Friday, 7 January 2011

Fairies of Tynemouth

Just a short walk down the coast from the Fairy Caves of Cullercoats, is a coastal town called Tynemouth. Many have heard of Tynemouth priory, or perhaps even the ghosts that haunt the priory, but few are aware of the mysterious cave below where infernal spirits are said to dwell. The cave is best known to locals as Geordie's Hole or Jingler's Hole. Some say that it was part of an underground passage with vaults, possibly dungeons, maybe connected to the priory itself. Others say that the "Wytche of Tinemouth" lived there, others say a wizard. Others say the name came from an old man living in the cave who used to prowl around at night making a strange clanking noise, terrifying the local children.

According to an article on Tynemouth Priory in the Monthly Chronicle (1887), fairies were also said to live in Tynemouth:
"Tynemouth, in the olden time (and that not so far back either) is declared to have been a favourite haunt of the fairies. An old woman, whom a friend of ours visited the other day to gather any particulars she might know respecting the mythical Jingler, was told that her recollections went back at least sixty years, and that the story was already an old one when she was a girl, but that she had herself actually seen the fairies, so that was no mere hearsay."
Other sources suggest that far more sinister creatures are dwelling at Tynemouth. According to a poem in Hone's Table Book (1827), which is the earliest reference to the caves I have managed to find so far, the inhabitants of these mysterious cave are infernal beasts and demons who are guarding a great wealth of treasure. Young Walter, the son of a knight, was told by his mother of wondrous wealth and "treasures in keeping of Sorcery" to be found "far 'neath the sea, in a deep rocky cell, bound down by the chains of the strongest spell". Eventually, on the Eve of St Johns, Young Walter ventures forth to seek the treasure and finds the entrance in the rocks:
Down deep in the rock winds the pathway drear,
And the yells of the spirits seem near and more near,
And the flames from their eye-balls burn ghastly blue
As they dance round the knight with a wild halloo."

Fierce dragons with scales of bright burnished brass,
Stand belching red fire where the warrior must pass;
But rushes he on with his brand and his shield,
And with loud shrieks of laughter they vanish and yield.

Huge hell-dogs come baying with murd'rous notes,
Sulphureous flames in their gaping throats;
and they spring to, but shrinks not, brave Walter the Knight
And again all is sunk in the darkness of night.
Walter seizes a bugle horn from the wall and blows into it a loud blast, 3 times, as it turns into a snake with the mouthpiece containing the asp's poisonous fangs. A magic cock, perched on the gate, wakes and shakes its wings. It lets out a loud crow, and all the infernal demons vanish, leaving Walter to escape with all the treasure he can carry.

Unfortunately there were a series of landslides and the cave entrance is said to have collapsed and closed for good, which is probably for the best considering the amount of infernal creatures said to dwell in there! I decided to pay a visit over the winter months to see if any signs of an entrance could be seen once the summer's greenery had died away to reveal the rocks below, but unfortunately none could be seen. It's unlikely the infernal creatures will be escaping anytime soon, but if you're walking past late at night and hear a distance jingling coming from inside the cliffs, you might want to quicken your step and hurry home just in case!

Sources & Further Information
Hone's Table Book (1827)
1887 Monthly Chronicle
Denham Tracts, Michael Denham


My Heart Exposed Yarns said...

My son found a secret entrance only revealed far in the sea when its going out or fully out away from the shoreline, its very well hidden amongst the rocks but it is accessible from down on the sea rocky bed once the water is going out. You dont have long to look in there though as you'd have to climb up a fair bit to get to any of the parts mentioned in the stories though before the water would bury you inside so none of my sons or daughter have climbed in there but have been in the base to take photographs, lots of large starfish and other creatures in the water between the rocks, its all very pretty and so magical

The Faery Folklorist said...

Hiya! Wow, I had no idea there was still a cave entrance visible, thanks so much for letting me know! I'll have to have a good look around next time i'm there! Where about is the entrance, is it on the part sticking out underneath the priory or further around? Would love to see the photos of the entrance if you'd like to share! :)

My Heart Exposed Yarns said...

Hiya I am moving house tomorrow, when I am back online I'll send them to you no problem, I've bookmarked your blog now and saved your message so I dont forget :) Speak in about three weeks. Helen x