Moonraker – an English legend

Even though the title of this article may suggest it, the following is not about James Bond, the famous secret agent of Her Majesty, but about another legend, which supposedly happened in Wiltshire in southern England.

A gang of alcohol smugglers tried to hide barrels in a pond of a village from the eyes of the official custom officers. When they were caught by them one night at the shore and were asked to explain themselves, the smugglers tried to rake the surface of the water in order to make the view onto the barrels more difficult. They then claimed that they were trying to fish a round cheese out of the pond and pointed at the reflection of the full moon in the water. The officers thought them to be insane and simply granted them to continue as pleased.

Out of this raking of the surface of the water and the moon, the term »Moonraker« emerged. This expression is still used proudly today by the people who are born in Wiltshire and they sometimes call themselves moonraker.

By the way, there is another important point of reference to the full moon in this area: Stonehenge … it seems that the full moon shines in a special way in southern England.

(Painting: Robert Hugh Buxton, The Moonrakers)


  1. Andy smith | 27 September 2015

    5 & 20 ponies trotting through the dark, brandy for the parson & Baccy for the Clark,

  2. Patrick Phillips | 25 April 2014

    My GREAT GREAT GRANDFATHER WAS A MOONRAKER IN Guernsey, Channel Islands in the Late 1700 hundreds, early 1800 hundreds. I have a very large oil painting of him painted in 1825-30. He used to move the lights on the rocks around the Island and plunder the ships when they went up on the rocks. Claimed to be a very wealthy trader !! The only other thing I know about him is his surname. Guess there must be some other record of his exploits but I have never followed it up

    My e,mail address for anyone interested is” info”

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