The secrets of Stanton’s hollow way.
Lying at the edge of Stanton lurks a deep and mysterious half-mile long trackway, linked in language to the Anglo-Saxon lairs of monsters, demons and man-eating beasts.
Suffolk is riddled with geological and man-made depressions in the form of moats and grundles or grindles. Grundles – the name is unique to East Anglia – are very deep hollow ways with steep banks rising to 5.5m in places.
An earthwork called ‘The Grindle’ ran due west from South Gate, just outside Bury’s walls. Other examples can be found at Wattisfield and here at Stanton. The former terminates in a pond; Stanton’s grundle runs for half a mile and ends at the corner of a field.
There is a link in the use of ‘grundle’ or ‘grindle’ to denote these deep ditches with the monster Grendel from the epic poem Boewulf. It has been suggested that Beowulf was authored in East Anglia in the reign of the Wuffinga King Ælfwald (713-749), to explicitly establish a link between the Wuffingas and the legendary king of the Danes. Grendel was a monster that resided in low-lying watery places. Marshlands and bogs were dangerously deceptive, seemingly safe on one hand but able to drag the unfortunate down to the Lowerworld – the land of the dead (and also a place of wisdom.) ‘Grendel’ is connected to the Old Norse term meaning ‘to bellow’ and later the Middle English term meaning ‘angry’.
A Old East Anglian dialect word with the same root ‘grindle’, means ‘drain’ or ‘ditch.’ Through language, Grendel’s monstrous qualities were linked to the landscape. The Anglo-Saxons understood that not all of Suffolk was sacred; lurking amidst woods and mounds were elves and dragons, and places such as pits, bogs and ditches were the realm of demons; the lair of man-eating beasts.