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Title: Northumberland Yesterday and To-day

Author: Jean F. Terry

Release Date: February 17, 2004 [EBook #11124]
[Most recently updated: June 7, 2020]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Miranda van de Heijning, Margaret Macaskill
and PG Distributed Proofreaders


Northumberland Yesterday and To-day

by Jean F. Terry, L.L.A.

(St. Andrews), 1913.

To Sir Francis Douglas Blake,
this book is inscribed in admiration of
an eminent Northumbrian.


CHAPTER I. The Coast of Northumberland
CHAPTER II. North and South Tyne
CHAPTER III. Down the Tyne
CHAPTER IV. Newcastle-upon-Tyne
CHAPTER V. Elswick and its Founder
CHAPTER VI. The Cheviots
CHAPTER VII. The Roman Wall
CHAPTER VIII. Some Northumbrian Streams
CHAPTER IX. Drum and Trumpet
CHAPTER X. Tales and Legends
CHAPTER XI. Ballads and Poems
Bamburgh Castle.

Bamburgh Castle.

List of Illustrations

Bamburgh Castle. From photograph by J.P. Gibson, Hexham
The Priory, Tynemouth. From photograph by T.H. Dickinson, Sheriff Hill
Hexham Abbey from North West. From photograph by J.P. Gibson, Hexham
The River Tyne at Newcastle (showing Swing Bridge Open).
North Gateway, Housesteads and Roman Wall. From photograph by J.P. Gibson, Hexham
Alnwick Castle. From photograph by J.P. Gibson, Hexham
The Wreck of the “Forfarshire”. From illustration kindly lent by B. Rowland Hill, Newcastle
Drawing of boat
Sketch Map Of Northumberland. From a Drawing by C.H. Abbey


The following book makes no pretensions to be a mine of deep historical research or antiquarian lore; its object will have been achieved, and its existence to some extent justified, if haply by its aid some of the dwellers in this northern county of ours, with its past so full of action, and its present so rich in the memorials of those actions, may pass a pleasant hour in becoming acquainted through its pages with the happenings which have taken place in their own particular fields, their own streets, or by their own riverside.

I am aware that many learned volumes on this subject, representing an enormous amount of patient labour and careful research in their compilation, are already in existence. To such this little book can in no sense be a rival; but there must be many people who have not a superabundance of time, to enable them to dig out the information for which they wish, from these various sources; nor can they always make these volumes their own, to be consulted at leisure.

Northumbrians have always been interested in the records of their own county, and are now-a-days not less so than when, some three-and-a-half centuries ago, Roger North found them “great antiquarians within their own bounds.” If to such as these this little book may perhaps bring in a more convenient form the information they seek, and help them to become better acquainted with the county which inspired Swinburne to write in stirring phrases of “Northumberland,” and to address the home of his people as

  “Land beloved, where nought of legend’s dream
  Outshines the truth”—

I shall be more than satisfied. I would take this opportunity of expressing my grateful thanks to the Rev. Canon Savage, of Hexham, for information relating to the tomb of Alfwald the Just, in the Abbey, given with courteous readiness; to the Rev. Canon Jeffery, of Bywell, for similar kindness regarding Bywell St. Peter’s; to R.O. Heslop, Esq., whose profound store of learning on the subject of “Northumberland words” was in cases of uncertainty my final court of appeal; to E.T. Nisbet, Esq., and J. Treble, Esq., to whom I am greatly indebted for their goodness in reading my manuscript, and for their generous encouragement following thereupon; to C.H. Abbey, Esq., for his kindness in executing the map which accompanies these pages; and to Mr. G.P. Dunn, of Corbridge, for much helpful criticism, and many suggestions which only want of space has prevented my adopting in their entirety.


31st May, 1913.



  “We’ll see nae mair the sea banks fair,
  And the sweet grey gleaming sky,
  And the lordly strand of Northumberland,
  And the goodly towers thereby.”

  —A.C. Swinburne.

Wild and bleak it may be, hard and cruel at times it undoubtedly is, but, nevertheless, this north-east coast of ours is at all times inspiring, whether half-hidden by storm-clouds, its cliffs and hollows lashed by the “wild north-easter,” or seen calmly brooding in the warm haze of a summer’s day, its grey-blue water smiling beneath the grey-blue sky, and its stretches of sand and bents edging the sea with a border of gold and silver.

In keeping with either mood of nature, the ancient Priory of Tynemouth, standing on the sandstone cliffs on the northern bank of the Tyne, rearing its grey and roofless walls above the harbour mouth, strikes a note that is symbolic of the Northumbria of old and the Northumberland of to-day—the note, that is, of the intimate commingling of the romance of the warlike past and the romance of the industrial present. Here, above the mouth of the river on which so many of the most noteworthy advances in industrial science have been made, and out of which sail the vessels which are often the last word of the moment in marine engineering and construction, stand calmly looking down upon them all the fragments of a building which was a century old when John signed Magna Charta, and which stands upon the site of another that had already braved the storms of nearly five hundred years.

Looking upon the Priory of St. Mary and St. Oswin we are carried back to the days when Edwin, the first king of Northumbria to embrace Christianity, built a little church here, in which his daughter took the veil. King Oswald had the first wooden structure replaced by a stone one; and here, in 651, the body of another good king—Oswyn—was brought for burial from Gilling, near Richmond in Yorkshire, where, disbanding his army, he sacrificed his cause and his life to Oswy of Bernicia, with whom he had been about to fight.

The Priory, Tynemouth.

The Priory, Tynemouth.

When the pirate ships of the Danes swept down upon our coasts, the Priory of St. Oswin, conspicuous on its bold headland, could not hope to escape their ravages. It was destroyed by the fierce invaders; but King Ecgfrith[1] of Northumbria restored the shattered shrine. Again, in the year 865, it was sacked and burnt, and the poor nuns of St. Hilda, who had already fled from Hartlepool to Tynemouth hoping to find safety, were ruthlessly slain and earned the crown of martyrdom. It was again restored; but, five years later, the destroying hands of the invaders fell on the place once more, and for two hundred years the Priory stood roofless and tenantless. After the Norman Conquest, Waltheof, Earl of Northumberland bestowed it upon the monks of Jarrow. The rediscovery of the tomb of St. Oswyn in 1065, had gladdened the hearts of the monks, and forthwith the monastery was reared anew over the ashes of its former self.

[1] Pronounced “Edge-frith.”

Mowbray, the next Earl of Northumberland, re-endowed the building. He had quarrelled with the Bishop of Durham, so in order to do him a displeasure, he made Tynemouth Priory subordinate to St. Albans instead of to Durham and brought monks from St. Albans to dwell there. The new buildings were finished in 1110, and the bones of St. Oswyn enshrined within them, the right of sanctuary being extended for a mile around his resting-place. This right, however, was already in existence, and had been appealed to in 1095 by Mowbray himself, who fled here pursued by the followers of William Rufus, against whom he had rebelled. The King’s men disregarded the sanctuary right, captured Mowbray, and sent him prisoner to Durham[2].

[2] See account of Bamburgh Castle.

In later days the queens of Edward I. and Edward II. visited Tynemouth Priory; and it was from Tynemouth that the foolish King Edward II. and his worthless favourite Piers Gaveston fled from the angry barons to Scarborough. In the reign of Edward III., after the battle of Neville’s Cross, David of Scotland was brought here by his captors on his way to Bamburgh, from whence he was sent to the Tower.

At the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII. the Priory was inhabited by eighteen monks with their Prior. They bowed to the King’s decree and left the monastery; but the church continued to be used as the parish church until the days of Charles II., when Christ Church was built.

The Priory has many times formed the subject of pictures by famous artists, the best known being that of no less a genius than J. M. W. Turner; and its picturesque ruins are a well-known landmark to the hundreds of voyagers who pass it on their journeys, outward or homeward bound. Within the last few years the Priory has been in some measure repaired and restored.

There is but little left of Tynemouth Castle, which was built as a protection for the monastery against the attacks of the Danes. It stands in a commanding position on a neighbouring cliff, and is now used as barracks for garrison artillery corps. During the days when Scotland harried the English borders, the Priors of Tynemouth maintained a garrison here; and later, in Stuart days, Charles I. visited the North, and the fortress was strengthened just before the outbreak of the Civil War. It was captured, notwithstanding, by Leslie, Earl of Leven, after he had left Newcastle. Colonel Lilburn, left in charge as governor, shortly afterwards avowed himself on the side of King Charles; but he speedily paid for his change of allegiance, for the Castle was re-taken by a force from Newcastle under Sir Arthur Hazelrigg, and Lilburn lost his life in the fight. The Castle has long been used as a dep ôt for the storage of arms and ammunition. Behind the Spanish Battery which commands the entrance to the Tyne stands a statue of the famous North-countryman, Admiral Collingwood.

Connected with Tynemouth, by the fact that a small chantry belonging to the Priory once stood there, is St. Mary’s Island. One may walk unhindered at low tide across the rocks to this favourite place, but where the chantry stood there is now a lighthouse with a powerful lantern, flashing its welcome light to the seafarers nearing the mouth of the Tyne, and extending

  “To each and all our equal lamp, at peril of the sea,
  The white wall-sided war-ships, or the whalers of Dundee.”

Between Tynemouth and St. Mary’s Island lie Cullercoats, Whitley Bay, and Monkseaton, and together these places make practically one extended seaside town, stretching for three or four miles along the sea-front, and joined by a fine parade which leads to open links at Monkseaton. Of these places Cullercoats is most noteworthy. This picturesque fishing village, with quaint old houses perched in every conceivable position on the curve of its rocky bay, is, needless to say, a favourite camping ground for artists. The Cullercoats fishwife, with her cheerful weather-bronzed face, her short jacket and ample skirts of blue flannel, and her heavily laden “crees” of fish is not only appreciated by the brotherhood of brush and pencil, but is one of the notable sights of the district. At Cullercoats is struck a note of the most modern of modern achievements—the Wireless Telegraphy Station (225 feet); and here, too, is situated the Dove Marine Laboratory, looked after by scientists on the staff of the Armstrong College at Newcastle.

In fine weather the crowds which pass and repass along the top of the bold cliffs which overlook the fine stretch of sands between Cullercoats and Monkseaton show how many hundreds of Northumbria’s busy workers enjoy the fresh breezes from the sea on this pleasant and bracing coast. Out at sea, opposite the Parade, vessels built in the busy shipyards on the Tyne may be seen doing their speed trials over the measured mile. The Peace of St. Oswyn may, in fact, be said to brood over Tynemouth, even in these days, for it is an increasing custom for those who can do so to remain in Newcastle and other busy centres of toil only during business hours, and to leave workshop and office every evening for their home by the sea: while the tide of noisy, happy, boisterous excursionists has rolled on to Whitley Bay, leaving Tynemouth to its old-time sleepy content. Northward to Hartley and Seaton Sluice the cliffs are very fine. Hartley, with its bright-looking red-tiled houses, once belonged to Adam of Gesemuth (Jesmond) who lived in the reign of King John. Coming down to modern times, about thirty years ago a gallant Hartley man, Thomas Langley, rescued two successive shipwrecked crews on the same day, in one case allowing himself to be lowered over the cliffs at a terrible risk in the furious storm.

Seaton Sluice belongs to the ancient family of the Delavals, whose house, Delaval Hall, may be seen not far away, peeping from amongst the trees which surround it. Seaton Sluice owes its name to the Delaval who placed the large sluice gates upon the burn, in order to have a strong current which, in rushing down to the sea, would be able to wash the mouth of the stream clear from the silt and mud brought in by the incoming tide. A later baronet, Sir John Hussey Delaval, made the cutting through the solid rock which is so striking a feature of the harbour. It was ready for the entrance of vessels in March, 1763.

Delaval Hall is now owned by Lord Hastings, the present representative of the Delavals, which family became extinct in the male line early in the nineteenth century. The last Delaval, a very learned man, was buried in Westminster Abbey in 1814. The Hall was built for Admiral Delaval in 1707 to the design of Sir J. Vanbrugh, who also designed Blenheim Palace, given by the nation to the great Duke of Marlborough about the same time.

Hartley Colliery, about half a mile away, has a sad interest as being the scene of the terrible accident in 1862, when a number of men and boys were imprisoned in the workings owing to the blocking up of the only shaft by a mass of d ébris, caused by the fall of an iron beam belonging to the pumping engine at the pit-head. Before the shaft could be cleared and a way opened to the workings, all the poor fellows had died, overcome by the deadly “choke-damp.” Joseph Skipsey, the pitman poet, in a simple ballad, tells the pathetic story.

  “Oh, father! till the shaft is rid,
  Close, close beside me keep;
  My eyelids are together glued,
  And I,—and I,—must sleep.”

  “Sleep, darling, sleep, and I will keep
  Close by—heigh ho.”—To keep
  Himself awake the father strives.
  But he—he, too—must sleep.

  “Oh mother dear! wert, wert thou near
  Whilst—sleep!” The orphan slept;
  And all night long, by the black pit-heap
  The mother a dumb watch kept.

From here, northward, the coast is rather dull and uninteresting, although the sands are fine, until we reach Blyth, at the mouth of the little river of the same name. This town is growing rapidly in size and importance; the export of coal has greatly increased since the harbour was so much improved by Sir Matthew White Ridley, and now totals some millions of tones a year. The river Wansbeck not far north of the mouth of the Blyth, in the latter part of its course flows through a district begrimed by all the necessary accompaniments of the traffic in “black diamonds,” and reaches the sea between the colliery villages of Cambois and North Seaton.

On the point at the northern curve of Newbiggin Bay stands Newbiggin Church, and ancient building, whose steeple, “leaning all awry,” is a well-known landmark for sailors. The site of this church is in danger of being undermined by the waves, and, indeed, part of the churchyard crumbled away many years ago; but such defences as are possible have been built up around it,—and the danger averted for a time. Newbiggin itself is a large fishing village and an increasingly popular holiday resort, for it possesses not only good sands but a wide moor near at hand which provides one of the best of golf courses; and, also, a short distance along the coast, are the attractive Fairy Rocks.

Newbiggin was a town of some importance in Plantagenet days, with a busy harbour, and a pier; and in the reign of Edward II. it was required to contribute a vessel towards the naval defence of the Kingdom.

Northward from Newbiggin Point is the magnificent sweep of Druridge Bay, stretching in a fine curve of ten miles or more to Hauxley Haven. Here, the sands of a warm golden colour, the wind-swept bents of silvery-grey, and the vivid green of the grassy cliff tops edge the curve of the bay with a line of bright and delicate colour, only thrown into greater relief by the brown reefs and ridges which stretch out from the rocky shores, and by the deep blue-green of the waves rolling inshore in long majestic lines, to break into hissing foam on the sharp reefs, or slide smoothly up the yellow sands in the centre of the bay. Above, beyond the grassy tops of the cliffs, stretch deep woods, with the old pele-tower of Cresswell looking out from amongst the trees, fields many-coloured with their burden of varying crops, and wide lonely moors, where one may walk for half a day without hearing any sound save the wild screaming of sea-birds, or the whistle of the wind, with the low boom of the waves below sounding a deep-toned accompaniment. The bay is not always so peaceful, however, and many wild scenes and terrible shipwrecks have taken place here, as everywhere along our wild north-east coast. The Bondicar rocks, by Hauxley, and the cruel spikes of the reef at Snab Point, near Cresswell, have betrayed many a gallant little vessel to her doom. Not, however, without bringing on many an occasion proof of the courage which is shown as a matter of course by the fisher folk on our coasts. At Newbiggin, and Cresswell, for instance, deeds have been done, which, in their simple unassuming heroism, may be taken as typical of the hardy race which could count Grace Darling among its daughters.

About thirty years ago, a ship drove ashore off Cresswell one bitter night in January, and the fisher folk crowded down to the shore, watching with sorrowful eyes the hapless crew clinging to their unfortunate vessel, which was slowly being broken up by the waves. There was no lifeboat at Cresswell then, and all the men of the village, except the old men who were past work, had gone northward, when the oncoming storm prevented their return. The women and girls heard the cries of the schooner’s crew, and mourned to each other their inability to help. But one gallant-hearted girl, named Peggy Brown, cried out, “If I thowt she could hing on a bit, I wad be away for the lifeboat.” But between them and Newbiggin, the nearest lifeboat station, the Lyne Burn runs into the sea, and spreads widely out over the sands; and the older people told Peggy she could never cross the burn in the dark. She set off, however, the thought of the drowning men hastening her on. For four miles she made her way in the storm and darkness, partly along the shore, scrambling over rock’s, and wading waist-deep through the Lyne Burn and one or two other places where the waves had driven far up the sands, and partly across Newbiggin Moor, where the icy wind tore at her in her drenched clothing. She pressed on, however, and managed to reach the coxswain’s house and give her message. The lifeboat was immediately run out, and the men reached the wreck in time to save all the crew except one, who had been washed overboard.

On another occasion one of the fishermen, named Tom Brown, was preparing to go out, with the help of his two sons, in his own fishing coble to the aid of a ship in distress on the reef. A carter had come down to the beach, the better to watch the progress of events, and, terrified by the thundering waves, his horse took fright, and in its plunging drove the cart against the little boat, making a hole clear through one side. “Big Tom,” as he was generally called, merely took off his coat, rolled it into a bundle and stuffed it against the hole. Then he beckoned to another fisherman, saying to him “Sit on that.” The man clambered in, and without the loss of another minute these four heroes set off to save their fellow creatures’ lives, with a broken and leaking boat in a heavy sea. And they did it, reaching the brig only just in time, for it went to pieces a few minutes after the shivering crew had been safely landed.

Incidents like these, which could be multiplied indefinitely, bring a glow of pride to the heart, and a reassuring sense that the degeneration of the race is not proceeding in such wholesale fashion—in the country districts, at any rate—as the pessimists would have us believe.

At the northern extremity of Druridge Bay is the little fishing village of Hauxley, with the chimneys and pit-head engines of Ratcliffe and Broomhill Collieries darkening the sky to the south-west. Passing the Bondicar rocks and rounding the point we enter the “fairway” for Warkworth Harbour and Amble, where a brisk exportation of the coal of the neighbourhood is carried on.

Lying out at sea, opposite Amble coastguard station, the white lighthouse on Coquet Island keeps watch over the entrance to the harbour. Some of the walls of the monastery, which stood on the island in Saxon days, can now be seen forming part of the dwelling of the lighthouse keeper. For many generations, too, hermit after hermit went to dwell on this tiny islet, and St. Cuthbert himself is said to have inhabited the little cell at one time. The island was captured by the Scots in the Civil Wars of King Charles’s reign, and held by them for a time.

The situation of Amble, at the mouth of the Coquet, has been looked upon as convenient from very early days, for there are signs which tell us of a population here at an early period. Several cist-vaens, or ancient stone coffins, have been found near the town, and a broken Roman altar was unearthed in the neighbourhood. The monastery which stood here, like that on Holy Island, was, in later times, inhabited by Benedictine monks, who were under the authority of the Prior of Tynemouth. William the Conqueror gave the then Prior the right to collect the tithes of the little town.

A short distance from Amble, and practically encircled by the Coquet which here makes a wide sweep, we come upon Warkworth, prettiest of villages, combining the beauties of sea-shore and river scenery, and rich in the possession of that romantic castle, the ruins of which carry the mind back to Saxon times; for they stand on the site of an older fortress erected by Ceolwulf, a Saxon King of Northumbria. He was the patron of Bede, who dedicated his “Ecclesiastical History” to his royal friend. Ceolwulf built both the fortress and the earliest church at Warkworth, and a few stones of this latter building are still to be seen. In 737, two years after the death of Bede, this royal Saxon laid aside his kingly state and became a monk on Lindisfarne,

  “When he, for cowl and beads, laid down
  The Saxon battle-axe and crown.”

It was when the castle was bestowed by Edward III. upon Lord Percy of Alnwick that it became, for more than two hundred years, the chief residence of that illustrious family; becoming in the next reign of historical value as the home of that Hotspur whose valour and gallantry made Henry IV. envy the Earl of Northumberland, in that he “should be the father of so blest a son.” In Act II., Scene 3 of “Henry IV.,” Part II., Shakespeare has laid the scene at Warkworth Castle, where Hotspur’s wife, troubled by her lord’s moody abstraction, tries to win from him the reason of his secret care. And after the battle of Shrewsbury, Rumour, flying with the news of Hotspur’s death, says:—

  “Thus have I rumoured through the peasant towns,
  Between the royal field of Shrewsbury
  And this worm-eaten hold of ragged stone,
  Where Hotspur’s father, old Northumberland,
  Lies crafty-sick.”

Two years after this, the castle was besieged by Henry IV. himself, and surrendered to him after a brief bombardment by the newly invented cannon. The keep was re-built by Hotspur’s son, after the family possessions had been restored to him by Henry V., and it is now the only remaining part of the castle which is almost perfect. One of the half-ruinous towers remaining is called the Lion Tower, from the sculptured lion on its walls; while another rejoices in the curious name of Cradyfargus. A strange story is told of a blue stone to be seen in the courtyard of the castle. Many years ago, so runs the tale, one of the custodians of Warkworth Castle dreamed three nights in succession that a large treasure was concealed beneath a blue stone in a certain part of the castle grounds. He told this dream to a neighbour, and after allowing two or three days to pass, finding the dream constantly recurring to his mind, he thought he would go to the place indicated, and see what he could find. To his disappointment, however, he discovered that some one had been there before him; a large hole had been dug, and on the edge of it lay the blue stone.

Needless to say, the hole was empty, nor could the keeper discover anything about the treasure in the neighbourhood. It is said that a certain family in the village became suddenly rich; and, many years afterwards, a large and ancient pot, supposed to have been that in which the buried treasure had been contained, was found in the Coquet.

The main street of Warkworth leads straight up to the postern gate of the castle, and many stirring sights have the successive inhabitants of the little village looked upon, as the fortunes of the owners of the castle waxed and waned throughout the many centuries in which the lords of Warkworth played a notable part in the history of England. They saw Henry Percy, entrusted with a share in the safe keeping of the country, set out from Warkworth for Durham, to help in winning the victory of Neville’s Cross.

They saw Hotspur’s force set out for the Cheviots to intercept Douglas and his followers, which they did at Homildon Hill, near Wooler; and it was the quarrel in connection with the prisoners taken on that day which led Hotspur and his father openly to throw off their allegiance to Henry IV., so that a few months later the peasants of Warkworth saw their idolised young lord set out for what was to prove the fatal field of Shrewsbury. They saw Hotspur’s father, the first Henry Percy to receive the title of Earl, (a title which had been given him at the coronation of Richard II.) set out with a brave force after Hotspur’s departure; and they saw his return, almost alone, dejected and broken in spirit, having learnt that the help so tardily given had come too late, and the life of his gallant son was ended.

They saw the siege train of Henry Bolingbroke laid against the castle, directed by Henry in person, provoked into these active measures by the open rebellion of father and son, though Northumberland had tried to make it appear that he was innocent of any treasonable act. After capturing the castle, Bolingbroke bestowed it on his third son, John of Lancaster, and the villagers saw the young prince riding in and out among them daily so long as he made the castle his home.

Then, in the next reign, they welcomed the return of Hotspur’s son, Henry, to the home of his fathers, restored to him by Henry V.; and, within a short time, saw him bring home his bride, Eleanor Neville, daughter of his friend and neighbour, the Earl of Westmoreland.

In the Wars of the Roses, Warkworth Castle saw many changes of fortune, as the tide of victory flowed this way and that. The Percies were all Lancastrians, though Sir Ralph Percy changed sides twice. The castle fell into the hands of the Yorkists, and the great Earl of Warwick, the “King-maker” himself, made it his headquarters for a time, while he superintended the sieges of Alnwick, Dunstanborough, and Bamburgh, which were all invested at the same time. Eventually, after the Wars of the Roses concluded, Warkworth was restored, along with the other Percy estates, to its original owners.

Finally, the inhabitants of the little village saw the church entered by the Jacobites in 1715, when Mr. Buxton, chaplain of the little force, prayed for James III. and Mary the Queen-mother; and General Forster, dressed as a trumpeter, proclaimed King James III. at the village cross.

A few miles north from the mouth of the Coquet, the little Aln spreads over the sandy flats near Alnmouth, and reaches the sea. It has changed its course, for at one time it flowed to the south of Church Hill, instead of to the north as at present. The town of Alnmouth, viewed from the train just before entering Alnmouth Station, looks very picturesque, especially if the rare sunshine of an English summer should be lighting up the bay, bringing out the vivid red of the tiled roofs against the grassy hills fringing the links which lie on their seaward side, and lighting up, also, the yellow sands and long lines of sparkling wavelets edged with white.

Alnmouth depends for its living on a fleet of fishing boats, and on the numbers of visitors who seek its fresh breezes and inviting shores each summer. Golfers, indeed, find it pleasant all the year round, as there is only a scarcely appreciable interval in the winter months when their favourite pastime cannot be followed on the breezy links. On Church Hill, now crowned by a few old stones, once stood a Norman church, dedicated to St. Valery, which, in its turn, occupied the site of an older Saxon building, supposed to have been the church which Bede refers to as being at Twyford, where a great synod of clergy was held in the year 684, and Cuthbert appointed Bishop of Lindisfarne. It is a matter of dispute whether this Twyford was Alnmouth or Whittingham, but the two fords at Alnmouth seem to point to a decision in favour of that place. The old Norman church, which fell into ruin at the beginning of last century, was fired at by the famous pirate Paul Jones; the cannon shot, weighing 68 pounds, missed the church, but struck a neighbouring farm house, doing great damage.

The coast north of Alnmouth becomes rocky and wild, and very picturesque, and the villages along the coast are being sought out by holiday makers in increasing numbers, year by year. Boulmer, one of these villages, was a famous place for smuggling in the old days, and many an exciting scene and sharp encounter took place between the smugglers and the King’s men. Not far away is Howick Dene, a lovely little glen leading down to the sea from Howick Hall, the home of Earl Grey.

Cullernose Point, a striking crag, is formed by the outcrop of a portion of the Great Whin Sill, which from here can be traced to the south-west, and thence right across the county.

At Craster, another fishing village and a favourite holiday haunt, is Craster Tower, which has been the home of the family of Craster since before the Conquest. Not far to the north is the famous Rumble Churn in the rocks below Dunstanborough Castle, where the waves roll in and out of the caves and chasms with weird and hollow rumblings. There is another Rumbling Churn in the cliffs near Howick.

The famous divine of the Middle Ages, John Duns Scotus, was born in this parish—that of Embleton; the group of buildings known as Dunston Hall, or Proctor’s Steads, is supposed to have been his birthplace, and a portrait of the learned doctor is to be seen there.

Dunstanborough Castle stands in lonely grandeur on great whinstone crags, close to the very edge of the sea, and on the first sight of it, Keats’ wonderful lines spring involuntarily to the lips:—

  “Magic casements, opening on the foam
  Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.”

Forlorn, indeed, though not in exactly the sense conveyed by the poem, is this huge fortress now; it abides, says Freeman, “as a castle should abide, in all the majesty of a shattered ruin.” The primitive cannon of the days of the Wars of the Roses began to shatter those mighty walls, and, unlike Bamborough, it has never been strengthened since. Simon de Montford once owned this estate, and the next lord of Dunstanborough was a son of Henry III., to whom Earl Simon’s forfeited estate was given. His eldest son, Thomas of Lancaster, took part with the barons in bringing the unworthy favourite of Edward II., Piers Gaveston, to his death. Under the King’s anger, Lancaster went away to his Northumbrian estate, and began to build this mighty fortress, though he already owned the castles of Kenilworth and Pontefract. In the Wars of the Roses, Dunstanborough Castle was taken and retaken no less than five times, and Queen Margaret found refuge here, as well as at Bamburgh; but apart from these occasions, Dunstanborough has not taken nearly so great a part in either local or national history as the other Northumbrian castles of Bamburgh, Warkworth, and Alnwick, though greater in extent than any of them. In 1538 an official report describes “Dunstunburht” as “a very reuynous howse”; and the process of dilapidation was soon aided by enterprising dwellers in the neighbourhood using the stones of the forsaken castle to build their own homesteads.

From the castle northward curves Embleton Bay, in which, after having been buried in the sand for ages, a sandstone rock was uncovered by the tide, having on its surface, chiselled in rough but distinct lettering, the name “Andra Barton.” Sir Andrew Barton, daring Scottish sea-captain and fearless freebooter, was slain in a sea-fight off this part of the coast, in the days of Henry VIII., by the sons of Surrey, one of whom, Sir Thomas Howard, was Lord Admiral at the time, and so, in a measure, responsible for the defence of the English coast. The loss of his brave sea-captain and his “goodly ships” was one of the grievances in the long list which led King James IV. to declare war against England, and led to the fatal field of Flodden, in which Admiral Sir Thomas Howard and his brother took part under the command of their father, the Earl of Surrey.

The wide sweep of grassy common beyond the sands in Embleton Bay is, in summer time, covered with a profusion of wild flowers, chief amongst them being the wild geranium, or meadow cranes-bill, whose reddish-purple blossoms grow in such abundance as to arrest the attention of every visitor. A little way back from the sea-shore, in the middle of this wide space, lies the village of Embleton, which possesses an ancient and interesting church, and a vicarage, part of which is formed by an old pele-tower. Embleton would seem to have a reputation to keep up in the way of famous churchmen. Duns Scotus has been already mentioned; and one of the vicars here was a cousin of Richard Steele, the essayist and friend of Addison; and he described the country squires of his day in a paper which he contributed to the “Spectator” of that date, 1712.

Another Vicar of Embleton, who lived here from 1874 to 1884, was Dr. Mandell Creighton, the learned historian, who became Bishop of London.

The well-known journalist, W.T. Stead, was born in the parish of Embleton, though his childhood was passed in very different surroundings, in the narrow streets and grimy atmosphere of Howdon-on-Tyne. His recent death on the ill-fated Titanic will be fresh in the minds of all.

Newton-by-the-Sea is reached by a pleasant walk along the sea-shore. (It is to be understood that in this journey along the coast we are moving northward always). There is here a cheery-looking white-washed coastguard station standing on the bold headland of Newton Point.

Past this point is Beadnell Bay, with green and grassy Beadnell just beyond Little Rock. The small fishing harbour at Beadnell has the unique distinction of being the only harbour on the east coast whose mouth faces west, and the short pier, running inland from rocks to shore, acts as a breakwater against the heavy easterly or southeasterly seas and makes the harbour a safe anchorage for fishing craft or small yachts. The rocks around this bay are very interesting, showing the various strata very plainly, and containing many fossils. The striking cliff called Ebbe’s Nook is supposed to have been named after the Saxon princess Ebba, sister to King Oswald, and the ruins which were discovered on the headland, to be all that is left of a chapel erected to her memory.

At Seahouses is an extensive fish-curing establishment, a fact which proclaims itself unmistakably as you near the village, especially if the day chance to be at all warm. A little distance from the shore is another fishing village, North Sunderland, and northward from Seahouses is the inn called The Monkshouse, from the fact that it once belonged to the community on Lindisfarne.

Bamburgh Castle, magnificently placed on a lofty crag rising perpendicularly from the greensward on the west or landward side, and almost as steeply from the sea which washes the north and east sides, lies like a majestic lion on its mighty rock “brooding on ancient fame.” The voices of children at play on the sands below sound faint and far in the still air; the sea birds, with the summer sunshine flashing on their outspread wings, sweep round and round; in the far distance a trail of smoke low down on the horizon marks the track of a passing steamer; and near at hand, southward a little way from the castle cliff, the rocky islets of the Farne group lie drowsily asleep on the gently-heaving swell of the grey-blue waters. Behind the castle lies the pretty old-fashioned village with its quaint hostelries and grove of trees; and from the higher parts of the new golf-links the player may look round on a view which would be difficult to match, comprising as it does, the Farne Islands and Dunstanborough to the south, and northward, Holy Island, with its castle and abbey and the bluish haze of smoke lying over Berwick; while, on the western skyline, on a clear day, may be seen the rounded caps of the Cheviots.

The beginnings of Bamburgh take us back more than a thousand years, to that long-ago summer of 547, when the cyuls (keels) of the marauding Bernician chieftain Ida and his followers grounded on the shore of our Northland, and the work of conquest began. Ida was not slow to grasp the importance of such a commanding site as this isolated mass of basaltic crag, and the rude stronghold which crowned it. It became in time a formidable fortress, and remained for centuries the headquarters of the kings of the North.

Here reigned Ida and his sons—six of them—for more or less short and stormy periods, and Ethelric of Bernicia, who vanquished the neighbouring prince of Deira, and thus reigned as the first king of Northumbria as Northumbria. The Celtic name of the fortress was Dinguardi, or Dinguvardy; and tradition has it that this was Sir Lancelot’s castle of Joyeuse Garde, where he had often feasted the Knights of the Round Table, and where he, at last, came home to die. The fact that Bamburgh is the only pre-Conquest castle in Northumberland disposes of the claim of Alnwick.

“My fair lords,” said sir Launcelot, “wit ye well, my careful body will into the earth; I have warning more than I will now say; therefore, I pray you, give me my rights.” So when he was houseled and eneled, and had all that a Christian man ought to have, he prayed the bishop that his fellows might bear his body unto Joyous Gard.

Some men say Anwick, and some men say to Bamborow; “how-beit,” said sir Launcelot, “me repenteth sore; but I made mine avow aforetime, that in Joyous Gard I would be buried; and because of breaking of mine vow, I pray you all lead me thither.” Then was there weeping and wringing of hands among all his fellows.

And so, within fifteen days, they came to Joyous Gard, and there they laid his corpse in the body of the quire, and read many psalters and prayers over him and about him.... And right thus, as they were at their service, there came sir Ector de Maris, that had sought seven years all England, Scotland and Wales, seeking his brother sir Launcelot.... Then went sir Bors unto sir Ector, and told him how there lay his brother sir Launcelot dead.

And then sir Ector threw his shield, his sword, and his helm from him; and when he beheld sir Launcelot’s visage, he fell down in a swoon; and when he awoke, it were hard for any tongue to tell the doleful complaints that he made for his brother. “Ah! sir Launcelot,” said he, “thou wert head of all Christian knights!” “And now, I dare say,” said sir Bors, “that sir Launcelot, there thou liest, thou wert never matched of none earthly knight’s hands; and thou wert the courtliest knight that ever bare a shield; and thou wert the truest friend to thy lover that ever bestrod horse; and thou wert the truest lover of a sinful man that ever loved woman; and thou wert the kindest man that ever stroke with sword; and thou wert the goodliest person that ever came among press of knights; and thou wert the meekest man, and the gentlest, that ever eat in hall among ladies; and thou wert the sternest knight to thy mortal foe, that ever put spear in the rest.”

Then there was weeping and dolor out of measure.

Malory’s Morte d’Arthur.

Ethelfrith, who succeeded Ethelric, gave the fort to his second wife, Bebba, after whom it was named Bebbanburgh, which soon became Bamburgh.

In the days of King Edwin, who succeeded Ethelfrith, Bamburgh was the centre of a kingdom which extended from the Humber to the Forth, and as Northumbria was at that time the most important division of England, the royal city of Bernicia was practically the capital of the country. The reign of King Oswald, though shorter than that of Edwin, was equally noteworthy from the fact that in his days the gentle Aidan settled in Northumbria, and king and monk worked together for the good of their people, and Bamburgh became not only the seat of temporal power but the safeguard and bulwark of the spiritual movement centred on the little isle of Lindisfarne. On the accession of Edwin, Oswald, son of Ethelfrith, had fled from Bernicia and taken refuge with the monks of Iona, living with them till the time came for him to rule Northumbria in his turn. As soon as possible after the inevitable fighting for his political existence was over, he sent to Iona for a teacher to come and instruct his people in the truths he had learned; and a monk named Corman was sent. He, however, was unable to make any impression on the wild and warlike Saxons of the northern kingdom, and he soon returned to Iona with the report that it was useless to try to teach such obstinate and barbarous people. One of the brethren, listening to his account, ventured to ask him if he were sure that all the fault lay with the people. “Did you remember,” said he, “that we are commanded to give them the milk first? Did you not rather try them with the strong meat?” With one accord the brethren declared that he who had spoken such wise words was the man best fitted for the task, and the gentle Aidan was sent to Oswald’s help. In such a fashion came the Gospel to Northumbria, and Aidan became the first of the long roll of saints whose deeds and lives had such incalculable influence on Northumbrian history. From Aidan’s arrival in 635 until the death of Oswald the relations between the king and the monk who had settled on Medcaud or Medcaut, soon to be known as Lindisfarne, and later as Holy Island, were those of friend to friend and fellow-worker, rather than those of king and subject.

After the death of Oswald, his conqueror Penda, the fierce King of the Mercians, harried Northumbria, and appearing before the walls of Bamburgh prepared to burn it down. Piles of logs and brushwood were laid against the city and the fire was applied. Aidan, in his little cell on Farne Island, to which he had retired, saw the clouds of flame and smoke rolling over the home of his beloved patron. Raising his hands to Heaven, he exclaimed, “See, Lord, what ill Penda is doing!” Scarcely had he uttered the words, when the wind changed, and drove the flames away from Bamburgh, blowing them against Penda’s host, who thereupon ceased all further attempts against the city.

Not long after this, Aidan was at Bamburgh, when he was seized with sudden illness, and died with his head resting against one of the wooden stays of the little church. Penda came again the next year, and this time both village and church were burnt, all except, says tradition, the beam of wood against which Aidan had rested in his last moments.

When the Danish ships appeared off our shores, in the two centuries following, Bamburgh was attacked and plundered several times. In the days of William Rufus, as we have seen, Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumberland, rebelled against the Red King, in company with his uncle the Bishop of Coutances, Robert of Normandy, and William of St. Carileph, Bishop of Durham. Rufus marched into Northumberland, but the quarrel was adjusted for the time; though private strife between the two Bishops led to Mowbray’s driving the monks of Durham from the Priory at Tynemouth and replacing them by monks from St. Albans.

Later, however, Mowbray disobeyed a summons from the Red King, who once more marched into Northumberland. He reached Bamburgh, and invested it, but failed to make any impression on that impregnable stronghold, within whose walls were Mowbray and his young wife, the Countess Matilda, and his nephew, who was Sheriff of Northumberland. Rufus, finding all attempts to carry the fortress useless, began to build a wooden fort, called a Malvoisin, or “Bad neighbour”; and so anxious was he to have it speedily erected that he made knights and nobles as well as his men-at-arms take part in the work.

Mowbray, from the battlements, called out to many of these by name, openly taunting those who had secretly promised to join him, or had expressed themselves as in sympathy with his disobedience. His words gave great amusement to Rufus and the nobles who were truly loyal, and much mortification and vexation to those whom he so ruthlessly exposed. Rufus left the “Bad neighbour” to continue the siege and went southward.

Mowbray, led to believe that Newcastle would receive him, and take his part, stole away from Bamburgh by sea, and reached Tynemouth. On proceeding to Newcastle, however, he found he had been mistaken, and hurriedly fled hack to Tynemouth, pursued by his enemies. He held out against them for a day or two, but was then captured and taken to Durham. Meanwhile the high-spirited Countess held Bamburgh against all assailants; but Mowbray’s capture gave Rufus an advantage he was not slow to use. Returning to the North, he ordered Mowbray to be brought before the walls of Bamburgh, and threatened to put his eyes out if the Countess did not immediately surrender. Needless to say, she preferred to give up the castle, and Mowbray’s reign as Earl of Northumberland was over.

Thereafter Bamburgh was visited by various sovereigns in turn, when their affairs brought them to the northerly parts of their kingdom. When Balliol, tired of long years of conflict, surrendered most of his rights to Edward III., it was at Bamburgh that the convention was concluded. In this reign the castle was greatly strengthened.

In the Wars of the Roses, Bamburgh was held for the queen by the Lancastrian nobles of the north country—Percy and Ros—with the Earl of Pembroke and Duke of Somerset; but was obliged on Christmas Eve, 1462, to capitulate to a superior force. The next year the Scots and the queen’s French allies surprised it, and re-captured it for Henry VI. and his courageous queen; but Warwick, “the King-maker,” came upon the scene, and after a stout resistance the garrison surrendered.

When the Union of the Crowns took place in 1603, Bamburgh was no longer necessary as a defence against the Scots, and its defences were neglected. The Forsters, into whose hands it passed in the days of James I., were a spendthrift family, and gradually wasted their rich estate, until in 1704 it had to be sold, and was bought by Lord Crewe. He was Bishop of Durham at the time, having been promoted to that position by Charles II., who liked his handsome figure and pleasing manners. When at the age of fifty-eight, he wished to marry Dorothea Forster, daughter of Sir William Forster, of Bamburgh, the lady, who was many years younger, refused him at first; but some years later he renewed his suit, and this time was accepted. When the Forster estates were sold and their debts paid, there was scarcely anything left for the heirs—Lady Crewe and her nephew, Thomas Forster, who afterwards became the General of the ill-fated Jacobite rising in 1715, and whose escape after his capture was contrived by his high-spirited sister, Dorothy Forster the second.

