Bishopton Fairy Hill

Bishopton Motte s

Bishopton is a pleasant village situated on an eminence a few miles West North West of Stockton. A little to the east of it are the foundations of a circular fortification which was raised by Roger Conyers, who made a powerful resistance there against the troops of William  Cumin, the Chancellor of the King of the Scots, when, supported by that monarch and the Empress Matilda, he usurped the See of Durham, in the middle of the twelfth century.

A conical mound, sixty feet high, stands in the centre of the fort and is surrounded by deep trenches. It is known in the locality as the Fairy Hill. The story goes, that the people were once carting away this hill, and had got it partly removed, when a mysterious voice was heard which said ” Is all well ? ” ” Yes” was the reply, ” then keep well when you are well,” rejoined  the voice, ” and leave the Fairy Hill alone.” The admonition was not attended to, however, and the work went on again. In a short time the workmen came upon a large black oak chest it was so heavy that it took several men to carry it to the nearest blacksmith’s shop. Hoping to find it full of gold and silver, they immediately got it broken open, when, alas, it turned out to be full of nails. The chest long remained, perhaps still remains, in the blacksmith’s shop, where the aunt of my informant, a trustworthy woman, has often seen it.

Legends and Superstitions of the County of Durham

William Brockie 1886

Wilderness Road

Mandale Triangle-Wilderness Road-Newport

I bring you ten ton gain to this hometown range

Bona fide what you hear is the sound of pain


A woman, food falling from her mouth, is not happy with me photographing a poster. I try talking with her, she suspects my motives.

Someone shouts ‘Paedo’ at me from a passing car.

I brace myself, the car does not return.

Separating sharks from the blessed is vital




How the hell you gon stop this tide from steady coming

Parks were once created as green spaces. The new parks are for shopping, cars & business

Too big to slide though they try to disguise

soundtrack – Roots Manuva

The Pickled Parson of Sedgefield


The Rev. John Garnage, A.M., rector of Sedgefield, died in the second week of December 1747, about a week before the tithes became due; and it is said that his widow, who was a woman with all her wits about her, resorted to the old expedient of laying his body in salt, and keeping it in a private room, till after the 20th of the month, the day on which the tithe-farmers came to pay their rents. Her scheme succeeded. She received the payments for that year, which would otherwise have gone into the Bishop of Durham’s hands, as patron. And after she had got the money safe, she made public the fact of her husband’s decease.

This clever piece of trickery does not seem to have been pleasing, however, to the ghost of the departed, who was doubtless an honourable as well as a reverend man, and therefore, the parsonage for many years became a haunted house. “The Pickled Parson,” as he was irreverently termed, infested the neighbourhood for the better part of half a century, ” making night hideous.” At length on the morning of the year 1792, a fire broke out in one of the lodging-rooms of the rectory-house, and before it could be extinguished the greater part of the building was destroyed. From that day and hour the apparition was never more seen.

Legends & Superstitions of the County of Durham

William Brockie 1886

Plant Lore


The fruit of the blackberry bramble is vulgarly known in this district by the name of bumble kyte, from its being supposed to cause flatulency when eaten in too great a quantity. No knowledgeable boy will eat these berries after Michaelmas Day, because the arch-fiend is believed to ride along the hedges on the eve of that great festival and pollute everything that grows in them, except the sloes, by touching them with his club foot. The same notion prevails further north, where the bramble-berries are called lady’s garter berries.

bramble print


It was formerly supposed thought “fern seed” was obtainable only at the exact hour of midnight, on the eve of the day on which Saint John the Baptist was born ; and people believed that if they gathered it at that particular time, it would endow them with the power of walking invisible. The right way to obtain it was to hold a plate under the plant, and let the seed fall into it of its own accord, for if was shaken off by the hand it lost its virtue. This belief was founded on the doctrine of signatures, according to which certain herbs were held to be specific remedies for particular diseases, because they bore upon them some impress of the symptoms accompanying them. Thus the liver wort was supposed to be a sovereign remedy against the heat and inflammation of the liver, because it was shaped like that organ ; the lungwort, from its spotted leaves, was a popular remedy for diseased lungs ; the pilewort, on account of the small knobs on the roots, was administered in cases of hemorrhoids ; The seed of the fern, being on the back of the plant, and so small as to escape the sight of ordinary observers, was assumed to have the property of rendering those who tasted it, or carried it about their persons, invisible for the time.

