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Robert Naylor.

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He shot with mighte and maine;
Soon half a score of the fryer's dogs
Lay dead upon the plaine.

"Hold thy hand, good fellow," said the curtail fryer.
"Thy master and I will agree,
And we will have new order ta'en
With all the haste may be."

Then Robin Hood said to the friar:

"If thou wilt forsake fair Fountains Dale
And Fountains Abbey free,
Every Sunday throughout the yeare
A noble shall be thy fee.

"And every holiday throughout the yeare
Changed shall thy garment be
If thou wilt go to fair Nottinghame
And there remaine with me."

This curtail fryer had kept Fountains Dale
Seven long years and more;
There was neither knight, lord or earle
Could make him yield before.

According to tradition, the friar accepted Robin's offer and became the
famous Friar Tuck of the outlaw's company of Merrie Men whom in
_Ivanhoe_ Scott describes as exchanging blows in a trial of strength
with Richard Coeur de Lion. It was said that when Robin Hood died, his
bow and arrows were hung up in Fountains Abbey, where they remained for
centuries.

We procured some refreshments near the abbey, and then walked on to
Ripon, through the fine park and grounds of Studley Royal, belonging to
the Marquis of Ripon, and we esteemed it a great privilege to be allowed
to do so. The fine trees and gardens and the beautiful waters, with some
lovely swans floating on them, their white plumage lit up with the rays
of the sun, which that day shone out in all its glory, formed such a
contrast to the dull and deserted moors, that we thought the people of
Ripon, like ourselves, ought to be thankful that they were allowed to
have access to these beautiful grounds.

The town of Ripon, like many others in the north of England, had
suffered much in the time of the wars, and had had an eventful history,
for after being burnt by the Danes it was restored by Alfred the Great
in the year 860, only to be destroyed once more by William the Conqueror
in his ruthless march through the northern counties. A survival of
Alfred's wise government still existed in the "Wake-man," whose duty it
was to blow a horn at nine o'clock each night as a warning against
thieves. If a robbery occurred during the night, the inhabitants were
taxed with the amount stolen. A horn was still blown, three blasts being
given at nine o'clock at the Market Cross and three immediately
afterwards at the Mayor's door by the official horn-blower, during which
performances the seventh bell in the cathedral was tolled. The ancient
motto of the town was:

EXCEPT Ye LORD KEEP Ye CITTIE Ye WAKEMAN WAKETH IN VAIN.

In 1680 the silver badges that adorned the horn were stolen by thieves,
but they had long since been replaced, and the horn was now quite a
grand affair, the gold chain purchased for it in 1859 costing £250.

The town was again burnt by Robert Bruce in 1319, when the north of
England was being devastated after the disastrous Battle of Bannockburn;
but it soon revived in importance, and in 1405 Henry IV and his court
retired thither to escape the plague which at that time was raging in
London.

In the time of the Civil War Charles I was brought to Ripon by his
captors, and lodged for two nights in a house where he was sumptuously
entertained, and was so well pleased with the way he had been treated
that his ghost was said to have visited the house after his death. The
good old lady who lived there in those troubled times was the very
essence of loyalty and was a great admirer of the murdered monarch. In
spite of Cromwell she kept a well-furnished wine-cellar, where bottles
were continually being found emptied of their contents and turned upside
down. But when she examined her servants about this strange phenomenon,
she was always told that whenever the ghost of King Charles appeared,
the rats twisted their tails round the corks of the bottles and
extracted them as cleverly as the lady's experienced butler could have
done himself, and that they presented their generous contents in
brimming goblets to the parched lips of His Majesty, who had been so
cruelly murdered. This reply was always considered satisfactory and no
further investigation was made! "Let me suffer loss," said the old lady,
"rather than be thought a rebel and add to the calamities of a murdered
king! King Charles is quite welcome!"

[Illustration: RIPON MINSTER.]

Eugene Aram, we were informed, spent some years of his life in Ripon at
a house in Bond-Gate.