Lord Crewe, in his will, left a great part of his fortune to found the Bamburgh Trust, for which his name will ever be remembered. The most notable of the trustees, Archdeacon Sharp, administered the moneys in so wise and beneficent a manner that to him most of the credit is due for the real usefulness of the Crewe charities. These include a surgery and dispensary; schools; the relief of persons in distress; the clothing and educating of a certain number of girls; the maintenance of a lifeboat, life-saving apparatus, and everything necessary for the relief of ship-wrecked persons. A lifeboat, kept in the harbour at Holy Island, is always ready to go out on a signal from Bamburgh Castle.

The castle was extensively restored and repaired by the late Lord Armstrong; but, sad to say, since his death it has been stripped of many of its treasures. The church, dedicated to St. Aidan, stands at the west end of the village; but there is no vestige remaining of the one built in Saxon times, the present building having been erected when Henry II. was king. In the churchyard is the grave of Grace Darling, and many hundreds come to look on the last resting place of the gentle girl who was yet so heroic, when her compassionate heart nerved her girlish frame to the gallant effort on behalf of her fellow-creatures in dire peril, when she

  “.... rode the waves none else durst ride,
                 None save her sire.”

The beautiful monument over her grave is by Raymond Smith, and is an exact duplicate of the original one, also by him, which was being injured so much by the weather that it was removed to a position inside the church. The duplicate was commissioned by Lord (then Sir William) Armstrong.

The island on which yet stands the lighthouse which was Grace’s home is the Longstone, almost the farthest seaward of the rocky group of the Farnes, lying almost opposite Bamburgh. The Longstone is only about four feet above high-water mark, so that in stormy weather the lighthouse is fiercely assailed by the heavy seas, and the keepers are often driven for refuge to the upper chambers. To the Longstone might with truth be attributed the opening lines of Kipling’s poem, “The Coastwise Lights”:—

  “Our brows are bound with spindrift, and the weed is on our knees,
  Our loins are battered ’neath us by the swinging, smoking seas;
  From reef, and rock, and skerry, over headland, ness, and voe,
  The coastwise lights of England watch the ships of England go.”

There are about twenty of these little islets to be seen at low tide, and very curious are some of their names—The Megstone, The Crumstone, The Navestone, The Harcars, The Wedums, The Noxes (Knokys), and The Wawmses. The largest, Farne Island, is the nearest to the coast, and is the one to which St. Aidan retired, and on which St. Cuthbert made himself a cell, and where he lived for some years, leaving Lindisfarne (Holy Island) very often for months together, to dwell alone on this almost bare rock and devote himself to holy meditation and prayer.

To this island came King Ecgfrith of Northumbria with Archbishop Trumwine and other representatives of the Synod to beg the hermit to accept the Bishopric of Hexham; and it was on this island that St. Cuthbert died, the monks who had gone to look after him signalling the news of his death to his brethren at Lindisfarne by means of torches. The island is rocky and precipitous, with deep chasms between the high cliffs; and when a north wind blows, the columns of foam and spray, from the waters dashing into the chasms and over the tops of the cliffs, may be seen from the mainland rising high into the air.

Before the first lighthouse was built on Farne Island, in 1766, a coal fire was kindled every night on the top of the tower-like building used as a fort. This method of warning passing vessels had been used continuously since the days of Charles II. In great contrast to this is the modern lighthouse, with its acetylene gas lights and its automatic flash apparatus.

Close to Stapel Island are the three high basaltic pillars, of rock called the Pinnacles. On all these islands sea-birds breed, but especially on the Pinnacles, the Big and Little Harcar, and the islet called the Brownsman.

Thousands and thousands of them perch and chatter on the rocks and fly screaming in the air, amongst them being guillemots, kittiwakes, gulls, terns, cormorants, puffins, and eider-ducks, for which latter St. Cuthbert is said to have had great affection; certainly they are the gentlest of these wild sea-fowl.

Bidding farewell to the rocky Farnes, we sail past Budle Bay, into which runs the Warenburn and the Elwick burn, and underneath whose sandy flats is the buried town of Warnmouth, once a busy seaport, to which Henry III. granted a charter. Approaching Lindisfarne, “Our isle of Saints, low-lying on the blue breast of the curling waters, is hushed and silent in the lightly-purple mists of morning, like the wide aisles of a great cathedral at daybreak, before the feet and tongues of sightseers disturb the solemn stillness. The tideway is covered with water, and the footprints of the pilgrims who came yesterday to the shrine of St. Cuthbert have passed into oblivion like footmarks on the sands of time.” (Galloway Kyle.) The modern pilgrim to Holy Island generally takes train to Beal station, and from there walks to the seashore, and crosses the long stretch of sand between Holy Island and the mainland. The governing factor in the possibility or otherwise of making the journey is the state of the tide, for these sands are entirely covered by the sea twice a day, so that Holy Island can only be said to be an island at high tide.

  “For with the flow and ebb, its style
  Varies from continent to isle;
  Dry-shod, o’er sands, twice every day
  The pilgrims to the shrine find way;
  Twice every day the waves efface
  Of staves and sandall’d feet the trace.”

There are dangerous quicksands on the way, too, and a row of stakes points out the proper course to be taken.

We have already seen that St. Aidan settled on Lindisfarne and have treated of him in connection with Bamburgh. After his death another monk of Iona, Finan, succeeded him and carried on his work; and after Finan came Colman, who resigned after the Synod of Whitby had decided to keep Easter according to southern instead of northern usage. St. Cuthbert was Prior of Lindisfarne at this time. Later, the seat of the bishopric was removed from Lindisfarne to York, when it was held by that restless and able prelate, Wilfrid, for a time. Then the bishopric was divided and a see of Hexham formed, as well as that of Lindisfarne, which included Carlisle, out of the northern portion of the diocese of York.

St. Cuthbert was bishop of Lindisfarne for two years, having exchanged sees with bishop Eata, who went to Hexham. The stone coffin in which St. Cuthbert’s body was pieced, after his death on Farne Island, was buried on the right side of the altar in the Abbey of Lindisfarne, which by this time had arisen on the little island. A later bishop, Edfrid, executed a wonderful copy of the Gospels, which was illuminated by his successor, Ethelwald. Another bishop enclosed it in a cover of gold and silver, adorning it with jewels; and, later, a priest of Lindisfarne, Aldred, wrote between the lines a translation into the vernacular, and added marginal notes. This precious manuscript, a wonderful example of the beautiful work done in monastic houses in the north so many centuries ago, is now in the British Museum, where it is known as the “Durham Manuscript.”

When the pirate keels of the Danes appeared off our coasts about the end of the eighth century, Lindisfarne Abbey was one of the first points of attack; and in 793 it was plundered of most of its wealth, and many of the monks were slain. For nearly a century afterwards it was left in peace, but in 875 the Danish ships appeared again approaching from the south, where they had just sacked Tynemouth Priory. The bishop, Eardulph, last of the Lindisfarne prelates, and the brethren hastily collected their most treasured possessions, and with the body of St. Cuthbert, the bones of St. Aidan, and other precious relics, they fled from their island home, and journeyed north, west, and south for many years before they found a resting place at Chester-le-Street near Durham. For seven years they carried with them the body of St. Cuthbert; and it is said that the final choice of a resting place for the body of their beloved saint was indicated to them by supernatural means as they approached Durham.

In 1069 William the Conqueror marched northward to visit with sternest punishment the hardy north-men, who were so long in submitting to his authority; and the monks of Durham fled before the advance of the relentless Norman, carrying with them, as before, the body of St. Cuthbert. They reached Lindisfarne in safety to find the Abbey in the ruinous state in which it had been left by the Danes two centuries earlier. Thus, once again, the body of St. Cuthbert rested on the little island where so many years of his life had been spent.

In 1070 the brethren returned to Durham and in 1093 the building was begun, almost simultaneously, of the present glorious Cathedral of Durham and a new Priory and Church on Lindisfarne, and a strong resemblance may be traced between the two buildings The Abbey was deserted on the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII., and gradually fell into ruins.

The Castle, which stands on a lofty whinstone rock at the south-east corner of the island, is a conspicuous object for many miles, whether viewed by land or sea. It is supposed to have been built in the reign of Henry VIII., at a time when defences were commanded to be made to all harbours. If the Castle has had any appreciable share of romantic incidents in its history, the records thereof seem to be unknown; but one which has come down to us is the account of its daring capture by an ardent North-country Jacobite, Lancelot Errington, in 1715. The garrison consisted of seven men, five of whom were absent. Errington, who was master of a small vessel lying in the harbour, discovered this, and immediately made his way to the Castle accompanied by his nephew, and overpowered the two men who were left in charge, turning them out of the Castle. He then signalled to the mainland for reinforcements, but none were forthcoming. A company of King’s men came instead and re-occupied the place, Errington and his nephew escaping, to wander about in the neighbourhood for several days, hiding from pursuit, before they got clear away. The Castle was for many years the home of the coastguardsmen, who must have found it a most advantageous position for their purpose, as they had an uninterrupted view of miles of coast line.

Northward from Holy Island, but on the mainland, lies Goswick, from whose red sandstone quarries came the material for building the Abbey of Lindisfarne. Further north we come in sight of the coal pits and smoke of Scremerston, while beyond it, Spittal and Tweedmouth bring us right up to Berwick-on-Tweed itself, that grey old Border town which has seen so many turns of fortune, and been harried again and again, only to draw breath after each wild and cruel interlude, and go calmly on its quiet way until it was once more called upon to fight for its very existence.

Though definitely forming part of English soil since 1482, it is not included in any English county, but, with about eight square miles around it, forms a county by itself. Hence the addition, to any Royal proclamation, of the well-known words “And in our Town of Berwick-upon-Tweed.”

Sir Walter Scott’s description of the Northumbrian coast, in his poem of Marmion may well be recalled here. It will be remembered that the Abbess of Whitby, with some of her nuns, was voyaging to Holy Island, and we take up the description when

  “.... the vessel skirts the strand
  Of mountainous Northumberland;
  Towns, towers, and halls successive rise,
  And catch the nuns’ delighted eyes.
  Monkwearmouth soon behind them lay,
  And Tynemouth’s Priory and bay. They
  marked, amid her trees, the hall Of lofty Seaton Delaval;
  They saw the Blyth and Wansbeck floods
  Rush to the sea through sounding woods;
  They passed the tower of Widdrington,
  Mother of many a valiant son;
  At Coquet-isle their beads they tell
  To the good saint who owned the cell.
  Then did the Alne attention claim,
  And Warkworth, proud of Percy’s name;
  And next they crossed themselves, to hear
  The whitening breakers sound so near,
  Where, boiling through the rocks, they roar
  On Dunstanborough’s caverned shore.
  Thy tower, proud Bamburgh, marked they there,
  King Ida’s castle, huge and square,
  From its tall rock look grimly down
  And on the swelling ocean frown.
  Then from the coast they bore away
  And reached the Holy Island’s bay.

  As to the port the galley flew,
  Higher and higher rose to view
  The castle with its battled walls,
  The ancient monastery’s halls,
  A solemn, huge, and dark-red pile
  Placed on the margin of the isle.

  In Saxon strength that abbey frowned,
  With massive arches, broad and round.

  On the deep walls, the heathen Dane
  Had poured his impious rage in vain;
  And needful was such strength to these,
  Exposed to the tempestuous seas,
  Scourged by the winds’ eternal sway,
  Open to rovers fierce as they.
  Which could twelve hundred years withstand
  Winds, waves, and northern pirates’ hand.”


  “On Kielder-side the wind blaws wide;
  There sounds nae hunting horn
  That rings sae sweet as the winds that beat
  Round banks where Tyne is born.”
   —A.C. Swinburne.

Between Peel Fell and Mid Fell, almost the farthest western heights of the Cheviot Hills, a little mountain stream takes its rise, and flows to the south and east. This little burn is the North Tyne, the beginnings of that stream which, deep, dark, and swift at its mouth, bears the mighty battleships there built to carry the war-flags of the nations round the world. In the wild and lovely district where the North Tyne takes its rise, is Kielder Castle, a shooting box belonging to the Duke of Northumberland.

This neighbourhood is the scene of two romantic ballads; that of the “Cowt (colt) of Kielder” and the Ettrick Shepherd’s ballad of “Sir David Graeme.” The deadly enemy of the young “Cowt,” so called from his great strength, is Lord Soulis of Hermitage Castle, on the Scottish side of the border. The Cowt, with his followers, was enticed into the Castle, where Lord Soulis purposed his death; but the gigantic youth burst through the circle of his foes and escaped. The evil Brownie of the moorland, however, gave to Lord Soulis the secret which safeguarded the young Cowt. His coat of mail was sword-proof by a spell of enchantment, and he wore in his helmet rowan and holly leaves; but these would all be of no avail against the power of running water. The Cowt was pursued until, in crossing a burn, he stumbled and lost his helmet, and ere he recovered, his enemies were upon him, and they held him under water until he was drowned.

Not far from the mouth of the Bell Burn, which here runs into the Tyne, a circle of stones outside an ancient burial ground is known as the Cowt’s Grave.

  “This is the bonny brae, the green,
  Yet sacred to the brave,
  Where still, of ancient size, is seen
  Gigantic Kieldar’s grave.

  Where weeps the birch with branches green
  Without the holy ground,
  Between two old grey stones is seen
  The warrior’s ridgey mound.

  And the hunters bold of Kieldar’s train,
  Within yon castle’s wall,
  In a deadly sleep must aye remain
  Till the ruined towers down fall.”

In the ballad of “Sir David Graeme,” by James Hogg, the lady of the story watched out of her window in vain for the coming of her “noble Graeme,” who had vowed that the hate of her father and brothers would not keep him from coming to carry off his fair lady on St. Lambert’s night.

  “The sun had drunk frae Kieldar Fell
  His beverage o’ the morning dew;
  The deer had crouched her in the dell,
  The heather oped its bells o’ blue.

  The lady to her window hied,
  And it opened o’er the banks o’ Tyne;
  An’ “O! alack,” she said, and sighed,
  “Sure ilka breast is blythe but mine?”

Her forebodings prove only too true, for her lover’s faithful hound seeks her out, and with mournful looks induces her to follow him over Deadwater Fell, and guides her to a lonely spot where the body of the gallant Graeme, slain by her brothers, is lying.

In the neighbourhood of these desolate Fells are to be found many traces of ancient British Camps.

The little mountain streams which here help to swell the stream of the North Tyne are, on the south side, the Lewis and Whickhope Burns, and on the north, the Plashetts and Hawkhope Burns. On both sides of the Tyne, near the Whickhope and the Hawkhope Burns are many remains of an ancient pre-historic forest, the largest being near the Whickhope Burn where the abnormally thick stems of trees may be seen.

The little village of Falstone is set amongst trees, in the midst of pleasant meadows, a welcome relief from the bare fells and moorlands around it; yet this wild scenery has a distinct fascination of its own, and adds not a little to the charm of the varied landscape within the bounds of our northern county. At Falstone a fragment of an ancient cross was discovered, with an inscription carved upon it—in Roman letters on one side and in the Runes of the Anglo-Saxons on the other. The inscription states that a certain Eamer set up the cross in memory of his uncle Hroethbert, and asks for prayers for his soul. The existence of a similarly inscribed cross is not known, so that the Society of Antiquaries, in whose keeping this cross rests, has in it probably a unique treasure.

The Tarset Burn, upon which stands the village of Thorneyburn, runs into the Tyne not far from Falstone, and reminds us of the old Border-riding days, when the rallying-cry of the men of the district in many a feud with neighbouring clans was—“Tarset and Tarret Burn, Hard and heather-bred, yet-yet-yet.” Near the spot where the Tarset Burn joins the Tyne is a grassy hill on which once stood Tarset Castle, a stronghold of that Red Comyn whom Bruce slew in the little chapel at Dumfries, and of whose death Bruce’s friend Kirkpatrick said he would “mak’ siccar”!

The village of Charlton, on the north bank of the Tyne, and the mansion of Hesleyside on the other, carry the mind back to the old reiving plundering days, for it was at Hesleyside that the incident of the ancient spur of the Charlton’s took place, doubtless many a time and oft, when the good lady of Hesleyside served up the spur at dinner as a gentle hint that the larder was empty, and it behoved her lord to mount and away to replenish the same, preferably with stock from the Scottish side of the border, or if not, a neighbour’s cattle would serve equally well.

The Charltons, Robsons (possibly the lineal descendants of “Hroethbert” of the ancient cross) and Armstrongs, held almost undisputed sway over this region, and the district teems with reminders of their prowess and traditions of their exploits. The men of Tynedale (the North Tyne) and Redesdale were known as the fiercest and most lawless in all that wild district. Redesdale is a district of monotonous, almost dreary, moorlands, and wild, bare fells, where sheep graze on what scanty provender the bleak hills afford, finding better fare, however, in the valleys near the river banks, where the pasture is fresh and green.

Bellingham is to-day the most considerable village of the neighbourhood; it stands conveniently at the foot of the hills where the little Belling Burn, or Hareshaw Burn, joins the main stream. In Hareshaw woods is the beautiful Hareshaw Linn, where the stream falls down through a break in the sandstone cliffs, and forms a picturesque waterfall, fringed with ferns and trees and cool mosses. It well repays one for the walk of a mile or so through tangled underwoods by the side of the burn. Bellingham gives its mime to the family of de Bellingham, whose chief seat, however, is now in Ireland and no longer in the little north-country town.

The massive church here, with its roof of stone, bears eloquent testimony to the need for fireproof buildings in a village so near to Scotland in the days of Border warfare. Outside the churchyard wall is the well of St. Cuthbert, or “Cuddy’s Well,” which was greatly venerated in early days, and many stories are told of the miraculous power of its waters. Inside the churchyard a grave is pointed out as the burial place of the robber whose tragic end was told by James Hogg in his gruesome story of “The Long Pack.”

The village itself is plain and bare, as might be expected from a settlement which would probably find that unattractiveness in either wealth or appearance was a tolerable safeguard.

Below Bellingham the North Tyne is joined by its longest and most noted tributary, the Rede Water, which also rises in the Cheviots. Rising in the hills north of Carter Fell, it flows south-east, through a wild region, passing, while still high up amongst the hills, the little village of Byrness, and the new reservoir at Catcleugh, where a supply of pure water is stored for the use of the dwellers in distant Newcastle. On its way to the Tyne, it passes many an old pele-tower, and the Roman stations of Bremenium (Rochester) and Habitancum, near Woodburn. The ancient Roman road of Watling Street crosses the Rede at Woodburn, leading from Habitancum to Bremenium.

Many mountain streams, clear and sparkling, or peaty and brown, join the Rede Water on its way, amongst others the little Otter Burn, by whose banks took place that stirring episode in the constant quarrels between the Douglases and Percies known as “Chevy Chase,” from which the fierce battle-cries ring down the five centuries that have passed since that time, with sounds that echo still.

The pretty village of Redesmouth (or Reedsmouth) stands where the Rede Water enters the North Tyne, and a few miles further on the rapid little Houxty Burn pours its peaty waters into the main stream.

On the right bank of the Tyne stands Wark, conveniently placed at one of the most important fords of the Tyne in former days. Like other towns and villages so placed on different streams throughout the country, the advantages of its situation have evidently been appreciated by the successive inhabitants of the land, for there are traces of its occupation by Celt, Roman, and Saxon; and, later, the town was the most considerable in Upper Tynedale. During the time that this part of England was ceded to the Scottish Kings, David and Alexander, it was at Wark that the Scottish law courts for Tynedale held their sittings. The mound called the Mote Hill, near the river, marks the spot where, in all probability, the ancient Celtic inhabitants met together to administer the rude justice of prehistoric times, and to make the laws of their little settlement, which grew to much greater proportions in later years. In fact, it is supposed that the Kirkfield marks the site of a church which stood in the midst of the once extensive town.

A little way up the Wark Burn, above the bridge, there may be seen some upright stems of Sigillaria in the exposed face of the cliffs. On the opposite side of the river from Wark is Chipchase Castle, one of the finest mansions in Northumberland, standing in the midst of the beautifully wooded and picturesque scenery which, from this point onwards is characteristic of the North Tyne. Of the former village of Chipchase scarcely a trace remains, though its name, if nothing else, shows that here has been a village or small town, important enough to have its well-known, market; for “Chip,” like the various “Chippings” throughout England is derived from the Anglo-Saxon ciepan—to buy and sell, to traffic. In the reign of Henry II., Chipchase was the property of the Umfravilles of Prudhoe; but later it passed into the hands of the well-known Northumbrian family of Heron.

Not far from Chipchase Castle are the famous Gunnerton Crags, formed by an out-crop of the Great Whin Sill. These lofty cliffs have been the site of a considerable settlement of the ancient British tribes who dwelt in the district in such numbers, as is evident from the scores of camps, which may be traced all over this part of Northumberland. The naturally strong position on the Gunnerton Crags, would be certain to commend itself to a people, the first requisite of whose dwelling places was strength and consequent safety.

At Barrasford the making of the railway cutting led to the opening up of a large barrow, or burial place, of the ancient Britons; and a single “menhir,” supposed to be the solitary survivor of a large group of these huge stones, stood near the village school some years ago.

Passing Chollerton and Humshaugh, embowered amongst spreading trees, we arrive at Chollerford, the prettiest village of North Tyne, lying near the river where it was crossed by the Roman Wall. From the bridge which spans the Tyne at Chollerford one of the finest views of the river, both up and down the stream, is to be seen; and to watch the swift brown stream, after a flood or a freshet, foaming through the arches is an exhilarating sight. The bridge itself is a modern one, for we know that all the bridges on the Tyne, except that of Corbridge, were swept away by the great flood of 1771.

In 1394, that prince of bridge-builders, Bishop Walter de Skirlaw of Durham, granted thirteen days’ indulgence to all who should assist in rebuilding the bridge at Chollerford; so that already there was one here which had evidently fallen into disrepair. Yet, in the ballad of “Jock o’ the Side,” the rescuers, with Jock in their midst, reach Chollerford, and, after some anxious questioning of an old man as to whether the “water will ride,” are compelled to swim the Tyne in flood, which their pursuers, coming up, will not attempt to do. Now Bishop Skirlaw’s bridges did not usually disappear; those of Yarm, Shincliffe, and Auckland have stood until to-day, with occasional repairs. Are we then reluctantly to question the truth of “Jock o’ the Side”? Surely, if the choice remain of the accuracy of the ballad or the fact of the bridge, it is the duty of all leal North-country people to swear by the ballad. Perhaps the good Bishop did not personally oversee the rebuilding of Chollerford Bridge: more probably the Wear and Tees do not come down with the angry impetuosity of the Tyne in flood!

The remains of the great Roman camp of Cilurnum (The Chesters) may be seen here within Mrs. Clayton’s park. This was the largest military station in Northumberland, Corstopitum, which is very much larger, being more of a civil settlement. At some little distance below the present bridge some of the piers of the old Roman bridge are still to be seen when the river is low.

Eastward from Chollerford is the little church of St. Oswald, standing where the battle of Heavenfield took place. When Penda of Mercia, and the British Prince Cadwallon, were warring against Northumbria, the greatest Northumbrian King, Edwin, was defeated and slain by them; and on their return to the attack, Ethelfrith’s eldest son, called back from exile to take the vacant throne, and rule in his father’s seat of Bamburgh, also fell before their fierce onslaught. His brother Oswald now took command of the Bernicians and prepared to lead them against the foe. Oswald posted his men in a strong position on the north side of the great Wall; and, setting up a huge cross of wood, called upon all his followers to bow before the God of whom he had learnt during his exile in Iona, and to pray to Him for victory. His army obeyed, and, in the battle which followed, Oswald’s forces were completely victorious. The Mercians, and their allies, the western Britons, were routed, and driven out of Bernicia, and Cadwallon was pursued as far as the Denise Burn, and there slain. The Denise Burn is supposed to have been the Rowley Burn, which flows into the Devil’s Water, on whose banks stands Dilsten Castle. Some time later, on the spot where Oswald’s Cross had stood, a church was erected and dedicated to the royal Saint. It was served from Hexham Abbey.

After passing Wall, which, however, is not quite so near the Roman Wall as Chollerford is, we come to the pretty village of Warden, nestling beneath the woods of Warden Hill; and here, just above Hexham, the North Tyne unites with its sister river in the rich meadow lands which lie near the old town.

The South Tyne has journeyed from Cross Fell, where it takes its rise, northward through a corner of Cumberland, past Garrygill and Alston, until it enters Northumberland where the Ayle Burn on the one hand, and the Gilderdale Burn on the other, flow into it. Here is Whitley Castle, where was a small Roman station called Alio, and Kirkhaugh Church, charmingly placed on the bank of the river, which continues its course northward past Slaggyford, Knaresdale, Eals, and Lambley, till it flows past the fine Castle of Featherstone, and the ruins of Bellister, where it turns eastward to Haltwhistle.

The little streams which enter the South Tyne up to this point flow through wild and romantic glens, two of them owning the Celtic names of Glen Cune and Glen Dhu.

The family of Featherstonehaugh is one of the oldest in the North; and it was concerning the death of one of this family—Sir Albany Featherstonehaugh, who was High Sheriff of Northumberland in the days of Henry VIII.—that Mr. Surtees, the antiquary, wrote the well-known ballad, which, when Surtees gave it him, deceived even Sir Walter Scott into thinking it genuinely ancient. The first verse of the ballad shows with what a verve and swing the lines go.

  “Hoot awa’, lads, hoot awa’
  Ha’ ye heard how the Ridleys, an’ Thirlwalls, an’ a’
  Ha’ set upon Albany Featherstonehaugh;
  And taken his life at the Deadmanshaw?
  There was Willimoteswick,
  And Hard-riding Dick,
  An’ Hughie o’ Hawdon, an’ Will o’ the Wa’
  I canno’ tell a’, I canno’ tell a’
  And mony a mair that the de’il may knaw.”

The ruins of Bellister Castle stand against a sombre background of woods, only a little way from Haltwhistle. The Castle once belonged to the Blenkinsopp family, who also owned Blenkinsopp Castle, about two miles away. The name was formerly spelt Blencan’s-hope—the hope being valley or hollow—and the Castle, like many other places, has its legendary “White Lady.”

Haltwhistle is a little straggling town lying on both sides of the main road above the South Tyne, where it is joined by the Haltwhistle Burn. By going up the valley of this pretty little stream we shall arrive near the Roman station of AEsica, on the Wall. The town of Haltwhistle is peaceful enough now, but it had a stirring existence in the days when Ridleys, Armstrongs, and Charltons, to say nothing of the men of Liddesdale and Teviotdale, had so strong a partiality for a neighbour’s live-stock and so ready a hand with arrow and spear. In the old ballad of “The Fray of Hautwessel,” we are told that

  “The limmer thieves o’ Liddesdale
  Wadna leave a kye in the haill countrie,
  But an[3] we gi’e them the cauld steel,
  Our gear they’ll reive it a’ awaye,
  Sae pert they stealis, I you saye.
  O’ late they came to Hautwessel,
  And thowt they there wad drive a fray.
  But Alec Ridley shot too well.”

[3] But an = unless.

The most notable feature of present-day Haltwhistle is the finely placed parish church, of which the chancel is the oldest part, having been built in the twelfth century, so that it was already an old church when Edward I. rested here for a night in 1306, on his way to Scotland for the last time. When William the Lion of Scotland returned from his captivity, after being taken prisoner at Alnwick in 1174, he founded the monastery of Arbroath in thanksgiving for his freedom, and bestowed on the monks the church of Haltwhistle.

All that remains of the old Castle, or “Haut-wysill Tower,” is the building standing near the Castle Hill, which latter has been fortified by earthworks. The Red Lion Hotel is a modernised pele-tower. The general aspect of the place is singularly bare and bleak; but from several points in the town, notably from the churchyard terrace, fine views of the river valley may be obtained.

Henshaw (Hethinga’s-haugh) is a little village which King David of Scotland, when he was Lord of Tynedale, gave to Richard Cumin and his wife, who afterwards bestowed it on the Cathedral of Durham. It lies by the side of the main road to Bardon Mill, which is the most convenient station for travellers to alight at who wish to visit the Roman Wall and the Roman city of Borcovicus, and the Northumberland lakes. Some little distance up the hill from Bardon Mill station is a very pretty little village whose name speaks eloquently of other invaders than the Romans—the village of Thorngrafton (the “ton” or settlement on Thor’s “graf” or dyke). Near at hand there are quarries from which the Romans obtained much building material for the Wall; and in one of these old quarries some workmen discovered a bronze vessel full of Roman coins, a few of gold, but most of silver. This was known as the “Thorngrafton Find,” and the interesting story of it is told by Dr. Bruce.

On the opposite side of the South Tyne from Henshaw, Willimoteswick Castle stands on the level plains which are as characteristic of the south bank of the river as are the steep slopes of the north bank. One of the towers of this old Castle yet remains, and forms part of the more modern farm-house which stands there. Willimoteswick was long in the possession of the Ridleys, and it is generally accepted as having been the birthplace of Bishop Ridley, though Unthank Hall, nearer to Haltwhistle, and also a home of that family, disputes the honour. The Bishop, who suffered death at the stake in the troublous times of Queen Mary, in touching letters bids farewell to his Cousin at Willimoteswick and his sister and her children at Unthank.

On the same side of the Tyne is Beltingham Church, with some wonderful old trees in the churchyard, and Ridley Hall, which takes its name from that family, although not now occupied by them. Here the Allen flows into the South Tyne, and nowhere in the whole of the county is there a more beautiful and romantic scene. By the side of the stream the Ridley woods stretch for a mile or two, and the delightful mingling of graceful ferns, overhanging trees, tall, rugged cliffs, flowering plants, and sparkling waters forms a succession of lovely scenes throughout their length, which, with the play of lights and shadows on the dimpled surface of the stream, and frequent glimpses of grassy glades and cool green alleys, make a walk through these enchanting woods an unforgettable delight.

The Allen Burn, which gives its name to the beautiful district of Allendale, is, like the Tyne, formed by the junction of two streams, the East and West Allen, which rise near each other in hills on the border of Northumberland and Durham, down the opposite slopes of which run the little streams which feed the Wear. After flowing apart for some miles, the East and West Allen unite not far from Staward railway station. Both rivers flow, for the first part of their course, through a wild and hilly region, rich, however, in minerals. On the East Allen are the towns of Allenheads, formerly a busy centre of the lead-mining industry, and Allendale Town, which lies about 1,400 feet above the sea-level.

As the lead-mining industry has decreased, Allendale has turned its attention to other methods of living, and now caters for the army of visitors who, each summer, climb its hills and wander through its woods and lanes, and by its riverside, as did the Allendale maid whose memory is perpetuated in the simple lines of the little poem, “Lucy Gray of Allendale.”

  “Say, have you seen the blushing rose,
  The blooming pink, or lily pale?
  Fairer than any flower that blows
  Was Lucy Gray of Allendale.

  Pensive at eve, down by the burn,
  Where oft the maid they used to hail,
  The shepherds now are heard to mourn
  For Lucy Gray of Allendale.”

Not far from the village of Catton, the name of “Rebel Hils” reminds us that it was a vicar of Allendale, Mr. Patten, who joined young Derwentwater in the rising of “The Fifteen,” and was appointed chaplain of the little army. He met some half-dozen men of the neighbourhood at this hill, when they set off together to join the rest of the forces at Wooler.

On the West Allen is the lonely little hamlet of Ninebanks, with Ninebanks Tower, concerning which little is known with certainty; and on this stream also are two of the most strikingly beautiful places in Northumberland—the delightfully picturesque village of Whitfield, and the well-known Staward-le-Peel.

The ruins of the “Pele” tower stand on a high grassy platform, safeguarded on three sides by tall cliffs and tumbled boulders; the remains of a ditch may also be traced. From this point a splendid view of the river valley, with its steep precipices, overhanging pinewoods intermingled with trees of less sombre hue, and the bright course of the river, may be obtained. At a point a little higher up the valley, where the waters of the stream are held back by some huge rocks, they form a deep pool, and then flow onwards through a narrow gorge called Cyper’s Linn. Following the stream now until it has merged its waters in those of the South Tyne, we turn eastward with the main stream and come to Haydon Bridge.

This considerable village, gradually growing to the proportions of a small town, lies on both sides of the river, which is here crossed by the substantial bridge from which the village takes its name; for the original village of Haydon stood at some distance up the hill on the north side of the stream. On the hillside may still be seen the ruins of the old church, in which services are occasionally held in the summer time. The chancel, apparently dating from the twelfth century, and a later little chapel to the south of it, are all that are left of the building. Some very quaint inscriptions are to be seen in the churchyard, and there are many sculptured grave-covers within the church. Many of the stones used in the building have evidently been brought from the great Wall, or probably from the Roman station of Borcovicus, some six or seven miles to the north; and what a rush of bewildering fancies crowds upon one’s mind on first discovering that the font was originally a Roman altar!

The old church must have looked down on many a wild and curious scene in the days when Scot and Englishman sought only opportunities to do each other an injury, and the river-valleys were the natural passes through which the tide of invasion, raid, and reprisal flowed.

In the beginning of the reign of Edward III., about 24,000 Scots, under Douglas and Murray, crossed the Tyne near Haydon Bridge, and rode on to plunder the richer lands that lay to the south and west. They reached Stanhope and encamped there for a time. The young king set out northwards with a great army to punish these marauders, and he was told by his scouts that they had hastily left Stanhope on his approach. He and his army pushed on quickly until they reached Bardon Mill; and, crossing the Tyne, marched down to Haydon Bridge, expecting the Scots to return by the way they went. It was miserable weather, and the feeding of so many thousands of men was no little problem. They scoured all the country round for provisions, getting the most from the Hexham Abbey lands. Meanwhile it rained and rained, and no Scots appeared. After a week of waiting, Edward, in great disappointment, went to Haltwhistle, while his followers reconnoitered in all directions. Finally, he had the mortification of learning that the Scots were still at Stanhope, but before anything more could be done, they betook themselves back to Scotland by a different route, and there was nothing left for Edward but to give up the expedition in despair.

The bridge at Haydon appears to have been the only one for some distance up and down the river in the sixteenth century, for we read of its being barred and chained, on various occasions of marauding troubles in Tynedale, to prevent the free-booters re-crossing the river.

In the days of Charles I. Colonel Lilburn marched to Haydon Bridge in command of some troops of the Roundheads, on his way to join their comrades at Hexham as a counter-move to the operations of the Royalist troops in the North. Little more than thirty years after this, when the days of Cromwell’s power had come and gone, and Charles II. ruled at Whitehall, the old Grammar School was founded at Haydon Bridge in 1685 by a clergyman, the Rev. John Shafto. Various changes have taken place in the school from time to time, necessitated by the gradual changes and educational needs of the passing years; and now, like the Grammar School of Queen Elizabeth at Hexham, it has been entirely re-constituted to meet modern requirements. John Martin, the famous painter of “The Plains of Heaven,” received the beginnings of his education at this school. He was born at East Land Ends farm in 1789. In after years the authorities of Haydon Bridge Reading Room, wishing no doubt to afford a perfect example to future generations of the truth of the proverb concerning a prophet and his own country, refused some of Martin’s pictures, which the gifted painter himself offered to them—an act which their successors have doubtless regretted.

At a little distance along the Langley Road, which leads past the school, a memorial cross is standing. It was erected in 1883 by the late Mr. C.J. Bates, the historian of Northumberland, to the memory of the last of the Derwentwater family, whose castle of Langley he purchased. The inscription on the cross reads:—“To the memory of James and Charles, Viscounts Langley, Earls of Derwentwater, beheaded on Tower Hill, London, 24th February, 1716, and 8th December, 1746, for loyalty to their lawful sovereign.”

A striking testimony, this, to the fact that freedom in England is a reality, and not merely a name. In what other land would an inscription such as this have been allowed to remain for more than twenty-four hours?

A couple of miles or more down the South Tyne is Fourstones, so called because of four stones, said to have been Roman altars, having been used to mark its boundaries. A romantic use was made of one of these stones in the early days of “The Fifteen.” Every evening, as dusk fell, a little figure, clad in green, stole up to the ancient altar, which had been slightly hollowed out, and, taking out a packet, laid another in its place. The mysterious packets, placed there so secretly, were letters from the Jacobites of the neighbourhood to each other; and the little figure in green was a boy who acted as messenger for them. No wonder that the people of the district gave this altar the name of the “Fairy Stone.”

Between Haydon Bridge and Fourstones are both freestone and limestone quarries, which latter have supplied many fossils to visitors of geological tastes. Halfway between Fourstones and Hexham, the two streams of North and South Tyne unite, and flow together down to the old town of Hexham, with its quaintly irregular buildings clustering in picturesque confusion round its ancient Abbey, which dominates the landscape from whatever point we approach.

Warden Village, already mentioned, lies in the angle formed by the meeting of the two streams, and has an ancient church which, however, has been largely rebuilt. From High Warden, near at hand, a delightful view may be obtained for a long distance up the valleys of North and South Tyne. On the summit of this hill there are the remains of a considerable British camp, showing that they had seized upon this point of vantage, and though the ancient British name has not come down to us, it is evident from the Saxon name of Warden (weardian) that Saxons as well as Britons were fully alive to the merits of the situation, “guarding” the valley at such a commanding point.


The town of Hexham, standing on hilly ground overlooking the Tyne, immediately below the point at which the North and South Tyne unite, and spreading from thence down to the levels all round, is one of the most ancient in the kingdom. To write of Hexham with any measure of fulness would require much more space than can be given to it within the limits of a small book; only a mere summary can be offered here. Britons, Romans, and Saxons, in turn, have dwelt on and around the hill which, in Saxon days, was to be crowned with Wilfrid’s beautiful Abbey, which, we read, surpassed all others in England at that time for beauty and excellence of design and workmanship; nor was there another to equal it anywhere on this side of the Alps.

The name of Hexham is generally understood to be derived from the names of two little streams, the Hextol and the Halgut, now the Cowgarth and the Cockshaw Burns, which here flow into the Tyne; or, as Mr. Bates suggests, it may have been the “ham” of “some forgotten Hagustald,” which the name perpetuates. In any case its name was Hagustaldesham when King Ecgfrith (or Egfrid) of Northumbria gave it to his queen, Etheldreda, who wished to take the veil. Queen Etheldreda, however, preferred to go to East Anglia, which was her home; she retired to a convent at Ely, and bestowed the land at Hagustaldesham on Wilfrid, a monk of Lindisfarne, clever, ambitious and hardworking, who had become Bishop of York, which meant Bishop of all Northumbria.

Wilfrid had been to Rome, and seen the churches of that city and of the lands through which he travelled; and, on his appointment to power, he set himself to make the churches of his diocese worthy to compare with those of older civilizations. He did much to the cathedral of York, and built that of Ripon; but the Abbey of Hexham was his masterpiece. He built a monastery and church, dedicating the latter to St. Andrew, for it was in the church of St. Andrew at Rome that, kneeling, he felt himself fired with enthusiasm for his work, in the same church from which Augustine had set out on his journey to Britain some fifty years before. The year 674 is generally accepted as the date on which this noble Abbey was founded.

Wilfrid lived in great splendour at York, and ruled his immense diocese with a firm hand; in fact, he was the first of that line of great ecclesiastics who have moved with such proud, and oft-times turbulent, progress through the pages of English history. King Ecgfrith’s second wife, Ermenburga, was jealous of the great power and magnificence of the Northumbrian prelate, and through her influence, Archbishop Theodore was induced to divide the huge diocese of Northumbria into four portions—York, Hexham, Ripon and Withern in Galloway. Wilfrid, naturally indignant, found all his protests disregarded, and immediately set out for Rome, to obtain a decree of restitution from the Pope. It was given to him, but little cared the Northumbrians for that. Wilfrid was imprisoned for nine months, and then banished from Northumbria.

He went southwards and dwelt in Sussex, where his genius for hard work found scope in a mission to the Saxons of the south lands, and where he built and founded more churches and monasteries. Readers of “Rewards and Fairies” will have made acquaintance with Wilfrid in his Sussex wanderings and hardships. On his recall to the North by King Aldfrith, he returned to Hexham. On the death of Aldfrith, the new King, Edwulf, banished Wilfrid once more, ordering him to leave the kingdom within six days; but the friends of Aldfrith’s young son, whom Edwulf had dispossessed, obtained the ascendancy, and Wilfrid was re-instated in his Abbeys of Hexham and Ripon.

While on his way back from Rome, on his last visit, Wilfrid had a severe illness, but was granted a vision in which he was told that he had four years more to live, and that he must build a church to the honour of the Blessed Virgin. The little church of St. Mary, which stood close to the walls of the great Abbey of Hexham, was erected in fulfilment of this command.

In the Abbey church itself, all that was known for centuries of the original work of Wilfrid was the famous crypt, which is almost unique, that of Ripon, also the work of Wilfrid, being the only one like it; but recent excavations have brought much more of the ancient cathedral to light, and laid bare, not only its original plan, but some of the walls, and part of the very pavement trodden by the feet of Wilfrid and his fellows so many centuries ago. The tomb of Wilfrid, however, is not at Hexham, but at his other foundation of Ripon.