The mercy of God… maketh… Herbes for the use of men, and hath… given them particular Signatures, whereby a man may read… the use of them.

William Cole (1626-62)


Country people plant the house-leek or sen-green, locally termed “full ” or ” fullen,” on the thatched roofs of their cottages, in order to preserve them from thunder and lightning, which, it is said, will never strike this evergreen herb.

house leek


The common purple clover {Trifolium pratense) is very good for cattle, but very noisome to witches. In the days when there was at least one noted witch in every hamlet, the leaf was commonly worn as a potent charm, being regarded as an obvious emblem of the Blessed Trinity. The belief in its magic virtue is not extinct even yet.



One saying is —

If your whipstick’s made of rowan

You may ride your nag through any town.

Another —

Woe to the lad

Without a rowan tree gad.

The latter has fallen into disuse since tlie old fashioned twelve-oxen plough was laid aside. When that cumbersome affair was at work, making those enormous S-shaped ridges of which are still seen the traces left in some outlying old grass fields, a gadman to take charge of the team was as necessary as a ploughman to take hold of the stilts, and his iron pointed instrument was made of a young mountain ash or rowan tree, which kept the witches away from making the cattle “camsteery.”


Hob Headless


A sprite of a very malevolent disposition, named Hob Headless, used formerly to infest the roads between Hurworth and Neasham ; but had it not in his power to cross the Kent, a little stream flowing into the Tees at the latter place, being subject, we may suppose, to the same law which once prevailed in the supernatural world in Scotland, whereby, under some mysterious penalty, even the witches durst not, in their nocturnal raids, cross a running stream.

Hob used to go as far as the Millstone Bridge, on the Darlington road, but never was seen past that place. A man named Robert Bone, usually called Bobby Byens, was the last person who saw Hob Headless, who was exorcised many years ago, and laid under a large stone, formerly on the road side. There he was to remain for ninety-nine years and a day and should any luckless person happen to sit down on that stone, it was verily believed that he would be unal)le to quit it for ever. But when Mr. Anthony Moss, of West Middleton, place, the stone was smashed up by the mason’s labourer, and part of it was used as a foundation stone. There is, or was, another Hob at Coniscliffe, on the other side of Darlington ; but no particulars regarding him have been learned.

Legends & Superstitions of the County of Durham

William Brockie 1886

J C Atkinson – The Last of the Giant Killers

JC Atkinson

In almost every instance what may be called the starting-point of the several stories depends upon, or is connected with, local legend, local fact (of whatever kind), or ‘local habitation.’ The Giant-casts, Giant building-works ; the King Arthur legend; the legends of the Loathly Worm ; of the nightly destruction of the day-done work of Church-building, and the ultimate flitting of the materials to another site ; of the Barguest or Church-grim; of the insatiable Hunter with his horses and hounds buried with him, and his doom to hunt for ever, or until the Day of Judgment; of the other presentation of the same idea involved in the Gabble-ratchet notion; of the underground passages from historic buildings; of the guarded treasure reachable by some of them; and the like, are — at least have been — not only as actually localised in this district as in any other in England or the northern Continent of Europe, but have been, nay, are still, more readily accepted and accredited than the great slides and falls of rock and earth from the moor-banks, or the former prevalence and sway of the Wolf in our forest fastnesses. For even the fact that, as late as 1395 the ‘tewing’ or dressing and tanning of fourteen wolfskins, in a lot, is charged for in the accounts of Whitby Abbey, while it is enough to suggest that, in remoter places such as the forest-begrown wilds of Danby and Westerdale, those pleasant neighbours must have had a ‘ royal time of it,’ is still not enough to keep alive in the popular mind the circumstance that the Woodales in those parishes were ‘dales’ named after the ‘wolf ‘ and not after the ‘wood,’ or that the many Wolf-pits, Wolf-hows, and so on, we still hear of about, are but the scanty remains of hosts of like-named places or objects.

Taken from the preface of one of my favourite books, The Last of the Giant Killers or The Exploits of Sir Jack of Danby Dale written by the Rev. J. C. Atkinson and published in 1891