Fairy Loaves

Echinoids, also known as sea urchins, are amongst the most commonly found fossils. Therefore it is not surprising that over the years legends have developed about these fossils, sometimes even taking on a religious or magical importance.

Originating from Suffolk in Eastern England, the folklore name of Fairy Loaves was given to the heart urchin Micraster because they resembled round loaves of bread. People would place an urchin by the heath in hope that it would ensure the household would always have bread. If the household went without bread for more than a week it was thought witchcraft had stopped the Fairy Loaves' protective powers.

In Scandinavia thunderstones or echinoids were frequently worshiped as family gods who kept off spells and witchcraft. Beer was poured over them as an offering and they were sometimes anointed with butter. In Switzerland the owner of a thunderstone whirls it, on the end of a thong, three times round his head, and throws it at the door of his dwelling at the approach of a storm to prevent lightning from striking the house. In Italy they are hung around children's necks to protect them from illness and to ward off the Evil eye. In Roman times they were sewn inside dog-collars along with a little piece of coral to keep the dogs from going mad. In Sweden they offer protection from elves. In the French Alps they protect sheep, while elsewhere in France they thought to ease Childbirth. In Burma they are used as a cure and preventative for appendicitis. In Japan they cure boils and ulcers. In Malay and Sumatra they are used to sharpen the kris, are considered very lucky objects, and are credited with being touchstones for gold. Among the Slavs they cure warts on man and beast, and during Passion Week they have the property to reveal hidden treasure.

Fossil echinoids or fairy loaves were called thunderstones, as they were thought to have descended from the heavens during a thunderstorm. The St. Peter's Church in Linkenholt, England, was built in 1871 near the location of the old St. Peter's, which had stood for nearly 700 years. The 1871 version of the church included fossil echinoids built into the walls surrounding the windows, a style adopted from the original. This implies that Thunderstone folklore was retained for at least 700 years in England, and had its roots in pagan folklore.

In other myths, fossil echinoids are considered to be Snakes' Eggs. It was thought that at midsummer magical Snake Eggs were formed by the froth from snakes. The froth, shaped into a ball, was believed to have the power to protect one from deadly poisons. They are also known as Shepherds' crowns which gives prosperiy and abundance with power. It protects the home from all types of misfortune and calmity. To get one e mail us.

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#Shepherd's# crowns
Some Cretaceous echinoids, notably Micraster, Echinocorys and Conulus, have distinctive shapes, leading to the name Shepherd's crowns in English folklore. The five rays converging on the apex of the fossil resemble the ribs of a crown. According to Bassett (1982), shepherds may have come across these fossil echinoids, weathered out of the underlying chalk, while caring for their sheep on the downlands of southern England.
The echinoid test, and/or the sediment infilling it, can be replaced by flint.

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