The ancient Abbey suffered much at the hands of the Danes, and in later years from the ravages of the Scots, having been burnt several times, notably in 1296, when 40,000 Scots ravaged the North of England, plundering, burning, and laying waste wherever they went, exactly as the Danes had done four hundred years before. Some of the stones of the old Abbey yet bear traces of the fires by which the ancient building was so often nearly destroyed, and in these frequent conflagrations all records, charters, etc., of the Abbey, from which might have been compiled a complete history, not only of the Abbey but of much of the provincial and national history of the times, were lost.

The Abbey was restored and rebuilt again and again, but for varying reasons was without a nave for some hundreds of years. Within the last ten years, however, a complete restoration has been carried out, under the loving, and, what is more to the point, the capable superintendence of Canon Savage and his colleagues, in the spirit and manner, as nearly as possible, of the beautiful portions already standing; and several disfiguring so-called “restorations” of nineteenth century work, which could only detract from the beauty and dignity of the noble building, have been removed entirely. This work was completed in 1908, and all who have the honour of our famous county at heart must rejoice that its noblest church is at last more worthy of its own high rank and glorious past.

Among the many deeply interesting objects to be seen in the Abbey is the stone Sanctuary seat—the Frid Stool, or seat of peace—at which fugitives, fleeing from their enemies, might find refuge. It is believed that this was the “Cathedra” of St. Wilfrid himself. The arms and back of the chair are ornamented with a twisted knot-work pattern. The right of Sanctuary extended for a mile round the Abbey, the boundaries being marked by crosses, one at each point of the compass at that distance.

Hexham Abbey from North West

Hexham Abbey from North West

Other treasures of the Abbey are the beautiful Old Rood Screen, dating from the end of the fifteenth or beginning of the sixteenth century; some wonderful old paintings, especially the portraits of the early Bishops of Hexham, Alcmund, Wilfrid, Acca, Eata, Frithbert, Cuthbert, and John, which date from the fifteenth century; the mediaeval carved and painted pulpit, and the tomb of good King Alfwald of Northumbria. Many of the stones used by Wilfrid’s builders were of Roman workmanship, and seem to have come from the Roman city of Corstopitum, at Corbridge. An inscription on one of these old stones in the crypt takes us back some centuries before even Wilfrid’s time, for it commemorates the Emperor Severus and his two sons, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Caracalla) and Publius Septimius Geta, and has the name of the latter erased, as was done on all similar inscriptions throughout the Empire, by order of the inhuman Caracalla, after his murder of his brother.

A very interesting feature of the building is the stone stairway in the South transept, by which the monks ascended to their dormitories above.

Quite near to the Abbey, at the other side of the Market Place, the ancient Moot Hall claims attention. The modern visitor to the old town walks beneath the gloomy archway, with its time-worn stones, which forms the basement over which the Moot Hall stands. Another building, grim and dark, near at hand, is the Old Manor House, in which the business connected with the ancient Manor of Hexham was transacted.

An old foundation in the town was the Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, which, after having fallen into desuetude for many years, has been revived in a form appropriate to modern needs, and housed in a worthy building, formally opened by Sir Francis Blake on November 2nd, 1910. The site on which the new Grammar School of Queen Elizabeth stands is one of the finest in the county, commanding, as it does, an uninterrupted view of the river valley for some distance, and of the rising ground beyond.

At the beginning of last century, Hexham was famed for its glove-making: but that industry has forsaken the town for many years. Now, Hexham is surrounded by acres of market-gardens, from which the produce of Tynedale is carried far and wide.

The spacious stretch of level meadow-land below Hexham, rising gradually up to the swelling ridges beyond, is said to have been the scene which John Martin had in mind when he painted the “Plains of Heaven”; though the level reaches above Newburn, unencumbered with buildings in John Martin’s time, and then a scene of quiet pastoral beauty, also claim that honour.

Flowing now between well ordered gardens, green meadows, and ferny banks, brawling musically over shingly shallows, or crooning gently between fringing woods, the Tyne rolls onward to Corbridge, receiving on its way the Devil’s Water, a sparkling stream which flows through scenes of enchanting beauty, whether between rugged cliffs and heather clad hills as in its upper course, through the graceful overhanging trees and cool green recesses of Dipton woods or between rich meadows and green pasture-land where it loses itself in the bosom of the Tyne.

There is no more delightful experience than to wander through the woods of Deepdene (Dipton) on a summer’s day, when it requires no stretch of the imagination to believe oneself in an enchanted forest, or, on hearing a crackle of twigs, or faint sounds of the outside world filtering through the green solitudes, to turn round expecting to see a maiden on a “milk-white steed,” or one of the Knights of the Round Table come riding by, in bravery of glistening armour and gay surtout, and to find oneself murmuring, “Now, Sir Gawain rode apace, and came unto a right fair wood, and findeth the stream of a spring that ran with a great rushing, and nigh thereunto was a way that was much haunted. He abandoneth his high-way, and goeth all along the stream from the spring that lasteth a long league plenary, until that he espieth a right fair house and right fair chapel enclosed within a hedge of wood.”

On the green meadows of Hexham Levels and near Dilston Castle—two spots of more than ordinary historical interest—the Lancastrian cause received, in 1464, a blow from which it never rallied, though the courageous Queen fought gallantly till the final disasters at Barnet and Tewkesbury. The general of her forces, the Duke of Somerset, was beheaded in Hexham market-place, and, together with several others of rank and station, buried at Hexham. The well-known incident of Queen Margaret’s escape into Dipton, or Deepdene woods, where she and young Prince Edward met with robbers, and afterwards escaped by the aid of another member of that fraternity, took place a year before this, after the first battle of Hexham in 1463. The year had been one of constant warfare between York and Lancaster in the north, the Castles of Alnwick and Bamburgh having fallen into the hands of Queen Margaret’s friends once more, after having been raptured by Edward of York the year before; the Scots with Margaret and King Henry VI., had besieged Norham, but were put to flight by the Earl of Warwick and hid brother, Lord Montague; the royal fugitives sought safety at Bamburgh, whence the Queen, with Prince Edward, sailed for Flanders, leaving King Henry in the Castle where he was in no immediate danger; Warwick, with his forces, retired southward again, and the gentle King remained in his rocky stronghold, and enjoyed there nine months of unwonted peace. Shortly after this, the Duke of Somerset deserted the cause of York for that of Lancaster, and became the leader of the Queen’s forces. In April, 1464, he and Sir Ralph Percy opposed, at Hedgeley Moor, the troops of Lord Montague journeying northward to escort the Scottish delegates who were coming to York to make terms with Edward of York. Sir Ralph Percy was slain, exclaiming as he fell “I have saved the bird in my bosom”—that enigmatic sentence which has given rise to so much conjecture, but which is generally held to mean that he had saved his honour, by dying at last, after so many changes of front, in the service of that King and Queen to whom he originally owed allegiance. “Percy’s Cross,” marking the site of his death, may be seen by the side of the railway near Hedgeley Station, on the Alnwick and Wooler line.

The rest of the force dispersed, and made their way to Hexham; and Lord Montague marching upon them from Newcastle, a sharp engagement took place on the Levels, near the Linnels Bridge, with the result, as we have seen, of the defeat and death of Somerset, and the overthrow of Queen Margaret’s hopes in the north, where she had had a strong following.

The historical interest centred on Dilston Castle brings us to much later times, and enshrines a story which possesses a pathetic interest beyond that of any other place in Northumberland. Originally the home of the family of D’Eivill, later Dyvelstone (which explains the name “Devil’s Water”) Dilston Castle came into the possession of the Radcliffes by marriage, and in the days of the Commonwealth the Radcliffe of the day forfeited his estates on account of his loyalty to the house of Stuart. Charles II. restored them, and the close attachment between the houses of Stuart and Radcliffe continued until the fortunes of both were quenched in disaster and gloom. The figure of the young and gallant James Radcliffe, last Earl of Derwentwater, holds the imagination no less than the heart as it moves across the page of history for a brief space to its tragic end. Though born in London, in June 1689, young Radcliffe passed his childhood and youth in France in the closest companionship with James Stuart, son of the exiled James II. At the age of twenty-one he returned to his home in Northumbria, and took up his residence there, his charming manners, kind heart, and openhanded hospitality speedily endearing him to all classes. His servants and tenants, in particular, were passionately devoted to him. In the words of the old ballad of “Derwentwater”—

  “O, Derwentwater’s a bonnie lord,
  And golden is his hair,
  And glintin’ is his hawkin’ e’e
  Wi’ kind love dwelling there.”

On his marriage in 1712, the young bride and bridegroom remained for two years at the home of the bride’s father, and preparations were made for restoring the glories of Dilston on an extensive scale. On Derwentwater’s return to his beautiful Northumbrian seat in 1714, the death of Queen Anne had excited the hopes of all the friends of the house of Stuart, and plots and secret meetings were being planned throughout Scotland and the north of England, the objective being the restoration of the exiled Stuarts to the throne. Derwentwater took little part in these attempts to organise rebellion for some time, but at length was drawn into the dangerous game, as he was too valuable an asset to be passed over by the Jacobite party.

At last rumours of the projected rising reached London, and a warrant was issued for the arrest of Derwentwater, even before it was known whether he had actually joined the plotters, his well-known friendship with the exiled Prince making it almost certain that he would be an important figure in any movement on their behalf. For the next few weeks the young Earl found himself obliged to remain in hiding, finding safety in the cottages of his tenants, and in the houses of friends and neighbours. Finally, though his good sense warned him that he was embarking on an almost hopeless enterprise, he decided to throw in his lot with the Jacobites.

Tradition has it that his decision was brought about by the taunts of his Countess, who, like the rest of the Jacobite ladies, was more enthusiastic than the men. Throwing down her fan, she scornfully offered that to her husband as a weapon, and demanded his sword in exchange. The immediate result was seen on that October morning when Derwentwater and his little band of followers rode over the bridge at Corbridge with drawn swords, on their way to Beaufront, which was their first rendezvous; and from there proceeded to Greenrigg, near the great Wall, which had been appointed as a general meeting-place.

There they were joined by Mr. Forster, of Bamburgh, with his contingent, and a few from the surrounding district. Rothbury next saw the little army, which was joined on Felton Bridge by seventy Scots; and thereafter Warkworth, Alnwick, and Morpeth heard James Stuart proclaimed King under the title of James III.

Newcastle was to have been their next objective, but, hearing that the city had closed its gates, and intended to hold out for King George, the Jacobite force, after some indecision, returned northward to Rothbury, where they were joined by a large company of Scottish Jacobites under Lord Kenmure. Northward again they marched to Kelso, where more than a thousand Scots joined forces with them.

The little army numbered now almost 2,000, and a council was held to determine what their next step should be. On its being resolved to enter England, some hundreds of the Highlanders returned home, leaving an army of about 1,500 to march southwards to Lancashire. On their way they put to flight at Penrith a motley force which was raised to oppose them; and, elated with a first success, moved forward to Preston, grievously disappointed on the way at the failure of the people of Lancashire to rise with them, for they had been given to understand that thousands in that county were only awaiting an opportunity to declare for “King James.”

At Preston they barricaded the principal streets, and repulsed General Willis; but the arrival of General Carpenter from Newcastle changed the face of affairs. Young Derwentwater had fought valiantly and worked arduously at the barricades, but Forster—whose appointment as General had been made in the hope of attracting other Protestant gentry to the Jacobite cause—offered to submit to General Carpenter under certain conditions. Carpenter’s reply was a demand for unconditional surrender, and the hopeless little tragi-comedy was played out. The last scene took place on Tower Hill three months later, when the gallant young Earl, then only twenty-six years old, laid down the life which, after all, had been spent in the service of others, with no selfish purpose in view, and which was offered him, together with wealth and freedom, if he would forsake his faith and throw aside his allegiance to the house of Stuart. Refusing to purchase life at such a price, he was condemned, and executed on Tower Hill on February 24th, 1716.

His brother Charles, who had been by his side throughout the rising, had the good fortune to escape from Newgate Prison, and passed most of his life abroad. Thirty years later, on his return to take up arms on behalf of James’ son Charles—“bonnie Prince Charlie”—when he also drew the sword in an attempt to regain the throne of his fathers, Radcliffe was captured and beheaded. (For account of a monument to the memory of these two brothers see in previous chapter paragraph relating to Haydon Bridge.)

The story of General Forster’s escape from Newgate is told by Sir Walter Besant, as all readers of his novel, “Dorothy Forster” know, though the author has taken those minor liberties with unimportant facts which are by common consent allowable in fiction.

James Radcliffe’s friends were allowed to have his body, though they were forbidden to carry it home for burial; for such were the love and esteem borne for the young Earl in the hearts of all his North-country friends and dependents, that the authorities feared a disturbance of the peace should his body be brought amongst them while their rage and grief were still at their height. Notwithstanding the prohibition, however, the body was brought secretly to Dilston, and buried in the vault of the chapel, which, with the ruined tower, are all that remain of the home of the Radcliffes. Standing amidst luxuriant foliage, and overlooking a romantic dell, the ruins of tower and chapel remain as they fell into decay on the death of their luckless owners. The confiscated estates were bestowed on Greenwich Hospital, whose agents administer them still, with the exception of certain portions purchased from time to time by various landowners. No other family took the place of the Radcliffes in the deserted halls; but tradition holds that the unfortunate Earl and his sorrowful lady still revisit their ancient home. The Earl’s body is now at Thorndon, in Essex. Below is Surtees’ beautiful ballad, “Lord Derwentwater’s Farewell.”


  “Farewell to pleasant Dilston Hall,
  My father’s ancient seat;
  A stranger now must call thee his,
  Which gars my heart to greet.
  Farewell each kindly well-known face
  My heart has held so dear;
  My tenants now must leave their lord
  Or hold their lives in fear.

  No more along the banks of Tyne
  I’ll rove in autumn grey;
  No more I’ll hear, at early dawn,
  The lav’rocks wake the day;
  Then fare thee well, brave Witherington,
  And Forster ever true;
  Dear Shaftsbury and Errington,
  Receive my last adieu.

  And fare thee well, George Collingwood,
  Since fate has put us down;
  If thou and I have lost our lives,
  Our king has lost his crown.
  Farewell, farewell, my lady dear,
  Ill, ill thou counsell’dst me;
  I never more may see the babe
  That smiles upon thy knee.

  And fare thee well, my bonny gray steed,
  That carried me aye so free;
  I wish I had been asleep in my bed
  The last time I mounted thee;
  The warning bell now bids me cease,
  My trouble’s nearly o’er;
  Yon sun that rises from the sea
  Shall rise on me no more.

  Albeit that here in London Town
  It is my fate to die;
  O carry me to Northumberland,
  In my father’s grave to lie.
  There chant my solemn requiem
  In Hexham’s holy towers;
  And let six maids of fair Tynedale
  Scatter my grave with flowers.

  And when the head that wears the crown
  Shall be laid low like mine;
  Some honest hearts may then lament
  For Radcliffe’s fallen line.
  Farewell to pleasant Dilston Hall,
  My father’s ancient seat;
  A stranger now must call thee his,
  Which gars my heart to greet.”

Near to Corbridge the waters of the Tyne lave the ancient piers of the old Roman bridge which led to Corstopitum, the most considerable of the Roman stations in this region. The recent careful excavations have laid bare the evidence of what must have been a most imposing city, and many treasures of pottery, coins and ancient jewellery and ornaments, together with large quantities of the bones of animals, some of them identical with the wild cattle of Chillingham, have been brought to light. The famous silver dish known as the Corbridge Lanx, which was found at the riverside by a little girl in 1734, had evidently been washed down from Corstopitum. It is now preserved at Alnwick Castle. The antiquity of Corbridge is thus superior to that of Hexham, as far as may be known; but on the other hand, while Hexham in Saxon times grew to power, Corbridge declined. Yet, in its time, it was more than the home of a famous Abbey; it was a royal city, albeit the date of its elevation to royal rank coincided with the decline of the kingdom of which it was the final capital. When the fierce and ruthless internal quarrels, which rent Northumbria after Edbert’s glorious reign, had weakened it so that it fell a prey to the gradual encroachments of its northern neighbours, the once royal city of Bamburgh was left in the hands of a noble Saxon family, and the court was removed to Corbridge, which remained the abode of the kings of Northumbria until Northumbria possessed royal rank no longer. The tale of the two hundred years during which Corbridge was the capital city is a tale of red slaughter and ruin, murder and bitter feud, not against outside foes, but between one family and another, noble against king, king against relatives of other noble houses, amongst which might possibly be found the thegn to succeed him, or to murder him in order to bring about his own more speedy elevation to a precarious throne.

So much was this the case, that Charles the Great, at whose court the learned Northumbrian, Alcuin, was secretary, said that the Northumbrians were worse than the invading heathen Danes, who, by this time, had begun their ravages in the land. Amongst the rulers of Northumbria in those days, the name of Alfwald the Just, who was called “the Friend of God,” shines out with enduring light across the stormy darkness of that terrible period; yet even his just and merciful rule and noble life could not save him from the hand of the assassin. He was buried with much mourning and great pomp in the Abbey at Hexham; and during the recent excavations the fact of a Saxon interment was verified as having taken place beneath the beautiful tomb which tradition has always held to be that of King Alfwald the Just. This fact also helped to demonstrate the extent of the original Abbey.

There was a monastery at Corbridge in the year 771, which is supposed to have been founded by St. Wilfrid. Of the four churches which were erected in later times, only one survives—the parish church of St. Andrew, which occupies the site of the early monastery. In this ancient church may be seen part of the original Saxon work, and many stones of Roman workmanship are built up in the structure.

Like most other old churches in the north, it suffered severely at the hands of the Scots, and, as at Hexham Abbey, traces of fire may be seen on some of the stones.

King David of Scotland, on his invasion of England in 1138, which was to end at the “Battle of the Standard,” at Northallerton, encamped at Corbridge for a time, and terrible cruelties were committed in the district by his followers. In the next century, King John turned the little town upside down in his efforts to find treasure which he was convinced must be concealed somewhere in the houses; but his search was fruitless. In the days of the three Edwards, during the long wars with Scotland, Corbridge suffered terribly, being fired again and again; on one occasion, in 1296, the destruction included the burning of the school with some two hundred hapless boys within its walls.[4]

[4] See Bates, p. 149.

Those heroes of our childhood’s days, William Wallace and Robert Bruce, were far from guiltless in these cruelties, though in justice to them personally, the wild and lawless character of the men who formed their undisciplined hosts must be remembered; and we know that Wallace tried to save the holy vessels in Hexham Abbey, but, as soon as his back was turned, they were swept away in the very presence of the officiating priest.

During these terrible years most of Northumberland was a desolate waste; and divine service had almost ceased to be performed between Newcastle and Carlisle, even Hexham being deserted for a time. After the battle of Bannockburn, matters were worse, if possible, and all the north lay in fear of the Scots, but from time to time spasmodic efforts at retaliation were made by the boldest of the Northumbrian landowners. In the reign of Edward III., however, many of these great landowners thwarted the King’s designs by making a traitorous peace with their turbulent neighbours.

David II. of Scotland encamped at Corbridge for a time during his second attempt to invade England but this expedition ended in his defeat and capture at Neville’s Cross. Thereafter the north had rest for some years, and Corbridge seems to have been left in peace. The Wars of the Roses passed it by; and the Civil Wars in Stuart days also, except for an unimportant skirmish; and the only part Corbridge saw of the Jacobite rising of “The Fifteen” was the little cavalcade from Dilston which clattered over the old bridge on its way to Beaufront. That bridge is the same which we cross to-day; the date of its erection, 1674, may be seen on one of its stones, and it was the only one on the Tyne which withstood the great flood of 1771, when even the old Tyne Bridge at Newcastle was swept away.

Quite close to the church there is an old pele-tower, which is in an excellent state of preservation, little of it having disappeared except the various floors. The vicars of Corbridge must have been often thankful for such a refuge at hand, where they could bid defiance to marauding bands, whether of Scottish or English nationality. In the Register of the parish church may be seen a most interesting entry, showing the Earl of Derwentwater’s signature as churchwarden.

At a little distance from Corbridge, to the northward, is the fortified manor-house of Aydon Castle, standing embowered in trees where the Cor burn runs through a little rocky ravine, down whose steep sides Sir Robert Clavering threw most of a marauding band of Scotsmen who had attacked the grange; the place known as “Jock’s Leap” obtained its name from one of the Scots who escaped the fate of his comrades by his leap for life across the ravine. The Castle, or hall, as it is variously called, has not suffered such destruction as might have been expected, seeing that it dates from the thirteenth century; but the thickness of its walls, and the arrow-slits and narrow windows are obvious proof of the necessity for defence which existed when it was first erected in the days of Edward I. Many features of great interest, notably the ancient fireplaces, remain in the interior of the building.

Returning down the Cor burn to the Tyne, our way lies eastward by the side of the river, which here, after splashing and sparkling over the shallows below Corbridge, narrows again to a deeper stream of swifter current, and flows between green meadows and leafy woods, fern-clad steeps and level haughs, all the way down to Ryton, where the picturesque aspect of the river ceases, and it becomes an industrial waterway. On this reach of the river are several places of considerable interest.

Riding Mill, a pretty village in a well-wooded hollow, enclosed by steep hills which rise ever higher and higher to the moors by Minsteracres and Blanchland, stands where Watling Street, or Dere Street, leading down the long slope of the country from Whittonstall, on reaching the Tyne turned westward to Corstopitum. Further down the stream is Stocksfield, where the aged King Edward I. halted on his last journey into Scotland, on that expedition which was to have executed a summary vengeance upon the Scots; he journeyed forward by slow stages, but was taken ill at Newbrough, where he stayed for some time, before continuing his journey by Blenkinsopp, Thirlwall, and Lanercost to Carlisle.

On the opposite side of the stream from Stocksfield is the lovely village of Bywell, a “haunt of ancient peace,” “sleeping soft on the banks of the murmuring Tyne.” This little peaceful spot was at one time a very busy centre of life and industry on a small scale; in the Middle Ages the inhabitants drove a thriving trade in all the necessities for a people who spent a great part of their lives upon horseback, especially in the making of the ironwork required—“bits, stirrups, buckles, and the like, wherein they are very expert and cunning.” The Nevilles, lords of Raby and earls of Westmoreland, held Bywell at this time; before that it was in the hands of the Balliols, of Scottish fame, who, like the Bruces, were Norman knights high in favour with their kings, Norman and Plantagenet, though they afterwards became their most determined foes.

Long before the advent of the Normans, a church was built here by St. Wilfrid, and in it—St. Andrew’s or the “White” Church—Egbert, twelfth bishop of Lindisfarne, was consecrated by Archbishop Eanbald in the year 803. More than a thousand years afterwards, in 1896, an Ordination service was again held at Bywell, in St. Peter’s church, when five deacons were ordained by Bishop Jacob. And in times yet more remote than Wilfrid’s age, Roman legionaries crossed the Tyne at this point over a bridge of their own construction, of which the piers might be seen until our own day. Bywell, too, had its “find” of Roman silver; in 1760 a silver cup was found in the Tyne, bearing the inscription “Desidere vivas” around the neck of the vessel.

When the Nevilles were lords of the manor of Bywell, they began to build a castle here, which, however, was left unfinished; the ancient tower still standing, with its picturesque draping of ivy, was the gate-house of the intended fortress. On the rebellion of the northern earls in 1569, Westmoreland’s forfeited lands passed to the crown, so that Bywell was held by Queen Elizabeth for a year or two, until she sold the estate to a branch of the Fenwick family.

Bywell is unique in Northumberland in possessing two churches side by side yet in different parishes. The town of Bywell, we are told by the same authority before quoted, lay in a long line by the north bank of the Tyne, and was “divided into two separate parishes” even then, so that there ought to be traces of former buildings westward from the present village. In connection with the two churches which adjoin each other so closely, tradition tells the well-known story of the two quarrelsome sisters who could not agree on the building of a church and therefore each built one. One might have imagined, with some show of reason, that there being two parishes, the two churches were placed there in sheltering proximity to the castle, were it not for the fact that the churches were in existence long before the stronghold of the Nevilles was contemplated.

St. Andrew’s, called the “White” church from the fact of its being served in later days by the White friars, is the more ancient of the two. As we have seen, a church erected by St. Wilfrid stood on this site, and a goodly portion of the Saxon work remains in the tower. The hagioscope, or “squint” in this church, and the “leper” window in St. Peter’s are interesting relics of the Middle Ages.

St. Peter’s, or the “Black” church which once belonged to the Benedictines or Black friars, is of much later date than its neighbour, though still an ancient building, being supposed to date from the eleventh century. Its most interesting possessions are two very old bells, bearing Latin inscriptions, one announcing “I proclaim the hour for people rising, and call to those still lying down,” and the other reading “Thou art Peter.”

Bywell suffered greatly in the flood of 1771, when the bridge was swept away, many houses destroyed, several people drowned, and both churches greatly damaged.

It is not surprising that this tranquil little village—“the retreat of the old doomed divinities of wood and fountain, banished from their native haunts,” to quote Mr. Tomlinson’s happy phrase—has always been beloved of artists, many of whom have transferred to their canvasses the beauties of its mingled scenery of graceful woods and sparkling waters, ancient fortress, peaceful meadows, and gray old towers. Many noteworthy and fine old trees are to be found in and around this artists’ haunt.

On the opposite side of the river, Bywell’s younger sister, Stocksfield, grows apace, reaching out towards the lulls and along the eastward lanes, though not as yet in such measure as to cover the hillsides with any semblance of a town, being still almost hidden amongst the profusion of trees that clothe most of the district in their leafy greenery. On the north bank of the stream the village of Ovingham now rises into view, its name telling us plainly that there was a settlement here in Saxon times “the home of the sons of Offa”; and the slope above the river is fittingly crowned by the ancient church of St. Mary, whose tower, with its curiously irregular windows, is the work of the Saxon builders of the original church. The rest of the building, except some Saxon work at the west end of the nave, dates from early Norman days. Here is the burial place of the famous brothers John and Thomas Bewick, who were born at Cherryburn House, just across the river. In this delightful spot the boy Thomas Bewick grew up, absorbing unconsciously the natural beauties that are to be found here by the Tyne and in the little ravine through which the Cherry Burn flows, which beauties he so lovingly reproduced on his engraving blocks later in life.

At the fords of Ovingham, Eltringham, and Bywell, the Scots under General Leslie crossed the Tyne in 1644, and made their way into Durham, leaving six regiments to watch Newcastle.

The picturesque ruins of Prudhoe Castle, whose lofty towers dominate the valley for some distance up and down the stream, stand on a commanding rocky ridge above the Tyne. The lands of Prudhoe were given, soon after the Norman Conquest, to one of Duke William’s immediate followers, Robert de Umfraville; and it was Odinel de Umfraville who built the present castle in the twelfth century. Its strength was soon put to the test, for a few years after it was built William the Lion of Scotland found that the place baffled all his attempts to capture it. In his anger he determined to reduce the fortress of Odinel, who had spent much time at the Scottish court in his youth, the Kings of Scotland being at that time lords of Tynedale. The attempt ended in total failure, the greatest harm the Scots did on that occasion being to destroy the cornfields and strip the bark from the apple trees near the Castle; while, a day or two afterwards, Odinel de Umfraville, with Glanvile and Balliol, captured the Scottish monarch himself at Alnwick.

Another Umfraville, Richard, quarrelled with his neighbour of Nafferton, on the opposite side of the river, for having begun to erect a fortress much too near Umfraville’s own. He sent a petition to the King on the subject and King John commanded Philip de Ulecote’s building operations to cease. The unfinished castle, known as Nafferton Tower, remains to this day as Philip’s masons left it so many centuries ago.

Sir Ingram de Umfraville was by the side of Edward II. at Bannockburn, when, before the battle, Bruce ordered his men to kneel in prayer. Edward looked on the kneeling host, and turning to Umfraville, exclaimed “See! Yon men kneel to ask mercy.” “You say truth, sire,” answered the knight of Prudhoe; “they ask mercy—but not of you.”

The last Umfraville, who died in 1381, left a widow, the Countess Maud, who married a Percy of Alnwick, and so the castle passed into the hands of that family, in whose possession it still remains.

When Odinel de Umfraville was building the keep of his castle, every one in the neighbourhood was pressed into the service, and all lent their aid except the men of Wylam. Wylam had been given to the church of St. Oswyn at Tynemouth, and, as was customary, was freed by charter from the duty of castle building, or any other feudal service excepting such as were rendered to the Prior of Tynemouth as occasion arose. So, in spite of the angry surprise of the lord of Prudhoe, the Wylam men quietly held to their charter, and not all Odinel’s threats or persuasions moved them one whit.

The Stanley Burn, which enters the Tyne close to Wylam railway station, divides this part of the county of Durham from Northumberland, so that from Wylam to the sea the south side of the Tyne is in the county of Durham. The most noteworthy object at Wylam, or, to be precise, a little way along the old post-road, leading to Newcastle from Hexham, is the red-tiled cottage in which George Stephenson was born in 1781. It stands on the north bank of the Tyne, where it can be distinctly seen from passing trains. Its neighbour cottage has been repaired and re-roofed, but Stephenson’s cottage remains unaltered.

Mr. Blackett, who owned Wylam Colliery at the beginning of the nineteenth century, took the keenest interest in the question of locomotives, and had tried more than one on his estate before George Stephenson brought them to the point of practical use. At Newburn, just four miles down the Tyne, George Stephenson passed many years of his youth; here he learned to read and write, when he was old enough to earn a man’s wage and could afford the few pence necessary; and here, in the parish church, may be seen, with an interval of twenty years between them, the entries of his two marriages.

Newburn is important nowadays for its steel works, within whose workshops is incorporated an old building formerly known as Newburn Hall; but in days long past its importance arose from its being on the ford of the Tyne nearest to Newcastle. This ford was frequently made use of, notably by the Scots in the reign of Charles I. Their chief camping ground is pointed out to us by the name of Scotswood, which also describes what Scotswood was like in those days—a great contrast to its present appearance, when the lines of brick and mortar stretching out uninterruptedly from Newcastle make it practically one with that town. In 1640, the Scottish army, under General Leslie, faced the Royalist troops, under Lord Conway, on the south side of the river. The Scots mounted their rude cannon on Newburn Church tower, and the English raised earthworks along the bank of the river, which was here fordable in two places. The two armies calmly watered their horses on opposite banks of the stream all the next morning, but a shot at a Scottish officer from the English ranks precipitated the battle; and the Scottish army, having made a breach in both earthworks with their artillery, waded across the fords and drove the Royalist troops up the bank, after one spasmodic rally, which, however, failed to check the Scottish advance. The way was now open for the Scottish army to continue down the south bank of the Tyne and attack Newcastle from Gateshead. It had been Lord Conway’s task to prevent this, but owing to his incapacity or want of whole-hearted enthusiasm for his cause, he failed entirely.

Not until 1644, however, was a Scottish attack on Newcastle actually made, for on this occasion Leslie, as we have already seen, led his men across the fords higher up the river and marched southwards. The earthworks thrown up by Conway’s troops may still be seen on Stella Haughs.

It is supposed that the Romans had a fort here, commanding the passage of the river; indeed it would have been strange had this not been the case, for the Romans were not the people to disregard any point of strategical importance, especially one so near their stations of Pons AElii and Condercum. Many stones of Roman workmanship have been used in the building of the Newburn church.

From this point to its mouth, nearly fifteen miles away, both banks of the Tyne present an unbroken scene of industry. Between the steel works of Newburn and the iron and chemical works, the brick and tile works of Blaydon and past the famous yards of Elswick, down to the wharves and shipyards of North and South Shields, the Tyne rolls its swift dark waters through a scene of stirring activity; the air is dusky with soot and smoke, and reverberant with the clang of hammers and the pulsing beat of machinery. Some old and world-famed works have been closed or removed, like Hawks’ and Stephenson’s, but others, many others, have opened; and the map of the positions of Tyne industries, published under the auspices of the Newcastle and Gateshead Chamber of Commerce, is a record of resolute toil and brilliant achievement in the many aspects of industrial life represented on the river.

And, apart from the mere prosperity and commercial supremacy of the district, there is another cause for pride in the many notable inventions which hail from Tyneside; from the locomotive and the “Geordie” lamp of Stephenson, the hydraulic machinery and the big guns of Armstrong, to the wonderful turbine engines of Parsons; the invention of water-ballast, too, belongs to the Tyne, for it was the idea of a Gateshead man, and first used at Jarrow.

And, in connection with ships and seafarers, though not in any commercial sense, we may proudly recall the fact that the first Lifeboat was launched on the Tyne and named after the river; and the first Volunteer Life Brigade was formed at Tynemouth. The Worth Eastern Railway is carried across the Tyne by the Scotswood Bridge; and it was on this part of the river that the boat-races, for which the Tyne was once famous, were rowed. At Newcastle, the river is bridged by four huge structures—The Redheugh Bridge, the new King Edward VII. bridge, the High Level, and Swing Bridges,—all connecting Newcastle with the sister town of Gateshead. An interesting sight it is to see the Swing Bridge gradually turning on its central pivot, until it lies in a straight line up and down the stream, allowing some huge liner to pass, or some new battleship, fresh from Elswick, to sail down the river, on its way to make its trial trip over the “measured mile” in the open sea at the mouth of the river, and thereafter to take its place among the armaments of the nations.

The High Level Bridge allows ships of any height to pass under its lofty and graceful arches, which look so light, but are yet so strong. This splendid bridge is an enduring monument of Robert Stephenson, whose work it was; and the story of its erection, at the cost of nearly half a million of money, makes most interesting reading. It took nearly two and a half years to build, and was opened for traffic in 1849—little more than three years after the first pile was driven in. A few months later, in 1850, the newly built Central Station, with its imposing portico, was opened by Queen Victoria.

Passing down the Tyne from Newcastle, which requires separate notice, and Walker, with its reminiscences of “Walker Pit’s deun weel for me,” we arrive at Wallsend, which in twenty-five years has grown from a colliery village with a population of 4,000 to a town of 23,000 inhabitants. Here are great shipbuilding and repairing yards, chemical works and cement works; here, too, are Parsons’ Steam Turbine Works, where was designed and built the little “Turbinia,” on which tiny vessel the early experiments were made with the new engines; and here are the famous mines which have made “Best Wallsend” a synonym for best household coal all over the land. These mines, after having been closed for many years, were reopened at the beginning of the century, and now turn out upwards of one thousand tons of coal per day.

The church of St. Peter, at Wallsend, is little more than a hundred years old; the old Church of Holy Cross, now long disused, was built towards the end of the twelfth century. But Wallsend itself, as all the world knows, is of much greater antiquity, for was it not, as its name proclaims, situated at the end of the Great Wall? Its name then, however, was not Wallsend but Segedunum.

Willington Quay, further down the river, was, for a time, the home of George Stephenson, and here his son, Robert, was born. At Howdon, which used to be known as Howdon Pans, from the salt-pans there, the painter John Martin and his brothers once worked when boys, being employed in some rope-works. Here, too, the Henzells, a family of refugees who settled in the district in the days of Elizabeth, founded some glass works, for which industry the Tyne has been famous from that day to this.

The River Tyne at Newcastle (showing Swing Bridge Open).

The River Tyne at Newcastle (showing Swing Bridge Open).

Before the railway on the south side of the river was laid down, passengers who wished to reach Jarrow had to alight at Howdon and cross the river; and a racy dialect song—“Howdon for Jarrow” with its refrain of “Howdon for Jarra—ma hinnies, loup oot”—commemorates the fact. Willington Quay and Howdon carry on the line of shipbuilding yards to Northumberland Dock and the staithes of the Tyne Commissioners, where the waggon ways from various collieries bring the coal to the water’s edge. Tyne Dock, just opposite, and the Albert Edward Dock near North. Shields, provide abundance of shipping accommodation, besides what is afforded by the river itself; and now the river flows between the steep banks of North and South Shields. As the names declare, these two growing and prosperous towns once consisted of a few fishermen’s huts, or “shielings”; but that was long ago, when the north shore of the Tyne was owned by the Prior of Tynemouth, and the southern shore by the Bishop of Durham, and the citizens of Newcastle complained to King Edward I. that these two ecclesiastics had raised towns, “where no town ought to be,” and that “fishermen sold fish there which ought to be sold at Newcastle, to the great injury of the whole borough, and in detriment to the tolls of our Lord the King.” These quarrels between Newcastle and the other settlements on the Tyne continued with varying results, until in the days of Cromwell, Ralph Gardiner of Chirton, a little village close to North Shields, took up the cudgels for the growing towns; and by dint of great perseverance, and in spite of much persecution and ill-will, succeeded in getting most of the unjust privileges of their stronger neighbour abolished.

There were salt-pans, too, on both sides of the mouth of the Tyne, which were worked in connection with the monasteries from very early days; and Daniel Defoe, when he visited the north in 1726, declared that he could see from the top of the Cheviot “the smoke of the salt-pans at Sheals, at the mouth of the Tyne, which was about forty miles south of this.”

North Shields clings haphazard to the steep bank of the Tyne, and spreads away up and beyond it, reaching out towards Wallsend on the river shore and Tynemouth along by the sea, the older parts by the river looking black and grimy to the last degree; but there is a silver lining to this very black cloud—not visible, it is true, but distinctly audible—in the great shipbuilding and repairing works known as Smith’s Dock, one of the largest concerns of the kind in Great Britain, where so many hundreds of men earn their daily bread; and in the fishing industry, which was the foundation of the town’s prosperity, and bids fair to be so for many years to come, as it is increasing year by year. The Fish Quay at North Shields is a sight worth seeing; and, in the herring season, it is increasingly frequented by Continental buyers.

The fortunes of South Shields and Jarrow, though these towns are not in Northumberland, are yet so bound up with the story of the Tyne that no one would ever think of that river without them. Especially is this the case with Jarrow, which “Palmer’s” has raised from a small colliery village to a large and flourishing town. In those famous yards, everything that is necessary for the building of the largest ironclad, from the first smelting of the ore until the last rivet is in place, can be done. All Northumbria—Northumbria in the ancient and widest sense of the word—owes a debt of gratitude to Jarrow, for was it not the home of Bede? The monk of Jarrow, who spent all his long life in the same monastery by the Don, coming to it when he was a child of ten, made that spot of Northumbrian ground famed to the farthest limits of the civilized Europe of his day; and scholars from all over the Continent came to learn at the feet of the Northumbrian teacher. Beloved and revered by all, and in harness to the last hour of his busy life, he died in the year 735, just one hundred years after the coming of Aidan to Lindisfarne. “First among English scholars, first among English theologians, first among English historians, it is in the monk of Jarrow that English literature strikes its roots.”—J.R. Green.

The Jarrow of to-day, and all its neighbours of industrial Tyneside, possess no beauty of aspect such as the towns that are more fortunately situated on the upper reaches of the river; they are muffled in clouds of smoke and soot, and darkened by the necessities of their toil in grimy ores and the ever-present coal. But no one who has ever looked on these smoky reaches of the Tyne with a seeing eye, or steamed down the river on a day either of gloom or sunshine, can refuse to acknowledge that it has a certain grandeur, a stern beauty of its own, that can stir the heart and the imagination more deeply than any mere prettiness.

From the numberless hives of activity on both sides of the river clouds of smoke roll heavily upward, and jets of steam from panting machinery leap up in momentary whiteness on the dark background; the white wings of flocks of wheeling gulls flash in the occasional sunshine which lights up the scene, and between the clouds there are glimpses of blue sky. Towards sunset, the evening mists drape the darkening banks and crowded shipping in a soft robe of gray, which, together with the glowing sky behind, produces most wonderful Turneresque effects; and the fall of night on the river only changes the aspect without diminishing the interest of the scene. The blaze from a myriad workshops and forges glows against the darkness, the lamps twinkle overhead on the steep banks, and the lights from wharf and steamer are reflected in a thousand shimmering lines on the dark water, which flows on soundlessly, like the river of a dream.

On a day of wind and sun all these beauties are intensified a thousandfold; the smoke is blown hither and thither in flying clouds, the current seems to rush more swiftly, and a sense of vigorous life permeates the whole scene, giving to the beholder a feeling of keen exhilaration, as of new life rushing through his veins. Especially is this the case on reaching the mouth of the river and meeting the dancing waters of the open harbour, where the twin piers of South Shields and Tynemouth reach out sheltering arms. Within the wide bay they enclose, the storm-driven vessel may always find comparatively smooth water, how wildly soever the waves may rage and roar outside.

It is difficult to believe that so lately as the years 1858-60, the “bar” at the mouth of the Tyne was an insuperable obstacle to all but vessels of very moderate draught; and that ships might lie for days, and sometimes weeks, after being loaded, before there came a tide high enough to carry them out to sea. The river was full of sand-banks, and little islands stood here and there—one in mid-stream, where the ironclads are now launched at Elswick. Three or four vessels might be seen at once bumping and grounding on the “bar” unable to make their way over. Well might the old song say—

  “The ships are all at the bar,
  They canna get up to Newcastle!”

