June 24, 2011
According to a document from the village of Lamplugh, in west Cumbria, mid 17th- century parishioners were battling a plague of faeries, witches, will ‘o the wisps, man-eating dogs, fatally strong beer and spontaneous brawling. The document describes itself as a register of deaths for the period 1656 to 1663, and includes the following causes of death:
Two duels, fought with a frying pan and pitchforks – 1
Crost in love – 11
Mrs Lamplugh’s cordial water – 2
Frighted to death by faries – 42
Of strong October at the hall – 143
Bewitched – 7
Old women drowned upon the trial for witchcraft – 34
Led into a horse pond by a will of the whisp – 15
Vagrant beggars worried by Esquire Lamplugh’s housedog – 2
read more »
June 10, 2011
Uther Pendragon, the father of King Arthur, was conspicuous by his absence from my recent series of posts on Arthurian characters in Cumbria. In fact, he’s absent from almost all academic histories and most popular histories; he occasionally turns up at the lighter end of folklore… and in quite a few TV programmes.
- Pendragon Castle, Cumbria
And yet you don’t have to be in Cumbria for long before you find that Pendragon Castle, Uther’s home, is right here in the Eden Valley. There’s even a little ditty about it:
‘Let Uther do what he can
Eden will run where Eden ran.’
Pendragon Castle is surrounded by a deep ditch and it was believed that Uther planned to divert the nearby River Eden to fill it, but failed, and was immortalised in slightly poor rhyme.
In 1902, the local historical society gathered some traditional stories about Pendragon Castle. The Rev. Wharton said that Uther died at Pendragon castle; it was besieged by Saxons, who, unable to break the defences, poisoned the well. Canon Simpson reported that Uther’s ghost could be seen riding at break-neck speed from the castle, across Orton Scar towards Penrith.2
read more »
June 3, 2011
Early in the sixteenth century, a young man by the name of Simon Bell had just finished a long watch in his post as under-steward at Kendal Castle. It was quiet – painfully quiet – and Simon decided he needed company, and entertainment. He took a horse and rode up to Ambleside, where he met with friends and enjoyed a few welcome beers.
- Riders of the Sidhe 1911
It was late by the time Simon set off for home, but he made good speed until he reached a cross-roads near Staveley, when his horse came to a halt and refused all efforts to move him. Simon heard noises around him and looked to see a procession of people ‘all below the middle stature’ who ‘came along the by-road as if their clog-soles had been purposely made of felt’1. Simon’s first thought that this could be a band of Scots, fleeing the recent ‘Battle of Flodden Field2, although if he had thought that there would be any about, he wouldn’t have left the castle in the first place. He hid in the nearby scrub.
read more »