Kettleness

A coastal walk with Graeme Chappell

Kettleness – Cat Beck – Randy Bell End – Hob Holes – Runswick Sands – White Stones – Redscar Hole – Hill Stones – Kettleness Sand – Kettleness Scar – Wind Hole – Long Sand – White Shoot – Maiden Wyke – Lucky Dogs Hole – Kettleness Alum Works

The Fairies long gone, the sound of Claymoor battledores no long ring over Runswick shores.

Hob has flit, kink coughs go untreated.

A whale lays headless and rotting on the rocks at White Stones. The stench of death and decay is all around, even the gulls avoid this place. We push on, scrambling over rocks, mouth breathing.

17th of December 1829. The village and Alum Works of Kettleness slid down the cliff to the sea. No lives were lost. The village and works were swiftly rebuilt.

Ore was gathered from these beaches when Teesside furnaces were still an idle dream.

Iron returns to its source, the sea reclaims its own

Shap Granite, batholith born, ice borne.

The sun is shining, we are bold.

We wade through whin following a cliff-top path to the Alum Works, we watch Gannets. A very good day.

Witches and Fairies

Ingratitude is worse than witchcraft.

Never talk of witches on a Friday.

Friday is the witches’ sabbath.

Witches are most apt to confess on a Friday.

Fairies comb goats’ beards every Friday.

To hug one as the devil hugs a witch.

A favourite cry of the fairies, waters locked! waters locked!!

Wednesday is the fairies’ sabbath.

A witch is afraid of her own blood.

A witch cannot weep.

To be fairy struck (paralysis).

A hairy man’s a geary man, but a hairy wife’s a witch.

You’re like a witch, you say your prayers backwards.

You’re half a witch (cunning).

Turn your cloaks for fairy folks are in old oaks.

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