An old map of the Tyne shows a number of sand-banks down the lower reaches of the river, with ships aground on each, of them.

But the River Tyne Commissioners have changed all that, and their implement of warfare has been the hideous but necessary dredger. No longer need vessels of heavy tonnage desert the Tyne for the Wear, as they were perforce driven to do during the first half of the nineteenth century, for the Wearsiders had set about deepening and widening their river long before the Tynesiders did the same by theirs. Considerable and continuous pressure had to be brought to bear on the civic authorities at Newcastle before they finally took action; but having once done so, the future of the Tyne was assured. Now it ranks second only to the Thames in the actual number of vessels entering and leaving, and owns only the Mersey its superior in the matter of tonnage.



  “Her dusky hair in many a tangle clings
  About her, and her looks, though stern and cold,
  Grow tender with the dreams of by-gone days.”

  —W.W. Tomlinson.

The outward signs of “by-gone days,” in the Newcastle of to-day, with the one notable exception of the Castle, must be diligently sought out amongst the overwhelming mass of what is often called “rampant modernity,” of which the town to-day chiefly consists. The modernity, however, is not all bad, as this favourite phrase would imply; much of it is doubtless regrettable and a very little of it perhaps inevitable; but no one will deny either the modernity or the beauty of Grey Street, one of the finest streets in any English town; or the fine appearance of Grainger Street, Blackett Street, Eldon Square, or any other of the stately thoroughfares with which Grainger and Dobson enriched the town within the last eighty years—no one, that is, who has learned to “lift his eyes to the sky-line in passing along a thoroughfare” instead of keeping them firmly fixed at the level of shop windows.

The grim old building which, when it was new, gave its name to the town, is one for which no search needs to be made; its blackened and time worn walls are seen from the train windows by every traveller who enters the city from the south. So near is it to the railway, that in the ultra-utilitarian days of sixty or seventy years ago, it narrowly escaped the ignoble fate of being used as a signal-cabin. It was rescued, however, by the Society of Antiquaries, and carefully preserved by them—more fortunate in this respect than the castle of Berwick, for the platform of Berwick railway station actually stands on the spot once occupied by the Great Hall of the Castle.

The site of the New Castle, on a part of the river bank which slopes steeply down to the Tyne, had been occupied centuries before by a Roman fort, constructed by order of the Emperor Hadrian, who visited Britain A.D. 120. He also constructed a bridge over the Tyne at this spot, fort and bridge receiving the name of Pons AElii, after the Emperor (Publius AElius Hadrianus). This became the second station on the Great Wall erected by Hadrian’s orders along the line of forts which Agricola had raised forty years before. This station shared the fate of others on the abandonment of Britain by its powerful conquerors, who had now for more than two hundred years been its no less powerful friends and protectors. Pons AElii fell into ruins; but so advantageous a site could not long be overlooked, and we read of a Saxon settlement there, apparently that of a religious community, from which fact it was known as Monkchester. All the records of this period seem to have perished, for we hear nothing of the settlement during the Danish invasions; but a Saxon town of some kind was evidently in existence at the time of the Conquest, though in 1073 three monks from the south who came to York, and, obtaining a guide to “Muneche-cester,” sought for some religious house in that settlement, could find none, and were prevailed upon by the first Norman Bishop of Durham, Walcher, to stay at Jarrow. The years from 1069 to 1080 were evil years for Northumberland, for at the first-named date the Conqueror devastated the North, and left neither village nor farm unscathed; and, as the desolated land was beginning to recover again, Odo of Bayeux and Robert of Normandy relentlessly laid it waste once more, partly in revenge for the murder of Bishop Walcher at Gateshead, and partly to punish Malcolm of Scotland for his invasion of Norman territory.

It was on his return from this expedition, which had penetrated as far north as Falkirk, that Robert, by his father’s orders, raised a stronghold on the Tyne on the site of the old Roman fort, in the year 1080. His brother, William Rufus, erected a much stronger and better one, the Keep of which, re-built by Henry II., stands to-day dark and grim, looking out over river and town, as it has stood since the Red King ruled the land, and, like his father, the Conqueror, found it desirable to have a stronghold at this northern point of his turbulent realm, around which a town might grow up in safety.

The roof and battlements of the Keep are modern, but the rest of it—the walls, 12 to 18 feet thick; the dismal dungeon, or guard chamber, with iron rings and fetters still fastened to the walls and central pillar; the beautiful little chapel, with its finely-ornamented arches; the little chambers in the thickness of the walls; the well, 94 feet deep, sunk through the solid masonry into the rock beneath; the arrow slits in the walls; the stones in the roof scored with frequent bolts from the besiegers’ crossbows, one of which bolts is firmly embedded in the wall opposite one of the narrow windows; the ancient weapons and armour—all these breathe of the days when the Red King’s castle took its part in the doings of our hardy ancestors in those stormy times in which they lived and fought.

The last time the old Keep was called upon to act as fortress and refuge in time of war was in Stuart days, after the ten weeks siege of Newcastle by the Scottish General Leslie, Earl of Leven, in 1644, when brave “Governor Marley” and his friends held out in the castle for a few days longer, after the town was taken. In memory of this stout defence and long resistance King Charles gave to the town its motto—Fortiter defendit triumphans, which Bates gives as having originally been Fortiter defendendo triumphat—“She glories in her brave defence.”

Two of the original fireplaces still remain in the Castle, and there are besides many objects of great interest which have been bestowed there from time to time for safe keeping; and many more are to be seen at the Black Gate, formerly the chief entrance to the Castle Hall and its surroundings. The Great Hall of the Castle, in which John Baliol did homage to Edward I. for the crown of Scotland, stood on the spot now covered by the Moot Hall. The Black Gate, the lower part of which is the oldest part of the building, which has many times been altered and repaired, is now used as a museum. There were nearly a dozen rooms in it, and not so many years ago the Corporation of Newcastle let these out in tenements, until this building also was rescued from degradation by the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries, who took down most of the dividing walls, and converted it into a museum. Here may be seen stored many sculptured stones, altars, and statues, which have been brought from the various Roman stations in the north.

Around the walls of one room are to be seen facsimiles of the famous Bayeux tapestry; there is also a model of the Castle as originally built, and there are many more exhibits and loans of the very greatest interest.

Of the walls of Newcastle only fragments remain, the most considerable portion being found between Westgate Road and St. Andrew’s Churchyard; here are also remains of several of the watch-towers that stood at intervals around the walls—the Heber Tower, the Mordaunt or Morden Tower, and the Ever Tower. Between the two first named towers may be seen a little doorway, walled up, once used by the Friars, who obtained from Edward II. permission to make the doorway in order that they might the more easily reach their gardens and orchards outside; but they had to be ready to build it up at a moment’s notice on the approach of an enemy. One of the towers—the Carliol or Weaver’s Tower—was pulled down to make room for the Central Free Library, opened in 1881. Many little fragments of the Castle wall are to be seen near the High Level Bridge, incorporated in other walls, as far as the South Postern of the Castle, which is said to be the only remaining Norman postern in England and is the oldest remaining part of the Castle.

The old streets of Newcastle are fast disappearing to make room for the ever-increasing needs of commerce; at the moment of writing it is being proposed to pull down more of the historic street called the Side, to make room for new printing offices. At the head of this curious old street, which curves downward from the Cathedral to the river, stood the birthplace of Cuthbert Collingwood, who was to become Admiral Lord Collingwood, and second in fame only to Nelson himself. Both this house and the one where Thomas Bewick had his workshop, near the Cathedral, have gone to make room for new buildings.

At the foot of this street, where it curves to the river front, is the Sandhill, facing the Swing Bridge. Here are several old houses remaining, with many-windowed fronts, looking out on the river. One of these was the house of Aubone Surtees, the banker, whose daughter Bessie, in 1772, stole out of one of those little windows, and gave herself into the keeping of young Jack Scott, who was waiting for her below. The adventurous youth became Lord Chancellor of England, and is best known as Lord Eldon; his brother William became Lord Stowell, and was for many years Judge of the High Court of Admiralty.

Opposite the old houses of the Sandhill, close to the river bank, is the old Guildhall, greatly altered in appearance from the time when John Wesley preached from its steps to the keelmen and fishermen of the town. It was here that a sturdy fishwife put her arms round him, when some boisterous spirits in the crowd threatened him with ill-usage, and, shaking her fist in their faces, swore to “floor them” if they touched her “canny man.”

This spot, where the Swing Bridge unites the lower banks of the stream, seems always to have been the most convenient point for crossing the river, for the present bridge is the fifth that has spanned the Tyne at this point: Hadrian’s bridge, Pons Aelii; a mediaeval bridge destroyed by fire in 1248; the Old Tyne Bridge, swept away in the flood of 1771; the successor of this, which was found too low to allow of the passage of such large vessels as were able to sail up the Tyne after the deepening of the river bed; and the present Swing Bridge, which is worked by hydraulic machinery, the invention of Lord Armstrong. We do not know how long Hadrian’s bridge lasted, but William the Conqueror, when returning from his expedition into Scotland in 1071, was obliged to camp for a time at “Monec-cestre,” as the Tyne was in flood, and there was no bridge.

Some ancient houses are to be found in Low Friar Street, one of which, with winged heads and dolphins carved on it, is said to be the oldest house in Newcastle. Turning up an opening on the west side of this street, all that is left of the ancient Blackfriars’ Monastery may be seen; some of its rooms are used as the meeting places of various Trade Guilds, and the rest form low tenement houses, in the walls of which are many Gothic archways and ancient window-openings built up. Over the door of the Smith’s Hall is a carving of three hammers, and the inscription:—

  “By hammer and hand
  All artes do stand.”

This Hall was formerly the Great Hall of the monastery; and here Edward Baliol did homage to Edward III. for his crown of Scotland. Nun Street, leading out of Grainger Street, reminds us of the days when the Nunnery of St. Bartholomew stood in this part of the town, and the Nun’s Moor was part of the grounds belonging to the establishment. In High Friar Street, which was not then the dilapidated lane it now appears, Richard Grainger was born.

Another part of the town which has fallen from its former high estate is the Close, which lies along the river front, westward from the Sandhill. Here, at one time, lived many of the principal inhabitants of Newcastle—Sir John Marley, Sir William Blackett, Sir Ralph Millbank, and others equally important; and here, too, was the former Mansion House of the city, where the Mayors resided, and where they could receive distinguished visitors to the town. Amongst those who have been entertained there were the Duke of Wellington and the first King of the Belgians. But in 1836 the Corporation of Newcastle sold the house, with the furniture, books, pictures, plate, and everything else it contained.

Eastward from the Sandhill is Sandgate, immortalised in the “Newcastle Anthem”—The Keel Row. Its present appearance is very different from the green slope and sandy shore of former days; the keelmen, too, have vanished, and their place in the commercial economy of the Tyne is taken by waggon-ways and coal-shoots. The old narrow alleys of the town, called “chares,” are fast disappearing; the best known is Pudding Chare, leading from Bigg Market to Westgate Road. Many and various are the explanations that have been offered to account for its curious name, but the true one does not seem yet to have appeared.

Pilgrim Street owes its name to the fact that it was the route of the pilgrims who came in great numbers to visit the little chapel or shrine of Our Lady of Jesmond, and St. Mary’s Well. In Pilgrim Street was the gateway of a stately mansion, surrounded by beautiful gardens, called Anderson Place, from a Mr. Anderson who bought it from Sir Thomas Blackett in 1783. It had been built by another Mr. Anderson in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, on the site where once stood the monastery of the Grey Friars; he, however, had named his mansion “The Newe House.” In this house Charles I. lived when a prisoner in Newcastle. Anderson Place no longer exists, but the Newcastle of to-day has a constant reminder of its last owners, for Major George Anderson, son of the Mr. Anderson who purchased it in 1783, gave to the Cathedral of St. Nicholas the great bell—known on that account as “The Major”—whose deep reverberant “boom” can be heard for a distance of ten miles. The bell was re-cast in 1891, and in 1892 a new peal of bells was consecrated by Canon Gough.

Westgate Road is another interesting street; the old West Gate stood near the site of the present Tyne Theatre, and from this point onward the street follows, almost exactly, the line of the Roman Wall.

Some noteworthy houses in Newcastle are—No. 17, Eldon Place, where George and Robert Stephenson lived in the years 1824-25; No. 4, St. Thomas’ Crescent, where the celebrated artist, Wm. Bell Scott lived when he was headmaster of the School of Art, and to whom Swinburne wrote a fine memorial poem; the Academy of Arts, in Blackett Street, built for the exhibition of pictures by those well-known painters T.M. Richardson and H.T. Parker, and for a short period the home of the Pen and Palette Club, which, both here and in its new home at Higham Place, has entertained many people distinguished in letters, art, and travel who have visited the town of late years; and No. 9, Pleasant Row, the birthplace of Lord Armstrong, which has only recently been destroyed to make way for the N.E.R. Company’s new ferro-concrete Goods Station in New Bridge Street.

The list of important buildings in Newcastle, exclusive of the churches, is a long one; one of the most prominent is the Library of the Literary and Philosophical Society, familiarly known as the “Lit. and Phil.,” which stands at the lower end of Westgate Road, a little way back from the roadway. It is built on the site of the town house of the Earls of Westmoreland; and its fine Lecture Theatre was a gift to the Society from Lord Armstrong. It is the centre of the intellectual life of the city as a whole, apart from the work of the justly famed Armstrong College, a teaching institute of University rank. This was formerly known as the Durham College of Science, and, with the Durham College of Medicine, forms part of the University of Durham.

Other seats of learning in the town are the Rutherford College, in Bath Lane, and the Royal Grammar School, which dates from the reign of Henry VIII. It was reconstituted by Queen Elizabeth, and has had many changes of abode. At one time it occupied the buildings of the Convent of St. Mary, which covered the space where Stephenson’s monument now stands. While the Grammar School was located there, the boys Cuthbert Collingwood, William Scott, and John Scott, who afterwards became so famous, attended it; and other distinguished scholars were John Horsley, author of Britannia Romana, and John Brand and Henry Bourne, the historians of Newcastle. The school is now situated in Eskdale Terrace and its splendid playing fields stretch across to the North Road.

One of the most interesting buildings in Newcastle is the Hancock Museum of Natural History, at Barras Bridge. It contains a matchless collection of birds, and some unique specimens of extinct species; also the original drawings of Bewick’s British Birds, and other works of his. The famous Newcastle naturalist, John Hancock, presented his wonderful collection, prepared by himself, to the museum. Here, too, is a complete set of fossils from the coal measures, including some fine specimens of Sigillaria. These are only a few of the treasures contained in the museum, which was built chiefly through the generosity of the late Lord and Lady Armstrong, Colonel John Joicey of Newton Hall, Stocksfield, and Mr. Edward Joicey of Whinney House.

The new Victoria Infirmary, on the Leazes, is a magnificent building, and was opened by King Edward VII. in 1906. It was erected by public subscription, and when £100,000 had been subscribed, the late Mr. John Hall generously offered a like sum on condition that the building should be erected either on the Leazes or the Town Moor. Arrangements were made to do so, and another £100,000 given by the present Lord and Lady Armstrong.

But fine as all these buildings are, the pride of Newcastle is one much older than any of them—the Cathedral church of St. Nicholas, with its exquisitely beautiful lantern steeple. This wonderful lantern was the work of Robert de Rhodes, who lived in the fifteenth century. The arms of this early benefactor of the church may yet be seen on the ancient font. The present church was finished in the year 1350, says Dr. Bruce; but there was a former one on this site to which the crypt is supposed to belong. It has undergone many alterations at different times, and has sheltered within its walls many and various great personages.



In 1451, a treaty between England and Scotland was ratified in the vestry. In the reign of Henry VII., his daughter, Princess Margaret, attended mass here, with all her retinue, when she stayed in the town on her way to Scotland to be married to the gallant young king James IV. She was entertained at the house of the Austin Friars, which stood where now stands the Holy Jesus Hospital at the Manors, near to the Sallyport Tower. When James I. became king of England, he attended service here, as he passed through Newcastle on his way to his southern capital. In the reign of his ill-fated son, Charles I., Newcastle was occupied by the Scots, under General Leslie, for a year after the battle of Newburn in 1640; and again in 1644 was besieged by them for ten weeks. On this occasion the town nearly lost its chief ornament and pride—the lantern of the church; for “There is a traditional story,” says Bourne, “of this building I am now treating of, which may not be improper to be here taken notice of. In the time of the Civil Wars, when the Scots had besieged the town for several weeks, and were still as far as at first from taking it, the General sent a messenger to the Mayor of the town, and demanded the keys and the delivery up of the town, or he would immediately demolish the steeple of St. Nicholas.

“The Mayor and Aldermen, upon hearing this, immediately ordered a certain number of the chiefest Scottish prisoners to be carried up to the top of the old tower, the place below the lantern, and there confined. After this, they returned the General an answer to this purpose, that they would upon no terms deliver up the town, but would to the last moment defend it; that the steeple of St. Nicholas was indeed a beautiful and magnificent piece of architecture, and one of the great ornaments of the town, but yet should be blown to atoms before ransomed at such a rate; that, however, if it was to fall it should not fall alone; that at the same moment he destroyed the beautiful structure he should bathe his hands in the blood of his countrymen, who were placed there on purpose, either to preserve it from ruin or to die along with it. This message had the desired effect. The men were kept prisoners during the whole time of the siege, and not so much as one gun was fired against it.”

In 1646, when Charles I. was a prisoner in Newcastle for nearly a year (from May, 1646, to February 3rd, 1647), this was the church he attended; and we may picture him listening perforce to the “admonishing” of the stern Covenanters. In this connection occurs the oft-told story of his ready wit, when one of the preachers wound up his discourse by giving out the metrical version of the fifty-second Psalm, with an obvious allusion to his royal hearer:—

  “Why dost thou, tyrant, boast abroad,
  Thy wicked works to praise?”

Charles quickly stood up and asked for the fifty-sixth Psalm instead:—

  “Have mercy, Lord, on me, I pray,
  For man would me devour.”

The good folk of Newcastle with willing voice rendered the latter Psalm, doubtless to the discomfiture of the preacher.

Gray, who published his Chorographia, or Survey of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, just three years after this, describes St. Nicholas’ as having “a stately, high, stone steeple, with many pinakles, a stately stone lantherne, standing upon foure stone arches, builded by Robert de Rhodes.... It lifteth up a head of Majesty, as high above the rest as the Cypresse Tree above the low Shrubs.”

The church underwent a terrible despoliation at the hands of the Scots in 1644; but more terrible still were the injuries it received, a little more than a century later, from those who ought to have been its friends. In the years 1784-7 there were many alterations made in the building, during which almost all the old memorials and monuments perished, or were removed; those which were not claimed by the living representatives of the persons commemorated being ruthlessly sold, or destroyed; and the brasses were disposed of as old metal. The modern alterations and restorations have been more happy in their effect, and one of the notable additions to the church is the beautiful carved oak screen in the chancel, the work of Mr. Ralph Hedley.

There are many beautiful memorial windows in the church, and many memorials in other forms to the various eminent North-country folk who have been connected with Newcastle and its chief place of worship. The Collingwood cenotaph is the most interesting of all; the brave Admiral’s body, as is well known, lies beside that of his friend and commander, Nelson, in St. Paul’s Cathedral, but this memorial of him is fittingly placed in the Cathedral of his native town, within whose walls he worshipped as a boy. There are two monuments by Flaxman—one of the Rev. Hugh Moises, the famous master of the Grammar School when Collingwood was a boy; and the other of Sir Matthew White Ridley, who died in 1813. Of the newer monuments, those of Dr. Bruce, of Roman Wall fame, and of the beloved and lamented Bishop Lloyd, are particularly fine.

Near the east end of the church, which was raised to the rank of a Cathedral in 1881, is hung a large painting by Tintoretto, “Christ washing the feet of the Disciples”; this was presented to the church by Sir Matthew White Ridley in 1818. There are many more things of interest in the Cathedral, but mention must be made of a wonderful MS. Bible, incomplete, it is true, but beautifully written and illuminated by the monks of Hexham, and other manuscript treasures carefully kept in the care of the authorities.

The oldest church in the town is St. Andrew’s, supposed to have been built by King David of Scotland at the time when that monarch was Lord of Tynedale, in the reign of King Stephen. It suffered greatly in the struggle with the Scots, whose cannon, planted on the Leazes, did it great damage, and some of the fiercest fighting, at the final capture of the town, took place close by, where a breach was made in the walls. In such a battered condition was it left that the parish Registers tell us that no baptism nor “sarmon” took place within its walls for a year (1645). But a marriage took place, the persons wedded being Scots, who, we learn from the same authority, “would pay nothing to the Church.”

In the church is buried Sir Adam de Athol, Lord of Jesmond, and Mary, his wife. It is supposed that this Sir Adam gave the Town Moor to the people of Newcastle, though this has been disputed. A fine picture of the “Last Supper,” by Giordano, presented by Major Anderson in 1804, hangs in the church.

St. John’s Church ranks next to St. Andrew’s in point of age; there are fragments of Norman work in the building, and it is known to have been standing in 1297. To-day the venerable pile, with its age worn stones, stands out in sharper contrast to its environment than does any other building in the town, surrounded as it is by modern shops and offices. The memories it evokes, and the past for which it stands, are such as the citizens of Newcastle will not willingly let die; and when, a few years ago, a proposal was made for its removal, the proposition aroused such a storm of popular feeling against it that it was incontinently abandoned.

All Saints’ Church was built in 1789, on the site of an older building which was in existence in 1296, and which became very unsafe. Here is kept one of the most interesting monuments in the city—the monumental brass which once covered the tomb of Roger Thornton, a wealthy merchant of Newcastle, and a great benefactor to all the churches. He died in 1429. He gave to St. Nicholas’ Church its great east window; but, on its needing repair in 1860, it was removed entirely, and the present one, in memory of Dr. Ions, inserted; and the only fragment left of Thornton’s window is a small circular piece inset in a plain glass window in the Cathedral. He gave much money to Hexham Abbey also.

Besides the famous men already mentioned in connection with the town, Newcastle possesses other well-known names not a few. In the Middle Ages, Duns Scotus, the man whose skill in argument earned for him the title of “Doctor Subtilis,” owned Northumberland as his home, and received his education in the monastery of the Grey Friars, which stood near the head of the present Grey Street. He returned to this monastery after some years of study at Oxford; in 1304 he was teaching divinity in Paris.

Nicholas Ridley, Bishop of London in the reign of Edward VI., whose Northumbrian birthplace at Willimoteswick has already been noted, received his early education at the Grammar School in Newcastle, and on going to Cambridge was a student at Pembroke. We are told he was the ablest man among the Reformers for piety, learning and judgment. As is well known, he died at the stake in 1555.

William and Elizabeth Elstob, who lived in Newcastle at the end of the seventeenth century, were learned Saxon scholars, but were so greatly in advance of the education of their times that they met with little encouragement or sympathy in their labours.

Charles Avison, the musician and composer, was organist of St. John’s in 1736, and afterwards of St. Nicholas’.

It was he to whom Browning referred in the lines—

                               “On the list
  Of worthies, who by help of pipe or wire,
  Expressed in sound rough rage or soft desire,
  Thou, whilom of Newcastle, organist.”

These lines have been carved on his tombstone in St. Andrew’s churchyard. He is best known as the composer of the anthem “Sound the loud timbrel.”

Mark Akenside, the poet, was born in Butcher Bank, now called after him Akenside Hill. His chief work “The Pleasures of Imagination,” is not often read now, but it enjoyed a considerable reputation in an age when a stilted and formal style was looked upon as a true excellence in poetry.

Charles Hutton, the mathematician, was born in Newcastle in 1737. He began life as a pitman; but, receiving an injury to his arm, he turned his attention to books, and taught in his native town for some years, becoming later Professor of Mathematics in the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich.

John Brand, the antiquary and historian of Newcastle, was born at Washington, County Durham, but came to Newcastle as a child. After attending the Grammar School, he went to Oxford, by the aid of his master, the Rev. Hugh Moises. He was afterwards curate at the church of St. Andrew.

Robert Morrison, the celebrated Chinese scholar, was born near Morpeth, but his parents came to Newcastle when the boy was three years of age. He died in China in 1834.

Thomas Miles Richardson, the well-known artist, was born in Newcastle in 1784, and was at first a cabinetmaker, then master of St. Andrew’s Free School, but finally gave up all other work to devote himself to his art.

Robert Stephenson went to school at Percy Street Academy, which for long has ceased to exist. There he was taught by Mr. Bruce, and had for one of his fellow-pupils the master’s son, John Collingwood Bruce, who afterwards became so famous a teacher and antiquary.

Newcastle is not, as most southerners imagine, a dark and gloomy town of unrelieved bricks and mortar, for, besides possessing many wide and handsome streets, it has also several pretty parks, the most noteworthy being the beautiful Jesmond Dene, one of the late Lord Armstrong’s magnificent gifts to his native town. The Dene, together with the Armstrong Park near it, lies on the course of the Ouseburn, which is here a bright and sparkling stream, very different from the appearance it presents by the time it empties its murky waters into the Tyne. Besides these there are Heaton Park, the Leazes Park, with its lakes and boats, Brandling Park, and others smaller than these; and last, but most important of all, the Town Moor, a fine breezy space to the north of the town, of more than 900 acres in extent.

Of statues and monuments Newcastle possesses some half-dozen, the finest being “Grey’s Monument”—a household word in the town and familiarly known as “The Monument.” It was erected at the junction of Grey Street and Grainger Street in memory of Earl Grey of Howick, who was Prime Minister at the passing of the Reform Bill. The figure of the Earl, by Bailey, stands at the top of a lofty column, the height being 135 feet to the top of the figure. There is a stairway within the column, by which it can be ascended, and a magnificent view enjoyed from the top.

In an open space near the Central Station, between the Chronicle Office and the Lit. and Phil., there is a fine statue of George Stephenson, by the Northumbrian sculptor, Lough. It is a full length representation of the great engineer, in bronze, with the figures of four workmen, representing the chief industries of Tyneside, around the pedestal—a miner, a smith, a navvy, and an engineer. At the head of Northumberland Street, on the open space of the Haymarket, stands a beautiful winged Victory on a tall column, crowning “Northumbria” typified as a female figure at the foot of the column. This graceful and striking memorial is the work of T. Eyre Macklin, and is in memory of the officers and men of the North who fell in the Boer War of 1899-1902. Two other noteworthy statues in the town are those of Lord Armstrong, near the entrance to the Natural History Museum at Barras Bridge, and of Joseph Cowen, in Westgate Road.


  As I came thro’ Sandgate,
  Thro’ Sandgate, thro’ Sandgate,
  As I came thro’ Sandgate,
  I heard a lassie sing
      “O weel may the keel row,
      The keel row, the keel row,
      Weel may the keel row
      That my laddie’s in

  “O who is like my Johnnie,
  Sae leish,[5] sae blithe, sae bonnie;
  He’s foremost ’mang the mony
  Keel lads o’ coaly Tyne
      He’ll set and row sae tightly,
      And in the dance sae sprightly
      He’ll cut and shuffle lightly,
      ’Tis true, were he not mine!

  “He has nae mair o’ learnin’
  Than tells his weekly earnin’,
  Yet, right frae wrang discernin’,
  Tho’ brave, nae bruiser he!
      Tho’ he no worth a plack[6] is,
      His ain coat on his back is;
      And nane can say that black is
      The white o’ Johnnie’s e’e

  He wears a blue bonnet,
  Blue bonnet, blue bonnet,
  He wears a blue bonnet,
  And a dimple in his chin
         O weel may the keel row,
         The keel row, the keel row,
         Weel may the keel row
         That my laddie’s in.”

[5] Leish = lithe, nimble.

[6] Plack = a small copper coin, worth about one-third of a penny.



  Sailed from the North of old
  The strong sons of Odin;
  Sailed in the Serpent ships,
  “By hammer and hand”
              Skilfully builded.

  Still in the North-country
  Men keep their sea-cunning;
  Still true the legend,
  “By hammer and hand”
              Elswick builds war-ships.


For a mile and a quarter, along the north bank of the Tyne, stretch the world-famed Elswick Works, which have grown to their present gigantic proportions from the small beginnings of five and a half acres in 1847. In that year two fields were purchased as a site for the new works about to be started to make the hydraulic machinery which had been invented by Mr. Armstrong.

In this undertaking he was backed by the wealth of several prominent Newcastle citizens, who believed in the future of the new inventions—Messrs. Addison Potter, George Cruddas, Armourer Donkin, and Richard Lambert. At that time Elswick was a pretty country village some distance outside of Newcastle, and the walk along the riverside between the two places was a favourite one with the people of the town. In midstream there was an island, where stood a little inn called the “Countess of Coventry”; and on the island various sports were often held, including horse-racing.

The price of the land for the new shops, which were soon built on the green slopes above the Tyne, was paid to Mr. Hodgson Hind and Mr. Richard Grainger; the latter of whom had intended, could he have carried out his plans for the rebuilding of Newcastle, not to stop until he made Elswick Hall the centre of the town.

Until the new shops were ready to begin work, some of Mr. Armstrong’s hydraulic cranes were made by Mr. Watson at his works in the High Bridge.

All the summer of 1847, the building went briskly on; and in the autumn work was started. At first Mr. Armstrong had an office in Hood Street, as he was superintending his machinery construction in High Bridge, as well as the building operations at Elswick. On some of the early notepaper of the firm there is, as the heading, a picture of Elswick as it was then, showing the first shops, the little square building in which were the offices, the green banks sloping down to the waterside, and the island in the middle of the shallow stream, while the chimneys and smoke of Newcastle are indicated in the remote background. Along the riverside was the public footpath.

The first work done in the new shops was the making of Crane No. 6; and amongst other early orders was one from the Newcastle Chronicle, for hydraulic machinery to drive the printing press. The new machinery rapidly grew in favour; and orders from mines, docks and railways poured in to the Elswick firm, which soon extended its works.

In 1854, when the Crimean War broke out, Mr. Armstrong was requested to devise some submarine mines which would clear the harbour of Sebastopol of the Russian war-ships which had been sent there. He did so, but the machinery was never used.

At the same time, in his leisure moments, he turned his attention to the question of artillery. The guns in use at that time were very little better than those which had been used during the Napoleonic wars; and Mr. Armstrong devised a new one, which was made at his workshops. It was a 3-pounder, complete with gun-carriage and mountings, and is still to be seen at Elswick.

With the usual reluctance of Government departments to consider anything new, the War Office of the day was slow to believe in the superiority of the new field-piece; but when every fresh trial proved that superiority to be beyond doubt, the gun was adopted. And then Mr. Armstrong showed the large-minded generosity which was so marked a feature of his character. Holding in his hand—as every man must, who possesses the secret of a new and superior engine of destruction—the fate of nations, to be decided at his will, and with the knowledge that other powers were willing and eager to buy with any sum the skill of such an inventor, Mr. Armstrong presented to the British Government, as a free gift, the patents of his artillery; and he entered the Government service for a time, as Engineer to the War Department, in order to give them the benefit of his skill and special knowledge.

A knighthood was bestowed upon him, and he took up his new duties as Sir William Armstrong. An Ordnance department was opened at Elswick, and the Government promised a continuance of orders above those that the Arsenal at Woolwich was able to fulfil. All went well for a time, but after some years the connection between the Government and Elswick ceased; the Ordnance and Engineering works were then amalgamated into one concern, and Mr. George Rendel and Captain Noble—now Sir Andrew Noble, and one of the greatest living authorities on explosives—were placed in charge of the former.

Released from the agreement to make no guns except for the British Government, Elswick was open to receive other orders, which now began to roll in from all the world. Elswick prospered greatly, until suddenly there came a check, in the shape of a strike for a nine hours day, in 1871. After the strike had lasted for four and a half months, work was resumed; but the old genial relationship between masters and men had received a rude strain, and was never the same as before.

Shipbuilding had been taken up a year or two before this, but the earliest vessels were built to their order in Mr. Mitchell’s yard at Walker. The first one was a small gunboat, the “Staunch,” built for the Admiralty. In later years the Walker ship-yard was united to the Elswick enterprises, and a ship-yard at the latter place was also opened.

Meantime, Captain Noble had been experimenting further in artillery, and in 1877 another and better type of gun was produced. It was adopted by the Government, and all guns since then have been modifications, more or less, of this type. In 1876 the famous hundred-ton gun for Italy was made, and was taken on board the “Europa” to be carried to her destination; this vessel being the first to pass the newly-finished Swing Bridge, another outcome of the inventive genius of the head of the Elswick firm. The gun, which was the largest in the world at that time, was lowered into the “Europa” by the largest pair of “sheer-legs” in existence, and was lifted out again at Spezzia by the largest hydraulic crane of that day, and all these were the work of the Elswick firm.

Soon after this the firm became Sir W.G. Armstrong, Mitchell, and Co.; and in consequence of the continued increase of business, it became necessary to open Steel Works also. This is one of the most notable features of the Elswick works; the wonders of ancient magicians pale into insignificance before the marvels of this department, and no Eastern Genius could accomplish such seemingly impossible feats with greater ease than do the workmen of Elswick.

The works continued to grow still further, and soon Elswick was building cruisers for China, for Italy (where works at Pozzuoli—the ancient Puteoli—were opened), for Russia, Chili, and Japan. Tynesiders took a special interest in the progress of the Japanese wars, for so many of that country’s battleships had their birth on the banks of the river at Elswick, and Japanese sailors became a familiar sight in Newcastle streets. Groups of strange faces from alien lands are periodically seen in our midst, and met with again and again for some time; then one day there is a launch at Elswick, and shortly afterwards all the strange faces disappear. They have gathered together from their various quarters in the town, and manning their new cruiser, have sailed away to their own land, and Newcastle streets know them no more; but, later, Tynesiders read in their newspapers of the deeds done on the vessels which they have sent forth to the world.

The ice-breaker “Ermack” is one of the firm’s most notable achievements, the vessel having been built and designed in their Walker yard, to the order of the Czar of Russia, in 1898, for the purpose of breaking up ice-floes in the northern seas, and more especially for keeping open a route across the great lakes of Siberia.

The Elswick firm became Armstrong, Whitworth and Co., Ltd., in 1897, which was also the year of another great strike; and two years later, a disastrous fire burned down three of their shops, throwing two thousand men temporarily out of employment. Still the works continued to grow, and business to increase, until, instead of the five and a half acres originally purchased, the Company’s works, in 1900, covered two hundred and thirty acres, and the number of men on the pay-roll was over 25,000—that is, sufficient with their families to people a town three times the size of Hexham. And the scope and extent of these works are extending, and yet extending; and now Elswick and Scotswood form an uninterrupted line of closely-packed dwellings, which stretch without a break from Newcastle, and make a background for the immense works on the river shore; and one would look in vain for any signs of the pretty country lanes and village of sixty years ago.

The founder of this great enterprise, in the early days of the Company, built for his workpeople schools, library, and reading rooms, as well as dwellings, and met them personally at their social gatherings and entertainments—generally provided by himself; but the increasing size of the concern, the excellence and capability, amounting to genius, of the various heads of departments chosen by him, and his own increasing years and failing health, led to his gradual withdrawal from personal attendance at Elswick. The last time he appeared there officially was when the King of Siam visited the works in 1897.

One who knew him well has written of him, “His mind was at the same time original and strictly practical; he noticed with a penetrating observation, and drew conclusions with intuitive genius. Abstract speculation had no charm for him; he never cherished wild dreams or extravagant ideas. But if his conception was thus wisely restricted, his execution of an idea was unrivalled in its thoroughness. Whether he was founding an industrial establishment, or building a house, or making a road, the hand of the man is quite unmistakable. There is the same solid basis, the same enduring superstructure. Every stone that is laid at Cragside or Bamburgh seems to be stamped as it were with the impression of his great personality, and the thoroughness of his work.” All his life long, the thoroughness with which he was able to concentrate his mind on the one subject which occupied it at the time, was a marked feature of Lord Armstrong’s character.

In the early period of his career, while he was still in a solicitor’s office, and when the study of hydraulics was absorbing all his leisure hours, he was quizzically said to have “water on the brain.” Electrical problems also engaged his attention, and in 1844 he lectured at the Lit. and Phil. rooms on his hydro-electric machine, on which occasion the lecture room was so tightly packed that he had to get in through the window. In the following year he explained to the same society his hydraulic experiments and achievements; in 1846 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society; and the next summer, 1847, saw the Elswick Works begun.

It is difficult to realize the fact, brought home to us on looking at dates like these, that Lord Armstrong and Robert Stephenson were contemporaries, and that both great engineers were engaged at the same time on the works which were to bring them lasting fame. The life and work of Robert Stephenson seem so remote, so much a part of bygone history, that it strikes the mind with an unexpected shock to realise that here is a life which began about the same time, yet has lasted until quite recent years; for Lord Armstrong’s long and successful career only closed with the closing days of the nineteenth century.

In the later years of his life he was greatly interested in repairing and partly re-building the historic castle of Bamburgh, which Mr. Freeman calls “the cradle of our race,” and which Lord Armstrong purchased from Lord Crewe’s Trustees. Of his personal character, the writer above quoted says, “Apart from his intellectual gifts, Lord Armstrong’s character was that of a great man. His unaffected modesty was as attractive as his broad-minded charity. In business transactions, he was the soul of integrity and honour, while in private life his mind was far too large to regard accumulated wealth with any excessive affection. He both spent his money freely and gave it away freely. His benefactions to Newcastle were princely, and his public munificence was fit to rank with that of any philanthropist of his time.”

Princely, indeed, were his gifts to his native town, as the list of them will show; they embraced either large contributions to, or the entire gift of, Jesmond Dene, the Armstrong Park, the Lecture Theatre of the Literary and Philosophical Society, St. Cuthbert’s Church, the Cathedral, St. Stephen’s Church, the Infirmary, the Deaf and Dumb Institution, the Children’s Hospital, the Elswick Schools, Elswick Mechanics’ Institute, the Convalescent Home at Whitley Bay, the Hancock Museum—to which he and Lady Armstrong contributed a valuable collection of shells, and £11,500 in money—the Armstrong Bridge, the Armstrong College, and the Bishopric Endowment Fund.


From the crowded, bustling scenes of Tyneside to the solitude of the Cheviot Hills is a “far cry,” even farther mentally than in actual tale of miles. Yet the two are linked by the same stream, which begins life as a brawling Cheviot burn, having for its fellows the head waters of the Rede, the Coquet, and the Till, with the scores of little dancing rills that feed them.

Nowhere in this land of swelling hills and grassy fields can one get out of either sight or sound of running water. Every little dip in the hills has its watercourse, every vale its broader stream, and the pleasant sound of their murmurings and sweet babbling fills in the background of every remembrance of days spent upon the green slopes of the Cheviots. You may hear in their tones, if you listen, the shrill chatter and laughter of children, soft cooing voices, and the deeper notes of manhood, and might fancy, did not your sight contradict the fact, that you were close to a goodly company, whose words met your ear, but whose magic language you could not understand.

One little burn of my acquaintance, which runs through field and dell to join the Till, I have hearkened to again and again for hours, unable to break away from the spell of its ever-varying, yet constant music—a sort of wilder, sweeter version of Mendelssohn’s Duetto, with the voices of Knight and Lady alternating and intermingling amidst a rippling current of clear bell-like undertones.

Down from Cheviot itself, the lovely little Colledge Water splashes its way, issuing from the wild ravine called the Henhole, where the cliffs on each side of the rocky gorge rise in some places to a height of more than two hundred feet. Concerning this ravine, there is a legend that a party of hunters, long ages ago, were deer-stalking in Cheviot Forest, when on reaching the Henhole their ears were greeted by the most ravishing music they had ever heard. Allured by the enchanting sounds, they followed the music into the ravine, where they disappeared, and were never again seen.

The range of the Cheviot Hills stretches for about twenty-two miles along the north-west border of Northumberland; and as the width of the range is, roughly speaking, twenty-one miles, we have a tract of over three hundred square miles of rolling, grassy, and heath-clad hills, of which about one-third is over the Scottish border in Roxburghshire. The giants of the range, The Cheviot (2,676 feet high), Cairn Hill (2,545 feet), and the striking cone of Hedgehope (2,348 feet), are all near to each other on Northumbrian soil, a few miles south-west of Wooler, which is a most convenient starting place for a visit to any part of the Cheviots, as the Alnwick and Cornhill Railway brings within easy reach the heights which lie still farther north.

The quiet little market town lies pleasantly among green meadows almost at the foot of the Cheviots; its low substantial stone houses, with few gardens in front, give the place a somewhat monotonous appearance, but the newer streets try to make amends by blossoming out into brilliant flower-plots in summer-time. Still, one would not quarrel with the older buildings; solid and unpretentious, they must look much the same as in the days of Border turmoil, when the first requisite in house or town was strength, not beauty.

