‘T’Hunt o’ Yatton Brigg

‘T’ Hunt o’ Yatton Brigg is a dialect poem by Richard Blakeborough which was published in 1896. The poem is too long to reproduce here but it tells the tale of the Old Witch and John Simpson.

John Simpson was in love with a girl from Great Ayton called Mary Mudd, unfortunately Mary loved a man named Tom Smith. John Simpson’s love soon turned to hate of the pair and he asked the local witch, Old Nanny, to work an evil spell on Tom and Mary.

After some arguing Old Nanny agreed , telling him to go to the churchyard and gather certain things, these are not specified in the tale. Once this was done she gave him instruction what to do with the things that he had collected. She then instructed him to wash in the old well and leave her besom (broom) by its side.

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John carried out Old Nanny’s instructions but broke faith and ignored Nanny’s final injunctions, thinking that the Old Hag would not know. He then set out for home.  He soon discovered that he was mistaken and was visited by a number of demons followed by three hags who knocked him down and flew him to the top of Roseberry Topping.

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Once on the top of the peak the hags bound the besom to John’s legs and told him to hurry away as fast as he could because they were going to hunt him with all the unearthly things suchlike could call to their aid.

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After a terrifying chase John remembered that the witch had told him that he would be safe from harm as long as he had a foothold on Ayton Bridge (Yatton Brigg). John ran for the bridge but with just a few yards to go was tripped by the besom and fell into the beck. The hags dragged him out of the water and bit and scratched him until he was half dead. The hags finally left him as dawn broke and the tale ends.

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