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King Arthur sleeping by Hadrian's Wall

Best known for its views of Hadrian's Wall, Sewingshield Crags also once had its own castle. Unfortunately, the site was levelled in the nineteenth century.

Legend says that Sewingshield Castle was one of King Arthur's many homes around the country. He once received a Northern Chieftain, named Comyn, here with great pomp and ceremony and bestowed upon him many sumptuous gifts. Arthur's sons, however, considered the presents far too valuable for a mere provincial. They followed the poor man to Haughton Common, ambushed his entourage, swiped the gifts and murdered their owner. It is not recorded whether King Arthur ever discovered who the perpetrators of this horrendous crime were, but he had a memorial cross erected at what then became known as Cummings Cross. It stands there still on the edge of the common.

In the cavernous castle vaults below the site of Sewingshield Castle, still hidden beneath the hills lie King Arthur, Queen Guinevere and his band of warrior knights, sleeping soundly until the British Nation calls on their help. Beside them, on a table, sit a horn, a sheathed sword and a garter. To awaken the great King, it is said one must draw the sword, cut the garter and blow the horn.

A local farmer was once sat amongst the castle ruins knitting, when his ball of wool got away from him and fell down a crack in his rocky resting place. The local man just managed to squeeze through and follow his run-away knitting into the legendary chamber below. Everything was arranged as tradition had insisted. He drew the sword and cut the garter, but re-sheathed his weapon and neglected to blow the horn! Arthur awoke but for a moment, to briefly exclaim:

O Woe betide that evil day
On which this witless wight was born,
Who drew the sword, the garter cut,
But never blew the bugle-horn...


    Nash Ford Publishing 2001. All Rights Reserved.