Near to Wooler are many interesting places; within the limits of quite a short stroll one may visit the Pin Well, a wishing well of which there are so many examples to be found wherever one may travel; the King’s Chair, a porphyry crag on the hill above the Pin Well; Maiden Castle, or, less euphoniously, Kettles Camp, an ancient British encampment on the same hill, the Kettles being pot-like cavities in the ravines surrounding it; and the Cup and Saucer Camp, just half a mile distant from Wooler. The Golf Course is now laid out on these same heights.

To reach the Cheviots from Wooler, the most usual way is by the beautiful glen in which lies Langleeford. The bright streamlet known as the Wooler Water runs through it from Cheviot on its way to the town from which it has taken its present name; formerly it was known as Caldgate Burn. It was at Langleeford that Sir Walter Scott stayed, as a youth, in 1791, with his uncle, after they had vainly attempted to find accommodation in Wooler. Here they rode, fished, shot, walked, and drank the goat’s whey for which the district was famous in those days and for long afterwards.

Cheviot itself, or “The Muckle Cheviot,” is a huge cumbrous-looking mass, with rounded sides and flat top, boggy and treacherous, where, nevertheless, many wild berries brighten the marshy flats in their season. The name “Cheviot” is said to mean “Snowy Ridge” and well does this highest summit of the range merit the name, for on its marshy top and in the rocky chasms of Henhole and Bazzle, the winter’s snow often lies until far into the summer. Down through the weird and fairy-haunted cleft of Henhole, as we have seen, the little brown stream of Colledge Water splashes its way, breaking into golden foam between mossy banks as it reaches the outlet, and turns northward to join the Till.

This little burn is one of the prettiest of mountain streams; and in the district surrounding it are perhaps more points of interest than any other stream of such inconsiderable dimensions can show, saving only its neighbour, the Till. The whole of the surrounding country, wild, lonely, and romantic, teems with memories and reminders of the past. Sir Walter Scott, while on the visit already referred to, found an additional pleasure in the presence of so many relics of ancient days in the neighbourhood. “Each hill,” he wrote to a friend, “is crowned with a tower, or camp, or cairn, and in no situation can you be near more fields of battle.”

Indeed, the whole district of the Cheviots, and the lower lines of swelling hills into which the land subsides as it nears the sea, is crowded with the memorials of an earlier race; from every hill-top and rocky height they speak with tantalising half-revelations of that race which the Romans found here when their galleys brought them to the land which was to them Ultima Thule. No convincing explanation has yet been found of the concentric circular markings, with radiating grooves from the cup-shaped hollow in the middle, which are scored on the rocks wherever traces of an ancient camp are found; and the numbers of these traces are proof that this district was once a very thickly populated part of Britain.

And when Angle and Saxon were driving the early inhabitants before them, westward and southward, these hills and valleys still sheltered a considerable population; and Bede tells us of a royal residence not far away, at the foot of the well known Yeavering Bell, one of the more important hills of the range. It rises to a height of more than 1,100 feet, and then abruptly ends in a wide, almost level top, grass-grown and boulder-strewn, and crowned near the centre with a roughly-piled cairn. The ancient name of Yeavering Bell, as given by Bede in his account of the labours of St. Paulinus, was Ad-gefrin.

To recall the days when King Edwin and his queen, Ethelburga, came here from the royal city of Bamburgh, we must go back to a time nearly forty years after the Bernician chieftain, Ida, established himself in that rocky fortress, from whence he ruled a district roughly corresponding to the present counties of Durham and Northumberland, and known as Bernicia. One of Ida’s successors, Ethelric, overcame the tribe of Angles then established in the neighbouring district of Deira—the Yorkshire of to-day. His successor, Ethelfrith, ruled over the united district, and married the daughter of Ella, the vanquished chieftain. Her brother, Edwin, he drove into exile, and the young prince found refuge at the court of Redwald of East Anglia, where he remained for some years.

Redwald’s friendship, however, does not seem to have been above suspicion, for we find that Ethelfrith’s bribe had on one occasion nearly induced him to give up his guest, whose life, however, was saved by Redwald’s wife who turned her husband from his purpose. In his exile the thoughts of the young prince often turned towards his own land; and, once, as he sat brooding over his misfortunes, he saw in a vision one who came and spoke comforting words to him, saying that he should yet be king and that his reign should be long and glorious. “And if one should come to thee and repeat this sign,” said the stranger, laying his right hand on Edwin’s head “wouldst thou hearken to his rede?” Edwin gave his word, and the vision fled. Some little time after this, Ethelfrith of Northumbria, as the united districts were now called, fell in battle against Redwald, and Edwin, returning northward, became ruler of Northumbria, the sons of Ethelfrith fleeing in their turn before the new king. Edwin wedded, as his second wife, Ethelburga, daughter of that king of Kent in whose days Augustine came to England; and being a Christian princess, she brought with her a priest to her new home in the north. The priest’s name was Paulinus; and one day he went to the King and, placing his right hand on Edwin’s head, asked if he knew that sign. Edwin remembered, and redeemed his promise. He hearkened to the teaching of the earnest monk, with the result that before long he and his court were baptised by Paulinus, Edwin’s little daughter, it is said, being the first to receive the sacred rite.

This was at York; and when the king and queen went to the royal city of Bamburgh, or to their country dwelling at the foot of the Cheviots, Paulinus accompanied them; and wherever he went, he laboured to teach the North-country Angles and Saxons the gospel of Christ. This country dwelling, to which came Paulinus and his royal friends, was Ad-gefrin, or Yeavering; and though it is extremely unlikely that any traces of it could remain until our day, yet tradition points out a fragment of an old building still standing there, as a remnant of the royal residence.

In the region of Kirknewton, a pretty little village to the north-west of Yeavering, where Colledge Water joins the Glen, which gives its name to the romantic district of Glendale, Paulinus baptised many hundreds of Edwin’s people; and the name of Pallinsburn—which is now confined to a house at some little distance from the burn—enshrines the memory of yet another scene of the labours of the indefatigable monk.

If we stand on the wind-swept top of Yeavering Bell, we are surrounded by the evidences of still more remote days, for the whole of the summit was once a fortified camp of the ancient Britons. A roughly-piled, but massive wall, now almost all broken down, surrounded it, and within its grass-grown oval are two additional walls, at the east and the west ends of the enclosure, and many hut-circles, evidences of the rude dwellings of our remote ancestors. Excavations here many years ago brought to light a jasper ball, some fragments of a coarse kind of pottery, and some oaken armlets. Evidently the enclosure on the summit was intended to be a last resort in time of danger, for traces of many huts are to be found outside its encircling wall, which is surrounded by a ditch and a low rampart of earth. At the east end, where the porphyry crag juts out from the hilltop to a height of about twenty feet, full advantage has been taken of this naturally strong position.

Now, instead of advancing foes, the spreading heather climbs steadily up the sloping sides of this ancient stronghold, and invades the central enclosure at its will; a few hardy sheep that have wandered up here from the richer pastures below, and now and again a stray tourist, anxious to make acquaintance at first hand with one of the more famous of the Cheviot heights, and more than satisfied with the glorious view spread out before him, are all that disturb the brooding peace of its grassy solitudes. Up here the wind blows keenly around us with an exhilarating freshness in its breath, and we think regretfully of coats left behind at the shepherd’s hospitable dwelling, which, with the rest of the cottages clustering round the old farm house, lies sunning itself in the warm glow of the September afternoon, in the green fields at the foot of the sheltering hills.

Looking southward now, up the stream, there is stretching away to the left the long ridge of Newton Tor, and away behind it Great Hetha and Little Hetha; while half-way down the vale the Colledge Water tumbles over the rocks at Hethpoole Linn (or Heathpool, as the modern rendering has it), breaking into amber spray deep down beneath overhanging trees and boulders and golden bracken.

This brings our thoughts to days comparatively modern, for when Admiral Collingwood was raised to the peerage of Great Britain, it was by the title of “Baron Collingwood of Caldburn and Hethpoole, in the county of Northumberland.” The brave Admiral was fond of planting an oak tree whenever he found an opportunity, to secure the continuance of those wooden walls which in his hands, and in those of his life-long friend, Nelson, had proved such a sure defence to his country. In a letter dated March, 1806, he wrote to his wife, “I wish some parts of Hethpoole could be selected for plantations of larch, oak, and beech, where the ground could best be spared. Even the sides of a bleak hill would grow larch and fir.” In another letter some months later he told her what “agreeable news” it was to hear that she was taking care of his oaks, and planting some at Hethpoole; and saying that if he ever returned he would plant a good deal there; adding, however, that he feared before that could take place both he and Lady Collingwood might themselves be planted in the churchyard beneath some old yew tree.

Hethpoole presents us with a link not only with history, but with romance as well. An ivied ruin near at hand, with walls of enormous strength, is said to be the remains of the castle where the final tragedy in “The Hermit of Warkworth” took place. Here, it is said, the distracted lover came upon his lady and his brother, who had at that moment effected her escape, and not recognising the youth, rushed upon the pair with drawn sword, only to discover too late his terrible mistake, and lose both brother and bride—for the lady received a mortal wound in trying to save her rescuer.

Turning our eyes now northward across the Glen from Yeavering Bell, we are looking towards Coupland Castle, and the fact that it was built so late as the reign of James I. bears eloquent testimony to the insecurity of life and property on the Borders even at that period. The barony either gave its name to, or took its name from, a well-known Northumbrian family, of which one of the most prominent members was that Sir John de Coupland who succeeded in capturing David of Scotland at the battle of Neville’s Cross—not, however, before he had lost some of his teeth by a blow from the mailed fist of that doughty monarch!

Beyond Coupland Castle we look across Milfield Plain lying in the angle formed by the meeting of the Glen with the deep and sullen Till, whose slow windings can be traced as it gleams at intervals between the undulations of the lower hills through which it flows northwestward to the Tweed. Though a brisk and sparkling stream in certain parts of its course, the general characteristics of the Till are well borne out by the lines—

  Tweed says to Till
  “What gars ye rin sae still?”
  Till says to Tweed
  “Though ye rin wi’ speed
  And I rin slaw;
  Where ye droon ae man
  I droon twa.”

There is yet more of historical and traditional interest to note in this view from the top of Yeavering Bell, which, as I saw it last, lay warm in the glow of a September afternoon. Nennius is our authority for stating that on Milfield Plain took place one of the great conflicts in which King Arthur

  “Fought, and in twelve great battles overcame
  The heathen hordes, and made a realm, and reigned”

And, as we gazed, the level spaces seemed peopled once more with charging knights, flashing sword and swinging battle-axe, and the intervening centuries dropped away, and Arthur’s call to battle for “our fair father Christ,” seemed curiously befitting that romantic scene. But, as the shadows lengthened, and the streams took on a golden glow in the rays of the September sun, then slowly setting, “the tumult and the shouting of the captains” died away, and the figure of an earnest monk seemed to stand by the riverside, with prince and serf, peasant and warrior for his audience, and the cold bright waters of the Glen dripping from his hand, as he enrolled one after another into the ranks of an army mightier than the hosts of Arthur or Edwin.

Milfield again emerges into notice out of the obscurity of those dark ages, in the days of the Bernician kings who succeeded Edwin; for Bede tells us that “This town (Ad-gefrin) under the following kings, was abandoned, and another was built instead of it at a place called Melmin,” now Milfield. Nothing, however, remains here of the buildings which once sheltered the royal Saxons and their court. In later days, Milfield has a melancholy interest attaching to it from its connection with the battle of Flodden; for, on the heights above, King James fixed his camp, in the hope that Surrey would lead his troops across the plain below. Of the other considerable heights of the Cheviot range, Carter Fell and Peel Fell are the best known; they both lie right on the border line of England and Scotland, between the North Tyne and the Rede Water. As we have already seen, the men of Tynedale and Redesdale bore a reputation for lawlessness in the time of the Border “Moss-trooping” days, and until nearly the end of the eighteenth century the tradesmen and guilds of Newcastle would take no apprentice who hailed from either of these dales. The tracks and passes between the hills, once alive with frequent foray and wild pursuit, are now silent and solitary but for the occasional passing of a shepherd or farmer, and the flocks of sheep grazing as they move slowly up the hillsides. A quaint survival of the remembrances of those days was unexpectedly brought before me one day. A child presented me with a bunch of cotton-grass, gathered on the moors not far from the Roman-Wall. I asked if she knew what they were that she had brought. “Moss-troopers,” she replied.

Many of the Cheviot heights bear most suggestive and interesting names, such as Cushat[7] Law, Kelpie[8] Strand, Earl’s Seat, Stot[9] Crags, Deer Play, Wether Lair, Bloodybushedge, Monkside, etc., etc.

[7] Cushat = a wood-pigeon.

[8] Kelpie = a water-witch.

[9] Stot = a bullock.

In these lonely wilds, which occupy all the northwest of the county, one may travel all day and meet with no living thing save the birds of the air, and a few shy, wild creatures of the moorlands; curve after curve, the rounded hills stretch away into the distance, grass-grown or heatherclad, with occasional peat-mosses; above is the “grey gleaming sky,” and, all around, a stillness as of vast untrodden wastes, and a sense of solitude out of all proportion to the actual extent of this lonely region. The fascination of it, however, admits of no denial, even on the part of those newly making its acquaintance; while those who in childhood or youth roam over its wild fells, and feel the spell of its brooding mystery, retain in their hearts for all time an unfading remembrance of its magic charm.

  My sire is the stooping Cheviot mist,
  My mother the heath in her purple train;
  And every flower on her gown I’ve kissed
  Over and over and over again.

  The secret ways of the hills are mine,
  I know where the wandering moor-fowl nest;
  And up where the wet grey glidders[10] shine
  I know where the roving foxes rest.

  I know what the wind is wailing for
  As it searches hollow and hag and peak;
  And, riding restless on Newton Tor,
  I know what the questing shadows seek.

  I know the tale that the brown bees tell,
  And they tell it to me with a raider’s pride,
  As, drunk with the cups of Yeavering Bell,
  They stagger home from the English side.

  I know the secrets of haugh and hill;
  But sacred and safe they rest with me,
  Till I hide them deep in the heart of Till,
  To be taken to Tweed and the open sea.

    —Will. H. Ogilvie.


[10] Glidders = Patches of loose stones on the hillside.


  “Take these flowers, which, purple waving,
  On the ruined rampart grew,
  Where, the sons of Freedom braving,
  Rome’s imperial standard flew.
  Warriors from the breach of danger
  Pluck no longer laurels there;
  They but yield the passing stranger
  Wild-flower wreaths for Beauty’s hair.”
    —Sir Walter Scott.
                (Lines written for a young lady’s album.)

Of all the abundance of treasure which Northumberland possesses, from a historical point of view—of all its wealth of interesting relics of bygone days—ancient abbey, grim fortress, menhir and monolith, camp and tumulus—none grips the imagination as does the sight of that unswerving line which pursues its way over hill and hollow, from the eastern to the western shores of the north-land, visible emblem, after more than a thousand years, of the far-flung arm of Imperial Rome.

From Wallsend on the Tyne to Bowness on the Solway Firth it strode triumphantly across the land; even now in its decay it remains a splendid monument to that mighty nation’s genius for having and holding the uttermost parts of the earth that came within their ken. As was inevitable, after the lapse of nearly eighteen centuries the great work is everywhere in a ruinous condition, and in many places, especially at its eastern end, has disappeared altogether; but not only can its course be traced by various evidences, but it was actually standing within comparatively recent years. As lately as the year 1800—lately, that is, compared with the date of its building—its existence at Byker was referred to in a magazine of the period. Now nothing is to be seen of it excepting a few stones here and there, for many miles from Wallsend; but the highroad westward from Newcastle, by Westgate Road, as is well known, follows the course of the Wall for nearly twenty miles. But farther west we may walk along the uneven, broken surface of the mighty rampart, or climb down into the broad and deep fosse which lies closely against it along its northern side, without troubling ourselves with the arguments and uncertainties of antiquaries, who have by no means decided on what was the original function of the Wall, who was its real builder, why and when the earthen walls and fosse which accompany it on the south were wrought, and many other smaller controversial points, which afford endless matter for speculation and discussion.

Early references to the Wall show that our forefathers knew it as the Picts’ Wall; it is now generally referred to as the Wall of Hadrian, the general concensus of opinion yielding to that indefatigable ruler the credit of having wrought the mighty work. Whether built originally as a frontier line of defence or not, opinions are not agreed; but it is very certain that the Wall afforded the only secure foothold in the North to the Romans for well-nigh two centuries of hostility from the restless Brigantes to the southward, and the Picts and Scots to the north; and for another century or so after their southern neighbours had become friendly and peaceful, it still remained a substantial bulwark against the northern barbarians.

Throughout the whole of its length it steadily holds the line of the highest ridges in its course, climbing up slopes and dipping down into the intervening hollows with the least possible deviation from its onward course. The most interesting, because most complete, portion of the Wall, is that in the neighbourhood of the three loughs—Broomlee, Greenlee, and Crag Loughs, which, with Grindon Lough to the south of the Wall, boast the name of the Northumberland Lakes. On this portion of the wall is situated the large Roman station of Borcovicus, from which we have gained a great deal of our information as to what the life of the garrisons on this lonely outpost of Empire was like.

The station is situated on hilly ground, which slopes gently to the south, and is nearly five acres in extent. On entering the eastern gateway one cannot but experience a sudden thrill on seeing the deep grooves worn in the stone by the passing and repassing of Roman cart and chariot wheels. That mute witness of the daily traffic of the soldiery in those long-past centuries speaks with a most intimate note to us who eighteen hundred years afterwards come to look upon the place of their habitation. The station itself is of the usual shape of the Roman towns on the course of the Wall—oblong, with rounded corners. The greatest length lies east and west, in a line with the Wall; and two broad streets crossing each other at right angles lead from the north to the south, and from the east to the western gateways. Each of the four was originally a double gateway; but in every case one half of it has been closed up, no doubt when the garrison was declining in numbers, and the attacks of the enemy were increasing in severity.

North Gateway, Housesteads and Roman Wall.

North Gateway, Housesteads and Roman Wall.

Considerable portions of the guard-chambers, one at each side of each gateway, still remain; and near one of them was found a huge stone trough, its edges deeply worn by, apparently, the frequent sharpening of knives upon it. Its use has not been determined; Dr. Bruce tells us that one of the men engaged in the work of excavation gave it as his firm opinion that the Romans used it to wash their Scotch prisoners in! The buildings of the little town—a row of houses against the western wall, two large buildings near the centre of the camp, with smaller chambers to the east of them—in which the garrison lived, worked, and stored their supplies, are still quite plainly to be traced, although the walls are only three or four courses high in most places, and of the pillars the broken bases are almost all that remain.

A considerable number of people dwelt outside the walls of this, as of all the stations, sheltering under its walls, and relying on the protection of its garrison; the slope to the southward of Borcovicus shows many traces of buildings scattered all over it. On the northern side, the steep hill, massive masonry, and deep fosse would seem to have offered well-nigh insuperable difficulties to an attacking force such as then could be brought against the camp; yet not only here, but in all the stations whose remains yet survive, there is unmistakable evidence that more than once has the garrison been driven out by a victorious foe, to re-enter and occupy it again at a later period. And when we consider that the Wall and its forts were garrisoned by the Romans for a period extending over nearly three centuries, a period corresponding to the time from the reign of James I. to the present day, it becomes a matter of wonder, not that such was the case, but that such occurrences were not more frequent than the evidences seem to declare.

In spite of all the hard fighting, however, the recreations of lighter hours would seem not to have been forgotten; on the north of the wall is a circular hollow in the ground, evidently a little amphitheatre, in which doubtless many a captive Briton and Pict played his part. On a little rise to the southward, called Chapel Hill, stood the temple where the garrison paid its vows to the various deities of its worship. Many remarkably fine altars found on this and other sites have been preserved, either at the fine museum at The Chesters, or at the Black Gate in Newcastle. One of the most striking is the altar to Mithras, the Persian sun-god, found in a cave near the camp, evidently constructed for the celebration of the rites connected with the worship of Mithras. The altar shows the god coming out of an egg, and surrounded by an oval on which are carved the signs of the Zodiac.

The Teutonic element in the garrison is represented by the altars to Mars Thingsus, the discovery of which caused great interest in Germany, and by the altars to the Deae Matres—the mother-goddesses, whose carved figures are shown seated, fully draped, and holding baskets of fruits on their knees. They are generally found in sets of three; but unfortunately they have been much mutilated, and all the examples remaining are headless. The Deae Matres would seem to correspond in some degree to the Roman Ceres and the Greek Demeter, the bountiful givers of the fruits of the earth. The majority of the altars found are, as was to be expected, dedicated to the deities of Rome; chiefly, as shown by the constantly recurring I.O.M.—Jovi optimo maximo—to “Jupiter, the best and greatest.” The varying inscriptions which follow as reasons for their erection as votive offerings give us glimpses of the life in these communities clearer than those afforded by anything else. And as most, if not all, of our knowledge concerning the details of the Roman occupation of the north-country has to be obtained from the inscriptions which the garrisons left behind them, the inscribed stones as well as the altars are of the greatest possible interest and value. One such stone, found at the Borcovicus mile-castle, states that “the Second Legion, the August (erected this at the command of) Aulus Platorius Nepos, Legate and Propraetor, in honour of the Emperor Caesar Trajanus Hadrianus Augustus.”

At “Cuddy’s” (Cuthbert’s) Crag near Borcovicus is one of the most picturesque bits of scenery to be found on the whole course of the Wall. My first acquaintance with it was made on a day of grey mist and drizzling rain, which completely hid any view of the surrounding country, and of necessity confined our attention to the stones (and wet grass!) immediately beneath our feet. But another visit was on a day of wind and sunshine, and in the company of a group of light-hearted students. We explored the ruins of Borcovicus, walked along the broad and broken top of the Wall, and climbed up hill and down dale with it under the pleasantest conditions, if a trifle breezy on the heights. June was at her traditional best, which she does not often vouchsafe to show us; flowers waved all around, amongst the grass and in the crannies between the stones, and more than once the lines at the head of this chapter were quoted by one to another. Again and again our progress was stayed while we admired the glorious view spread out all around, but especially was this the case at Cuddy’s Crag. We looked westward over Crag Lough, its usually dark waters flashing in the afternoon sun; the three Loughs were all within view; away to the southward, beyond Barcombe Hill, and the site of Vindolana, Langley Castle could be seen, “standing four-square to all the winds that blew”; and further away again, beyond the valley of the South Tyne, to the southwest the faint outlines of Crossfell and Skiddaw. Northward it was quite easy to imagine oneself looking out over the Picts’ country still, so far do the moorlands stretch, and so few are the signs of habitation. Rolling ridges stretch northward, wave upon wave, clothed with grass and heather, amongst which Parnesius and Pertinax went hunting with little Allo the Pict; to the northeast the heights of Simonside showed; and far beyond them, though more to the westward, the rounded summits of the Cheviots lay on the horizon.

A short distance westward from the Crag is Hot Bank farmhouse, a place which most visitors to the Wall remember with grateful feelings; for what is more refreshing, after a long tramp, than a farmhouse cup of tea accompanied by that most appetising of Northumbrian dainties, hot girdle cakes! The Visitors’ Book at Hot Bank is a “civil list” of all the most learned and noted names in Great Britain, and many outside its shores, together with legions of humbler folk. In this it resembles the one at Cilurnum, which is the only other considerable station along the line of the Wall in Northumberland.

This station of Cilurnum, or Chesters, is a little over five acres in extent, and is quite near to Chollerford station on the North British Railway. To describe Cilurnum in detail, and the interesting museum connected with it, filled with a wonderful collection of objects found on the line of the Wall, would require a book to deal with that alone. The general plan is the same as that which we have already seen at Borcovicus, with the same rounded corners, and double gateway with guard-chambers at each side; the western and eastern walls at Chesters, however, have each an additional single gateway to the south of the larger portals. We must content ourselves with a short survey of the camp, with its two wide streets at right angles to each other as at Borcovicus, and the rest of them very narrow—indeed, little more than two feet in width; the remains of its Forum and market, its barracks and houses, its open shops and colonnades, the bases of the pillars yet in position; its baths, with pipes, cistern, and flues; and a vaulted chamber which was thought, on its being first excavated, to lead to underground stables, for a local tradition held that such were in existence, and would be found, with a troop of five hundred horses. The vault, however, did not lead further, so that the tradition remained unproven. Notwithstanding this, there was a grain of fact in it; for Chesters was a cavalry station, and five hundred was the full complement of the ala, or troop (ala being a “wing,” and cavalry forming the “wing” of an army in position).

Outside the walls of Cilurnum are traces of the usual suburban dwellings; and here, near the river, stood the villa of the officer in command of the station. The excavation of all these buildings and many others took place in the forties and fifties of last century, and were due to the energy of Mr. John Clayton, the learned and zealous antiquary, in the possession of whose family the estate still remains. To Mr. N.G. Clayton we owe the Museum at the Lodge gate, which he built for the reception of the notable collection it contains of antiquities gathered from all the various stations in Northumberland. A very fine altar brought from Vindolana at once strikes the eye, and may be taken as a type of many others, though not many are so perfect. The gravestone of a standard-bearer, from the neighbouring station of Procolitia, shows a full-length carving of the dead warrior. Other inscribed stones are of great interest, though unfortunately most of them are but fragments; still these fragments not infrequently contain a few words which enable students of them to confirm a date or a fact concerning the garrisons, which must otherwise have been a matter of pure conjecture. For instance, it might seem very improbable that the same regiments should have been quartered in certain stations for over two hundred years; yet one of the inscribed stones proves that such was the case at Cilurnum. The inscription states that the second ala of the Asturians repaired the temple during the consulate of certain persons, which is found to be about the year 221. In the Notitia, which was not compiled until the beginning of the fifth century, the second ala of the Asturians is given as the garrison of Cilurnum.

Another thing which strikes the imagination is the sight, after the lapse of so many centuries, of the erasures on various inscribed stones—erasures of some emperor’s or Caesar’s name after his death by the chisel of a soldier in one of his legions on this far-away post of his empire. It is one thing to read one’s Gibbon, and learn of the murder of Geta, son of Severus, by order of his brother Caracalla, and another to see the youth’s name roughly scratched out on a stone in Hexham Abbey crypt; and to read of the assassination of Elagabalus does not move us one whit, but to see his name erased from a stone in Chesters museum brings the tumultuous happenings in ancient Rome very closely home to us.

Here are also several Roman milestones, with their lengthy and sonorous inscriptions, from various points on the Wall; and a miscellaneous and deeply interesting collection of smaller articles, such as ornaments of bronze, jet, or gold, fibulae (brooches or clasps), coins of many reigns, Samian-ware, terra-cotta and glass, parts of harness, etc., etc.

Of carven figures there are several besides the standard bearer already mentioned. The best is a figure of Cybele, with elaborate draperies, but unfortunately headless; another, of Victory, holds a palm branch in the left hand, but the right arm is missing. A soldier is shown with spear, shield, and ornate head-piece; and a representation of a river-god, the genius of the Tyne, is worthy of notice. He is a bearded figure, after the style of the figures of Nilus, or the representations in old prints of Father Thames. From Procolitia comes an altar to the goddess Coventina, a name not met with elsewhere, the presiding genius of the well in that station. She is shown reclining on a water-lily leaf, holding in one hand a water-plant, and in the other a goblet from which a stream of water runs. An elaborate carving of three water nymphs, most probably meant to be in attendance on the goddess, is one of the few pieces of sculpture that are not greatly mutilated.

Centurial stones are numerous, having been put up at all parts of the Wall to record the building of such and such parts by various centurions and their companies. The mark >, which Dr. Hodgkin supposes to be a representation of the vine rod, a centurion’s symbol of authority, and the sign C or Q, are used to signify a century. Thus a stone inscribed Q VAL. MAXI. states that the century of Valerius Maximus built that part of the Wall. Two or three small altars are inscribed DIBVS VETERIBVS—“To the Old Gods”; and Mars Thingsus is well represented.

A very important relic of Roman times found at Cilurnum was a bronze tablet of citizenship, giving this coveted privilege to a number of soldiers who had served in twenty-five campaigns and received honourable discharge. There have been only three specimens of this diploma found in Britain, and all are preserved in the British Museum. There are many memorial tablets erected by wives to their husbands, and husbands to their wives, which leads to much speculation as to how these ladies, high-born Roman, native Briton, or freed-woman, liked their sojourn in a small garrison town on the breezy heights of a Northumbrian moorland. Those ladies who dwelt at Cilurnum, however, had not so much cause to complain, for such natural advantages as were to be had were certainly theirs, in that sheltered spot. The scenery round about Cilurnum is quiet, peaceful and pastoral, altogether different from the wild beauty of Cuddy’s Crag, Limestone Corner, or Whinshields.

Having now noticed the two chief stations on the line of the Wall, it will be interesting to follow the course of the rampart itself throughout its journey across Northumberland, though to do so in detail is impossible within the limits of so small a volume as the present one. Neither would it be necessary, or desirable, for the last word in detailed description has been said long ago in the two wonderfully exhaustive treatises on the subject by Dr. Bruce.

A list of Roman officials, civil and military, throughout the empire has come down to us; in this list—Notitia Dignitatem et Administratem, tam civilium quam militarium in partibus orientis et occidentis—the portion which relates to the Wall is headed, Item per lineam Valli—“Also along the line of the Wall.” The following is a copy of this portion, as given by Dr. Bruce in his Handbook to the Roman Wall.

  The Tribune of the fourth cohort of the Lingones at Segedunum.

  The Tribune of the first cohort of Cornovii at Pons AElii.

  The Prefect of the first ala of the Asturians at Condercum. The
  Tribune of the first cohort of the Frixagi (Frisii) at Vindobala.

  The Prefect of the Savinian ala at Hunnum.

  The Prefect of the second ala of the Asturians at Cilurnum.

  The Tribune of the first cohort of the Batavians at Procolitia.

  The Tribune of the first cohort of the Tungrians at Borcovicus.

  The Tribune of the fourth cohort of the Gauls at Vindolana.

  The Tribune of the first cohort of Asturians at Aesica.

  The Tribune of the second cohort of Dalmatians at Magna.

  The Tribune of the first cohort of Dacians, styled Aelia, at Amboglanna.

  The Prefect of the ala called “Petriana,” at Petriana.

  The Prefect of a detachment of Moors, styled Aureliani, at Aballaba.

  The Tribune of the second cohort of the Lingones at Congavata.

  The Tribune of the first cohort of Spaniards at Axelodunum.

  The Tribune of the second cohort of the Thracians at Gabrosentum.

  The Tribune of the first marine cohort, styled Aelia, at Tunnocelum.

  The Tribune of the first cohort of the Morini at Glannibanta.

  The Tribune of the third cohort of the Nervians at Alionis.

  The Cuneus of men in armour at Bremetenracum.

  The Prefect of the first ala, styled Herculean, at Olenacum.

  The Tribune of the sixth cohort of the Nervians at Virosidum.

Of these stations, with their officers and troops, only those as far as Magna are in Northumberland; the rest continue the chain of defences across Cumberland to the Solway Firth. Besides these stations, there were castella at the distance of every Roman mile (seven furlongs) along the Wall, from which circumstance they are known as “mile-castles.” They provided accommodation for the troops necessary between the stations, which were at some distance from each other; and between each two castella there were also erected two turrets, so that communication from one end of the Wall to the other was speedy and certain.

All traces of the station of Segedunum (Wallsend) have long since disappeared; the Wall from there, beginning actually in the bed of the river, ran almost parallel with the N.E.R. Tynemouth Branch, a little to the south of it, and climbing the hill to Byker, went down the slope to the Ouseburn parallel with Shields Road, crossing the burn just a little to the south of Byker Bridge. From there its course has been traced to Red Barns, where St. Dominic’s now stands, to the Sallyport Gate, and over the Wall Knoll to Pilgrim Street; thence to the west door of the Cathedral, and on past St. John’s Church, up Westgate Road.

The station at Pons AElii, it is generally agreed, occupied the ground between the Cathedral church of St. Nicholas and the premises of the Lit. and Phil. Society. Following the Wall up Westgate Road, we are now out upon the highway from Newcastle to Carlisle, which, as we have seen, is upon the very line of the Wall for nearly a score of miles. At Condercum (Benwell) the next station, garrisoned by a cavalry corps of Asturians from Spain, a small temple was uncovered in the course of excavating, and two altars found still standing in their original position. Both of these were to a deity unknown elsewhere, given as Antenociticus on one, and as Anociticus on the other. The former was erected by a centurion of the Twentieth Legion, the Valerian and Victorious, whose crest, the running boar, we shall meet with more than once in our journey.

Westward from here, near West Denton Lodge, faint indications of the turf wall (generally called the Vallum, to distinguish it from the Murus, or stone wall), come into sight, and traces of a mile-castle to the left of the road. After this the Vallum and Murus accompany each other for the rest of their journey, with but little intermission. The next mile-castle was at Walbottle, from which point a delightful view of the Tyne valley and the surrounding country can be obtained. Passing Throckley and Heddon-on-the-Wall, where the fosse on the northern side of the Wall is well seen, and also the Vallum and its fosse, Vindolana (Rutchester) is reached; but there is little evidence here that it is the site of a once busy and bustling garrison station. Indeed, up to this point and for a considerable distance further, a few courses of stones here and there are all that is to be seen of the Roman Wall, its material having for the most part been swallowed up in the construction of the turnpike road on which we are travelling. This road was made in 1745 because there was no road by which General Wade could convey his troops from Newcastle to Carlisle, when “Bonnie Prince Charlie” marched so gaily to that city on his way southward, and so sadly, in a month, returned again.

The Wall now makes for the ridge of Harlow Hill, while the Vallum goes on in a perfectly straight line past the picturesque Whittle Dene and the waterworks, until the Wall joins it again near Welton, where the old pele-tower is entirely built of Roman stones. After Matfen Piers, where a road to the northward leads to the beautiful little village of Matfen, and one to the southward to Corbridge, the Wall passes Wall Houses and Halton Shields, where the various lines of the Wall, road, and earthworks, as well as the fosse of each, can be distinctly seen. Passing Carr Hill, the Wall leads up to the station of Hunnum (Halton Chesters), where Parnesius was stationed when Maximus gave him his commission on the Wall. It is not easy to recognise the site now, but as we follow the road we may comfort ourselves with the reflection that at least we have walked right across it from the eastern gate to the western.

A short distance further on is Stagshawbank, famed for its fairs, the glory of which, however, has greatly departed since the days when Dandie Dinmont had such adventures on returning from “Staneshiebank.” It stands just where the Wall crosses the Watling Street, which enters Northumberland at Ebchester, and crossing the moors to Whittonstall, leads down the long descent to Riding Mill; there turning westward to Corbridge, it comes straight on to Stagshawbank, leading thence northwestward past the Wall through Redesdale to the Borders, which it reaches at Ad Fines Camp, or Chew Green, where the solitudes of the Cheviots and the silence of the deserted camp are soon to be startled by the rifle-shots of Territorials at practice. West of Stagshawbank the earthen ramparts are to be seen in great perfection.

As the Wall nears Chollerford, one may see, a little to the northward, the little chapel of St. Oswald, which, as we have seen in a former chapter, marks the site of the battle of Heavenfield. Just before reaching this point, there is a quarry to the south of the Wall from which the Romans obtained much building-stone, and one of them has left his name carved on one of the stones left lying there, thus—(P)ETRA FLAVI(I) CARANTINI—The stone of Flavius Carantinus.

At Plane Trees Field and at Brunton there are larger pieces of the Wall standing than we have yet seen. The Wall now parts company with the highroad, which swerves a little to the north in order to cross the Tyne by Chollerford Bridge, while the course of the Wall is straight ahead, for the present bridge is not the one built and used by the Romans. That is in a line with the Wall, and therefore south of the present one; and as we have already noticed, its piers can be seen near the river banks when the river is low. A diagram of its position is given in Dr. Bruce’s Handbook.

The Wall now leads up to the gateway of Cilurnum, which we have already visited; and after leaving the park, it goes on up the hill to Walwick. Here it is rejoined by the road, which now for some little distance proceeds actually on the line of the Wall, the stones of which can sometimes be seen in the roadway. The tower a little further on, on the hill called Tower Tye, or Taye, was not built by the Romans, although Roman stones were used in its erection; it is only about two hundred years old.

At Black Carts farm, which the Wall now passes, the first turret discovered on the line of the Wall after the excavations had begun, and interest in the subject was revived, was here laid bare by Mr. Clayton in 1873. At Limestone Bank, not much further on, the fosse north of the Wall, and also that of the Vallum, show a skill in engineering such as we are apt to fancy belongs only to these days of powerful machinery, and explosives for rending a way through the hardest rock. The ditches have both been cut through the solid basalt, and great boulders of it are strewn around; one huge mass, weighing many tons, has been hoisted out—by what means, we are left to wonder; and another, still in the ditch, has the holes, intended for the wedges still discernible.

A mile or so further on is Procolitia (Carrawburgh), where is the famous well presided over by the goddess Coventina, whose acquaintance we have already made at Cilurnum. The remains of the station at Procolitia are by no means to be compared with those at Borcovicus or Cilurnum; very few of its stones are yet remaining. The well was the most interesting find at Procolitia. It was known to be there, for Horsley had mentioned it; but the waters which supplied it were diverted in consequence of some lead-mining operations. Then the stream formed by its overflow dried up, grass grew over its course and over the well, and it was lost sight of entirely. But the same thing which had led to its disappearance was the means of finding it again. Some lead miners, prospecting for another vein of ore in the neighbourhood, happened to dig in this very spot, and soon struck the stones round the mouth of the well. Mr. Clayton had it properly excavated, and was rewarded by coming not only upon the well, but a rich find of Roman relics of all kinds, which had either been thrown pell-mell into it for concealment in a moment of danger, or, what is more likely, been thrown in during the course of ages as votive offerings to the presiding goddess of the well. There were thousands of coins, mostly silver and copper, with four gold pieces among them; and a large collection of miscellaneous objects, including vases, shoes, pearls, ornaments, altars and inscribed stones, all of which were taken to Chesters. The next point of interest on the Wall is the farmhouse of Carraw, which the Priors of Hexham Abbey once used as a summer retreat. A little further on, at Shield-on-the-Wall, Wade’s road crosses to the south of the earthen lines, and parts company with the Wall for a little while, for the latter bends northward to take the high ridge, as usual, while the road and Vallum continue in a straight line. The fragments of a mile-castle are standing just at the point where the Wall swerves northward; indeed, we have been passing the sites of these castella, with fragments more or less in evidence all along the route, but those which we shall now encounter are much more distinctly to be seen than their fellows on the eastern part of the journey, many of which have disappeared altogether.

The high crags which here shoulder the Wall are part of the Great Whin Sill, an intrusive dyke of dolerite which stretches from Greenhead northeastward across the county nearly to Berwick. The military road here leaves the Wall, with which it does not again come into close contact until both are near Carlisle, though in several places the Roman road will be encountered near the Wall in a well-preserved condition. The Wall now climbs another ascent to the farmhouse of Sewingshields, which name is variously explained as “Seven Shields,” and as “The shiels (shielings, or little huts) by the seugh” or hollow—the hollow being the fosse. Sewingshields Castle, long since disappeared, is the scene of the knight’s adventures in Sir Walter Scott’s “Harold the Dauntless.” And tradition asserts that King Arthur, with Queen Guinevere and all the court, lies in an enchanted sleep beneath the castle, or at least its site. Not only is there no castle, but the Wall also has been despoiled to supply the material for building the farmhouse and other buildings in the neighbourhood. The Wall climbs unfalteringly over the crags, one after the other, until the wide opening of Busy Gap is reached. This being such a convenient pass from north to south, it was naturally used constantly by raiders and thieves; and such an unenviable notoriety did it possess, that to call a person a “Busy Gap rogue” was sufficient to lay oneself open to an action for libel. Climbing the next slope we look down on Broomlee Lough and reach the portion of the Wall we have already noted—Borcovicus (Housesteads), Cuddy’s Crag, Hot Bank farmhouse, and Crag; Lough.

The course of the Wall continues, past Milking Gap, along the rugged heights of Steel Rig, Cat’s Stairs, and Peel Crag, till on reaching Winshields we are at the highest point on the line, 1,230 feet above the sea-level. Dipping down to Green Slack, the Wall crosses the valley called Lodham Slack, and begins to ascend once more. The local names of gaps and heights in this neighbourhood are highly descriptive, and sometimes weirdly suggestive; we have had Cat’s Stairs, and now we come to Bogle Hole, Bloody Gap, and Thorny Doors. A little further west from here the very considerable remains of a mile-castle may be seen, in which a tombstone was found doing duty as a hearth-stone. The inscription recorded that it had been erected by Pusinna to the memory of her husband Dagvaldus, a soldier of Pannonia.