St. Wilfrid was the patron saint of Ripon, where he was born. Legend
states that at his birth a strange supernatural light shone over the
house, and when he died, those who were in the death chamber claimed
that they could hear the rustling of the angels' wings who had come to
bear his spirit away. As we saw some figures relating to him in the
cathedral we presumed that he must have been its patron saint. We found
afterwards it was dedicated to St. Peter and St. Wilfrid. St. Wilfrid
was an enthusiast in support of the Church control of Rome. One
sympathises with the poor king, who had to decide between the claims of
Rome and the Celtic Church, whether priests should have their hair cut
this way or that, and if the date of Easter should be decided by the
moon or by some other way. He seems to have been a simple-minded fellow,
and his decision was very practical. "I am told that Christ gave Peter
the keys of heaven to keep, and none can get in without his permission.
Is that so?" to which Wilfrid quickly answered "Yes." "Has your saint
any power like that?" he asked Oswin, who could but say "No." "Then,"
said the king, "I vote for the side with the greater power," and decided
in favour of Wilfrid. Like other cathedrals, Ripon had suffered much in
the wars, but there were many ancient things still to be seen there.
Near the font was a tomb covered with a slab of grey marble, on which
were carved the figures of a man and a huge lion, both standing amongst
some small trees. It was supposed to have covered the body of an Irish
prince who died at Ripon on his way home from the Holy War, in
Palestine, and who brought back with him a lion that followed him about
just like a dog. In the cathedral yard there was an epitaph to a
fisherman:

Here lies poor but honest Bryan Tunstall. He was a most expert angler
until Death, envious of his merit, threw out his line, and landed him
here
21st day of April, 1790.

[Illustration: RIPON MINSTER, WEST FRONT]

We left Ripon by the Boroughbridge road, and when about a mile from the
town we met one of the dignitaries of the cathedral, who from his dress
might have been anything from an archdeacon upwards. We asked him if he
could tell us of any objects of interest on our farther way. He told us
of Aldborough, with its Roman remains and the Devil's Arrows, of which
we had never heard before; and he questioned us about our long tramp,
the idea of which quite delighted him. We told him that we had thrown
our mackintoshes away, and why we had done so, and had bought umbrellas
instead; and he said, "You are now standing before a man who would give
fifty pounds if he had never worn a mackintosh, for they have given me
the rheumatism!"

The church at Kirkby Hill had just been restored. We saw an epitaph in
the churchyard similar to one which we found in a graveyard later on,
farther south:

Whence I came it matters not.
To whom related or by whom begot;
A heap of dust is all that remains of me,
'Tis all I am, and all the proud shall be.

[Illustration: THE DEVIL'S ARROWS.]

We soon reached the famous Boroughbridge, one of the most historical
places in all England, the borough meaning Aldborough, the ISUER of the
Brigantes and the ISURIUM of the Romans. Here we crossed the bridge
spanning the Yorkshire River Ouse, which almost adjoined Aldborough, and
were directed for lodgings to the house of a widowed lady quite near the
church. It was nearly dark then, the moon, though almost at the full
that night, not having yet risen. We decided to wait until after a
substantial meal before visiting the Devil's Arrows a short distance
away. There were only three of them left - two in a field on one side of
the road, and one in a field opposite. The stones were standing upright,
and were, owing to their immense size, easily found. We had inspected
the two, and were just jumping over the gate to cross the narrow lane to
see the other in the next field, when we startled a man who was
returning, not quite sober, from the fair at Boroughbridge. As we had
our sticks in our hands, he evidently thought we were robbers and meant
mischief, for he begged us not to molest him, saying he had only
threepence in his pocket, to which we were welcome. We were highly
amused, and the man was very pleased when he found he could keep the
coppers, "to pay," as he said, "for another pint." The stones, weighing
about 36 tons each, were 20 to 30 feet high, and as no one knew who
placed them there, their origin was ascribed to the Devil; hence their
name, "the Devil's Arrows." Possibly, as supposed in other similar
cases, he had shot them out of his bow from some great hill far away,
and they had stuck in the earth here. There was fairly authentic
evidence that twelve was the original number, and the bulk of opinion
favoured an origin concerned with the worship of the sun, one of the
earliest forms known. Others, however, ascribe them to the Romans, who
erected boundary stones, of which several are known, on the hills
farther south. We returned to our lodgings, but not to sleep, for our
sleeping apartment was within a few feet of the church clock, on the
side of a very low steeple. As we were obliged to keep our window open
for fresh air, we could hear every vibration of the pendulum, and the
sound of the ponderous bell kept us awake until after it struck the hour
of twelve. Then, worn out with fatigue, we heard nothing more until we
awoke early in the morning.

