Mitchell's Fold (sometimes called Medgel's Fold) is a Bronze Age stone circle in South-West Shropshire, located on dry heathland at the south-west end of Stapeley Hill. As with most sites of this type, its true history is unknown. The name of the circle may derive from 'micel' or 'mycel', Old English for 'big', referring to the size of this large circle. Its doleritic stones came from nearby Stapeley Hill. Many of them are now missing and others are fallen. In ‘Shropshire Folklore’ (1883) Charlotte Burne related that: “There was a farmer lived by there, and he blew up some of them and took away the pieces to put round his horsepond, but he never did no good after.” - As late as 1995 a local farmer was said to have uprooted several stones with a mechanical digger, he was however caught in the act, punished and the stones promptly righted and planted again.
It is estimated that there may have once been as many as thirty stone pillars. The survivors that still stand range in height from 10ins to 6 ft 3 ins, and stand in an ellipse 89ft northwest-southeast by 82ft. The tallest is at the south-east end of the major axis, standing, perhaps by coincidence or design, close to the line of the southern moonrise. This pillar and a companion have been taken to flank an entrance about 6ft wide. Aubrey Burl has stated in his 2000 book 'A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany' that: "There was a claim for a central stone and a very dubious eighteenth-century report that 'there was a stone across your two Portals, like those at Stonehenge, and that the stone at eighty yards distance was the altar.” but that the "probability of a trilithon, otherwise unique to Stonehenge, at Mitchell's Fold, like an identical claim for Kerzerho in Brittany, should be regarded as rumour rather than reality.”
Mitchell’s Fold is six miles north of Bishop's Castle, a mile north of Corndon Hill and within a few miles of the Late Neolithic-Early Bronze Age stone axe factory of Cwm-Mawr. To the south-east is a weathered cubical block on a small cairn. Along the path leading from the Fold which crosses Stapeley Common, home to the Cow Stone, (a single standing Stone) and the Stapeley Hill Ring Cairn. The only other known stone circles in Shropshire are the Hoarstones, a little over a mile northeast of the Fold, and the Whetstones, less than half a mile to the east of the Fold. Nearly all the latter's stones were blown up in the 1860s; now there is only a collapse of stones. When the last stone was uprooted in 1870 charcoal and bones were seen in its hole.
There is a story that a giant named Medgel used to keep his cows at the circle, at ‘Medgel’s Fold’. Another tale told of the circle is that there was once a magical and beautiful white cow that gave milk to all, it is mentioned in the third volume of 'The Family Memoirs of Rev. William Stukeley':
Cherbury, Shropshire.-- "A proverb in this country, 'Medgelly's cow, for one that gives a deal of milk.' The report of this temple is that a cow in this place gave milk to all the honest and good folks of the neighbourhood; but one of evil life milked her into a sieve, whereupon the cow disappeared and never came more." --1753. p179.
Stukely quoted in Edward Peacock's contribution to - Notes and Queries, The Folk-Lore Journal, Vol. 6, No. 4. (1888), pp. 273.
In some versions the cow is said to have transformed into the rampaging Dun Cow of Dunchurch, Warwickshire, which was eventually killed by Guy of Warwick. Elsewhere the story of the magic white cow is also associated with the stone circle at Callanish on the Isle of Lewis, and again may be found at the ‘cow-stone’ on the Dingle Peninsular in Eire.