. Very possibly contrived and fabricated much later than the date it bears. Engineered to lend credence to those dubious claims of antiquity to Mitchell’s Fold. Using a pre-dated letter shifts suspicion of fakery of the Circle from that present time to generations past.
That “1752” letter about the Circle was originally penned, supposedly by a “Mr James Ducarel, Esq.”, writing to his brother. By the time of the letter’s publication in 1822, conveniently both men were long dead.
The Ducarels were wealthy French nobility; originally the Du Carel dynasty of Château Muids in Normandy. With rising hostilities towards French protestants, the Ducarels, a family of Huguenot bankers, left France. Moving first to Rotterdam, before naturalising in England.
THE DUCARELS & THE CLIVES
The Ducarels settled in south Shropshire; to serve the Clive (of India) family of Oakley Park and Walcot Hall.
The Ducarels were intimately involved in the swindling South Sea Company; helping to direct the fraudulent “Bubble” itself. [15a] [15b]
As well as engaging in the murderous activities of the British East India Company, which secured the Clives their vast fortunes and international opprobrium.
The British East India Company was the vast mercenary force which Robert Clive used to subjugate India, massacre her people, and loot her wealth for the British Crown. 
Countess Marie Coltée Ducarel, was Governess to the Clive children; her husband James Morrice is believed to have been chaplain to Lord Clive. The Ducarels were integrated closely in the Anglo-Dutch financial establishment of the day; eager players in the Liberal Imperialist “slimemold” system.
THE DUCARELS: DISHONEST, DISREPUTABLE & DUMB?
Notably, the Ducarels were self-promoted luminaries in the new discipline of Antiquarian Studies. Yet also quite notorious for their dishonest approach to the historical sciences.
Ducarel family patriarch Andrew Coltée, Marquis Du Carel was one of the first fellows of the Society of Antiquaries of London on its incorporation in 1755. Described as:
“a very weak man, and ignorant, though he was ambitious of being thought learned .. Among the many publications which bear his name, none were really written by him…He was so very illiterate, that on receiving a Latin letter from a foreign university, he took his chariot [to an expert Latin scholar] and got him to write an answer.” 
That scathing quote, above, perhaps perfectly describes the wider Ducarel family: dishonest, disreputable, and dumb.
The Ducarels were just the sort of characters who would fabricate the ancient “Druid Temple” of “Mitchell’s Fold” in south Shropshire. With the connivance of the landowners and family friends and business partners: the Clives (of India).
DISSECTING THE DUCAREL LETTER
Let’s finally examine that Ducarel letter published 1822, but allegedly written 1752. It is duplicated on page 621 at 
That 1822 publication is candidate for the earliest printed reference to the Stones.
The letter is allegedly from a “James Ducarel”, who curiously doesn’t show up in any genealogical searches.
The letter is addressed to an unidentified “Dear Brother”; possibly Andrew Coltée Ducarel, whose image is above.
Let us go ahead and dissect this letter.
Firstly, the letter confirms that the Ducarels – friends and associates of the Clives – were established members of the Society of Antiquaries. Suggesting, perhaps, a key motive for fabricating this Stone Circle, and then “discovering” it. The scam elevating their prestige among their new social set of historical scholars.
The author of the Ducarel letter claims that he learned of the Stones from an “eminent surgeon” who somehow “fell in amongst the stones by chance” when “he came home one night”. Is that a credible account?
It’s most unlikely that a surgeon and man of “very good fortune” would be in that neighbourhood of south-west Shropshire any way. Least of all at night, making his way home (by horse) to Shrewsbury; some 16 miles away. It’s an extremely rural district. And the Circle is far from the road to Shrewsbury. Not a likely account.
And what relevance in that letter to a Lawyer who may, or may not, have destroyed an earlier sketch of the Circle? Could that perhaps be a coded reference that the hoaxers awaited a green-light on the legality of their historical fraud?
Further, it’s unlikely that in just a few decades, the name of this Stone Circle had corrupted so rapidly from Medgley’s Fold to Medgel’s Fold to Mitchell’s Fold. Could that name-corruption be artificial? Another ruse to create a false antiquity to the Circle? A pretence? The mutating of place-names normally occurs over many years; centuries usually. Yet, here, the name-corruption is clearly rapid. Another device to authenticate that false antiquity? Like their weaving of fake folklore around these Stones?
You decide, dear reader!
That hopefully sets out the case for the fraud that is Mitchell’s Fold. This is no “Neolithic” Stone Circle of 3,000 years antiquity. Much more likely a fabrication of the Clives and their dubious antiquarian associates of the time.
Mitchell’s Fold: an historical hoax that probably dates back only to the 19th century!