[Illustration: ALDBOROUGH CHURCH, BOROUGHBRIDGE.]

(_Distance walked twenty miles_.)


_Tuesday, October 24th._

The history of Aldborough, the old _burh_ or fortified Saxon settlement,
in spite of its Saxon name, could clearly be traced back to the time of
the Brigantes, the ancient Britons, who inhabited the territory between
the Tweed and the Humber. A Celtic city existed there long before
Romulus and Remus founded the city of Rome, and it was at this city of
ISUER, between the small River Tut and its larger neighbour the Yore,
that their queen resided. Her name, in Gaelic, was Cathair-ys-maen-ddu
("Queen of stones black"), rather a long name even for a queen, and
meaning in English the Queen of the City of the Black Stones, the
remaining three, out of the original twelve, being those, now known as
the Devil's Arrows, which we had seen the preceding night.

[Illustration: CAER CARADOC HILL, CHURCH STRETTON.]

The Romans, however, when they invaded Britain, called her Cartismunda,
her city ISURIUM, and the Brigantes' country they named Brigantia. But
as the Brigantes made a determined resistance, their invasion of this
part of England, begun in A.D. 47, was not completed until A.D. 70.

Queen Cartismunda was related to the King of Siluria, which then
embraced the counties of Hereford and Monmouth, besides part of South
Wales. He was one of the greatest of the British chieftains, named
Caradoc by the Britons and Caractacus by the Romans. He fought for the
independence of Britain, and held the armies of the most famous Roman
generals at bay for a period of about nine years. But eventually, in
A.D. 50, he was defeated by the Roman general Ostorius Scapula, in the
hilly region near Church Stretton, in Shropshire, not far from a hill
still known as Caer Caradoc, his wife and daughters being taken
prisoners in the cave known as Caradoc's Cave. He himself escaped to the
Isle of Mona, afterwards named Anglesey, with the object of rallying the
British tribes there.

It so happened that some connection existed between Queen Cartismunda
and the Romans who had defeated Caradoc, and after that event Ostorius
Scapula turned his army towards the north, where he soon reached the
border of Brigantia.

As soon as the queen, of whose morals even the Britons held no high
opinion, heard of his arrival, she and her daughters hastened to meet
the conqueror to make terms. If beauty had any influence in the
settlement, she seems to have had everything in her favour, as, if we
are to believe the description of one of the Romans, who began his
letter with the words "Brigantes faemina dulce," the Brigantes ladies
must have been very sweet and beautiful.

A most objectional part of the bargain was that Caractacus should be
delivered up to the Roman general. So the queen sent some relatives to
Mona to invite him to come and see her at Isuer, and, dreaming nothing
of treachery, he came; but as soon as he crossed the border into the
queen's country he was seized, bound and handed over to Ostorius, who
sent him to Rome, together with his already captured wife and daughters.

On arrival at Rome Caractacus was imprisoned with some of his countrymen
and in course of time brought before the Emperor Claudius. The brave and
fearless speech he made before the Emperor on that occasion is one of
the most famous recorded in history, and has been immortalised both in
prose and poetry.

"Now I have spoken, do thy will;
Be life or death my lot.
Since Britain's throne no more I fill,
To me it matters not.
My fame is clear; but on my fate
Thy glory or thy shame must wait."

He ceased: from all around upsprung
A murmur of applause;
For well had truth and freedom's tongue
Maintained their holy cause.
The conqueror was the captive then -
He bade the slave be free again.

Tradition states that one of his companions in the prison in Rome was
St. Paul, who converted him to the Christian faith, with two of his
fellow-countrymen, Linus and Claudia, who are mentioned in St. Paul's
second Epistle to Timothy (iv. 21).

Descendants of Caradoc are still to be traced in England in the family
of Craddock, whose shield to this day is emblazoned with the words:
"Betrayed! Not conquered."

We awoke quite early in the morning - a fact which we attributed to the
church clock, although we could not remember hearing it strike. My
brother started the theory that we might have been wakened by some
supernatural being coming through the open window, from the greensward
beneath, where "lay the bones of the dead." Aldborough church was
dedicated to St. Andrew, and the register dated from the year
1538 - practically from the time when registers came into being. It
contained a curious record of a little girl, a veritable "Nobody's
child," who, as a foundling, was brought to the church and baptized in
1573 as "Elizabeth Nobody, of Nobody."

