Sunday, September 25, 2011

Cauld Lad of Hylton

  I sit here thinking about what my first blog post will be, I have a vast range of lore and myths to write about. The one that is foremost in my mind is the tale of Cauld Lad of Hylton.

It's said that in the ruins of Hylton Castle are haunted by the ghost of a murdered stable boy named Robert Skelton. The events are said to have taken place in either the 16th or 17th century, that being said there are several legends concerning the origins.

 In all the versions spoken of, they do however start one of two ways... Robert Skelton was caught with the Baron's daughter or that the Baron of Hylton Castle ordered the stable boy to prepare his horse for a long journey. Robert Skelton unfortunately had overslept, hence not fulfilling his master's orders. This is where each version begins to vary.

 It's said that the enraged Baron either:

   -Decapitated him
   -Struck him on the back of the head with a riding crop. Possibly, hitting a spot that had been injured
    the day before causing the fatal blow
   -Stabbed him with a nearby pitchfork

Though the how Robert Skelton was killed is up in the air, one thing still remains consistent; The Baron disposed his body in a deep pond or an unused well. Several months later, the body was discovered, leading to a murder trial. The Baron was able to come up with an alibi, when an old farmer made a testimony saying The Baron had ordered the stable boy to remove a tool from the top of the shelf in the barn. Robert then slipped and fell, seriously wounding himself in the process. The Baron had tended his wounds but the boy had died. Robert Hylton, de jure 13th Baron Hylton (d. 1641) was pardoned in 1609.

 Afterwards strange events began to occur in the castle, it didn't go unnoticed. The kitchen that had been tidied at the end of the night would be messy in the morning. An unseen person would take hot ashes from the first and lie on them, leaving an imprint of a body. Chamber pots would be emptied and strewn upon the floor.

  Finally having had enough of the mystery, a cook stayed up until midnight to see who was causing the mischief. He saw a form of a naked boy crying in the night, "I'm cauld."  ("I'm cold.") The following day the cook and his wife left a warm cloak for the ghost boy, then waited up until midnight. The ghost appeared saying, "Here's a cloak and here is a hood, the cauld lad of Hylton will do no more good." Then he disappeared and the strange occurrences ceased, though even now people claim to have heard the ghostly cries of Cauld Lad.

  There are a few theories to why these events occurred in the castle; Poltergeist activity or described as either a brownie, bargherst, or an elf that had been put under a spell that could not be released until after they were given a gift.

 A song is said to have been sung by the version of Cauld Lad as a brownie, bargherst, and elf, it's as follows:

Woe's me! woe's me!
The acorn's not yet
Fallen from the tree,
That's to grow the wood,
That's to make the cradle
That's to rock the bairn,
That's to grow to the man,
That's to lay me.
Woe's me! Woe's me!'

The song is a cry out for someone to bestow gift of clothing upon the creature to release it from it's bonds.  (Sounds like Harry Potter... doesn't it.)

  Robert Sutees, a local antiquarian, claims that as well as haunting the castle, Cauld Lad has appeared as a ferryman at the North of Hylton side of the River Wear. He would take passengers halfway across, then disappear leaving them stranded.

  It's said that even into the 1970's lights can be seen at night in the ruins, the body having been laid since the early 1600's and the castle ruins having since lost it's upper floors.

No comments:

Post a Comment