Westward from this mile-castle the Wall climbs Burnhead Crag, on which the foundations of a building, similar to the turrets, were exposed a few years ago; then it dips down again to Haltwhistle Burn, which comes from Greenlee Lough, and is called, until it reaches the Wall, the Caw Burn. From the burn a winding watercourse supplied the Roman station of AEsica (Great Chesters) with water. Just here the Wall is in a very ruinous condition; and of the station of AEsica but little masonry remains, though the outlines of it can he clearly traced. Beyond AEsica, however, is a splendid portion of the Wall, standing some seven or eight courses high. Here it climbs again to the top of the crags which once more appear, bold and rugged, to culminate in the “Nine Nicks of Thirlwall,” so called from the number of separate heights into which the crags divide, and over which the Wall takes its way.

At Walltown, on this part of its course, is to be seen an old well, in which Paulinus is said to have baptised King Edwin; but the local name for it is King Arthur’s Well. Now the Wall descends to a level and pastoral country, leaving behind it the wild moorland and craggy heights across which it has travelled so long; but unfortunately much of it has been destroyed by the quarrying operations at Greenhead. Of the station of Magna (Caervoran) little can be seen at the present day. This station and Aesica are nearer to each other than are any other two stations on the Wall, and a line of camps, five in number, stand south of the Wall and Vallum, from Magna to Amboglanna, showing that a third line of defence was deemed necessary where the natural defences of moorland ridge, lough or crag were absent.

The Roman way called the Stanegate comes from the eastward almost up to the station of Magna, which stands a little to the south of both Wall and Vallum, between them and Wade’s road, which here approaches nearer to the Wall than it has done for many miles.

Another Roman road, the Maiden Way, comes from the South closely up to the Vallum, quite near to Thirlwall castle. The name “Thirlwals” was supposed to commemorate the “thirling” (drilling or piercing) of the Wall at this point by the barbarians, but this is extremely doubtful; though the difficulty of defending the wall on this level tract lends an air of likelihood to this supposition. Near here the little river Tipalt flows across the line of the Wall on its way southward to join the North Tyne.

Passing Wallend, Gap, and Rose Hill, where Gilsland railway station now stands, we follow the Wall to the deep dene of the Poltross Burn, which forms the boundary between Northumberland and Cumberland. The railway just beyond the burn crosses the line of the Wall; and, further on, an interesting portion, several courses high, takes its way through the Vicarage garden. Here we will leave it to continue its way through Cumberland, and turn our attention to the chief Roman ways which cross Northumberland, with other stations standing upon them.

The Watling Street or Dere Street, we have already noticed; and the chief station on it, which has also proved to be the largest in Northumberland, is Corstopitum, near Corbridge. The recent excavations since 1906 have resulted in the finding of many interesting relics, including some hundreds of coins, amongst which were forty-eight gold pieces, of later Roman date, ranging from those of Valentinian I. to those of Magnus Maximus. Pottery in large quantities has also been found, most of it, of course, in a fragmentary condition, but some pieces, notably bowls of Samian ware, almost perfect, and dating from the first century. Several interesting pieces of sculpture have been unearthed; one a finely sculptured lion standing over an animal which it has evidently just killed; this was, no doubt, used as an outlet for water at the fountain, judging by the projection of the lion’s lower lip. Another piece of sculpture represents a sun-god, the rays surrounding his face; and several altars and many inscribed stones are also amongst the treasures lately revealed. A clay mould of a human figure was also found, which is supposed to represent some Keltic deity; but as the figure wears a short tunic not unlike a kilt, and carries a crooked club, the workmen promptly christened it Harry Lauder! The buildings in this town, for it is much more than a military station, have been large and imposing, as is shown by each successive revelation made by the excavators’ spades. The portion of the Watling Street leading from Corstopitum to the river has also been laid bare.

The Roman road called the Stanegate runs westward from the North Tyne at Cilurnum, a little to the north of Fourstones railway station, through Newbrough, on past Grindon Hill, Grindon Lough, which it passes on the south, and Grindon Dykes, to Vindolana (Chesterholm) another Roman town, which lies a mile due south from Hot Bank farmhouse on the Wall. Vindolana stood on a most favourable site, a high platform protected on three sides, and it covered three and a half acres of ground. Here no excavations have yet been made, and the site is grass grown and desolate although the outlines of the station may be distinctly traced. A ruinous building to the west of this station was popularly called the Fairies’ Kitchen, a name given to it on account of the marks of fire and soot on the pillars. From the station several inscribed stones and altars have been taken to the museum at Chesters. One of them is dedicated to the Genius of the Camp by Pituanius Secundus, the Prefect of the fourth Cohort of the Gauls, which cohort, as we have already seen by the Votitia, was stationed here. In the valley below Vindolana a little cottage is standing. It is built entirely of Roman stones, and was erected by an enthusiastic antiquary, Mr. Anthony Hedley, for himself. Many of the stones used in its construction have inscriptions on them; and in the covered passage, leading from the cottage down to the burn, we come upon one of them inscribed with the name of our old friend the XXth Legion, and its crest, the running boar. The most interesting relic of all in the neighbourhood is a Roman mile-stone, standing in its original position on the Stanegate.

Leaving Vindolana, this road goes on westward to Magna, where it joins the Maiden Way, another important Roman road, which runs from north to south. Coming from the neighbourhood of Bewcastle Fells, it enters Northumberland at Gilsland, and leading eastward as far as Magna, then turns directly southward past Greenhead.

In concluding this chapter on the Roman remains in our county, apropos of the wholesale destruction of the Wall and larger stations which has taken place in the last century or two, I will quote the words of two historians on that subject. Dr. Thomas Hodgkin says: “In the reign of Queen Elizabeth, Camden, the enthusiastic antiquary, dared not traverse the line of the wall by reason of the gangs of brigands by whom it was infested. The union of the two countries brought peace, and peace brought prosperity; prosperity, alas! more fatal to the Wall than centuries of Border warfare. For now the prosperous farmers of Northumberland and Cumberland awoke to the building facilities which lurked in these square green enclosures on their farms, treated them as their best quarries, and robbed them unmercifully of their fine well-hewn stones. Happily that work of demolition is now in great measure stayed, and at this day we visit the camps for a nobler purpose, to learn all they can teach us as to the past history of our country.”

None, I think, will disagree with these words of the learned Doctor, whether or not they may go as far as Cadwallader J. Bates, who, in concluding his chapter on the Roman Wall, gave it as his opinion that “unless the island is conquered by some civilized nation, there will soon be no traces of the Wall left. Nay, even the splendid whinstone crags on which it stands will be all quarried away to mend the roads of our urban and rural authorities.”



  “Come, don’t abuse our climate, and revile
  The crowning county of England—yes, the best.

  Have you and I, then, raced across its moors.
  Till horse and boy were well-nigh mad with glee,
  So often, summer and winter, home from school,
  And not found that out? Take the streams away,
  The country would be sweeter than the South
  Anywhere; give the South our streams, would it
  Be fit to match our Borders? Flower and crag,
  Burnside and boulder, heather and whin,—you don’t
  Dream you can match them south of this? And then,
  If all the unwatered country were as flat
  As the Eton playing-fields, give it back our burns,
  And set them singing through a sad South world,
  And try to make them dismal as its fens—
  They won’t be! Bright and tawny, full of fun
  And storm and sunlight, taking change and chance
  With laugh on laugh of triumph—why, you know
  How they plunge, pause, chafe, chide across the rocks,
  And chuckle along the rapids, till they breathe
  And rest and pant and build some bright deep bath
  For happy boys to dive in, and swim up.
  And match the water’s laughter.”

Northumberland is fortunate in the number of rivers which, owing to the position of the Cheviot Hills, flow right across the county from west to east. These Northumbrian streams have a distinct character of their own, and are of a different breed from those of the southern; counties. They are neither mountain torrents nor placid leisurely rivers, such as are met elsewhere in Britain, but busy, bright, joyous, and sparkling, never sluggish, never silent, even when deep and full, as is the Tyne in its lower reaches. With the Tyne and its tributary streams we have already travelled; but there are others yet awaiting us, claiming our attention sometimes for the romantic scenery through which they run their bright course, sometimes for the historic sites they pass on their way, sometimes for both reasons. Wansbeck, Coquet, Aln, or Till—each has its own interest, as has also the Tweed in that score or so of miles along which it can he spoken of in connection with Northumberland.

The source of the Wansbeck, the only “beck” the county possesses, is amongst the “Wild Hills o’ Wannys” (Wanny’s beck) a group of picturesque sandstone crags which surround Sweethope Lough, a sheet of water which covers 180 acres. The scenery of this upper course of the Wansbeck is very striking, from the Lough to Kirkwhelpington, flowing between bleak moorland and rich pasture, and on to Littleharle Tower, which stands secluded in deep woods.

Another mansion near at hand, and most picturesquely situated, is Wallington Hall, lying a short distance away on the north bank of the Wansbeck. It is one of the most notable country houses in Northumberland, and especially so on account of its unique picture-gallery, roofed with dull glass, and containing several series of pictures connected with Northumbrian history. One of these is a series of frescoes by William Bell Scott, whose name was for so many years associated with all that was best in art in Newcastle, and whose picture of the “Building of the Castle” may be seen at the head of the staircase in the Lit. and Phil. building. His pictures at Wallington are:—1. The Building of the Roman Wall. 2. The visit of King Egfrid and Bishop Trumwine to St. Cuthbert on Fame. 3. A Descent of the Danes. 4. Death of the Venerable Bede. 5. The Charlton Spur. 6. Bernard Gilpin taking down a challenge glove in Rothbury Church. 7. Grace Darling and her father on the way to the wreck. 8. The Nineteenth Century—showing the High Level Bridge, the Quayside, an Armstrong gun, etc., etc. Another series consists of medallions and portraits of famous men connected with Northumbrian events, from Hadrian and Severus down to George Stephenson and others of modern times; while yet another depicts all the incidents of “Chevy Chase.”

Some miles further eastward, the Wansbeck receives the Hart Burn—which, by the way, is larger than the parent stream at this point—and, a little later, the Font. The lovely little village of Mitford, once important enough to overshadow the Morpeth of that day, lies at the junction of Font and Wansbeck. The Mitfords of Mitford can boast, if ever family could, of being Northumbrian of the Northumbrians, as they were seated here before the days of the Conqueror, who made such a general upsetting amongst the Saxon landowners.

The beauty of the two miles walk along the banks of the Wansbeck from here to Morpeth is not easy to surpass in all the county, though several parts of the Coquet valley may justly compete with it. William Howitt has left on record his admiration for this lovely region, and said Morpeth was “more like a town in a dream” than a reality. Especially is this so when looking at the town from the neighbourhood of the river. Before actually reaching Morpeth the Wansbeck waters the fair fields that once held Newminster Abbey in its pride; now, nothing remains but an arch or so and a few stones, to remind us of the noble abbey which Ralph de Merley built so long ago. When only half built it was demolished by the Scots under King David; but willing hands set to work again, and the abbey and monastery were completed.

In the town of Morpeth, though newer buildings are stretching out towards the outskirts, many of the ancient buildings and streets remain, and the general aspect of this part of it is much the same as when the Jacobites of Northumberland gathered together here, and the clergyman, Mr. Buxton, proclaimed James III. in its Market Place. Of Morpeth Castle, built by a De Merley soon after the Conquest, only the gateway tower remains, but the outlines of the original boundary walls can be clearly traced. A company of five hundred Scots, whom Leslie had left as a garrison in 1644, held out here for three weeks against two thousand Royalists under Montrose. After the cannonading received during that siege, the walls were not repaired again, and the castle fell into decay. The inhabitants of Morpeth have a daily reminder of times yet more remote, for the Curfew Bell still rings out over the little town every evening at eight o’clock.

Another walk of three miles along the still beautiful banks of the Wansbeck brings us to Bothal, another little village of great beauty, embowered and almost hidden amongst luxuriant woods. Its curious name is derived from the Anglo-Saxon bottell, a place of abode (as in Walbottle). The name conjures up memories of the knights of old, their loves and their fortunes, fair or disastrous; for the best-known version of “The Hermit of Warkworth” tells us that it was a Bertram of Bothal who was the luckless hero of that tale, though another version avers that he belonged to the house of Percy.

Wansbeck’s fellow stream, the Coquet, has its birth amongst some of the wildest scenery of the Cheviot Hills, where the heights of Deel’s Hill and Woodbist Law look down on the now silent Watling Street and the deserted Ad Fines Camp. In its windings along the bases of the hills it is joined by the Usway Burn, said to be named after King Oswy, between which and the little river Alwine lies the famous Lordship of Kidland, once desolate on account of the thieving and raiding of its neighbours of Bedesdale and Scotland.

Hodgson, in his “Northumberland,” says of this region, “All the said Kydlande is full of lytle hilles or mountaynes, and between the saide hilles be dyvers valyes in which discende litle Ryvvelles or brokes of water, spryngynge out of the said hilles and all fallynge into a lytle Rever or broke callede Kidlande water, w’ch fallethe into the rever of cockette nere to the towne of alwynntonn, w’tin a myll of the castell of harbottell.” The reasons for the desolation of Kidland are graphically set forth:—“In somer seasons when good peace ys betwene England and Scotland, th’inhabitantes of dyv’se townes thereaboutes repayres up with theyr cattall in som’ynge (summering) as ys aforesaid, and so have used to do of longe tyme. And for the pasture of theyr cattall, so long as they would tarye there they payed for a knoweledge two pens for a household, or a grote at the most, though they had nev’ so many cattalles. And yet the poore men thoughte their fermes dere enoughe. There was but fewe yeres that they escaped w’thout a greatter losse of their goodes and cattalles, by spoyle or thefte of the Scottes or Ryddesdale men, then would have paide for the pasture of theyr cattail in a much better grounde. And ov’ (over, besides) that, the saide valyes or hopes of Kidlande lyeth so distant and devyded by mounteynes one from an other, that such as Inhabyte in one of these hoopes, valeys, or graynes, can not heare the Fraye outcrye, or exclamac’on of such as dwell in an other hoope or valley upon the other side of the said mountayne, nor come or assemble to theyr assystance in tyme of necessytie. Wherefore we can not fynde anye of the neyghbours thereabouts wyllinge cotynnally to Inhabyte or plenyshe w’thin the saide grounde of Kydland, and especially in wynter tyme.”

These reasons were given by the people of “Cockdale” in the neighbouring valley, to account for the desolation of Kidland, which lay open on the northward to attacks from the Scots, and had no defence on the south from the rievers of Redesdale. The inhabitants of Coquetdale seem to have been a right valiant and hardy fraternity, honest and fearless, well able to give good blows in defence of their possessions, for it is left on record that “the people of the said Cock-dayle be best p’pared for defence and most defensyble people of themselfes, and of the truest and best sorte of anye that do Inhabyte, endlonge, the frounter or border of the said mydle m’ches of England.” The traces of these days of raid and foray are to be found in abundance all over Coquetdale, as indeed all over Northumberland, in pele-tower and barmkyn, fortified dwelling and bastle house.

Harbottle Castle would have a good deal to tell, could it only speak, of siege and assault from the day when, “with the aid of the whole county of Northumberland and the bishopric of Durham,” it was built by Henry II., until, after the Union of the Crowns, it shared the fate of many of the Border strongholds, and fell into gradual decay, or was used as a quarry from which to draw building material for new and modern mansions. At Rothbury, a pele-tower has formed the dwelling of the Vicars of that town from the time that any mention of Whitton Tower is to be found, it being first noticed as “Turris de Whitton, iuxta Rothebery.” Rothbury itself occupies quite the finest situation of any of the Northumbrian towns. Others, besides it, lie on the banks of a pretty river; others, too, possess fair meadows and rich pastures; but none other has the combination of these attractive features with the finer surroundings of hill, crag, and moorland as picturesquely beautiful as those of Rothbury. In the old church here Bernard Gilpin, “the Apostle of the North,” often preached; and even the fierce rival factions of the Borderland were so influenced by the gentle, yet fearless preacher, that they consented to forego their usual pleasure of “drawing” whenever they met one of a rival family, at least so long as Gilpin dwelt among them, and especially to refrain from showing their hostility in church.

There are in Coquetdale, as elsewhere, memorials of the ancient British days in the many camps to be found on the summits of the hills near the town, on Tosson Hill and the Simonside Hills; and not camps only, but barrows, cist-vaens, and flint weapons in considerable numbers. The magnificent view to be obtained, on a clear day, from Tosson Hill or the Simonsides is one to be remembered; to the west and north stretch the vales of Coquet and Alwin, with the rolling heights of the Cheviots bounding them; northward are the woods surrounding Biddlestone Hall, the “Osbaldistone Hals” of Scot’s Rob Roy, awakening memories of Di Vernon; far to the eastward a faint blue haze denotes the distant coastline; while southward, over the dales of Rede and Tyne, the smoke of industrial Tyneside lies on the horizon, with the spires and towers of Newcastle showing faintly against the heights of the Durham side of the Tyne.

One of the chief sights of Rothbury is the beautiful mansion of Cragside and the wonderful valley of Debdon and Crag Hill, as transformed by the first Lord Armstrong into a paradise of beauty, where art and nature are so blended as to make a romantically artistic whole. Another lovely spot on the banks of Coquet is at Brinkburn, where the famous Priory stands almost hidden at the foot of thickly wooded slopes. A very much larger portion of this fine Priory is still standing than is the case with many other religious houses of the same age, for it dates from the reign of Henry I. The story is told of Brinkburn as well as of Blanchland, that a party of marauding Scots on one of their forays passed by the Priory without discovering it in its leafy bower; and so overjoyed were the monks at their escape that they incautiously rang the bells by way of showing their delight. The Scots, who had passed out of sight but not out of hearing, immediately returned on their tracks, and, guided by the joyful peal, reached the Priory, sacked the buildings, and then set them on fire. It may well be that the tragedy occurred at both places, on different occasions.

Farther eastward down the Coquet are two places pre-eminently noted as centres for the sport for which the river is famed above all other Northumbrian streams, though some of them are worthy rivals. These two places are Weldon Bridge and Felton; the old Angler’s Inn at the first-named is a favourite rendezvous of the fraternity of rod and creel. Fishermen have long known the fascination of these two places, and I quote from the “Fisherman’s Garland” two stanzas written by two enthusiastic anglers in praise of them. The writers are Robert Roxby and Thomas Doubleday.

  “But we’ll awa’ to Coquetside,
  For Coquet bangs them a’;
  Whose winding streams sae sweetly glide
  By Brinkburn’s bonny Ha’!”

  Written in 1821

  “The Coquet for ever, the Coquet for aye!
  The Woodhall and Weldon and Felton so gay,
  And Brinkburn and Linden, wi’ a’ their sweet pride,
  For they add to the beauty of dear Coquetside.”

  Written in 1826

Felton, a charmingly placed little village, on the banks of the river where they are overhung by graceful woods, and diversified by cliff and grassy slope, stands just where the great North Road crosses the Coquet. By reason of this position it has been the scene of one or two events of historical interest, notably those connected with the “Fifteen” and the “Forty-five.” On the former occasion, the gallant young Earl of Derwentwater, with his followers, was joined here by a band of seventy gentlemen from the Borders, and they rode on to Morpeth to proclaim James III. And thirty years later, the soldiers of George II. passed over the bridge from the southward, led by the Duke of Cumberland, and pressed on towards the Scottish moor where they dealt the final blow to the Stuart cause at Culloden. The interesting old church at Felton, dating from the thirteenth century, is well worth a visit. After leaving Felton behind, the Coquet enters on the most marked windings of all its winding course, until, when it enters the sea at Warkworth Harbour, just opposite Coquet Island, it has contrived to lengthen out its journey to a distance of forty miles.

The bright clear stream of the Aln also begins its short journey across Northumberland from the heights of Cheviot, but in the narrower northern portion of the county. Alnham, with its pele-tower Vicarage, ancient church, and memories of a castle, stands just at the foot of the hills, near the source of the river. Some three or four miles eastward along its banks, a walk through leafy woods brings us to Whittingham—the final syllable of which, by the way, one pronounces as “jam,” as one does that of nearly all the other place-names ending in “ing-ham” in Northumberland, contrary though it be to etymological considerations—excepting, curiously enough, Chillingham, situated in the very midst of all the others. The “ing” and “ham” are in themselves a historical guide to the days in which the various villages received their names, these two syllables being a certain indication of a Saxon settlement, the “home of the sons, or descendants of” whatever person the first syllable indicates. Thus, Edlingham, only a few miles away, is the “home or settlement of the sons of Eadwulf”; Ellingham, the “home of the sons of Ella,” and so on. How the “Whitt” syllable was spelled we do not know; most probably Hwitta or Hwitha—for all our wh’s were hw originally—hwaet, hwa, hwaether and so forth.

This ancient village is in these days a charming and peaceful place, lying in the midst of rich meadow lands, and surrounded by magnificent trees. It had its romances, too, in the course of years; so long ago as the days of the early Danish invasions a certain widow in Whittingham, in the reign of King Alfred, had no less a person than a Danish prince among her slaves; he was ransomed, however, and made king of the Danes in the North, in consequence of a vision in which St. Cuthbert had directed the Abbot of Carlisle to see this done. Young Prince Guthred’s gratitude showed itself in a substantial grant of land to St. Cuthbert at Durham. Whittingham Church is supposed to have been founded by the Saxon king Ceolwulf, whose acquaintance we have already made at Holy Island, and he bestowed the lands of Whittingham on the church at Lindisfarne. It still shows some of the original Saxon work at the base of the tower, and much more was to be seen before the so-called “restoration” of the church in 1840. The pele-tower on the south side of the river, after its days of storm and stress are over, still serves as a shelter in time of need, for it is now used as an almshouse for the poor of the village, a former Lady Ravensworth having originated the quaint idea and seen it carried out.

Whittingham Fair, now Whittingham Sports, a well-known rendezvous of the whole countryside, has lost some of its former splendour, but is still looked forward to with great enjoyment in the surrounding district. The old coaching road from Newcastle to Edinburgh passed through the village, crossing the Aln by the stone bridge, from whence it went on through Glanton and Wooler to Cornhill.

In the vale of Whittingham, the little Aln flows placidly along, its waters murmuring a soothing refrain, a peaceful interlude between its busy bustling beginning and its ending. Before reaching Alnwick it flows past the ancient walls of Hulne Abbey, the monastery of Carmelite friars so romantically founded by the Northumbrian knight and monk after his visit to the monastery on Mount Carmel. A considerable portion of the ancient building is still standing, and few sites chosen by the old monks, who had an unerring eye for beauty as well as safety and convenience in their choice of abode, can surpass this one, surrounded by fair meadows, and standing on the green hill-side, with the rippling Aln flowing through the levels below. In Hulne Park is also the Brislee Tower, erected by the first Duke of Northumberland in 1781, on the top of Brislee Hill.

Alnwick Castle]

Alnwick Castle

Alnwick itself, with its quaint, uneven, narrow streets, and grey stone houses, looks the part of a Border town even in these days; and the grim old Hotspur tower, bestriding the main street like an ancient warrior still on guard, helps to give the illusion an air of reality. The tower, however, was not built by Hotspur, but by his son. The names of the streets, too, are redolent of the days when the only safety for the inhabitants of a town worth plundering lay in the strength of its walls and gateways. Bondgate, Bailiffgate, and Narrowgate, still speak of the days of siege and sortie, of fierce attack and stout defence.

The magnificent castle which dominates the town stands majestically at the top of a green slope above the Aln, its vast array of walls and towers far along the ridge, fronting the North as though still looking, albeit with a seemingly languid interest, for the coming of the Scots who were such inveterate foes of its successive lords. The principal entrance, however, the Barbican, faces southwards to the town, and here the massive gateway, with portcullis complete, and crowned by quaint life-size figures of warriors in various attitudes of defence, conveys the impression that the huge giant is still alert and on guard. The history of Alnwick is the history of the castle and its lords, from the days of Gilbert Tyson, variously known as Tison, Tisson, and De Tesson, one of the Conqueror’s standardbearers, upon whom this northern estate was bestowed, until the present time. After being held by the family of De Vesci (of which the modern rendering is Vasey—a name found all over south-east Northumberland) for over two hundred years, it passed into the hands of the house of Percy. The Percies, who hailed from the village of Perce in Normandy, had large estates in Yorkshire, bestowed by the Conqueror on the first of the name to arrive in England in his train. The family, however, was represented by an heiress only in the reign of Henry II., whose second wife, a daughter of the Duke of Brabant, thought this heiress, with her wide possessions, a suitable match for her own young half-brother Joceline of Louvain. The marriage took place; and thereafter followed the long line of Henry Percies (Henry being a favourite name of the Counts of Louvain) who played such a large part in the history of both England and Scotland; for, as nearly every Percy was a Warden of the Marches, Scottish doings concerned them more or less intimately—indeed, often more so than English affairs.

It was the third Henry Percy who purchased Alnwick in 1309 from Antony Bec, Bishop of Durham and guardian of the last De Vesci, and from that time the fortunes of the Percies, though they still held their Yorkshire estates, were linked permanently with the little town on the Aln, and the fortress which alike commanded and defended it. The fourth Henry Percy began to build the castle as we see it now; but to call him “the fourth” is a little confusing, as he was the second Henry Percy, Lord of Alnwick. On the whole, it will be clearer to begin the enumerations of the various Henry Percies from the time they became Lords of Alnwick. It was, then, Henry Percy the second, Lord of Alnwick, who began the re-building of the castle; he also was jointly responsible for the safety of the realm during the absence of Edward III. in the French wars, and in this official capacity, no less than in that of a Border baron whose delight it was to exchange lusty blows with an ever-ready foe, he helped to win the battle of Neville’s Cross. His son, Henry, married a sister of John of Gaunt, and their son, the next Henry Percy, was that friend who stood John Wycliffe in such good stead, when he was cited to appear before the Bishop of London. Henry Percy, who had been made Earl Marshal of England, and the Duke of Lancaster took their places one on each side of Wycliffe, and accompanied him to St. Paul’s, clearing a way for him through the crowd. It does not belong to this story to tell how their private quarrels with the Bishop prevented Wycliffe’s interrogation, and how he left the Cathedral without having uttered a word; we are concerned at the moment with his North-country friend, who, the same year, was created Earl of Northumberland, which title he was given after the coronation of Richard II. Nor was this all, for he was that Northumberland whose doings in the next reign fill so large a part of Shakespeare’s Henry IV., and he was the father of the most famous Percy of all, the gallant Henry Percy the fifth, better known as “Harry Hotspur.” Hotspur never became Earl of Northumberland, being slain at Shrewsbury in the lifetime of his father, whose estates were forfeited under attainder on account of the rebellion of himself and his son against King Henry IV.

King Henry V. restored Hotspur’s son, the second Earl, to his family honours, and the Percies were staunch Lancastrians during the Wars of the Roses which followed, the third Earl and three of his brothers losing their lives in the cause. The fifth Earl was a gorgeous person whose magnificence equalled, almost, that of royalty. Henry Percy, the sixth Earl of Northumberland, loved Ann Boleyn, and was her accepted suitor before King Henry VIII. unfortunately discovered the lady’s charm, and interfered in a highhanded “bluff King Has” fashion, and young Percy lost his prospective bride. He had no son, although married later to the daughter of the Earl of Shrewsbury, and his nephew, Thomas Percy, became the seventh Earl.

Thereafter, a succession of plots and counterplots—the Rising of the North, the plots to liberate Mary Queen of Scots, and the Gunpowder Plot—each claimed a Percy among their adherents. On this account the eighth and ninth Earls spent many years in the Tower, but the tenth Earl, Algernon, fought for King Charles in the Civil War, the male line of the Percy-Louvain house ending with Josceline, the eleventh Earl. The heiress to the vast Percy estates married the Duke of Somerset; and her grand-daughter married a Yorkshire knight, Sir Hugh Smithson, who in 1766 was created the first Duke of Northumberland and Earl Percy, and it is their descendants who now represent the famous old house.

At various points in the town are memorials of the constant wars between Percies and Scots in which so many Percies spent the greater part of their lives. At the side of the broad shady road called Rotten Row, leading from the West Lodge to Bailiffgate, a tablet of stone marks the spot where William the Lion of Scotland was captured as we have already seen, in 1174, by Odinel de Umfraville and his friends; and there are many others of similar interest.

Within the park, approached by the gate at the foot of Canongate, is the fine gateway which is all that is left of Alnwick Abbey. No more peaceful spot could have been found than this, on the level greensward, surrounded by fine trees which shelter it on all sides save one, and near the brink of the little Aln, whose banks are thickly covered with wild flowers, while the steep slope on the opposite side of the river is overhung with shady woods. The extent of the parks may be judged from the fact that the enclosing wall is about five miles long. At the foot of Bailiffgate, on the edge of a steep ridge above the descent to Canongate and the banks of the river, the ancient parish church, dedicated to St. Mary and St. Michael stands in a commanding position. The present building dates from the fourteenth century, and occupies the site of an earlier one, whose few remaining stones have been built into the present structure. Two other reminders of long-past days are to be found in Alnwick; one is the large stone in the Market Place to which the bull ring used to be fixed in the days when bull-baiting and bear-baiting took place; and the other, a relic of days still further back in the distant years, is the sounding of the Curfew Bell, which is still rung here every evening at eight o’clock. Altogether there is the quaintest and most unexpected mingling of the ancient and modern in the little feudal town.

Between Alnwick and the sea, the Aln winds its way past Alnmouth Station, formerly known as Bilton Junction, and past Lesbury, a pretty little tree-shaded village, to the sandy flats by Alnmouth where it ends its journey in the North Sea.

The Till, by whose side we shall next wander, flows in the opposite direction, for that historic stream is a tributary of “Tweed’s fair river, broad and deep,” and curves from the Cheviots round to the North-west, where it enters the larger stream at Tillmouth. It begins life as the Breamish, tumbling down the slopes of Cushat Law within sight of all the giants of the Cheviot range. The Linhope Burn, a fellow traveller down these steep hillsides, forms in its course the Linhope Spout, one of the largest waterfalls to be found amongst the Cheviots, before it joins the Breamish, which then flows through a country of green slopes and grassy levels to Ingram. This village possesses an old church with massive square tower and windows which suggest the fortress rather than the church. The heights which stretch eastward from the Cheviots and bound the valley of the Till add not a little to the beauty and variety of the scenery in this district.

The little stream, which turns northward near Glanton railway station, moves on in loops and windings past Beanley, which Earl Gospatric held in former days by virtue of the curious office of being a kind of official mediator between the monarchs of England and Scotland when they came to blows; and past Bewick, with its little Norman church buried from sight amongst leafy trees. The effigy of a lady in the chancel of this church is said to be that of Matilda, wife of Henry I. This is the more likely in that the lands of Bewick formed part of her dowry, and were given by her to the monks of Tynemouth Priory. At Bewick Bridge the little stream ceases to be the Breamish, and becomes the Till; as an old rhyme has it—

  “The foot of Breamish, and head of Till,
  Meet together at Bewick Mils”

Some miles to the northward, the Till reaches the little village of Chatton, having, on the way, passed a little to the westward of Chillingham Castle and Park, where is the famous herd of wild cattle. Roscastle, a craggy height covered with heather, stands at the edge of the chase, and looks over a wild and romantic scene of moorland and pastureland, deep glens and heathery hills. The Vicarage at Chatton is another of those north-country vicarages in which an old pele-tower forms part of the modern residence. On the top of Chatton Law is an ancient British encampment, with inscribed circles similar to those on Bewick Hill.

From Chatton, the loops and windings of the Till grow more insistent, and the little stream adds miles to its length by reason of its frequent doubling on its tracks; this, however, but gives an added charm to the landscape, as the silvery gleams of the winding river come unexpectedly into view again and again. It flows on through Glendale, with which attractive region we have already made acquaintance; and on its banks are the two prettiest villages in Northumberland—Ford and Etal.

Ford Castle, as seen at the present day, is chiefly modern, but the northwest tower is part of the old fortress of Odenel de Forde, which experienced so many vicissitudes in its time. One of the most famous owners of Ford Castle was Sir William Heron, who married Odenel’s daughter, and who held the responsible and troublesome office of High Sheriff of Northumberland for eleven years, besides being Captain of Bamburgh and Warden of the northern forests. The castle was burnt down by James IV. of Scotland just before the battle of Flodden, which was not by any means the only time in its career that it was demolished, entirely or in part, and restored again.

In the village of Ford, the walls of the schoolroom are decorated by a series of pictures of the children of Scripture story, for whose portrayal it is said the Marchioness of Waterford, the artist, took the village children as models. The late Vicar of Ford, the Rev. Hastings Neville, has laid all who are interested in the rural life of Northumberland, and the quaint and traditional manners and customs of the North-country which are so fast disappearing, under the greatest obligation to him for his interesting and entirely delightful little book, “A Corner in the North.” Historical records, and matters of business, ownerships, etc., connected with any special area can always be turned up for reference when required; but the manner of speech, the customs of daily life, the quaint survivals of former usages and half-forgotten lore, being entirely dependent on individual memory and oral tradition, only too often disappear before any adequate record can be made. Hence it is a matter for congratulation that such a book should have been written.

Etal, Ford’s pretty neighbour, also boasts a castle, built only two years after that of Ford and by the same masons. A considerable portion of the ruins remains, but, unlike Ford Castle, it was never restored after James the Fourth’s drastic handling of it, but was left to decay. Opposite Ford and Etal, on the left bank of the Till, is Pallinsburn House, referred to in another chapter, and the village of Crookham; and beyond the woods of Pallinsburn, Flodden ridge, with its memories of the disastrous field on which James was slain.

The mansion house of Tillmouth Park, owned by Sir Francis Blake, is built of stones from the ruins of Twizell Castle, on the northern bank of the Till; the castle was begun by a former Sir Francis Blake but never finished. Between the two buildings the Berwick Road crosses the Till by Twizell Bridge, over which Surrey marched his men southward on the morning of Flodden. Not far from this bridge, to the westward, is St. Helen’s Well, alluded to by Scott in his account of the battle, in “Marmion”—

  “Many a chief of birth and rank,
  St. Helen, at thy fountain drank.”

Sibyl’s well, from which Lady Clare brought water to moisten the lips of the dying Marmion, is beside the little church at Branxton. Tillmouth, however, has older memories still; for it was to the little chapel there that St. Cuthbert’s body floated in its stone coffin from Melrose, dating the course of its seven years’ wandering, ere it found a final rest at Durham.

  “From sea to sea, from shore to shore,
  Seven years Saint Cuthbert’s corpse they bore
  They rested them in fair Melrose,
  But though alive he loved it well
  Not there his relics might repose,
      For, wondrous tale to tell,
  In his stone coffin forth he glides,
  A ponderous bark for river tides,
  Yet light as gossamer it glides
      Downward to Tillmouth cell.

  Chester-le-Street and Ripon saw
  His holy corpse, ere Wardilaw
      Hailed it with joy and fear;
  Till, after many wanderings past,
  He chose his lordly seat at last
  Where his cathedral, huge and vast,
      Looks down upon the Wear.”

  Sir W. Scott—MARMION.

The “stone coffin” was boat-shaped, “ten feet long, three feet and a half in diameter, and only four inches thick, so that, with very little assistance, it might certainly have swum; it still lies, or at least did so a few years ago, in two pieces, beside the ruined chapel at Tilmouth.”—Sir W. Scott’s Notes to “Marmion.”

Three or four miles from Tillmouth, south-westward up the valley of the Tweed, and just beyond Cornhill, lies the village of Wark, near which the remains of the famous Border castle are still standing. The castle was built on a stony ridge of detritus called the Kaim, which stretches from Wark village towards Carham. In the reign of Henry I. all those who owned land in the North were seemingly animated simultaneously by a lively desire to secure their Borders; Bishop Flambard began to build Norham Castle, Eustace Fitz-John, husband of Beatrice de Vesci, built the greater part of Alnwick Castle, and Walter Espic raised the mighty fortress, the great “Wark” or work (A.S. were or weare) on the steep ridge above Tweed, in “his honour (seignieury) of Carham.”

From that time the castle of Wark went through a greater succession of sieges, assaults, burnings, surrenders, demolitions, and restorations than any other place in England, except, perhaps, Norham Castle or Berwick-upon-Tweed. In an age and situation where hard blows given and returned, desperate adventures and equal chances of life or death were the common-places of everyday existence, Wark was probably the place where these excitements were to be had oftener than anywhere else.

The romantic episode which gave rise to the establishment of the Order of the Garter is generally allowed to have taken place at Wark Castle. The young king of Scotland, David Bruce, had “ridden a raid” into England, and ravaged and plundered on his way as far as Auckland, after having burnt the town of Alnwick, amongst others, but having been repulsed before the castle. King Edward III. was at Stamford when he heard of the invasion; but hurrying northward he reached Newcastle in four days. The Scots, retreating before him, passed Wark Castle, which was held by the Countess of Salisbury and her nephew, in the absence of her husband. The young man was loth to let so much English booty be carried off under his very eyes, so he fell upon the rearguard, and succeeded in bringing a number of packhorses to the castle. On this the whole Scottish array turned back, and a siege of the castle began; but the Countess spiritedly held out, and Edward meanwhile drew nearer. Some of the Scotsmen were captured, and from them the Countess’s nephew heard that Edward had reached Alnwick. He stole out of the castle before dawning in heavy rain, to let the King know where his help was urgently needed; and by noon of the same day Edward was at Wark, only to find his quarry flown, the Scots having retreated a few hours earlier. The King was joyfully received and thanked by the grateful Countess; and he in his turn was much struck by the beauty and grace of the high-spirited lady, and showed his admiration plainly. In the evening, according to tradition, a ball was held, at which the incident occurred, so often related, of the accidental losing of her garter by the fair chatelaine, and the restoration of it by the King, with the remark, as a rebuke to the smiling bystanders,—“Honi soit qui mal y pense.” This he afterwards adopted as the motto of the Order he established in honour of the beautiful Countess.

The Garter is the most exclusive of Orders, and consists of the reigning Sovereign and twenty-five Companions, of whom the Prince of Wales is always one; and it takes precedence of all other titles, ranking next to royalty. It is a matter of great pride to all Northumbrians that perhaps the only instance of its having been bestowed on any except a peer of the realm or a foreign Sovereign, has occurred recently in the bestowal of the coveted decoration on Sir Edward Grey, a member of the ancient and important Northumbrian house of that name.

Every King of England from Henry I. to Henry IV., seems to have been at Wark at some time during his reign, with the exception of Richard Coeur-de-Lion and Richard II. After the Union of the Crowns, Wark, like most other fortresses in the north that were not in use as the dwellings of their owners, was allowed to fall into decay. From Wark to Carham is a walk of only two miles along the road which follows the course of the river, and ultimately leads to Kelso. Carham has the remains of an ancient monastery; and here the Danes, after having plundered Lindisfarne, fought a battle in which the Saxons, led by several Bishops, were defeated with great slaughter. From Carham, having reached the last point of interest on the Tweed within the Northumbrian border, we must retrace our steps to Tillmouth, and follow the Tweed through pasture land and level haughs, until we come in sight of the steep cliffs and overhanging woods by Norham Castle.

Naturally here, the words of the opening canto of “Marmion” are recalled to our memory—

  “Day set on Norham’s castled steep,
  On Tweed’s fair river, broad and deep,
  And Cheviot’s mountains lone
  The battled towers, the donjon keep,
  The loophole grates, where captives weep,
  The flanking walls that round it sweep,
      In yellow lustre shone.”

The “castled steep” is still crowned by a massive fragment of the old fortress that has braved, in its time, so many days of storm and stress. A good deal of the curtain wall, too, is standing, and the natural defences of the castle are admirable, for a deep ravine on the east and the river with its steep banks on the south made it practically unassailable at these points. It was built in 1121, as we have seen, by Bishop Flambard of Durham, as a defence for the northern portions of his diocese. The necessity for its presence there was soon made apparent, for it was attacked by the Scots again and again; and by the time thirty years had passed. Bishop Pudsey found it necessary to strengthen it greatly. When Edward I. was called to arbitrate between the claimants to the Scottish throne, he came to Norham and met the rival nobles, who, with their followers, were quartered at Ladykirk, on the opposite side of the Tweed. It was known as Upsettlington then, however; the name of Ladykirk was bestowed upon it long afterwards, when James IV. built the little chapel there, in gratitude for an escape from drowning in the Tweed. Edward held his interview with the Scottish nobles in Norham church, and announced that he had come there in the character of lord paramount, and as such was prepared to make choice of one among them. Edward did not by any means make up his mind quickly, and the various places in which the successive acts in the affair took place are widely scattered, for he met the nobles at Norham, some time afterwards delivered his decision at Berwick, and finally received the homage of John Balliol at Newcastle.

