In the 18th century, smuggling was a significant activity in rural England and Wiltshire was on the route from the south coast to customers in the Midlands. A folk tale, first recorded in 1787, relates how some local people had hidden smuggled barrels of French brandy in a village pond, reputed to have been The Crammer in Devizes. While trying to retrieve the contraband at night with agricultural rakes, they were caught by customs officers. The locals explained themselves by pointing to the reflection of the Full Moon and saying they were trying to rake in a round cheese. The revenue men, taking them for simple yokels, laughed at them and went on their way.
The moral of the story is clear; Wiltshire folk are resourceful and should not be underestimated. This is why the county’s inhabitants are proud to call themselves Moonrakers.