Devil's Stone

Original version
It is said that Raigard was located many years ago. Rich, flashy town was famous for its greatness and beauty. The biggest decoration of the town was the church. But the inhabitants of the town were greedy and one day they stopped attending church. At that time, in the forests and swamps lived devils. One of them decided to crush the church and laugh at the unhappy people. When a huge stone was found, the devils began to roll it towards the town, hoping to drop it on the Raigard church and break it. The Devil hurried, but when the towers of the church began to emerge, he began to chuckle. Suddenly the morning came and a cock yelled . The devil, having heard the cock, threw the stone away and disappeared. The lost stone has swept away at Švendubrė and stands there to this day.
Alternative versions
2. Long time ago town of Raigard was ruled by wicked duke, who liked to have big feasts with his servants and friends in his castle. Drinking, singing, shouting, and getting into fights lasted so long in were so loud even the devils became annoyed. They decided to crush the duke, all his friends and servants with the biggest stone they could find and destroy the rest of the town. But it was really hard for the devil to fly and carry the biggest stone they found, so it took him whole night just to reach the end of forest and as soon as the first sunlight ray touch the morning sky the roosters began to sing. Devil got scared and dropped the stone, not reaching Raigard, as stone fell it landed on the left bank of river Nemunas as it rests there till today. Stone which suddenly appeared, locals named Devils stone, because they believed that in surrounding forests devils used to live. And it was common belief that wanting to cause harm to the people and the harvest, the devils would carry a bag of stones and would scatter them across the cultivated fields. 3. According to another legend, the devil was carrying a large stone in order to block the flow of the Nemunas River, but the dawn started to break and a rooster sang unexpectedly early. The devil took fright, lost the stone and disappeared, while the stone rolled toward Švendubrė and continues to lie there to this day.
Main characters
Devils, rooster, inhabitants of Raigard, wicked duke
Connected artistic / architectonic / historical heritage
The Devil’s stone is a geologic natural monument. The history of its origin is represented by the wooden sculptures located side by side with the stone which were made in 2004. The wood sculptures include “Varpininkas” (The Bell-ringer), “Raigardo legenda” (The legend of Raigardas), “Piemenaitė” (The Shepherdess). The stone itself sometimes is a part of other legends like - a long time ago there was a rich city called Raigardas in this valley, whose inhabitants were always feasting and over-celebrating, and thus they made the thunder god Perkūnas angry. Their behaviour led to the destruction of the city – it collapsed and vanished underground, and only the sound of a bell from the cursed ones looking for an exit from the underground realm could be heard coming from beneath the surface. That exit is blocked by the Devil’s Stone at the edge of the valley near Švendubrė.* The salty waters of the Druskininkai are said to be the tears of the doomed souls.
Local traditions or historical connections
Švendubrė stone is sacred to Lithuanians. Its surface is dotted with small indentations-bowls. The elder say that the water accumulating there is magical and has healing properties. People would drink such water as a cure, would wash their wounds and bruises with it. The stone is in the area called Ažugojai, Pagojai. In historical literature it has been mentioned since 1923. Even though locals did not allow it to be destroyed and used as a building material several times, but at some farmers secretly managed to chip off some parts of it and use it for there needs. In 1936 m. May for church celebration priests from neighbor country came. They brought metal cross with them which after grace they sanctified and fastened on the top of stone. In Soviet Union time the cross was broken off. Because Devil stone was still a big attraction for visitors in 2004 wooden statues were placed close to it. Since 2005 it is recognized as a state-protected cultural heritage object
Didactical Relevance
Švendubrė's Stone, called the Devil's Stone (a cultural monument of national significance; a state-protected geological monument) - a mythological stone and the tenth largest Lithuanian boulder, located in the southwestern part of Druskininkai municipality territory. The diameter of the stone at the ground level reaches up to 19,7 m. and height from the ground measures about 3 m. Knowledge of geological objects placement and origins helps to get a better understanding of countries natural diversity and uniqueness. Such as knowledge of local legends and tales may encourage deeper learning of folklore traditions by visiting places of where it is preserved like Rumšiškės open-air folk history museum. In the middle of the XIX century, the stone was going to be split and used for the construction of Druskininkai, later Ratnyčia, church. However, the locals kept this stone sacred and did not allow destroying it. This event was described in the notes of Lithuanian prosaist and playwright Vincas Krėvė Mickevičius: They wanted to split that stone. When they built the church of Ratnyčia, but the people wouldn’t allow it to happen, since it was thought to be sacred <…> People say that on that stone bishops would hold Mass.
Didactical Activity
Direct visit to the place or virtual visit watching you tube link Connections with specific subjects: Cultural/Literature aspect – students can discuss the importance of mythological creatures in legends of traditional folklore. As well discuss why this stone was so important to local people for them to protect it and why it is common for people to believe in magical/healing powers of nature objects. Compare stories between Puntukas stone and Devils stone. Create their own story about the stone. Geography aspect – students can find the place of the stone on the map. Discuss the real reasons why the stone end up in this location. According to placement of other boulders in the map, they can determine the movement of the glacier which covered Lithuania 16 thousand years ago. Arts: students can draw, paint, or re-enact the story and prepare the presentation back in school to younger students.

Video

Devil stone
Legend of devil stone explained in English

Images

Raigardas town valley
Wooden sculptures of the devil, Raigardas inhabitant and a rooster
Devil stone
Devil stone
Devil stone
Devil statue

External Sources

More information about Devil stone including Audio, map and some information
Website of Lithuanian nature attractions and places to visit in English

PDF version of the legend in national language

Facebook