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That there was an ancient priory at Tynemouth is certain. Its ruins are situated on a high rocky point; and, doubtless, many a vow was made at the shrine by the distressed mariners, who drove towards the iron-bound coast of Northumberland in stormy weather. It was anciently a nunnery; for virca, abbess of Tynemouth, presented St. Cuthbert (yet alive) with a rare winding-sheet, in emulation of a holy lady called Tuda, who had sent him a coffin: But, as in the case of Whitby, and of Holy Island, the introduction of nuns at Tynemouth, in the reign of Henry VIII., is an anachronism. The nunnery at Holy Island is altogether fictitious. Indeed St. Cuthbert was unlikely to permit such an establishment; for, notwithstanding his accepting the mortuary gifts above mentioned, and his carrying on a visiting acquaintance with the abbess of Coldingham, he certainly hated the whole female sex; and, in revenge of a slippery trick played to him by an Irish princess, he, after death, inflicted severe penances on such as presumed to approach within a certain distance of his shrine.
It is well known, that the religious, who broke their vows of chastity, were subjected to the same penalty as the Roman vestals in a similar case. A small niche, sufficient to enclose their bodies, was made in the massive wall of the convent; a slender pittance of food and water was deposited in it, and the awful words, Wade in Pacem, were the signal for immuring the criminal. It is not likely that, in latter times, this punishment was often resorted to; but, among the ruins of the abbey of Coldingham, were some years ago discovered the remains of a female skeleton, which, from the shape of the niche, and position of the figure, seemed to be that of an immured nun.
The accommodations of a Scottish hostelrie, or inn, in the 16th century, may be collected from Dunbar's admirable tale of “The Friars of Berwick.” Simon Lawder, “the gay ostleir,” seems to have lived very comfortably; and his wife decorated her person with a scarlet kirtle, and a belt of silk and silver, and rings upon her fingers; and feasted her paramour with rabbits, capons, partridges, and Bordeaux wine. At least, if the Scottish inns were not good, it was not for want of encouragement from the legislature, who, so early as the reign of James I, not only enacted, that in all boroughs and fairs there be hostellaries, having stables and chambers, and provision for man and horse, but, by another statute, ordained, that no man, travelling on horse or foot, should presume to lodge any where except in these hostellaries; and that no person, save inn-keepers, should receive such travellers, under the penalty of forty shillings for exercising such hospitality.” But, in spite of these provident enactments, the Scottish hostels are but indifferent, and strangers continue to find reception in the
' houses of individuals.
* James I. Parliament I. cap. 24.; Parliament III. cap. 56.
Among other omens to which faithful credit is given among the Scottish peasantry, is what is caked the “dead-bell,” explained, by my friend James Hogg, to be that tinkling in the ears which the country people regard as the secret intelligence of some friend's decease. He tells a story to the purpose in the “Mountain Bard,” p. 26.
A vaulted hall under the ancient castle of Gifford, or Yester, (for it bears either name indifferently) the construction of which has, from a very remote period, been ascribed to magic. The Statistical Account of the Parish of Garvald and Baro, gives the following account of the present state of this' castle and apartment: “Upon a peninsula, formed by the water of Hopes on the east, and a large rivulet on the west, stands the ancient castle of Yester. Sir David Dalrymple, in his Anmals, relates, that ‘Hugh Gifford de Yester died in 1267: that in his castle there was a capacious cavern formed by magical art, and called in the country Bo-hall, i. e. Hobgoblin Hall.” A stair of twenty-four steps led down to this apartment, which is a large and spacious hall, with an arched roof; and though it hath stood for so many centuries, and been exposed to the extermal air for a period of fifty or sixty years, it is still as firm and entire as if it had only stood a few years. From the floor. of this hall, another stair of thirty-six steps leads down to a pit which hath a communication with Hopes-water. A great part of the walls of this large and ancient castle are still standing. There is a tradition, that the castle of Yester was the last fortification, in this country, that surrendered to General Gray, sent into Scotland by Protector Somerset.” Statistical Accownt, Vol. XIII. I have only to add, that, in 1737, the Goblin Hall was tenanted by the Marquis of Tweedale's falconer, as I learn from a poem by Boyse, entitled “Retirement,” writ
ten upon visiting Yester. It is now rendered inaccessible by the fall of the stair. - Sir David Dalrymple's authority for the anecdote is Fordun, whose words are, “A.D. MCCLXVII, Hugo Giffard de Yester moritur; cujus castrum, vel saltem caveam, et dongionem, arte damonica antiqua relationes ferunt fabrifactas: namibidem habetwr mirabilis specus subterraneus, opere mirifico con
structus, magno terrarum spatio protelatus, qui communiter Tôge
Hyals appellatus est.” Lib. X, cap. 21.-Sir David conjectures, that Hugh de Gifford must have been either a very wise man, or a great oppressor.
Note IV, There floated Haco's banner trim, Above Norweyan warriors grim.—P.108. In 1263, Haco, King of Norway, came into the Frith of Clyde
with a powerful armament, and made a descent at Largs, in Ayrshire. Here he was encountered and defeated, on the 2d October, by Alexander III. Haco retreated to Orkney, where he died soon after this disgrace to his arms. There are still existing, near the place of battle, many barrows, some of which having been opened, were found, as usual, to contain bones and urns.
his wizard habit strange.—P. 109.
“Magicians, as is well known, were very curious in the choice and form of their vestments. Their caps are oval, or like pyramids, with lappets on each side, and fur within. Their gowns are long, and furried with fox-skins, under which they have a linen garment, reaching to the knee. Their girdles are three inches broad, and have many cabalistical names, with crosses, trimes, and circles, inscribed on them. Their shoes should be of new russet leather, with a cross cut upon them. Their knives are dagger fashion; and their swords
have neither guard nor scabbard.” See these, and many other
particulars, in the Discourse concerning Devils and Spirits, annexed to Reginald Scott's Discovery of Witchcraft, edition 1665.
“A pentacle is a piece of fine linen, folded with five corners, according to the five senses, and suitably inscribed with characters. This the magician extends towards the spirits which he evokes, when they are stubborn and rebellious, and refuse to be conformable unto the ceremonies and rites of magic.” See the Discourse, &c. above mentioned, p. 66.
As born upon that blessed night,
When yawning graves, and dying groan,
Proclaimed hell's empire overthrown.—P. 110. It is a popular article of faith, that those who are born on Christmas, or Good-Friday, have the power of seeing spirits, and even of commanding them. The Spaniards imputed the haggard and downcast looks of their Philip II., to the disagreeable visions to which this privilege subjected him.
Note VIII. Yet still the mighty spear and shield, The elfin warrior doth wield Upon the brown hill's breast.—P. 114. The following extract from the Essay upon the Fairy Superstitions, in “The Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border,” Vol. II., will show whence many of the particulars of the combat between Alexander III. and the Goblin Knight are derived: “Gervase of Tilbury (Otia Imperial. ap. Script; rer. Brunsvic, Vol. I. p. 797) relates the following popular story concerning a fairy knight: ‘Osbert, a bold and powerful baron, visited a noble family in the vicinity of Wandlebury, in the bishoprie of Ely. Among other stories related in the social circle of his friends, who, according to custom, amused each