Norham, like Wark, has also its romantic episode—or rather, an episode more conspicuously so in a series of them to which the name might with justice be applied. It occurred during the time that Sir Thomas Gray was holding the castle against a determined blockade of it by the Scots in 1318. A certain fair lady of Lincolnshire sent one of her maidens to a knight whom she loved, Sir William Marmion (whose name probably suggested to Sir Walter Scott the name for the hero of his tale of Norham and Flodden). Sir William was at a banquet when the maiden came before him bearing a helmet with a golden crest, together with a letter from his lady bidding him go “into the daungerust place in England, and there to let the heaulme be seene and knowen as famose.” Evidently it was well known where “the daungerust place in England” was to be found, for the story laconically says “So he went to Norham.” He had not been there more than a day or two when a band of nearly two hundred Scots, bold and expert horsemen, led by Philip de Mowbray, made an attack on the castle, rousing Sir Thomas and his garrison from their dinner. They quickly mounted, and were about to sally forth when Sir Thomas caught sight of Marmion, in rich armour, and on his head the helmet with the golden crest; and halting his men, he cried out, “Sir knight, ye be come hither as a knight-errant to fame your helm; and since deeds of chivalry should rather be done on horseback than on foot, mount up on your horse, and spur him like a valiant knight into the midst of your enemies here at hand, and I forsake God if I rescue not thy body dead or alive, or I myself will die for it.” At this Marmion mounted and spurred towards the Scots, by whom he was instantly set upon, wounded, and dragged from the saddle. But before they had time to give him the final blow they were scattered by the rapid charge of Sir Thomas and his men, who quickly rescued Marmion and set him on his horse again; and using their lances against the horses of the Scots, caused many of them to throw their riders, while the rest galloped away. The women of the castle caught fifty of the riderless horses, on which more of the garrison mounted and joined in the pursuit of the flying Scots, whom they chased nearly to Berwick.

The tables were sometimes turned, however; and on one of these occasions the valiant Sir Thomas Gray and his son were enticed out of the castle into an ambush laid for them by their foes, and both captured.

In 1513, just before the battle of Flodden, its walls were at length laid low by James IV., but not until the famous cannon “Mons Meg”—still, I believe, to be seen at Edinburgh Castle—had been brought against it. One of the cannon-balls fired from “Mons Meg” was found, and is still kept with others at the Castle. It is said that the Scots were told of the weakest spot in the fortifications by a treacherous inmate of the castle, who doubtless expected a rich reward for his information. Indeed, the ballad of “Flodden” says he came for it; but the valiant and chivalrous king would give him no reward but that which he said every traitor deserved—a rope.

Afterwards the castle was restored once more, but its more stirring days were over; and, to-day, it stands a shattered but dignified ruin, overlooking the tranquil river and peaceful woodlands which once echoed so continuously to the clash of arms and the shouts of besiegers and besieged.

The village of Norham was in Saxon days known as Ubbanford—the Upper Ford of two that were available in those days on the Tweed. There was a church here, too, in Saxon times, for Bishop Ecfrid built one about the year 830, and in it was buried the Saxon king Ceolwulf who became a monk: the present church has a good deal remaining of the one built on the same site by Bishop Flambard, about the same time as the castle. Earl Gospatric, whom William the Conqueror made Earl of Northumberland in return for a considerable sum of money—doubtless thinking that to give a Northumbrian the Earldom would reconcile the North to his rule—is buried in the church porch. Gospatric joined in the resistance of the North to William, but returned to his allegiance later. The Market Cross of Norham stands on the original base.

From Norham to Tweedmouth the river sweeps forward between picturesque ever-widening banks, and often hidden by a leafy screen, past the village of Horncliffe, beneath the Union Suspension Bridge, one of the first erected of its kind, until at length its bright waters lave the historic walls of Berwick-upon-Tweed, and in the quiet harbour there meet the inrushing tide from the North Sea.


“The history of Northumberland is essentially a drum and trumpet history, from the time when the buccina of the Batavian cohort first rang out over the moors of Procolitia down to the proclamation of James III. at Warkworth Cross”—Cadwallader J Bates.

This sentence of the historian of Northumberland sums up the story of our northern county no less admirably than tersely, and it would be difficult to find one which should more clearly bring before us the whole atmosphere of north-country history and north-country doings for many centuries.

Within the limits of this chapter it is impossible to go into the details of every “foughten field” within the county; the most that can be done is to indicate the many and treat in detail only the few. A goodly number have already been alluded to in connection with the place where each occurred.

After the Roman campaigns, from those of Agricola to those of Theodosius the elder and Maximus, and the legion sent by Stilicho, the earliest battle story is that of the one in Glendale fought by King Arthur. Then the forming of the kingdom of Bernicia with the advent of Ida at Bamburgh was the beginning of a long-protracted struggle between the various little states, each fighting for its life, and surrounded by others equally determined to take every advantage that offered against it. The sons of Ida fought against the celebrated Urien, a Keltic chief, who almost succeeded in dispossessing them of their kingdom of Bernicia. Hussa, one of Ida’s sons, ultimately vanquished Urien’s son Owen, “chief of the glittering West”; and after Hussa’s death Ethelric of Bernicia, as we have seen, overcame the neighbouring chieftain of Deira, thus forming the kingdom of Northumbria. His successor, Ethelfrith, in the year 603 gained a great victory over a large force of northern Britons under a leader named Aedan at a place called Daegsanstan, which is thought to be Dissington, near Newcastle. His further victories were gained outside the limits of our present survey.

After the long and glorious reign of Edwin, his successor, Ethelfrith’s sons came back to Bamburgh; the eldest, Eanfrid, was slain within a year, and his brother Oswald carried on the struggle against Penda of Mercia. We have seen how he fought against Penda and Cadwallon on the Heavenfield near Chollerford, and gained a victory which obtained for him many years of peace. Penda was finally slain by Oswald’s successor Oswy in a great battle which is supposed to have taken place on the banks of the Tweed.

Many years afterwards, Sitric, grandson of that Prince Guthred who was once a slave at Whittingham, married a sister of King Athelstan, grandson of Alfred the Great. When Sitric died, Athelstan came northward to claim Northumbria for himself. He captured Bamburgh—the first time that stronghold of the Bernician kings had ever been taken—and arranged for two earls to govern Northumbria for him. They attempted unsuccessfully to oppose a force of Scots under Anlaf the Red, who was joined by two earls of Bretland (Cumbria); and the whole force encamped near a place called Weondune, supposed to be Wandon near Chatton. Athelstan advanced against them and challenged them to a pitched battle on this ground. They agreed, and with much deliberation the course was staked out with hazel wands between a wood and a river (Chillingham woods and the Till). The Scots greatly outnumbered Athelstan’s men, who set up their tents at the narrowest part of the plain, giving their king time to reach a little “burg” (Old Bewick) in the neighbourhood. A running fight followed, which was carried on the next day, and with the help of two brothers, Egil and Thorold, who were Norsemen, it ended in a complete victory for Athelstan. While in the north, King Athelstan gave the well-known rhyming charter to a certain Paulan of Roddam;

  “I kyng Adelstan
  giffs hier to Paulan
  Oddam and Roddam
  als gud and als fair
  als evyr thai myne war,
  and thar to wytness
  Mald my Wiffe.”

Shortly after this, at the Battle of Brunanburh, Athelstan vanquished Anlaf Sitricsson and Constantine, king of the Scots. The site of this battle would seem to have been in Northumbria, as it was into the Humber that Anlaf and Constantine sailed with their large fleet; but the precise spot has never been determined.

In the reign of Knut the Dane, the Scots obtained the whole of Lothian from the Saxon earl of Northumberland, and the vast possessions of St. Cuthbert beyond the Tweed seemed about to be lost to the church of Durham. Accordingly, the clergy called upon all the people of St. Cuthbert from the Tees to the Tweed—all those, that is, who dwelt on lands granted by various donors to the church of St. Cuthbert—to rise and march northward to fight for their lands. This great company set out, in the autumn of 1018, and reached Carham on the Tweed, where they were met by Malcolm king of the Scots. A comet had been seen in the sky for some weeks and the fears inspired by this dread visitant seem to have had more effect upon the Northumbrians than upon the Scots. From whatever cause it arose, when the two forces joined in battle a panic spread among the followers of St. Cuthbert. They were utterly routed, and most of the leading Northumbrians as well as eighteen priests were slain—thus curiously repeating the experience of the earlier battle of Carham.

For the next three hundred years Northumberland was swept by successive waves of raid and reprisal, in the course of which occurred the two well-known events, the attack of William the Lion of Scotland on Alnwick Castle, and the more famous affair still, the struggle between Percy and Douglas known as the battle of Otterburn, which was fought in “Chevy Chase” (Cheviot Forest). More important poetically than politically, it stands out more vividly in the records of the time than many other conflicts of larger import. The personal element in the fight, the deeds of gallantry recorded, the sounding roll of the chief knights’ names, and the high renown of the two leaders, throw a glamour around this particular contest which is kept alive by the ballads that chant the praises of Percy or Douglas according as the singer was Scot or Saxon. Sir Philip Sidney, that “verray parfit gentil knight” and discriminating litterateur, said “I never heard the old song of Percie and Douglas that I found not my hart mooved more than with a trumpet: and yet it is sung but by some blynd Crowder,[11] with no rougher voyce than rude stile! which beeing so evill apparelled in the dust and cobweb of that uncivill age, what wolde it work trimmed in the gorgeous eloquence of Pindare!”

[11] Crowder = fiddler.

In the endless warfare of the Borders the second of two short-lived periods of truce had just expired, and an organised raid on a large scale was arranged by the Scots. The main body was to ravage Cumberland; and a smaller, but picked force led by Earls Douglas, Moray, and March came southward by way of Northumberland. But Northumbrian towers and towns knew nothing of their passing; they marched rapidly and by stealth into Durham, having crossed the Tyne between Corbridge and Bywell, and began to harry and lay waste the greener pastures and richer villages of the southern county, the smoke of whose burning homesteads was the first intimation to the unlucky English of the fact that a Scottish host was in their midst.

The Earl of Northumberland remained at Alnwick in the hope that he might be able to attack the Scots on their homeward journey; but he despatched his sons Henry Hotspur and Ralph in all haste to defend Newcastle. The Scots in due time appeared before the walls.

  And he marched up to Newcastel
  And rode it round about;
  “O wha’s the lord o’ this castel?
  Or wha’s the lady o’t?”

  But up spake proud Lord Percy then,
  And O but he spake hie!
  “I am the lord o’ this castel,
  My wife’s the lady gay.”

Douglas challenged Percy to meet him in single combat, and Percy promptly accepted. In the duel Percy was unhorsed, and Douglas captured his pennon and his gauntlet gloves, embroidered with the Percy lion in pearls. This trophy Douglas vowed he would carry off to Scotland with him, and set it in the topmost tower of his castle of Dalkeith, that it might be seen from afar. “By heaven! that you never shall,” replied Percy; “you shall not carry it out of Northumberland.” “Come and take it, then,” was Douglas’ answer; and Hotspur would have attempted its recovery there and then, but he was restrained by his knights. Douglas, however, said he would give Percy a chance to recover it, and agreed to await him at Otterburn.

  “Yet I will stay at Otterbourne,
  Where you shall welcome be;
  And if ye come not at three dayis end,
  A fause lord I’ll call thee”

Next day the Scots left Newcastle and marched northward. They took Sir Aymer de Athol’s castle of Ponte-land, and the good knight Sir Aymer himself, and went on their way, harrying and burning as they went. At Otterburn they halted, and rested all night, making huts for themselves of boughs and branches. The spot they had chosen was a strong one, on the site of a former British camp; and not only was it surrounded by trees, but was near marshy ground as well. Next day they attempted to take Otterburn tower, but without success.

Meanwhile word was brought to Hotspur that the Scots would spend the night at Otterburn; and he, without waiting for Walter de Skirlaw, Bishop of Durham, who was expected that evening with a strong force, at once set off with 600 spearmen, and a force on foot which is variously given as anything from 800 to 8,000. They covered the thirty-odd miles by the time evening fell: and as the Scots were at supper in their little huts, they were startled by a tumult amongst their grooms and camp-followers, and cries of “a Percy! a Percy!” and the Englishmen were among them. The Scottish leaders had placed their camp-followers and servants at the outermost; part of their encampment, facing the Newcastle road; and Hotspur’s force, ignorant of this, mistook it for the main camp. While they were thus engaged, the Scottish knights were enabled to make a detour around the scene of the first attack, and take the English in the rear. With loud shouts of “Douglas! Douglas!” they fell upon them, and a fierce hand-to-hand struggle began. The moon rose clear and bright, and the quiet evening air was filled with the din of battle, the ring of steel on steel, the crash of axe on armour, the groans of the wounded, and the battle-cries of the combatants on each side. Sir Ralph Percy, pressing too rashly forward, was captured by a newly-made Scottish knight, Sir John Maxwell. The battle was turning in favour of Hotspur, when Douglas sent his silken banner to the front and with renewed shouts of “Douglas!” the Scots pressed forward and overbore their foes. According to Froissart, there was not a man there, knight, squire, or groom, who played the coward. “This bataylle was one of the sorest and best foughten without cowards or faynte hearts; for there was neither knight nor I squire but that did his devoyre and foughte hande to hande.” Great deeds were done, and the fame of none amongst them is greater than that of the gallant Widdrington;

  “For Witherington my heart is woe,
  That ever he slaine sholde be!
  For when his legs were hewn in two
  He knelt and fought on his knee”

Douglas rushed into the thickest of the fray, and Hotspur tried to find him, but in the dim light that was difficult, especially as Douglas had, in his haste, come to the fight without helmet or breastplate. Presently he was borne to the ground by three English spears; and as he lay guarded by his faithful chaplain, Sir John and Sir Walter Sinclair, with Sir James Lindsay, came upon him. “How fare you, cousin?” asked Sir John. “But poorly, I thank God,” answered Douglas; “for few of my ancestors died in bed or chamber. I count myself dead, for my heart beats slow. Think now to avenge me. Raise my banner and shout ‘Douglas!’ and let neither my friends nor my foes know of my state, lest the one rejoice and the other be discomforted.” His dying commands were obeyed; and while his battle-cry was raised anew, his dead body was laid by a “bracken bush,” and the fact of his death concealed from friend and foe alike. The furious onslaught of the Scots now carried all before them; and Hotspur fell a captive to the sword of Sir Hugh Montgomery, a nephew of Douglas, after a fierce hand-to-hand encounter. The two chief English leaders being captured, the day, or rather the night, was with the Scots, in fulfilment of an old prophesy that “a dead Douglas should win a field.”

  “This deed was done at Otterbourne
  At the breaking of the day;
  Earl Douglas was buried at the braken bush,
  And the Percy led captive away.”

When the fray was over, the two sides treated their captives with knightly courtesy, many being allowed to go to their homes until they recovered from their wounds, on giving their word of honour to send the amount of their ransom, or themselves return to their captors.

The Bishop of Durham, immediately after having had some refreshment at Newcastle, had set out to join the Percies; but as he and his men neared Otterburn, they met so many fugitives who gave them anything but reassuring accounts of the fortunes of their friends, that half of his force melted away, and the Bishop had perforce to return to Newcastle; it was scarcely to be expected, indeed, that everyone should have that thirst for hard blows which distinguished the knights and their immediate followers. The Bishop, however, made one capture—Sir James Lindsay, who had ridden so far in pursuit of Sir Matthew Redman that he found himself amongst the force advancing under the leadership of the warlike prelate.

When the Scots retired from their camp, they took the body of Douglas from the “bracken bush” where it lay, and carried it away for burial in Melrose Abbey; and Hotspur, as the price of his ransom, built a castle for Sir Hugh Montgomery.

After this there was peace on the Borders for the next ten years or so, when the game began again as merrily as ever. When Sir Thomas Gray was absent from his castle of Wark-on-Tweed, attending Parliament, the Scots came down upon it and carried off his children and servants. Sir Robert Umfraville met and checked another company that were harrying Coquetdale. In the year 1400, Henry Bolingbroke himself led an army to Edinburgh; but a guerilla band of Scots, avoiding his line of march, stole behind him and ravaged Bamburghshire.

Two years after this, a party of Scots under the next Douglas rode into Northumberland, coming nearly as far south as Newcastle. Hotspur set off from Bamburgh, of which castle he was Constable at the time, to intercept them. He awaited them on the banks of the Glen, near Wooler; and the archers of his force went out for forage meanwhile. When the Scots arrived, they found themselves in the presence of an enemy whom they had imagined to be behind them, and they immediately occupied Homildon Hill. The archers, returning, saw the Scottish force on the hill, and began the attack forthwith, letting fly their arrows upon the foe with deadly precision. Flight after flight fell upon the Scots, who were completely bewildered, and seemed incapable of action. A Scottish knight, Sir John Swinton, implored the leaders to charge, passionately exclaiming, “What madness has seized you, my brave countrymen, that you stand here like deer to be shot down? Follow me, those who will! We will either gain the victory, or die like men of courage.”

On hearing these brave words, Adam de Gordon, Swinton’s deadly foe, felt his hatred turn to admiration, and kneeling before Swinton, begged that he might receive the honour of knighthood from so valiant a hand. The two gallant knights then charged the enemy, followed by a number of the Scots; but the showers of arrows forced them to retreat towards the river, and thither also moved the whole Scottish force, followed still by that grim and deadly hail from the English bows. Hotspur would now have charged, but the Earl of March, his former antagonist, now his friend, restrained his impetuous leader, and persuaded him to let the archers continue their effective work.

The event proved his wisdom; the Scots were utterly routed by the archers alone. The unfortunate Archibald Douglas added another to his long list of reverses; he was taken prisoner, sorely wounded, as was also Sir Hugh Montgomery, and over four-score others of importance. It was in connection with these prisoners, whom Hotspur refused to deliver up to Bolingbroke, that the quarrel took place which eventually led Northumberland and his son Hotspur openly to throw off their allegiance to Henry Bolingbroke and join in the rebellion of Owen Glendower. Not only did Hotspur refuse to give up Douglas and the others to King Henry, but he wished Henry to ransom his brother-in-law Mortimer.

  K. Henry. But sirrah, henceforth
  Let me not hear you speak of Mortimer.
  Send me your prisoners with the speediest means,
  Or you shall hear in such a kind from me
  As will displease you.—My lord Northumberland,
  We licence your departure with your son.—
  Send us your prisoners, or you’ll hear of it.

(Exeunt K. Henry, Blunt, and train)

  Hotspur. And if the devil come and roar for them
  I will not send them:—I will after, straight,
  And tell him so.

  Worcester. These same noble Scots
  That are your prisoners—

  Hotspur. I’ll keep them all;
  By heaven, he shall not have a Scot of them;
  No, if a Scot would save his soul, he shall not;
  I’ll keep them, by this hand.

  Worcester. You start away,
  And lend no ear unto my purposes.
  Those prisoners you shall keep.—

  Hotspur. Nay, I will, that’s flat:—
  He said he would not ransom Mortimer;
  Forbade my tongue to speak of Mortimer;
  But I will find him when he lies asleep,
  And in his ear I’ll holla “Mortimer!”
  Nay, I’ll have a starling shall be taught to speak
  Nothing but “Mortimer,” and give it him
  To keep his anger still in motion.

  The First Part of KING HENRY IV., Act I., Scene 3.

The fight at Homildon Hill took place on a Monday in August, 1402, and the memory of it is kept alive by the name of the “Monday Clough” near Wooler, where the archers commenced the fight.

More than a hundred years after this, the last, and in many respects the greatest, battle ever fought on Northumbrian soil took place at Flodden. King James IV. of Scotland had several grievances against England, which had rankled in his mind for some time; he had not yet received the full amount of the dowry which had been promised with his wife, Margaret Tudor, sister of Henry VIII., although they had been married for many years; a Scottish noble, Sir Robert Ker, had been killed in Northumberland, and the slayer could not be found to be brought to justice—he was outlawed, but that seemed to King James very insufficient; a Border raid on a large scale, led by Lord Hume, had met with disastrous defeat on Milfield Plain at the hands of Sir William Bulmer; and Andrew Barton, a notable sea-captain, whom James was looking forward to seeing as one of the best leaders of his new navy, had been killed in a sea-fight by Thomas Howard, Lord Admiral of England. Added to all this, France had appealed to him to invade England in order to force Henry VIII. to abandon his French war; the English monarch was just then conducting the siege of Terouenne, and the Queen of France sent a romantic appeal to James (together with a large sum of money) begging him to march “three feet on to English ground” for her sake.

No time could have been more favourable in James’ eyes for the enterprise; and in a very short space of time he had an army of 100,000 men collected, and marched from Edinburgh to the Tweed, which he crossed near Coldstream. He laid siege to Norham, and captured it after a week’s investment; and thereafter Wark, Ford, Etal, Duddo and Chillingham fell before him. He took up his quarters at Ford Castle, and on marching later to meet Surrey, left it almost in ruins.

Surrey meantime had gathered a large force from the northern counties, much to James’ surprise, for he had taken it for granted that nearly every English fighting man would be with Henry in Flanders. There were bowmen and billmen from Cheshire and Lancashire under the Stanley banner; and James Stanley, Bishop of Ely, brought the banner of St. Etheldreda, the Northumbrian queen who founded the monastery of Ely. Admiral Sir Thomas Howard brought a band of sailors to join his father at Alnwick. Dacre came with a strong contingent from the western Marches, men from Alston Moor, Gilsland, and Eskdale, and also some from Tynemouth and Bamburgh; and Sir Brian Tunstall with Sir William Bulmer led the men of the Bishopric under the banner of St. Cuthbert.

From Alnwick Surrey sent a letter pledging himself to meet James by September 9th, and challenging him to battle, a challenge which was promptly accepted by the Scottish king. Marching from Alnwick towards the Scottish army, Surrey encamped on September 6th on Wooler Haughs. James had formed his camp on Flodden Hill, and all Surrey’s devices could not induce him abandon this strong position. Many of his own nobles advised him not to risk a battle, but to withdraw while there was yet time; and some were ready to leave the camp and return home, which thousands of the more undisciplined in his army had done already, being more anxious to carry off their plunder safely than to stay and fight. But James was eager for the contest, and felt himself bound in honour to give battle to Surrey; he answered haughtily those who counselled retreat, and scornfully told Archibald Douglas, Earl of Angus, that he might go home if he were afraid. The old man sorrowfully left the field, but his two sons remained with their rash but gallant king, and were both slain.

On the day before the battle took place, Surrey, that “auld crooked carle,” as James called him, marched his men northward across the Till and encamped for the night near Barmoor Wood. To the Scots this looked as though they had gone off towards Berwick, to repeat James’ own manoeuvre, and invade the country in the absence of its king; and they must have thought that there would be little chance of the battle for which James had punctiliously waited taking place on the morrow. But Surrey’s purpose proved to be quite otherwise. On the following morning he sent the vanguard of his army, with the artillery, to make a detour of several miles round by Twizell bridge, where they re-crossed to the south bank of the Till; and coming south-eastward towards Flodden, they were joined by the rest of the army, which had plunged through the stream, swollen by continuous rains, at two points near Crookham. The two divisions met at Branxton, after having waded through a marsh which extended from Branxton nearly to the Till, and which the Scots had thought impassable.

Seeing that the English were about to occupy Branxton Hill, which would entirely cut him off from communication with Scotland, James was forced to abandon his advantageous position; he gave orders for the camp-refuse to be fired, and under cover of the dense clouds of smoke marched down to forestall Surrey and occupy Branxton ridge. The two armies suddenly found themselves within a few spears’ length of each other, and the battle was begun by the artillery on both sides.

      Sudden, as he spoke,
  From the sharp ridges of the hill,
  All downward to the banks of Till
      Was wreathed in sable smoke.
  Volumed, and vast, and rolling far,
  The cloud enveloped Scotland’s war
      As down the hill they broke;
  Nor martial shout, nor minstrel tone
  Announced their march; their tread alone,
  At times one warning trumpet blown,
      At times a stifled hum.
  Told England, from his mountain throne
      King James did rushing come.
  Scarce could they hear or see their foes
  Until at weapon-point they close.

Many of the raw levies on the English side fled at the first sound of the Scottish cannon; but the master of the ordnance, Lord Sinclair, was killed, and his guns silenced. Then the battle joined, and the first result was that the English right wing under Sir Edmund Howard was scattered and broken before the impetuous charge of the Gordons and Highlanders under the Earl of Huntley and Lord Home. Sir Edmund narrowly escaped with his life; but Lord Dacre bringing up his reserve of horsemen at that moment checked the further advance of the Scots. The two central divisions of the armies engaged each other fiercely, the Earl of Surrey, with his son Sir Thomas Howard commanding the English centre, and King James, with the Earls of Crawford and Montrose that of the Scots. Sir Thomas, after having been so hard pressed as to send the Agnus Dei he wore to his father as a signal for help, afterwards with Sir Marmaduke Constable defeated the Earl of Crawford, whose division was opposed to him. Dacre and Sir Thomas now charged Lord Home and drove him some little way back, but could not dislodge his men entirely from their position. The Earl of Bothwell, who commanded the Scottish reserves, now came up to the help of the king, and the day seemed about to be decided in favour of the Scots, when Lord Stanley, on the English left, exactly reversed the fortunes of the right wing, and scattered and routed the Highlanders led by the Earls of Lennox and Argyle. Then with his Lancashire lads he attacked the rear of the Scottish position, as did also Dacre and Sir Thomas Howard.

  “They saw Lord Marmion’s falcon fly,
  And stainless Tunstall’s banner white
  And Edmund Howard’s lion bright
  All bear them bravely in the fight,
    Although against them come
  Of gallant Gordons many a one,
  And many a stubborn Highlandman,
  And many a rugged Border clan
    With Huntly and with Home.
  Far on the left, unseen the while,
  Stanley broke Lennox and Argyle.”

Nothing now remained for the Scottish centre, hemmed in on all sides, but to make a stubborn last stand; and gallantly did they do it. The flower of Scotland’s chivalry surrounded their brave monarch, and in the falling dusk fought desperately to guard their king.

  “No thought was there of dastard flight;
  Linked in that serried phalanx tight,
  Groom fought like noble, squire like knight,
    As fearlessly and well.
  The stubborn spearmen still made good
  Their dark impenetrable wood,
  Each stepping where his comrade stood
    The instant that he fell.”

As night fell, the fierce struggle continued until the darkness made it impossible to see friend or foe, but the fate of Scotland’s bravest was sealed. The king lay dead, covered with wounds, and around him a heap of slain; those who were able made their way in haste from the field, while the English host encamped where it stood. The more lawless in each army plundered both sides impartially, and when the king’s body was found next day, it too was stripped like many others around it.

  “Then did their loss his foemen know,
  Their king, their lords, their mightiest low,
  They melted from the field as snow
    Dissolves in silent dew.
  Tweed’s echoes heard the ceaseless plash
    While many a broken band,
  Disordered, through its currents dash
    To gain the Scottish land;
  To town and tower, to down and dale,
  To tell red Flodden’s dismal tale,
  And raise the universal wail.”

The tragic effects of that terrible day were long felt in Scotland. Every family of note in the land lost one or more of its members on the fatal field, besides the thousands of humbler beings who fell at the same time. Scotland did not recover from the crushing blow for more than a hundred years; and for many a day the people could not believe that their gallant king was really slain, but continued to hope that he had escaped in the darkness, and would one day return.

There has recently been erected on Flodden Field a simple cross of stone as a memorial of that tragic day. It was unveiled on September 27th, 1910, by Sir George Douglas, Bart. The inscription on the stone is “To the Brave of both Nations.”


  I’ve heard the liltin’ at our ewe-milking,
  Lasses a’ liltin’ before dawn o’ day;
  But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning—
  The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away.

  At bughts,[12] in the mornin’, nae blythe lads are scornin’,
  Lasses are lonely and dowie and wae;
  Nae daffin’, nae jabbin’, but sighin’ and sabbin’,
  Ilk ane lifts her leglin[13] and hies her away.

  In harst, at the shearing, nae youths now are jeering,
  Bandsters are lyart,[14] and runkled, and gray;
  At fair or at preaching, nae wooing, nae fleeching[15]
  The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away.

  At e’en, in the gloaming, nae younkers are roaming
  ’Bout stacks, with the lasses at “bogle” to play;
  But ilk ane sits drearie, lamenting her dearie—
  The Flowers of the Forest are weded away.

  Dool and wae for the order sent our lads to the Border!
  The English for ance by guile wan the day;
  The Flowers of the Forest, that fought aye the foremost,
  The prime of our land, are cauld in the clay.

  We’ll hear nae mair liltin’ at our ewe-milkin’;
  Women and bairns are heartless and wae;
  Sighing and moaning on ilka green loaning—
  The Flowers of the Forest are a’ wede away.

[12] Bughts = sheep-pens.

[13] Leglin = milk-pail.

[14] Lyart = grizzled.

[15] Fleeching = coaxing.


Northumberland, as might be guessed from its wild history, is rich in tales of daring and stories of gallant deeds; there are true tales, as well as legendary ones, which latter, after all, may be true in substance though not in detail, in spirit and possibility though not in a certain sequence of facts. Now-a-days we look upon dragons as fabulous animals, and stories of the destruction they wrought, their fierceness and their might are dismissed with a smile, and mentally relegated to a place amongst the fairy tales that delighted our childhood’s days, when the idea of belief or disbelief simply did not enter the question. Yet what are the dragon stories but faint memories of those gigantic and fearsome beasts which roamed the earth in the “dim, red dawn of man”—their names, as we read the labels on their skeletons in our museums, being now the most fearsome things about them! No one can deny that the ichthyosaurus, plesiosaurus, and all the rest of their tribe did exist; and were they to be encountered in these days would spread the same terror around, and find man almost as helpless before them as did any fierce dragon of the fairy tales. That part of the legends, therefore, has its foundation in fact; though from the nature of the case, we certainly do not possess an authenticated account of any particular contest between primitive man and one of these gigantic creatures. That oldest Northumbrian poem, however, the “Beowulf,” chants the praises of its hero’s prowess in encounters of the kind; and the north-country still has its legends of the Sockburn Worm, the Lambton Worm, and the “Laidly” Worm of Spindleston Heugh, the two first having their venue in Durham, and the last in Northumberland. The Spindlestone, a high crag not far from Bamburgh, and Bamburgh Castle itself, form the scene of this well-known legend. The fair Princess Margaret, daughter of the King of Bamburgh was turned into a “laidly worm” (loathly or loathsome serpent) by her wicked stepmother, who was jealous of the lovely maid. The whole district was in terror of this dreadful monster, which desolated the country-side in its search for food.

  “For seven miles east and seven miles west
  And seven miles north and south,
  No blade of grass or corn would grow,
  So deadly was her mouth.

  The milk of seven streakit cows
  It was her cost to kepe,
  They brought her dayly, whyche she drank
  Before she wente to slepe.”

This offering proved successful in pacifying the creature, and it remained in the cave at Spindleston, coming out daily to drink its fill from the trough prepared for it. But the fear of it in no wise diminished, and

  “Word went east, and word went west,
  And word is gone over the sea,
  That a laidly worm in Spindleston Heugh
  Would ruin the North Countree.”

The news in due course comes to the ears of Princess Margaret’s only brother, the Childe Wynde, who is away seeking fame and fortune abroad. In fear for his lovely sister, he calls together his “merry men all,” and they set to work to build a ship

  “With masts of the rowan-tree,”

a sure defence against the spells of witchcraft; and hoisting their silken sails they hasten homeward.

  “... ... The wind with speed
  Blew them along the deep.
  The sea was calm, the weather clear,
  When they approached nigher;
  King Ida’s castle well they knew,
  And the banks of Bamburghshire.”

The wicked queen saw the little bark coming near, and knew that her guilt was about to meet its reward. In haste she tried to wreck the vessel, but the rowan-tree masts made her spells of no avail. Then she bade her servants go to the beach and oppose the landing of the Childe and his crew; but the servants were beaten back, and the young knight and his men landed in Budle Bay. The worm came fiercely to the attack, as the Childe Wynde advanced against it; but on meeting him, and feeling the touch of his “berry-brown sword,” it besought him to do it no harm.

  “‘O quit thy sword, unbend thy brow,
  And give me kisses three;
  For though I be a laidly worm
  No harm I’ll do to thee.

  O quit thy sword, unbend thy brow,
  And give me kisses three;
  If I’m not won ere the sun goes down
  Won shall I never be.’

  He quitted his sword, and smoothed his brow,
  And gave her kisses three;
  She crept intill the hole a worm,
  And came out a fayre ladie.”

The knight clasped his lovely sister in his arms, and, casting around her his crimson cloak, led her back to her home, where the trembling queen awaited them. Her doom was spoken by the Childe Wynde—

  “Woe be to thee, thou wicked witch;
  An ill death mayst thou dee!
  As thou hast likened my sister dear,
  So likened shalt thou be”

and he turned her into the likeness of an ugly toad, in which hateful shape she remained to her dying day, wandering around the castle and the green fields, an object of hatred to all who saw her. The “Spindlestone,” a tall crag on which the young knight hung his bridle, when he went further on to seek the worm in the “heugh,” is still to be seen, but the huge trough from which the worm was said to drink has been destroyed.

There are two legends somewhat similar to each other which are told of a company held in the spell of a magic sleep, to be awakened by certain devices, in which the blowing of a horn and the drawing of a sword are prominent. One is the story of “Sir Guy the Seeker,” and is told of Dunstanborough Castle. Sir Guy sought refuge in the Castle from a storm; and while within the walls a spectre form with flaming hair addressed him,

  “Sir knight, Sir knight, if your heart be right,
  And your nerves be firm and true,”

(fancy “nerves” in a ballad!)—

  “Sir knight, Sir knight, a beauty bright
  In durance waits for you.”

The ballad, written by M.G. Lewis, now describes in a painfully commonplace manner the knight’s further adventures. He and his guide wandered round and round and high and low in the maze of chambers within the castle, until at last a door of brass, whose bolt was a venomous snake, gave them entrance to a gloomy hall, draped in black, which the “hundred lights” failed to brighten. In the hall a hundred knights of “marble white” lay sleeping by their steeds of “marble black as the raven’s back.” At the end of the hall, guarded by two huge skeleton forms, the imprisoned lady was seen in tears within a crystal tomb. One skeleton held in his bony fingers a horn, the other a “falchion bright,” and the knight was told to choose between them, and the fate of himself and the lady would depend upon his choice. Sir Guy, after long hesitation, blew a shrill blast upon the horn; at the sound the hundred steeds stamped their hoofs, the hundred knights sprang up, and the unlucky knight fell down senseless, with his ghastly guide’s words ringing in his ears—

  “Shame on the coward who sounded a horn
  When he might have unsheathed a sword!”

In the morning, the unfortunate Sir Guy awoke to find himself lying amongst the ruins, and forthwith began his ceaseless and unavailing search for the lady he had failed to rescue.

The legend similar to this in many respects is that of King Arthur and his court at Sewingshields, to which allusion has already been made in the chapter on the Roman Wall. I cannot do better than give this in the words of Mr. Hodgson, who tells the story in his History of Northumberland. “Immemorial tradition has asserted that King Arthur, his queen Guenever, his court of lords and ladies, and his hounds were enchanted in some cave of the crags, or in a hall below the castle of Sewingshields, and would continue entranced there until someone should first blow a bugle-horn that lay on a table near the entrance of the hall, and then with the ‘sword of the stone’ (was this Excalibur?) cut a garter, also placed there beside it. But none had ever heard where the entrance to this enchanted hall was, till the farmer at Sewingshields, about fifty years since, was sitting knitting on the ruins of the castle, and his clew fell, and ran downwards through a rush of briars and nettles, as he supposed, into a subterraneous passage. Full in the faith that the entrance to King Arthur’s hall had now been discovered, he cleared the briary portal of its weeds and rubbish, and entering a vaulted passage, followed in his darkling way the thread of his clew. The floor was infested with toads and lizards; and the dark wings of bats, disturbed by his unhallowed intrusion, flitted fearfully around him. At length his sinking courage was strengthened by a dim, distant light, which as he advanced grew gradually brighter, till all at once he entered a vast and vaulted hall, in the centre of which a fire without fuel, from a broad crevice in the floor blazed with a high and lambent flame, that showed all the carved walls and fretted roof, and the monarch and his queen and court reposing around, in a theatre of thrones and costly couches. On the floor beyond the fire lay the faithful and deep-toned pack of thirty couple of hounds; and on a table before it the spell-dissolving horn, sword, and garter. The shepherd reverently, but firmly, grasped the sword, and as he drew it leisurely from its rusty scabbard, the eyes of the monarch and his courtiers began to open, and they rose till they sat upright. He cut the garter; and as the sword was being slowly sheathed the spell assumed its ancient power, and they all gradually sank to rest; but not before the monarch had lifted up his eyes and hands, and exclaimed—

  “O woe betide that evil day
  On which this witless wight was born,
  Who drew the sword, the garter cut.
  But never blew the bugle horn!”

Terror brought on loss of memory, and the shepherd was unable to give any correct account of his adventure, or to find again the entrance to the enchanted hall.

Another legend is connected with Tynemouth. Just above the short sands was a cave known as Jingling Geordie’s Hole; the “Geordie” is evidently a late interpolation, for earlier mention of the cave gives it as the Jingling Man’s Hole. No one knows how it came by its name; tradition says that it was the entrance to a subterranean passage leading from the Priory beneath the Tyne to Jarrow. In this cave it was said that a treasure of a fabulous amount was concealed, and the tale of this hoard fired a boy named Walter to seek it out, when he heard the tale from his mother. On his attaining to knighthood, he resolved to make the finding of the treasure his particular “quest,” and arming himself, he adventured forth on the Eve of St. John. Making his way fearlessly down into the cave, undaunted by spectre or dragon, as they attempted to dispute his passage, he arrived at a gloomy gateway, where hung a bugle, fastened by a golden cord. Boldly he placed the bugle to his lips, and blew three loud blasts. To his amazement, at the sound the doors rolled back, displaying a vast and brightly-lit hall, whose roof was supported on pillars of jasper and crystal; the glow from lamps of gold shone softly down on gold and gems, which were heaped upon the floor of this magic chamber, and the treasure became the rich reward of the dauntless youth.

  “Gold heaped upon gold, and emeralds green,
  And diamonds and rubies, and sapphires untold,
  Rewarded the courage of Walter the Bold.”

The fortunate youth became a very great personage, indeed, as by means of his great riches he was “lord of a hundred castles” and wide domains.

Of a very different character is the story of the Hermit of Warkworth. It is unfortunate that this, the most tragic and moving of all Northumbrian tales, should be most widely known by means of the prosy imitation ballad by Dr. Percy, whose ability as a poet did by no means equal his zeal as a collector of ballads. The hero of the sorrowful tale is said to have been a Bertram of Bothal, who loved fair Isabel, daughter of the lord of Widdrington. Bertram was a knight in Percy’s train, and at a great feast made by the lord of Alnwick the fair maiden and her father were amongst the guests. As the minstrels chanted the praises of their lord, and sang of the valiant deeds by which his noble house had won renown, the heart of Isabel thrilled at the thought of her true knight rivalling those deeds of fame. Summoning one of her attendant maidens, she sent her to Bertram, bearing a helmet of steel with crest of gold. With the helmet the maiden gave her mistress’ message, that she would yield to her knight’s pleadings and become his bride, as soon as he had proved himself a valiant and worthy wearer of the golden-crested helm. Reverently Bertram accepted the commands of his lady, and vowed to prove his devotion wherever hard blows were to be given and danger to be found. The lord of Alnwick straightway arranged for an expedition on to Scottish land, in requital of old scores, and assembled together a goodly company to ride against the Scots. Earl Douglas and his men opposed them, and blows were dealt thick and fast on both sides. Bertram was sorely wounded, after showing wondrous prowess in the fight; but being rescued by Percy, was borne to the castle of Wark upon the Tweed, to recover from his wounds in safety. Isabel’s aged father had seen the young knight’s valour, and promised that the maiden herself should tend his hurts and care for him until he recovered. Day after day passed, however, and still she came not. At last the knight, scarcely able to take the saddle, rode back to Widdrington, tended by his gallant young brother, to satisfy himself of what had become of his lady. They reached Widdrington tower to find it all in darkness; and after repeated knockings the aged nurse came to the gateway and demanded the name of those who so insistently clamoured at the door. Bertram enquired for the lady Isabel; and then, indeed, all was dismay. The nurse, trembling with fear, told the two youths that her mistress had set out immediately on hearing of her lover’s plight, reproaching herself for having led him to adventure his life so rashly, and it was now six days since she had gone. Weary and weak, Bertram rested the night at the castle, and then set out on his search for his lost lady. That they might the sooner search the country round, he and his brother, who loved him dearly, took different directions, one going eastward, and the other north. They put on various disguises as they went, Bertram appearing now in the guise of a holy Palmer, now as a wandering minstrel As he was sitting, despondent and well-nigh despairing, beneath a hawthorn tree, an aged monk came by, and on seeing the supposed minstrel’s face of sorrow, said to him,

  “All minstrels yet that e’er I saw
  Are full of game and glee,
  But thou art sad and woe-begone;
  I marvel whence it be.”

Bertram replied that he served an aged lord whose only child had been stolen away, and that he would know no happiness until he had found her. The pilgrim comforted him and bade him hope, telling him that

  “Behind yon hills so steep and high,
  Down in a lonely glen,
  There stands a castle fair and strong,
  Far from the abode of men.”

