"Styop-Stone" in the Urban Village Begoml

The History of Appearance of "Styop-Stone" in the Urban Village Begoml

In the Dokshitsy district there is an urban village called Begoml that is 157 km from Vitebsk and 30 km from Dokshitsy. The town is small but very interesting and cozy. Here there is a very simple, at first sight, but rather unusual attraction. It is Styop-stone or, as it is called by locals, “Stsyapan” that has more than one amazing legend of its appearance.

 In the XIX century there were written fables about this stone. One of them runs that in days gone by a couple of Stepan and Stepanida lived there. Once Stepan went to work on the field and asked his wife to bring him dinner. When he saw his wife from away, he sat to rest. The wife thought that he had been lazy, and a quarrel ensued. Stepanida cursed her wife and wished him to become a stone, and Stepan, in his turn, gave her a lot of lip. He wished her to become a sea and cold water. That is exactly what happened. Stepan became a tall stone 2 meters high and Stepanida became a lake situated not far away from it. For the moment the lake has dried out but the stone still stands.

According to another legend, this is about the other Stepan that tried to gain the heart of Velyana. He was willing to do anything, even to sell his soul to the Devil for the sake of his darling. Upon the first demand of the Devil Stepan had to break his cross. When he was going to do it, lightning struck him. The lad became a stone. The heart-broken bride Velyana came to this place the same day and she was crying for so long that her tears became a lake that was named after her –Viliya.

Taking into account many mentions about Stepan that are found in Belarusian folklore we may draw a conclusion: his prototype was the pagan god Volos. His sacral match was Velyana. Perhaps, this fact could influence in some way the name of this Styop-stone. There are such stones called “Stepan” not only in this district. They are found throughout Eastern Europe:  in the Tolochin district, in the territory of Slavgorod district, in Smolensk and in the Tver region.

According to archeologists, the first and second versions are quite realistic as near this stone excavations were conducted in 1993. Not far from the main stone there is another one of smaller size. According to the first legend, Stepan turned to stone together with his ox with which he was working on the field. The small stone is the petrified ox. Besides, during the excavation there was found a post hole near the stone; at the time of paganism there could be a wooden idol. This finding makes the second version of the name’s origin more admissible.

Styop-stone is imbued and surrounded by the spirit of Belarusian legends and fables. This fact makes it attract tourists, gives an excellent opportunity to get close to the history of Belarusian culture and folklore.