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A legend of Saint Hila tells of a plague of snakes which Hilda turned to stone – supposedly explaining the presence of ammonite fossils on the shore. In fact, the ammonite genus Hildoceras takes its name from St. Hilda. It was not unknown for local “artisans” to carve snakes’ heads onto ammonites, and sell these “relics” as proof of the miracle. The coat of arms of nearby Whitby actually include three such ‘snakestones’.

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