Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Cateran Hole

The Cateran's Hole, in the middle of deserted moorland, is according to legend the start of a long underground tunnel leading all the way to the Henhole in the Cheviots, about 16 miles away. One story tells of a party of young men from Bewick who decided to explore the tunnel, lead by a man named Hall. They assembled at the Cateran's Hole one evening, as they were too busy working during the day, armed with candles and food provisions. In they wandered, scrambling over rocks, plunging through water, stooping down to pass under rocks, and sometimes even crawling. Many of the party lost heart and headed home, but Hall continued onwards and persuaded many of the men to stay. Eventually they came to a huge stone that appeared to block the way, but Hall was not going to give up easily and climbed to the top of the rock and found a gap large enough to squeeze through. His men followed after him. On the other side, they found themselves in a large chamber, and sat down to rest. An extract from 'Northumbrian Legends' by George Tate (1863) continues:
"While resting, [they] were startled by the sound of wondrous music, which seemed to come down through the earth above them; the strains were wild but entrancing,now rising and swelling, and then dying away like the gushes of harmony issuing from the AEolian harp, as the evening breeze fitfully sweeps through the strings when other sounds are mute. Ere long, the pattering of tiny feet was heard beating time to the wild music; and soon blending with these sounds, a song was chanted by many voices, shrill, though sweet, but yet unlike earthly tones; and this was the burden of the song-

"Wind about and turn again,
And thrice around the Hurl Stane."

"Round about and wind again,
And thrice around the Hurl Stane."
The party were terrified, and knew well the dangers of venturing into the domain of the fairies, and realised they were now underneath the Hurl Stone, a favourite place of the fairies. They abandoned the rest of their journey, and headed home, never to venture back into Cateran's Hole again.

We decided it was about time someone ventured back down there, and myself and my partner in navigation [without whom i'd never find any of these places, I have a terrible sense of direction and am permanently pixy-led!] headed down Cateran's Hole.
We managed to walk about 35 metres along the underground tunnel without difficulty, but unfortunately the path was blocked by some very low hanging rocks and we could not venture on as far as the Hurl Stone! According to this report, there is another small chamber after the low hanging rocks, followed by a breakdown which cannot be passed. So it seems to be unknown whether or not the passage did once continue on as far as the Hurl Stone, or if it even headed in that direction. Perhaps the fairies got annoyed with all the trespassers and blocked up the tunnel!

Sources & Further Information
Northumberland Legends, George Tate


john said...

Thank you for sharing your explorations with us!

I encourage and kindly request that you share more of your journeys (of the future or from the past) as your time and the seasons allow. It is fascinating, imagination inspiring, and beautifully complimented by your photography.

You have my sincere appreciation.

The Faery Folklorist said...

Thank you for your kind words John! I must say i'm shocked how many people seem to be reading my blog, I only set it up to keep a record of my adventures and to share my research, I'm so happy that people are enjoying reading it as much as I enjoy writing it :)

Resa said...

I just wanted to post a quick note to let you know that, though I am silent, I very much enjoy your blog.

It is truly a one of a kind.

The Faery Folklorist said...

Aw thank you Resa! I'll be updating the blog sometime this week hopefully! :D

nurul iman said...
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