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Location Information

More detailed version of the story

More background Information

Suggestions for Illustration Discussion points

Location Information

Wenlock Priory is on the edge of the town of Much Wenlock. It is more interesting than most ruined priories for young children, with animal topiary and some figurative carvings to be discovered. It is open daily all year round, click here for details.

The Priory is owned by English Heritage and there is an admission charge. There is a gift shop and toilets on site. There are other public toilets in the town centre, five minutes walk away.

Much Wenlock is on the main A458 Shrewsbury to Bridgnorth road. There is car parking in the town and free car parking opposite Wenlock priory. Travel by public transport is limited but there are buses click here for details. The nearest train station is 9 miles away at Telford Central but better bus connections are available from Shrewsbury.

Much Wenlock is a small market town with many medieval buildings. There are some quality food, craft and antique shops in the town, and a choice of family-friendly cafés and tea-rooms along the main streets. While in the town, try to find St. Milburga's Well - it is past the Guildhall off Barrow Street. There are many idiosyncratic architectural features to the town's buildings - can you spot the Kiwi weather-vane?

If you are travelling by car we suggest you finish the day with a short walk along Wenlock Edge. There are many way-marked walks from the National Trust Car Park on the outskirts of the town. The Edge is a distinctive 15-mile long limestone wooded escarpment with rare plants, beautiful views and some steep slopes - so keep a careful watch on your child.

More detailed version of the story

What a day that was! The geese were in the fields eating all the seeds, which had only just been sown. They did not even look at the scarecrows waving in the wind. The people of Much Wenlock ran this way and that trying to shoo the birds away, but the birds simply took off and landed elsewhere in the fields to continue their feast.

It seemed like there was nothing to do to save the day, until one villager suggested asking Milburga, the abbess of the nunnery, for help. Milburga's fame had spread far and wide, some even said she could perform miracles just by raising her hand.

This was no day for doubters, the people rushed to the nunnery to enlist Milburga's services. And when they arrived she was ready and willing to help. She lifted her hand, said a few words and told them all would be well.

No one was quite certain what had happened, but they wanted to believe and they raced back to their fields to see the skies alive with flights of geese. The birds were fleeing their free lunch, but why? When the people arrived they could see just exactly why - the scarecrows had come to life. They were racing exuberantly this way and that with the joy of creatures that had slept all their lives but dreamed of running through fields and chasing birds. The people fell to their knees. Here was another story of Milburga which would be told from every Shropshire tongue.

But back at the nunnery Milburga had found that miracles come with a cost. The geese had come in to land on her fields and were eating her seeds. This unruly behaviour just had to stop. Milburga strode from the doors of her cell and called to the birds to come to her immediately. And when one who can command scarecrows to dance calls, even if you are a hungry goose you listen. The birds flocked to Milburga to listen to her every word.

Milburga explained to the birds that it wasn't just an idle fancy that made humans scatter seed on the fields at this time of year and it definitely wasn't meant as a free cafeteria for every passing goose. The seeds were set to grow into crops that would provide her people with bread to feed their hungry mouths. And all this besides, there were plenty of seeds awaiting their appetites out in the wilds if they only looked.

The head goose, beak hung low, apologised for his flock's misunderstanding and promised he and his friends would change their ways and never steal from Milburga and her people again. He uttered a commanding squawk and led his band up into the air forming a massive 'V' against the clouds. But wait, the formation was not complete. One of the flock was missing, where could it be?

Well, of course, if you had a problem in those days it was obvious where to go for your solution, Milburga of course. The flock swirled in the air and came back into land at the nunnery at Milburga's feet. Could she help find their friend?

Well, alas alack, for one of her staff, she could. After a long search a pile of still warm bones was found under one of the cleaning lad's cots in the barn. That lad would have to pay a price for the embarrassment he caused the Reverend Mother.

But Milburga didn't flinch from her duties as a host. She took the bones and put them into a bag and wasted no time in lifting her hand to call down the powers from above. The bag was turned upside down and proved to be empty. The great lady bade the geese to fly up into the air.

This time the 'V' was formed in perfect shape, the formation was complete. And yet another story was there to be added to the collection of Milburga tales to flow from every Shropshire storyteller's tongue.

More background Information

There are many stories about St. Milburga: How she gave the snakes their hiss, how she made the crops grow from seed to harvest in a day, how she met a hermit and found the value of faith and how her bones were enough to bring a deadly worm from out of a women's body. More background information about the priory and St. Milburga - and one more Shropshire story about her - can be found on the Mythstories site -click here.

Suggestions for Illustration Discussion points

Illustration 1:
What are scarecrows? How are they made? Why are they made? Why are birds scared of them?
What grows in the field? Seeds/shoots/harvest/grain cycle.

Illustration 2:
This illustration gives no clue as to what happens next - you have to be able to read the words.
Does St. Milburga look happy / sad / worried? How can you tell?
What could the goose be saying?

Illustration 3:
Who do think the bones belonged to?
What is going to happen next?
How does St. Milburga look now happy / worried / angry?
And what about the little boy - does he look happy / sad / sorry?

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