Saying that he had heard a lady’s voice lamenting in this lonely tower, he passed on, giving Bertram the hope that now at last his quest was ended. He made his way to that strong castle, and with his music prevailed upon the porter to let him stay near at hand in a cavern; for the porter refused to admit him to the castle in the absence of his lord, though at the same time giving him food and directing him to the cave. He piped all day and watched all night, and was rewarded by hearing his lady’s voice lamenting within the walls of her prison. On the second night he caught a glimpse of her beauteous form, fair as the moonbeams that shone around the tower. On the third night, worn with watching, he slept, and only awakened as dawn drew nigh. Grasping his weapon, he stole near to the castle walls, when to his amazement, he saw his lady descend from her window by a ladder of rope, held for her by a youth in Highland dress. Stunned at the sight, he could not move to follow them, till they had left behind them the castle where the lady had been held captive, and were about to disappear over the hill. Silently and swiftly then he drew near, and crying furiously, “Vile traitor! yield that lady up!” fell upon the youth who accompanied her, who in his turn fought as furiously as he. In a few moments Bertram’s antagonist lay stretched on the ground; and as he gave him the fatal thrust he cried, “Die, traitor, die!” The lady recognised his voice, and rushing forward, shrieked, “Stay! stay! it is thy brother.” But the sword of Bertram, already descending with the force of rage and fury in the blow, could not be stayed until too late. The fair maid’s breast was pierced by the sword of the knight who loved her, and she sank down by the side of the youth who had delivered her. It was indeed Bertram’s brother, who had succeeded in his search; and the dying maiden found time to tell of his devotion, in rescuing her from this castle of the son of a Scottish lord who fain would have made her his bride, before she, too, lay lifeless by the side of her brave rescuer, leaving her lover too despairing and desolate to seek safety in flight, so that the band of searchers from the castle, seeking their prisoner on the hills, and dreading their lord’s wrath on his return, bore him back with them to the dungeon. Their lord, however, had meantime been taken captive by Percy (Hotspur), who, as soon as he heard of Bertram’s capture, quickly exchanged the Scottish chief for his friend. Bertram’s sorrow lasted for the rest of his days; he gave away his lands and possessions to the poor, and retiring to a lovely spot on the banks of the Coquet, where rocky cliffs overhung the river, he carved out in the living stone a little cell, dormitory, and chapel, and dwelt there, passing his days in mourning, meditation, and prayer. In the chapel, with its gracefully arched roof, he fashioned on an altar-tomb the image of a lady, and at her feet the figure of a hermit, in the attitude of grief, one hand supporting his head and the other pressed against his breast, leaning over and gazing at the lady for ever. The poignant sentence “My tears have been my meat day and night,” is carved over the entrance to the little chapel. Here, in this beautiful spot, almost under the shadow of the castle walls belonging to his noble friend, the sorrowing knight, now a holy hermit, spent the remainder of his life in the little dwelling he had wrought in the living rock. It remains to-day more beautiful, if possible, than ever, overhung by a canopy of waving greenery, and draped with ferns and mosses, their graceful fronds laved by the rippling Coquet whose gentle murmurings fill the still air with music.

The next tale takes us to the neighbourhood of Belford, and out upon the old post road from London to Edinburgh. In the unsettled times of James the Second’s reign, one Sir John Cochrane of Ochiltree was condemned to death for his part in the rising which was led by the Duke of Argyle. Powerful friends, heavily bribed by Sir John’s father, the Earl of Dundonald, were working in Sir John’s favour, and they had strong hopes of obtaining a pardon. But meanwhile, Sir John lay in the Tolbooth at Edinburgh, and the warrant for his execution was already on its way northward, in the post-bag carried forward by horseman after horseman throughout the length of the way. Could the arrival of the warrant only be delayed by some means, his life might be saved. In this strait, his daughter Grizzel, a girl of eighteen, conceived the desperate idea of preventing the warrant’s reaching its destination. Saying nothing to anyone of her intentions, she stole away from home, and rode swiftly to the Border. Following the road for about four miles on the English side, she arrived at the house of her old nurse; and here she changed her clothes, persuading the old dame to lend her a suit belonging to her foster-brother. Making her way southward, she went to the inn at Belford where the riders carrying the mail usually put up for the night. Here, the same night, came the postman, and the seeming youth watched nervously, but determinedly, for an opportunity of finding out whether the fateful paper was in his bag or not. No slightest chance presented itself, however, and an attempt to obtain the mail-bag during the night failed by reason of the fact that the man slept upon it. One thing she did accomplish, which gave her hope that the encounter for which she was nerving herself might end successfully for her; she managed, unseen, to draw the charges from his pistols. Then the courageous girl rode off through the dark night to select a favourable spot in which to await his coming. For two or three lonely hours she waited, the thought that she was fighting for her father’s life giving her courage. In the dim light of the early dawn she heard the sound of his horse’s hoofs from where she stood in the shadow of a clump of trees; and steeling herself for the part she was to play, and in ignorance of whether he might have found out that the charges had been withdrawn from his pistols and might have re-loaded them, she waited until he was almost abreast of her, and fired at his horse, bringing it down. Before he could extricate himself she was upon him with drawn sword; but promising to spare his life if he would let her have the mail-bag, she seized it and darted away. He attempted to follow to recover his charge, but she reached her horse, and rode off like the wind. When she reached a place of safety and examined the contents of the bag, what was her joy to find that the warrant was there. It was speedily destroyed; and during the time that elapsed before the news of the loss could be sent to London and another one made out, the friends of Sir John succeeded in obtaining his pardon. “Cochrane’s bonny Grizzy” lived to a good old age; and “Grizzy’s clump” on the north road near the little village of Buckton keeps green the memory of her daring exploit.

“Bonny Grizzy” was a Scottish maid, though her gallant if lawless deed was performed on Northumbrian soil; but there is one Northumbrian maiden whose fame will live as long as the sea-waves beat on the wild north-east coast, and as long as men’s hearts thrill to a tale of courage and high resolve. Grace Darling’s name still awakens in every bosom a response to all that is compassionate, courageous, and unselfish; and the thoughts of all north-country folk bold that admiration for the gentle girl which has been voiced as no other could voice it, in the magical words of Swinburne—

  “Take, O star of all our seas, from not an alien hand,
  Homage paid of song bowed down before thy glory’s face,
  Thou the living light of all our lovely stormy strand,
  Thou the brave north-country’s very glory of glories, Grace.”

The story of her gallantry has been many times re-told, but never grows wearisome. The memory of that stormy voyage of the Forfarshire, which ended in disaster on the Harcar rocks in the Farne group, remains in men’s minds as the dark and tragic setting which throws into bright relief the gallant action of the father and daughter who dared almost certain death to rescue their fellow-creatures in peril. It was in September, 1838, that the ill-fated vessel left Hull for Dundee; but a leak in the boilers caused the fires to be nearly extinguished in the storm the vessel encountered. It reached St. Abb’s Head by the aid of the sails, but then drifted southward, driven by the storm, and struck in the early morning, in a dense fog, on the Harcar rocks. Nine of the people on board managed to escape in a small boat, which was driven in a miraculous manner through the only safe outlet between the rocks. They were picked up by a passing boat and taken to Shields. Meanwhile a heavy sea had crashed down upon the Forfarshire, and broken it in half, one portion, with the greater number of crew and passengers, being swept away immediately. The remaining portion, the fore part of the vessel, was firmly fixed upon the rock. Here the shivering survivors clung all that stormy day, the waves dashing over them continually. The captain and his wife were washed overboard, clasped in each others’ arms; and two little children, a boy of eight and a girl of eleven years of age, died from exposure and the relentless buffeting of the waves, their distracted mother clasping them by the hand long after life was extinct. To a terrible day succeeded a yet more terrible night.

  “Scarce the cliffs of the islets, scarce the walls of Joyous Gard
  Flash to sight between the deadlier lightnings of the sea;
  Storm is lord and master of a midnight evil-starred,
  Nor may sight nor fear discern what evil stars may be.”

Until the morning they endured; and in the stormy dawn the keeper of the Longstone lighthouse, William Darling, and his daughter Grace saw them huddled in a shivering heap upon the wave-swept fragments of the wreck. The girl begged her father to try to save them, and to allow her to help in the task, and after some natural hesitation he consented. The brave-hearted mother helped them to launch the boat, and they set forth.

The Wreck of the “Forfarshire”

The Wreck of the “Forfarshire”

  “Sire and daughter, hand on oar and face against the night.
  Maid and man whose names are beacons ever to the north.
  ...... all the madness of the stormy surf
  Hounds and roars them back, but roars and hounds them back in   vain.

  Not our mother, not Northumberland, brought ever forth.
  Though no southern shore may match the sons that kiss her mouth,
  Children worthier all the birthright given of the ardent north,
  Where the fire of hearts outburns the suns that fire the south.”

  They reached the rock, where nine persons were still
  clinging to the wreck, and

  “Life by life the man redeems them, head by storm-worn head,
  While the girl’s hand stays the boat whereof the waves are fain.”

With five of the exhausted survivors the boat returned to the Longstone; and two of the men went back with William Darling for the other four. All were safely housed in the lighthouse and tended by the noble family of the Darlings; but the storm raged for several days longer, and made it impossible for them to be put ashore. When at length they returned to their homes, and the story of the rescue was made known, the whole country was moved by it; and presents of all kinds, money, and offers of marriage poured in upon Grace, who remained quite unmoved by it all, and was still the gentle unassuming girl that she had always been. She refused to leave her home, though she was offered twenty pounds a night at the Adelphi if she would consent merely to sit in a boat for London audiences to gaze upon her. Sad to say, she died of consumption about two years afterwards, after having tried in vain to arrest the course of her sickness by change of air at Wooler and Alnwick; and she sleeps in Bamburgh churchyard, within sound of the sea by which she had spent her short life.

  “East and west and south acclaim her queen of England’s maids.
  Star more sweet than all their stars, and flower than all their flowers.”

The actual boat in which the gallant deed was performed was long preserved at Newton Hall, Stocksfield; but the owners have lately presented it to the Marine Laboratory at Cullercoats.

Drawing of boat]


The ballads of Northumberland, as all true ballads should do, partake of the characteristics of the district which is their home. As we should expect, they treat chiefly of warlike themes, of the chieftain’s doughty deeds, the moss-trooper’s daring and skill, of the knight’s courtesies and gallant feats of arms, and the feuds of rival clans; in fact, they portray for us vividly the time of which they treat, and in a few graphic touches bring before us the very spirit of the period. In direct and simple phrases the narrative proceeds, giving with rare power just the necessary expression to the tale.

These ballads fall naturally into three main divisions. The historical ballad is at its best in the famous “Chevy-Chase,” which has been the delight of gentle and simple for centuries; and the oft-quoted declaration of Sir Philip Sidney concerning it still finds an echo in our own day.

Of the two best known versions of the ballad, the one here given is the more poetical by far; the other, however, contains the account of the courage of Hugh Widdrington which has made the gallant squire immortal.

The latter version is as evidently English as the former is Scottish; or rather, each has grown to its present form as the reciters exercised their art to please an English or a Scottish audience. In the one version it is Douglas who takes the offensive, and challenges Percy, waiting for him at Otterbourne; in the other we are told that

  “The stout Erle of Northumberland
  A vow to God did make,
  His pleasure in the Scottish woods
  Three summer days to take.”

On the death of Douglas—

  “Erle Percy took
  The dead man by the hand,
  And said, ‘Erle Douglas, for thy life
  Would I had lost my land!’”

When the battle is over,

  “Next day did many widdowes come
  Their husbands to bewayle;
  Their bodyes bathed in purple blood
  They bore with them away;
  They kist them dead a thousand times
  Ere they were cladd in clay.”

It was neither of these versions, however, that so moved the heart of gallant Sidney, but a much older one, beginning

  “The Perse owt off Northomberlande
    And a vow to God made he,
  That he wold hunt in the mountayns
    Off Chyviat within days iii.”

Other historical ballads are “The Rising of the North,” “The Raid of the Reidswire,” “Flodden Field,” “Homildon Hils” and “Hedgeley Moor.”

The next division may be termed semi-historical; that is, they treat of events which actually happened, but which have chiefly a local interest; and these may therefore be said to be more truly Northumbrian than any others. Such are “Jock o’ the Side,” “Johnnie Armstrong,” “Hobbie Noble” and “The Death of Parcy Reed.”

Of the third class, the romantic ballads, we have not so rich a store; yet “The Gay Goss-hawk,” the “Nut-browne Mayde” and the touchingly beautiful “Barthram’s Dirge” may stand amongst the best of their kind.

“The Gay Gross-hawk” is one of those delightful and imaginative productions of which there are so many examples, in which birds and hounds share their lords’ and ladies’ secrets, and serve them staunchly in hours of peril; they belong to the times when fairies were still seen holding their moonlight revels, when witches exercised their baleful arts, and fearsome dragons wore still to be met and conquered—“and if you do not believe it,” said Dr. Spence Watson, “I am sorry for you!”

The “Nut-browne Mayde” is supposed to have been a Lady Margaret Percy, who lived in the reign of Henry VIII.; and the lover to whom she was so faithful, notwithstanding his trial of her love by declaring that he was an outlaw, and “must to the greenwood go, alone, a banished man,” was Henry Clifford, son of the Earl of Westmoreland. The inordinate length of this ballad forbade its inclusion in the present selection; I am sensible that that selection may appear somewhat meagre, but only want of space has prevented the inclusion of others that many of my readers would doubtless have been glad to see.

Of songs in dialect, Joe Wilson’s “Aw wish yor Muthor wad cum!” stands easily first; and the other, “Sair feyl’d, hinny!” is given as an example of the Northumbrian muse in another mood.

In conclusion, let me say that of the modern verse every example is from the pen of a Northumbrian.

  It fell about the Lammas tide,
  When muir-men win their hay,
  The doughty Douglas bound him to ride
  Into England to drive a prey.

  He chose the Gordons and the Graemes,
  With them the Lindsays, light and gay;
  But the Jardines would not with them ride,
  And they rue it to this day.

  And he has burned the dales o’ Tyne,
  And part o’ Bamburghshire;
  And three good towers on Reidswire fells
  He left them all on fire.

  And he marched up to New Castel,
  And rode it round about;
  “O wha’s the lord of this castel?
  Or wha’s the lady o’t?”

  And up spake proud Lord Percy then,
  And O! but he spake hie!
  “O I’m the lord of this castel,
  My wife’s the lady gay.”

  “If thou art the lord of this castel,
  Sae weel it pleases me!
  For ere I cross the Border fells,
  The tane of us sall die.”

  He took a lang spere in his hand
  Shod wi’ the metal free,
  And for to meet the Douglas there
  He rode right furiouslie!

  But oh! how pale his lady looked
  Frae off the castle wa’,
  When down before the Scottish speare
  She saw proud Percy fa’!

  “Had we twa been upon the green,
  And never an eye to see,
  I wad hae had you, flesh and fell,
  But your sword shall gae wi’ me.”

  “But gae ye up to Otterbourne
  And wait there dayis three,
  And if I come not ere three dayis end,
  A fause knight ca’ ye me.”

  “The Otterbourne’s a bonnie burn,
  ’Tis pleasant there to be;
  But there is naught at Otterbourne
  To feed my men and me.

  “The deer rins wild on hill and dale,
  The birds fly wild frae tree to tree,
  But there is neither bread nor kale
  To feed my men and me.

  “Yet I will stay at Otterbourne
  Where you sall welcome be;
  And if ye come not at three dayis end
  A fause lord I’ll call thee.”

  “Thither will I come,” proud Percy said,
  “By the might of Our Ladye!”
  “Thither will I bide thee,” said the Douglas,
  “My troth I plight to thee.”

  They lighted high on Otterbourne,
  Upon the bent sae brown;
  They lighted high on Otterbourne
  And threw their pallions down.

  And he that had a bonnie boy,
  Sent out his horse to grass;
  And he that had not a bonnie boy,
  His ain servant he was.

  And up then spake a little foot-page,
  Before the peep o’ dawn—
  “O waken, waken ye, my good lord,
  The Percy is hard at hand!”

  “Ye lee, ye lee, ye leear loud!
  Sae loud I hear ye lee!
  For Percy had not men yestreen
  To dight my men and me!”

  “But I hae dreamed a dreary dream,
  Beyond the Isle of Skye;
  I saw a dead man win a fight,
  An’ I think that man was I.”

  He belted on his gude braid-sword,
  And to the field he ran;
  But he forgot his helmet good,
  That should have kept his brain.

  When Percy wi’ the Douglas met
  I wat he was fu’ fain!
  They swakked their swords till sair they swat,
  The blude ran down like rain.

  But Percy, with his gude braid-sword,
  That could sae sharply wound,
  Has stricken Douglas on the brow,
  Till he fell to the ground.

  Then he called on his little foot-page
  And said, “Run speedilie,
  And fetch my ain dear sister’s son,
  Sir Hugh Montgomerie.”

  “My nephew good,” the Douglas said,
  “What recks the death of ane?
  Last night I dreamed a dreary dream,
  And I ken the day’s thy ain.

  “My wound is deep, I fain wad sleep;
  Take thou the vanguard of the three,
  And hide me by the bracken bush
  That grows on yonder lilye lea.

  “O bury me by the bracken bush,
  Beneath the bloomin’ brier;
  Let never a living mortal ken
  That ever a kindly Scot lies here.”

  He lifted up that noble lord,
  Wi’ the saut tear in his e’e;
  He hid him in the bracken bush
  That his merrie men might not see.

  The moon was clear, the day drew near,
  The speres in flinders flew,
  And mony a gallant Englishman
  Ere day the Scotsmen slew.

  The Gordons gude, in English blude
  They steeped their hose and shoon;
  The Lindsays flew like fire about
  Till a’ the fray was dune.

  The Percy and Montgomerie met,
  And either of other was fain;
  They swakkèd swords, and sair they swat,
  And the blude ran doun like rain.

  “Now yield thee, yield thee, Percy!” he cried;
  “Or else will I lay thee low.”
  “To whom sall I yield?” quoth Erle Percy,
  “Sin I see it maun be so.”

  “Thou shalt not yield to lord or loon,
  Nor yet shalt thou yield to me,
  But thou shalt yield to the bracken bush
  That grows on yon lilye lea.”

  “I will not yield to a bracken bush;
  Nor yet will I yield to a brier;
  But I would yield to Erle Douglas,
  Or Hugh Montgomerie if he were here.”

  As soon as he knew it was Montgomerie
  He stuck his sword’s-point in the gronde;
  The Montgomerie was a courteous knight,
  And quickly took him by the honde.

  This deed was done at the Otterbourne,
  About the breaking of the day;
  Erle Douglas was buried at the bracken bush.
  And the Percy led captive away.

  Now Liddesdale has ridden a raid,
  But I wat they had better hae staid at hame;
  For Michael o’ Winfield he is dead,
  And Jock o’ the Side is prisoner ta’en.

  For Mangerton house Lady Downie has gane,
  Her coats she has kilted up to her knee;
  And down the water wi’ speed she rins,
  While tears in spates fa’ fast frae her e’e.

  Then up and spoke our guid auld laird—
  “What news, what news, sister Downie, to me?”
  “Bad news, bad news, for Michael is killed,
  And they hae taken my son Johnnie.”

  “Ne’er fear, sister Downie,” quo’ Mangerton,
  “I have yokes of owsen, twenty and three,
  My barns, my byres, and my faulds a’ weel filled,
  I’ll part wi’ them a’ ere Johnnie shall dee.

  “Three men I’ll send to set him free,
  A’ harnessed wi’ the best o’ steel;
  The English loons may hear, and drie
  The weight o’ their braid-swords to feel.

  “The Laird’s Jock ane, the Laird’s Wat twa,
  O Hobbie Noble, thou ane maun be!
  Thy coat is blue, thou has been true
  Since England banished thee to me.”

  Now Hobbie was an English man,
  In Bewcastle dale was bred and born;
  But his misdeeds they were so great,
  They banished him ne’er to return.

  Laird Mangerton them orders gave,
  “Your horses the wrang way maun be shod;
  Like gentlemen ye maunna seem,
  But look like corn-cadgers ga’en the road.

  “Your armour gude ye maunna show,
  Nor yet appear like men of weir;
  As country lads be a’ array’d,
  Wi’ branks and brecham on each mare.”

  Sae their horses are the wrang way shod,
  And Hobbie has mounted his gray sae fine;
  Jock his lively bay, Wat’s on his white horse behind.
  And on they rode for the water of Tyne.

  At the Cholerford they a’ light doun,
  And there wi’ the help o’ the light o’ the moon,
  A tree they cut, wi’ fifteen nogs on each side,
  To climb up the wa’ of Newcastle toun,
  But when they cam’ to Newcastle toun,
  And were alighted at the wa’
  They fand their tree three ells ower laigh,
  They fand their stick baith short and sma’.

  Then up and spak the Laird’s ain Jock,
  “There’s naething for’t; the gates we maun force.”
  But when they cam’ the gate untill,
  A proud porter withstood baith men and horse.

  His neck in twa the Armstrangs wrung;
  With fute or hand he ne’er played pa!
  His life and his keys at once they hae ta’en,
  And cast the body ahint the wa’.

  Now sune they reach Newcastle jail,
  And to the prisoner thus they call:
  “Sleeps thou, or wakes thou, Jock o’ the Side,
  Or art thou weary of thy thrall?”

  Jock answered thus, wi’ doleful tone,
  “Aft, aft I wake—I seldom sleep;
  But wha’s this kens my name sae weel,
  And thus to ease my wae does seek.”

  Then out and spake the gude Laird’s Jock,
  “Now fear ye na’, my billie,” quo’ he;
  “For here are the Laird’s Jock, the Laird’s Wat,
  And Hobbie Noble, come to set thee free.”

  “Now haud thy tongue, my gude Laird’s Jock,
  For ever, alas! this canna be;
  For if a’ Liddesdale were here the night,
  The morn’s the day that I maun dee.”

  “Full fifteen stane o’ Spanish iron
  They hae laid a’ right sair or me;
  Wi’ locks and keys I am fast bound
  Into this dungeon dark and dreirie!”

  “Fear ye nae that,” quo’ the Laird’s Jock;
  “A faint heart ne’er won a fair ladie;
  Work thou within, we’ll work without,
  And I’ll be sworn we’ll set thee free.”

  The first strong door that they cam’ at,
  They loosed it without a key;
  The next chain’d door that they cam’ at
  They gar’d it a’ to flinders flee.

  The prisoner now upon his back
  The Laird’s Jock has gotten up fu’ hie;
  And down the stair, him, irons and a’,
  Wi’ nae sma’ speid and joy brings he.

  “Now Jock, my man,” quo Hobbie Noble,
  “Some o’ his weight ye may lay on me.”
  “I wat weel no,” quo’ the Laird’s ain Jock;
  “I count him lighter than a flee.”

  Sae out at the gates they a’ are gane,
  The prisoner’s set on horseback hie;
  And now wi’ speed they’re ta’en the gate,
  While ilk ane jokes fu’ wantonlie.

  “O Jock! sae winsomely ’s ye ride,
  Wi’ baith your feet upon ae side;
  Sae weel ye’re harnessed, and sae trig,
  In troth ye sit like ony bride!”

  The night, tho’ wat, they didna mind,
  But hied them on fu’ merrilie
  Until they cam’ to Cholerford brae,
  Where the water ran baith deep and hie.

  But when they came to Cholerford,
  There they met with an auld man,
  Says, “Honest man, will the water ride?
  Tell us in haste, if that ye can.”

  “I wat weel no,” quo’ the gude auld man;
  “I hae lived here thirty years and three,
  And I ne’er yet saw the Tyne sae big,
  Nor running anes sae like a sea.”

  Then out and spake the Laird’s Saft Wat,
  The greatest coward in the companie;
  “Now halt, now halt, we needna try’t,
  The day is come we a’ maun dee.”

  “Puir faint-hearted thief!” cried the Laird’s ain Jock,
  “There’ll nae man die but him that’s fey;
  I’ll guide ye a’ right safely thro’,
  Lift ye the prisoner on ahint me.”

  Wi’ that the water they hae ta’en;
  By anes and twas they a’ swam thro’;
  “Here we are a’ safe,” quo’ the Laird’s Jock,
  “And puir faint Wat, what think ye now?”

  They scarce the other brae had won
  When twenty men they saw pursue;
  Frae Newcastle toun they had been sent,
  A’ English lads baith stout and true.

  But when the land-serjeant the water saw,
  “It winna ride, my lads,” says he;
  Then cried aloud—“The prisoner take,
  But leave the fetters, I pray, to me.”

  “I wat weel no,” quo’ the Laird’s Jock;
  “I’ll keep them a’; shoon to my mare they’ll be.
  My gude bay mare—for I am sure
  She has bought them a’ right dear frae thee.”

  Sae now they are on to Liddesdale,
  E’en as fast as they could them hie;
  The prisoner is brought to his ain fireside,
  And there o’ his airns they mak’ him free.

  “Now, Jock, ma billie,” quo’ a’ the three,
  “The day is com’d thou was to dee.
  But thou’s as weel at thy ain ingle-side,
  Now sitting, I think ’twixt thou and me.”

  They shot him dead at the Nine-stane Rig,
  Beside the Headless Cross,
  And they left him lying in his blood,
  Upon the moor and moss.

  They made a bier of the broken bough
  The sauch and the aspin grey,
  And they bore him to the Lady Chapel,
  And waked him there all day.

  A lady came to that lonely bower,
  And threw her robes aside;
  She tore her ling lang yellow hair,
  And knelt at Barthram’s side.

  She bathed him in the Lady-Well,
  His wounds sae deep and sair;
  And she plaited a garland for his breast,
  And a garland for his hair.

  They rowed him in a lily sheet
  And bare him to his earth;
  And the Grey Friars sung the dead man’s mass
  As they passed the Chapel garth.

  They buried him at the mirk midnight,
  When the dew fell cold and still,
  When the aspin grey forgot to play,
  And the mist clung to the hill.

  They dug his grave but a bare foot deep,
  By the edge of the Nine-stane Burn,
  And they covered him o’er with the heather-flower,
  The moss and the lady-fern.

  A Grey Friar staid upon the grave,
  And sang till the morning tide;
  And a friar shall sing for Barthram’s soul
  While the Headless Cross shall bide.

  It was a knight in Scotland born,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  Was taken pris’ner and left forlorn,
  Even by the good Earl of Northumberland.

  Then was he cast in prison strong,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  Where he could not walk nor lie along,
  Even by the good Earl of Northumberland.

  And as in sorrow thus he lay,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  The Earl’s sweet daughter passed that way,
  And she the fair flower of Northumberland.

  And passing by, like an angel bright,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  The prisoner had of her a sight,
  And she the fair flower of Northumberland.

  And aloud to her this knight did cry,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  The salt tears standing in her eye,
  And she the fair flower of Northumberland.

  “Fair lady,” he said, “take pity on me,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  And let me not in prison dee,
  And you the fair flower of Northumberland.”

  “Fair sir, how should I take pity on thee,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  Thou being a foe to our countrie,
  And I the fair flower of Northumberland?”

  “Fair lady, I am no foe,” he said,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  “Through thy sweet love here was I stayed,
  And thou the fair flower of Northumberland.”

  “Why shouldst thou come here for love of me,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  Having wife and bairns in thy own countrie,
  And I the fair flower of Northumberland?”

  “I swear by the Blessed Trinity,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  That neither wife nor bairns have I,
  And thou the fair flower of Northumberland.”

  “If courteously thou wilt set me free,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  I vow that I will marry thee,
  And thou the fair flower of Northumberland.

  “Thou shalt be lady of castles and towers,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  And sit like a queen in princely bowers,
  Even thou the fair flower of Northumberland.”

  Then parted hence this lady gay,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  And got her father’s ring away,
  And she the fair flower of Northumberland.

  Likewise much gold got she by sleight,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  And all to help this forlorn knight,
  And she the fair flower of Northumberland.

  Two gallant steeds both good and able,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand),
  She likewise took out of the stable,
  And she the fair flower of Northumberland.

  And to the goaler she sent the ring,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  Who the knight from prison forth did bring,
  To meet the fair flower of Northumberland.

  This token set the prisoner free,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  Who straight went to this fair ladye,
  And she the fair flower of Northumberland.

  A gallant steed he did bestride,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  And with the lady away did ride,
  And she the fair flower of Northumberland.

  They rode till they came to a water clear,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  “Good sir, how shall I follow you here,
  And I the fair flower of Northumberland?

  “The water is rough and wonderful deep,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  And on my saddle I shall not keep,
  And I the fair flower of Northumberland?

  “Fear not the ford, fair lady,” quoth he,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  “For long I cannot stay for thee,
  Even thou the fair flower of Northumberland.”

  The lady prickt her gallant steed,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  And over the water swam with speed,
  Even she the fair flower of Northumberland.

  From top to toe all wet was she,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  “This have I done for love of thee,
  Even I the fair flower of Northumberland.”

  Thus rode she all one winter’s night.
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  Till Edenborough they saw in sight,
  The fairest town in all Scotland.

  “Now I have a wife and children five,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  In Edenborough they be alive,
  And thou the fair flower of Northumberland.

  “And if thou wilt not give thy hand,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  Then get thee home to fair England,
  And thou the fair flower of Northumberland

  “This favour thou shalt have, to boot,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  I’ll have thy horse; go thou on foot,
  Even thou the fair flower of Northumberland.”

  “O false and faithless knight,” quoth she;
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  “And canst thou deal so bad with me,
  Even I the fair flower of Northumberland?”

  He took her from her stately steed,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  And left her there in extreme need,
  And she the fair flower of Northumberland.

  Then she sat down full heavily,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  At length two knights came riding by,
  And she the fair flower of Northumberland.

  Two gallant knights of fair England,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  And there they found her on the strand,
  Even she the fair flower of Northumberland.

  She fell down humbly on her knee,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  Crying, “Courteous knights, take pity on me,
  Even I the fair flower of Northumberland.

  “I have offended my father dear,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  For a false knight that brought me here,
  Even I the fair flower of Northumberland.”

  They took her up beside them then,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  And brought her to her father again,
  And she the fair flower of Northumberland.

  Now all you fair maids, be warned by me,
  (Follow, my love, come over the strand)
  Scots never were true, nor ever will be,
  To lord, nor lady, nor fair England.

  Are you going to Whittingham Fair
  (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme),
  Remember me to one that lives there,
  For once she was a true lover of mine.

  Tell her to make me a cambric shirt,
  (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme),
  Without any seam or needlework,
  Then she shall be a true lover of mine.

  Tell her to wash it in yonder well,
  (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme),
  Where never spring water or rain ever fell,
  And she shall be a true lover of mine.

  Tell her to dry it on yonder thorn,
  (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme),
  Which never bore blossom since Adam was born.
  Then she shall be a true lover of mine.

  Now he has asked me questions three,
  (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme),
  I hope he’ll answer as many for me,
  Before he shall be a true lover of mine.

  Tell him to buy me an acre of land,
  (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme),
  Betwixt the salt water and the sea sand,
  Then he shall be a true lover of mine.

  Tell him to plough it with a ram’s horn.
  (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme),
  And sow it all over with one pepper corn.
  And he shall be a true lover of mine.

  Tell him to shear’t with a sickle of leather,
  (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme),
  And bind it up with a peacock feather,
  And he shall be a true lover of mine.

  Tell him to thrash it on yonder wall,
  (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme),
  And never let one corn of it fall,
  Then he shall be a true lover of mine.

  When he has done and finished his work,
  (Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme),
  O tell him to come and he’ll have his shirt,
  And he shall be a true lover of mine.
  A North country mayde up to London had strayed,
  Although with her nature it did not agree.
  Which made her repent, and often lament,
  Still wishing again in the North for to be.
    “O the Oak and the Ash and the bonny Ivy tree,
    They are all growing green in my North Countrie!”

  “O fain wad I be in the North Countrie
  Where the lads and the lasses are all making hay;
  O there wad I see what is pleasant to me,—
  A mischief ’light on them enticed me away!
    O the Oak and the Ash and the bonny Ivy tree,
    They are all growing green in my North Countrie!”

  “Then farewell my father, and farewell my mother,
  Until I do see you I nothing but mourn;
  Remembering my brothers, my sisters, and others—
  In less than a year I hope to return.
    O the Oak and the Ash and the bonny Ivy tree.
    They are all growing green in my North Countrie!”
     “Sair feyl’d, hinny!
      Sair feyl’d now,
      Sair feyl’d, hinny,
      Sin’ aw ken’d thou.
  Aw was young and lusty,
  Aw was fair and clear;
  Aw was young and lusty
  Mony a lang year.
      Sair feyl’d, hinny!
      Sair feyl’d now;
      Sair feyl’d, hinny,
      Sin’ aw ken’d thou.

  “When aw was young and lusty
  Aw cud lowp u dyke;
  But now aw’m aud and still.
  Aw can hardly stop a syke.
      Sair feyl’d, hinny!
      Sair feyl’d now,
      Sair feyl’d hinny,
      Sin’ aw ken’d thou.

  “When aw was five and twenty
  Aw was brave an bauld.
  Now at five an’ sixty
  Aw’m byeth stiff an’ cauld.
      Sair feyl’d, hinny!
      Sair feyl’d now.
      Sair feyl’d, hinny,
      Sin’ aw ken’d thou”

  Thus said the aud man
  To the oak tree;
  “Sair feyl’d is aw
  Sin’ aw kenn’d thee!
      Sair feyl’d, hinny!
      Sair feyl’d now;
      Sair feyl’d, hinny,
      Sin’ aw ken’d thou.”
  “Cum, Geordy, haud the bairn,
  Aw’s sure aw’ll not stop lang,
  Aw’d tyek the jewl me-sel,
  But really aw’s not strang.
  Thor’s flooer and coals te get,
  The hoose-torns thor not deun,
  So haud the bairn for fairs,
  Ye’re often deun’d for fun!”

  Then Geordy held the bairn,
  But sair agyen his will,
  The poor bit thing wes gud,
  But Geordy had ne skill,
  He haddint its muther’s ways,
  He sat both stiff an’ num,—
  Before five minutes wes past
  He wished its muther wad cum!

  His wife had scarcely gyen,
  The bairn begun te squall,
  Wi’ hikin’t up an’ doon
  He’d let the poor thing fall,
  It waddent haud its tung,
  Tho’ sum aud teun he’d hum,—
  ‘Jack an’ Gill went up a hill’—
  “Aw wish yor muther wad cum!”

  “What weary toil,” says he,
  “This nursin bairns mun be,
  A bit on’t’s weel eneuf,
  Ay, quite eneuf for me;
  Te keep a crying bairn,
  It may be grand te sum,
  A day’s wark’s not as bad—
  Aw wish yor muther wad cum.

  “Men seldom give a thowt
  Te what thor wives indure,
  Aw thowt she’d nowt te de
  But clean the hoose, aw’s sure.
  Or myek me dinner an’ tea—
  It’s startin’ te chow its thumb,
  The poor thing wants its tit,
  Aw wish yor muther wad cum.”

  What a selfish world this is,
  Thor’s nowt mair se than man;
  He laffs at wummin’s toil,
  And winnet nurse his awn;—
  It’s startin’ te cry agyen,
  Aw see tuts throo its gum,
  Maw little bit pet, dinnet fret,—
  Aw wish yor muther wad cum.

  “But kindness dis a vast.
  It’s ne use gettin’ vext.
  It winnet please the bairn,
  Or ease a mind perplext.
  At last—its gyen te sleep,
  Me wife’ll not say aw’s num,
  She’ll think aw’s a real gud norse,
  Aw wish yor muther wud cum!”

  Joe Wilson
  The morn is grey, and green the brae, the wind is frae the wast
  Before the gale the snaw-white clouds are drivin’ light and fast;
  The airly sun is glintin’ forth, owre hill, and dell, and plain,
  And Coquet’s streams are glitterin’, as they run frae muir to main.

  At Dewshill wood the mavis sings beside her birken nest,
  At Halystane the laverock springs upon his breezy quest;
  Wi’ eydent e’e, aboon the craigs, the gled is high in air,
  Beneath brent Brinkburn’s shadowed cliff the fox lies in his lair.

  There’s joy at merry Thristlehaugh tie new-mown hay to win;
  The busy bees at Todstead-shaw are bringing honey in;
  The trouts they loup in ilka stream, the birds on ilka tree;
  Auld Coquet-side is Coquet still—but there’s nae place for me!

  My sun is set, my eyne are wet, cauld poortith now is mine;
  Nae mair I’ll range by Coquet-side and thraw the gleesome line;
  Nae mair I’ll see her bonnie stream in spring-bright raiment drest,
  Save in the dream that stirs the heart when the weary e’e’s at rest.

  Oh! were my limbs as ance they were, to jink across the green.
  And were my heart as light again as sometime it has been,
  And could my fortunes blink again as erst when youth was sweet,
  Then Coquet—hap what might beside—we’d no be lang to meet’

  Or had I but the cushat’s wing, where’er I list to flee,
  And wi’ a wish, might wend my way owre hill, and dale, and lea.
  ’Tis there I’d fauld that weary wing, there gaze my latest gaze.
  Content to see thee ance again—then sleep beside thy braes!

  —Thomas Doublerday.
  Go, take thine angle, and with practised line.
    Light as the gossamer, the current sweep;
    And if thou failest in the calm, still deep,
  In the rough eddy may a prize be thine.
  Say thou’rt unlucky where the sunbeams shine;
    Beneath the shadow, where the waters creep
    Perchance the monarch of the brook shall leap—
  For fate is ever better than design.

  Still persevere; the giddiest breeze that blows,
    For thee may blow with fame and fortune rife.
  Be prosperous; and what reck if it arose
    Out of some pebble with the stream at strife,
  Or that the light wind dallied with the boughs?
    Thou art successful.—Such is human life!

  —Thomas Doubleday.
  “And so sir Launcelot brought sir Tristan and La Beate Isoud unto
  Joyous-gard, the which was his owne castle that hee had wonne with his
  owne hands.”—Malory.

  “Bamburgh ... the great rock-fortress that was known to the Celts as
  Dinguardi, and was to figure in Arthurian romance as Joyous Garde ...
  “—C.J. Bates (History of Northumberland).

    I wandered under winter stars
    The lone Northumbrian shore;
  And night lay deep in silence on the sea.
    Save where, unceasingly,
    Among the pillared scaurs
  Of perilous Farnes, wild waves for ever more
    Breaking in foam,
  Sounded as some far strife through the star-haunted gloam.

    Before me, looming through the night,
    Darker than night’s sad heart,
  King Ida’s castle on the sheer crag set
    Waked darker sorrow yet
    Within me for the light,
  Beauty, and might of old loves rent apart,
    Time-broken, spent,
  And strewn as old dead winds among the salt-sea bent.

    Till, dreaming of the glittering days,
    And eves with beauty starred,
  Time fell from me as some night-cloud withdrawn,
    And in enchanted dawn,
    All in a golden haze,
  I saw the gleaming towers of Joyous Garde
    In splendour rise,
  Tall, pinnacled, and white to my dream-laden eyes.

    While thither, as in days of old,
    Launcelot homeward came,
  War-wearied, and yet wearier of the strife
    Of love that tore his life;

    Burning, beneath the cold
  Armour of steel, a never-dying flame:
    The fierce desire
  Consuming honour’s gold on the heart’s altar fire!

    And thither in great love he brought
    The fugitives of love,
  Isoud and Tristram fleeing from King Mark.
    One day ’twixt dark and dark
    These lovers, by fate caught
  In love’s bright web, dreamed with blue skies above
    Of love no tide
  Of wavering life may part, or death’s swift sea divide.

    But Launcelot, in their bliss forlorn,
    Fled from the laughter clear
  Of happy lovers, and love’s silent noon;
    All night beneath the moon
    He strode, his spirit torn
  For Guenevere! All night on Guenevere
    He cried aloud
  Unto the moonlit foam and every windy cloud.

    Then faded, quivering, from my sight
    The memory-woven dream.
  The towers of Joyous Garde shall never more
    Lighten that desolate shore;
    No longe’r through the night
  Wrestling with love, beneath the pale moon gleam
    That anguished form!—
  But keen with snow and wind, and loud with gathering storm.

  —Wilfrid W. Gibson.

  (In “The Northern Counties Magazine,” March, 1901).
  O though here fair blows the rose, and the woodbine waves on high,
  And oak, and elm, and bracken fronds enrich the rolling lea,
  And winds, as if in Arcady, breathe joy as they go by,
  Yet I yearn and I pine for my North Countrie!

  I leave the drowsing South, and in thought I northward fly,
  And walk the stretching moors that fringe the ever-calling sea,
  And am gladdened as the gales that are so bitter-sweet rush by.
  While grey clouds sweetly darken o’er my North Countrie.

  For there’s music in the storms, and there’s colour in the shades,
  And joy e’en in the grief so widely brooding o’er the sea;
  And larger thoughts have birth amid the moors and lonely glades
  And reedy mounds and sands of my North Countrie!

  —Thomas Runciman.




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