Monday 21 December 2009
Sunday 6 December 2009
"The Elf-hills at Cambo were the haunt of the moorland Elves, dressed in the brown and gold of the heather and bracken among which they made their home. They were disturbed not at all when the hot-trod made their appearance, summoning Northumbrians to meet a border raid."
A book called 'Northumberland, described by Agnes Herbert' (1923) explains this further:
"The Elf-Hills near Cambo - that is, Cambo Hill, where Sir John de Cambo kept watch and ward - had, as permanent tenants, a gregarious band of "the little people" who did not in the least resent that their stronghold was often invaded and used again and again as a signal tower on which the wisp of tow mounted on a spear-point was set on fire when a raid was imminent."
Perhaps the most interesting stories relating to the Elf Hills can be found in a book called 'In the troublesome times' published by the Cambo Women's Institute in 1929. The book contains stories of local folklore and customs collected from local residents, and the Elf Hills gets many a mention including:
"Two or three other people, including Mrs Hedley of Elf Hills, have mentioned, or pointed out, "the ring on the knowe yonder".
"I think there's only one story about Elf Hills, that Elves danced around in a circle, and made a ring, and it's there yet." - Edith Henderson of school age, Scots Gap.
"My grandfather, who brought me up, used to tell me about the elves at Elf Hills." - Mrs Keith, refering to her grandfather Henry Codling
"My wife's brother, Hedley of Elf Hills, found a spear sticking out of the runner(small stream) down yonder near Prior Hall." - George Shade [the book goes on to say that the local area was dug up and ancient bracelets were found].
"My husband used to point out the elves' track from Elf Hills to Rothley Mills to us, it is in the field where the water is." - Mrs Thomas Hepple
I find the above quote especially interesting as nearby Rothley Mill is also famous as being a haunt of the fairies. The book goes on to say that the track runs from West to East and that Mr Robert Hepple explained in an Institute meeting that the track is distinct from the church track. What I wouldn't give to have been a fly on the wall at that Women's Institute meeting!
Sources & Further Information
In the troublesome times, Cambo Women's Institute
Northumberland, Agnes Herbert
Local Historian's Table Book Volume 2
Tales and Legends of Northumbria, M Douglas