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Devil's Dyke

(The). A ravine in the South Downs, Brighton. The legend is, that St. Cuthman, walking on the downs, plumed himself on having Christianised the surrounding country, and having built a nunnery where the dyke-house now stands. Presently the Devil appears and tells him all his labour is vain, for he would swamp the whole country before morning. St. Cuthman went to the nunnery and told the abbess to keep the sisters in prayer till after mid-night, and then illuminate the windows. The Devil came at sunset with mattock and spade, and began cutting a dyke into the sea, but was seized with rheumatic pains all over the body. He flung down his mattock and spade, and the cocks, mistaking the illuminated windows for sunrise, began to crow; whereupon the Devil fled in alarm, leaving his work not half done.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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