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CANTLIN STONE aka Pedlar’s Stone

Owdo me owd butties thank’ee for joining me for some more of me chunnerin’s, today it’s all about a little stone in the middle of nowhere.

In January 1691 a pedlar left Newcastle (our Newcastle in Shropshire) in plenty of time to reach his next destination afore darkness. With his oak box, full of brass trinkets and household wares, slung over his shoulder, a leather purse with a few coins in and his tools of his trade he set off into the snow. His route took him up over Shadwell Hill.

Serving remote communities, our pedlar with his long white hair and long flowing beard was a very popular tradesmon around the Clun Forest, known only as William, nobody knew his age or where he hailed frum but folks looked forward to his visits, for he would alus(always) be cantin’ (gossiping) and bringing news and stories frum the neighbouring districts. Sadly he never made his destination, three days later a shepherd was alerted to summat in a hollow in the ground on top of Shadwell Hill by his sheepdog’s persistent barking, on inspection he discovered our pedlar’s lifeless body.

The cause of his sad demise has bin lost to the winds of time, some say he was robbed and murdered due to his belongings missing whilst others say that they were all intact and he died of exhaustion in the snow or a heart attack or peacefully in his sleep. His body was mutilated, the work of a murderer who a hungry animal seeking food in the snow?

Although the shepherd wrapped the body in a blanket and buried the poor pedlar where he lay, the pedlar was so fondly thought of by his customers that they clamoured for a more befitting resting place. After much arguing the vicar at Bettws-y-Crwyn agreed to bury him outside his church door. In order to do this required a full name so he was given the name William Cantrell. It is thought that this was a corruption of “can’t tell” and over time was corrupted further into Cantlin (possibly frum cantin the owd Shropshire word for carrying stories). The church records record that a William Cantrell was buried on the 17th of January 1691, sadly due to the records getting damp the exact location is unknown.

A stone inscribed “WC DECSED HERE BVRIED 1691 AT BETWS” was placed on the spot where he died. This is what is now known as the Cantlin Stone, a grade ll listed monument, that can be seen at the foot of the Botfield Cross which was erected some 100 yards frum the original spot. Originally the stone lay flat but it has bin stood up to try and keep it free of mud.


In 1858 the Ludlow MP Beriah Botfield had a concrete cross, with serpents and apples on, erected as a more permanent reminder of this tragic event in a nearby field that was owned by his brother William Botfield of The Hut. A fence was placed around the cross to protect it but in 1970 the fence fell over(or mebbe it was pushed by a bull having a gud owd scratch) knocking over the cross which smashed into pieces and was left rotting for years. In 2000 it was found to have rotted too much to re-erect so the parish council secured a donation frum the South Shropshire Council to have a replica made. The replica cross was carved in Yorkstone by Jonathan Bower Protheroe of LLangunllo and was erected by Goughs of Craven Arms. The remaining pieces of the original cross have bin placed on an unmarked grave believed to be that of William.

In 1875 the Clun Forest enclosure act was drawn up and the gud folk of Bettws-y-Crwyn were rewarded for the kindness that they showed to William by having their boundary extended to include the stone and cross.


Betwixt 1980 and 1990 the Cantlin Stone was in the news again as every summer it was the site of a free festival held by the travelling community (apparently the mushrooms up there were magical). In 1991 ditches were dug around the site to prevent the travellers in their owd buzzes and vans frum entering the site so they moved on to Llanbister.

Well that’s enough o’me chunnerin’ on, if you know anymore about this we’d love to hear frum you, now play nicely – shroppiemon.