[Illustration: KNARESBOROUGH CASTLE.]

Oliver Cromwell, about whom we were to hear so much in our further
travels, was here described in the church book as "an impious
Arch-Rebel," but this we afterwards found was open to doubt. He fought
one of his great battles quite near Aldborough, and afterwards besieged
Knaresborough Castle, about eight miles away. He lodged at an
old-fashioned house in that town. In those days fireplaces in bedrooms
were not very common, and even where they existed were seldom used, as
the beds were warmed with flat-bottomed circular pans of copper or
brass, called "warming-pans," in which were placed red-hot cinders of
peat, wood, or coal. A long, round wooden handle, like a broomstick, was
attached to the pan, by means of which it was passed repeatedly up and
down the bed, under the bedclothes, until they became quite warm, both
above and below. As this service was performed just before the people
retired to rest, they found a warm bed waiting for them instead of a
cold one. But of course this was in the "good old times." Afterwards,
when people became more civilised (!), they got into bed between linen
sheets that were icy cold, and after warming them with the heat of their
bodies, if they chanced to move an inch or two during the night they
were either awakened, or dreamed about icebergs or of being lost in the
snow!

The young daughter of the house where Oliver Cromwell lodged at
Knaresborough had the task of warming Oliver's bed for him, and in after
years when she had grown up she wrote a letter in which she said: "When
Cromwell came to lodge at our house I was then but a young girl, and
having heard so much talk about the man, I looked at him with wonder.
Being ordered to take a pan of coals and 'aire' his bed, I could not
forbear peeping over my shoulders to see this extraordinary man, who was
seated at the far side of the room untying his garters. Having aired the
bed I went out, and shutting the door after me, I peeped through the
keyhole, when I saw him rise from his seat, advance to the bed, and fall
on his knees, in which attitude I left him for some time. When returning
I found him still at prayer - -and this was his custom every night as
long as he stayed at our house - I concluded he must be a good man, and
this opinion I always maintained, though I heard him blamed and
exceedingly abused."

Aldborough was walled round in the time of the Romans, and portions of
the walls were still to be seen. So many Roman relics had been found
here that Aldborough had earned the title of the Yorkshire Pompeii. So
interested were we in its antiquities that we felt very thankful to the
clerical dignitary at Ripon for having advised us to be sure to visit
this ancient borough.

[Illustration: TESSELLATED ROMAN PAVEMENT UNEARTHED AT ALDBOROUGH.]

We now wended our way to one of the village inns, where we had been told
to ask permission from the landlord to see the Roman tessellated
pavement in his back garden. We were conducted to a building, which had
been roofed over to cover it. Our attendant unlocked the door, and after
the sawdust which covered the floor had been carefully brushed aside,
there was revealed to our gaze a beautifully executed floor, in which
the colours of the small tiles were as bright as if they had been
recently put there. We could scarcely realise that the work we were
looking at was well-nigh two thousand years old: it looked more like the
work of yesterday. It had been accidentally discovered by a man who was
digging in the garden, at about two feet below the surface of the soil;
it was supposed to have formed the floor of a dwelling belonging to some
highly placed Roman officer. We were speculating about the depth of soil
and the difference in levels between the Roman Period and the present,
but we found afterwards that the preservation of this beautiful work,
and of others, was due not to any natural accumulations during the
intervening centuries, but to the fact that the devastating Danes had
burnt the town of Aldborough, along with many others, in the year 870,
and the increased depth of the soil was due to the decomposition of the
burnt ruins and debris. When we noted any event or object dating from
1771, we described it as "one hundred years before our visit," but here
we had an event to record that had happened one thousand years before.
Neither the attendant nor the landlord would accept any remuneration for
their services, and to our cordial thanks replied, "You are quite
welcome." We now went to see the cottage museum, which was well filled
with Roman relics of all kinds, arranged in such fashion as would have
done credit to a very much larger collection. The Roman remains stored
here were described as "one of the most comprehensive collections of
Roman relics in England," and included ornaments and articles in glass,
iron, and bronze. There was also much pottery and tiles; also coins,
images, and all kinds of useful and ornamental articles of the time of
the Roman Occupation in Britain. Besides self-coloured tiles, there were
some that were ornamented, one representing the "Capitoli Wolf," a
strange-looking, long-legged animal, with its face inclined towards the
spectator, while between its fore and hind legs could be seen in the
distance the figures of Romulus and Remus, the founders of the city of
Rome, who, tradition states, were suckled in their infancy by a wolf.

