Monday, 7 March 2011

The Helpful Fairies of Northumberland

Some deals could be done with the fairies that were beneficial to the humans involved. Just outside Wooler there is an ancient earthwork known as Kettle Camp. Inside Kettle Camp is a spring of pure, fresh water. This spring is held to be beloved by the local fairies who will not drink water from any other spring or well in the area. If a young maiden wants something, she should take a new pin, bend it in half and bring it to the fairy spring. As the pin is dropped into the water the girl should say her wish out loud for the fairies to hear. Then, if the pin has been taken away by the next day, the fairies will work their magic to make the wish come true.

A ploughman was out in the fields near Humshaugh on the banks of the North Tyne one day, apparently during the reign of Queen Victoria, when he had his own beneficial meeting with the little people. It was a fine day as the ploughman went to work, plodding his way from one end of the field and then back again. The horses were docile and the ploughman was proud to see that his furrows were neat and straight.

As he finished one row under a willow tree, the ploughman heard some strange knocking and sloshing noises as if a farmwife were churning milk in her dairy. There was nothing and nobody to be seen, however, so the ploughman guessed that he was hearing the fairy folk at work. He set off again to pass up the field and back down it again. When he reached the willow tree again he heard a little voice cry out.

“Tis a bad day today. What shall I do? I have broken my churning staff.”

“I can mend that if you wish,” called out the ploughman. He did not wait for an answer for he knew that the little people are usually shy and prefer not to be noticed. Off he went again to plough his furrow the length of the field and back again.

On his return to the willow tree the ploughman saw a small churn staff snapped clean in two and lying on the grass at the edge of the field. Pulling his team to a halt, the ploughman fished out some twine and pins that he had in his pockets and swiftly bound up the two parts of the broken staff.

“There,” he said. “That will hold for the day, but I’d get a new staff entirely if it were mine.” Again he did not wait for any answer, but set off behind his plough team once more to plod up the field and down again.

When he returned to the willow, the mended churn staff was gone. In its place was a thick slice of bread spread with a generous helping of butter. The ploughman ate it for his lunch and found it to be the best bread and the tastiest butter that he had ever come across.

Mysterious Northumberland by rupert matthews

No comments:

Post a Comment