Bridle Rock…

The Bamburgh Beast

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… The Great Stone in the ballad is known as Spindleston Heugh(s),

and is a dolerite crag on the Whin Sill (‘Dark Flat’) escarpment in the parish of Easington.

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 The Spindle Stone is a natural stone column standing out from the crag,

which is also known as ‘Bridle Rock’.

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‘Bridal Rocks’ are often climbed by suitors

in order to demonstrate their suitability for an intended.

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According to legend this one was used by Childy Wynde

to tether his horse before he tackled the Worm.

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A feature below the crag is marked ‘Laidley Worm’s Trough’ on the map

but the nearby ‘Laidley Worm’s Cave’ was destroyed in the 19th century.

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It is sometimes easy to forget our links to the land

in which we move and have our being

especially when we have been couped up in doors

for any length of time, by choice or otherwise.

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This, though, does not seem to have been so much of a problem

for our ancient ancestors, and perhaps,

this is because it was all so new to them…

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The balled of the Laidley Worm is now

intricately associated with Bamburgh castle.

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This large fortified house is perched atop a dolerite outcrop

which is decidedly wormlike in shape, and was formerly the stronghold

of Celtic Britons, the Din Guarie.

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The church at the back of the castle,

holds the relics of St Aiden.

Entry to the church is free, and is well worth a visit…

The Laidley Wyrm…

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I weird you a Laidly Worm,

Until the end-of-days,

And freed ne’er shall you be,

Until the king’s successor,

Approach the Heugh,

And give you kisses three…

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Before a legend ‘goes national’ it will first have been local.

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There are lots of ‘merlins’ and ‘arthurs’ in the land of Britain,

although not all of them are known by those names or titles.

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There are too, lots of dragon slayers,

few of which are called George.

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Before George became our Patron Saint,

our Patron Saint was called Edmund.

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Edmund was shot full of arrows then decapitated,

and his decapitated head was stolen, by a wolf…

Which is, perhaps, not very heroic.

Not heroic enough for some, certainly.

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Before George became our Patron Saint

there was a ‘dragon slayer’ in Northumbria,

here is his tale…

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“And so to Bamburgh castle, the king a new wife did bring.

But his queen took an instant dislike to her husband’s daughter, Margaret,

And transformed her into a Laidly Wyrm which coiled itself about a Great Stone,

And laid waste the land for seven miles around.

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Daily, the milk of seven cows was brought the Wyrm but all to no avail,

For the enchantment could only be lifted by Childy Wynd,

Margaret’s brother, but he lived far away over the sea.

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Word of the dark doings in his homeland eventually reached Childy,

Who built a ship with a rowan-tree mast and silken sails,

And set out to rid Bamburgh of its blight.

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The queen, she spied the ship and sent out ‘witch-wives’ to sink it,

But they were powerless ‘gainst the magical mast.

As the ship came into land, the Wyrm leapt up,

The Wyrm leapt down, and plaiting ’round the stane,

Banged it out to sea again.

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Undaunted, Childy put in on Budle Sand and waded ashore.

Finally encountering the Wyrm, Childy laid his sword upon its head,

Yet gave it kisses three,

And though it crept back into its hole a Wyrm,

It stepped out, a Lady.

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Together, brother and sister returned to Bamburgh,

To be greeted by their joyful father, the king.

The queen was transformed, by Childy, into a toad,

Which to this day spits venom on young girls out walking.”

Duncan Frasier  AD 1270

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Spindle-Stone Heugh…

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“And so to Bamburgh castle, the king a new wife did bring.

But his queen took an instant dislike to her husband’s daughter, Margaret,

And transformed her into a Laidly Wyrm which coiled itself about a Great Stone,

And laid waste the land for seven miles around.

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Daily, the milk of seven cows was brought the Wyrm but all to no avail,

For the enchantment could only be lifted by Childy Wynd,

Margaret’s brother, but he lived far away over the sea.

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‘The Pilgrims’ sally forth…

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Word of the dark doings in his homeland eventually reached Childy,

Who built a ship with a rowan-tree mast and silken sails,

And set out to rid Bamburgh of its blight.

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The queen, she spied the ship and sent out ‘witch-wives’ to sink it,

But they were powerless ‘gainst the magical mast.

As the ship came into land, the Wyrm leapt up,

The Wyrm leapt down, and plaiting ’round the stane,

Banged it out to sea again.

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Dunstanburgh: ‘A ruinous ego’?…

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Undaunted, Childy put in on Budle Sand and waded ashore.

Finally encountering the Wyrm, Childy laid his sword upon its head,

Yet gave it kisses three,

And though it crept back into its hole a Wyrm,

It stepped out, a Lady.

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Together, brother and sister returned to Bamburgh,

To be greeted by their joyful father, the king.

The queen was transformed, by Childy, into a toad,

Which to this day spits venom on girls out walking.”

Duncan Frasier  AD 1270

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