But my brother reminded me that none of these things were fit to eat,
and that our breakfast would now be ready, so away we sped to our
lodgings to get our breakfast and to pay our bill, and bid good-bye to
our landlady, who was a worthy, willing old soul. Just across the river,
about a mile away, was the site of the "White Battle," fought on October
12th, 1319 - one of the strangest and most unequal battles ever fought.
It occurred after the English had been defeated at Bannockburn, and when
the Scots were devastating the North of England. The Scots had burnt and
plundered Boroughbridge in 1318 under Sir James Douglas, commonly known,
on account perhaps of his cruelty, as the "Black Douglas." Even the
children were afraid when his name was mentioned, for when they were
naughty they were frightened with the threat that if they were not good
the Black Douglas would be coming; even the very small children were
familiar with his name, for a nursery song or lullaby of that period
was -

Hush ye, hush ye, little pet ye,
Hush ye, hush ye, do not fret ye,
The Black Douglas shall not get ye.

Just before the "White Battle" the English Queen Isabel, wife of Edward
II, had taken up her abode with a small retinue in the country near
York, when an effort was made by the Scots to capture her; they nearly
succeeded, for she only just managed to get inside the walls of York
when the Scots appeared and demanded admittance. This was refused by the
aged Archbishop Melton, who had the bulwarks manned and the
fortifications repaired and defended. The Scots were enraged, as York
was strongly fortified, and they shouted all manner of epithets to the
people behind the walls; one of them actually rode up to the Micklegate
Bar and accused the queen of all manner of immoralities, challenging any
man to come forth and clear her fame. The Archbishop in a stirring
appeal called upon every man and youth to attack the invaders. His
eloquence was irresistible, and although there were not more than fifty
trained soldiers in the city, they attacked the Scots, who retreated.
The Archbishop's army was utterly unskilled in the arts of war, and
carried all kinds of weapons, many of them obsolete. The Bishop of Ely,
Lord High Chancellor of England, rode alongside the Archbishop, and
behind them rode the Lord Mayor, followed by a multitude of clergy in
white surplices, with monks, canons, friars, and other ecclesiastics,
all fully dressed in the uniform of their offices. But only one result
was possible, for they were opposed to 16,000 of Robert Bruce's
best-trained soldiers. Meantime the Scots did not know the character of
the foe before whom they were retreating, but, crossing the River Swale
near the point where it meets the Yore, they set fire to a number of
haystacks, with the result that the smoke blew into the faces of the
Archbishop and his followers, as the wind was blowing in their
direction. They, however, pressed bravely forward, but the Scots
attacked them both in front and rear, and in less than an hour four
thousand men and youths, their white robes stained with blood, were
lying dead on the field of battle, while many were drowned in the river.
The sight of so many surpliced clergy struck terror into the heart of
the Earl of Murray and his men, who, instead of pursuing farther the
retreating army, amongst whom were the aged Archbishop and his
prelates - the Lord Mayor had been killed - retired northwards.

Through the long hours of that night women, children, and sweethearts
gazed anxiously from the walls of York, watching and waiting for those
who would never return, and for many a long year seats were vacant in
the sacred buildings of York. Thus ended the "Battle of the White," so
named from the great number of surpliced clergy who took part therein.
The old Archbishop escaped death, and one of the aged monks wrote that -

The triumphal standard of the Archbishop also was saved by the
cross-bearer, who, mounted on a swift horse, plunged across the
river, and leaving his horse, hid the standard in a dense thicket,
and escaped in the twilight. The pike was of silver, and on the top
was fixed the gilded image of our Lord Jesus Christ. Near where it
was hidden a poor man was also hiding, and he twisted some bands of



Online LibraryRobert NaylorFrom John O'Groats to Land's End → online text (page 30 of 66)