Picture of Thomas Pennant

Thomas Pennant

places mentioned

July 4-17: Scarborough to Berwick upon Tweed

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Set out for Scarborough ; passed near the site of Flixton , a hospital founded in the time of Athelstan , to give shelter to travellers from the wolves, that they should not be devoured by them ;26 so that in those days this bare tract must have been covered with wood, for those ravenous animals ever inhabit large forests. These hospitia are not unfrequent among the Alps ; are either appendages to religious houses, or supported by voluntary subscriptions. On the spot where Flixton stood is a farm-house, to this day called the Spital House .


Reach Scarborough, a town once strongly guarded by a castle, built on the top of a vast cliff, by William le Gros , Earl of Yorkshire, Albemarle , and Holderness , in the reign of Stephen . After the resumption of this, as well as other crown lands alienated by that prince, Henry II. rebuilt the fortress, then grown ruinous, with greater strength and magnificence, inclosing a vast area. From this time it was considered as the key of this important county, and none but persons of the first rank were entrusted with the custody. Its consequence may be evinced from this circumstance; that when King John had granted to his subjects the Magna Charta , and placed the government in the hands of twenty-five Barons, the governor of this castle was to be approved by them, and to receive his orders from them.

In 1312, Edward II. in his retreat out of the north before his rebellious nobility, left here, as in a place of the greatest security, his minion Peers Gaveston . It was instantly besieged, and taken by Aymer de Valence , Earl of Pembroke ; and the insolent favorite, in a short time after, fell a victim to the resentment of the Earl of Warwick .

In the reign of Richard II, in 1378, its trade received great injury from a combined fleet of Scots, French , and Spaniards , under the conduct of one Mercer , who entered the harbour, and carried off several ships. The insult was instantly revenged by Philpot , a gallant alderman of London , who fitted out a fleet at his own charge, pursued the enemy, and not only retook their prizes, but made himself master of the whole fleet.

Richard III. added strength to the place by building a bulwark near the shore at the south-east end of the town; and he also began to wall in the town.27

In the religious rebellion, styled the Pilgrimage of Grace, in the time of Henry VIII. the leader, Robert Ask , in 1536, layed close siege to the castle; but was obliged to desist, after its governor Sir Ralph Ewers and his garrison were reduced for twenty days to live on bread and water.28

In 1557 Thomas Stafford , second son of Lord Stafford , with only thirty-two persons, came from France , and surprized the fortress. It appears that they were encouraged to the attempt by Henry II. It was, probably, only the prelude to an invasion. Stafford published a manifesto against the Queen; and styled himself Protector of England : but the Earl of Westmoreland , collecting some forces, (in two days) put an end to his dignity.29

At the beginning of the civil wars, the parlement committed this castle to the care of Sir Hugh Cholmley , who soon after revolted to the King. He maintained the place with great spirit for two years. In 1644, he was vigorously besieged by Sir John Meldrum , from February till the middle of May , when Sir John , in attempting to repel a sally, received a mortal wound. Sir Hugh kept possession of it till July 1645, when he surrendered it on terms to Sir Matthew Boynton .30 It is at present a large ruin. In the castle yard are barracks for about a hundred and fifty men, at present untenanted by soldiery.


In this town were three religious houses and a hospital. The grey friers, or Franciscans began a house here about 1240, which was enlarged by Edward II, and Roger Molendarius . The black friers, or Dominicans , had another before the 13th of Edward I. whether founded by Sir Adam Say , or Henry Earl of Northumberland , is doubtful. The white friers, or Carmelites , were established here in 1319, by Edward II. and the Cistertians had in the reign of King John a cell in this town, dependent on a house in France , to which was given the church of St. Mary , and certain lands, till the suppression of the alien-priories in the reign of Edward IV. Leland 31 describes this church as very magnificent; with two towers at the west end, and a great one in the centre. It was probably demolished in the civil wars, when Sir John Meldrum forced the royalists into the castle; for it lay too near that fortress to be suffered to remain entire, to give shelter to the enemy. The present church (the only one in the town) rose from the ruins of the former.

The town is large, built in form of a crescent, on the sides of a steep hill; from whence the name, which shews it to have existed in Saxon times, Scaerburg , or the Burg on a Scar or cliff. Beneath the south side of the castle, is a large stone pier (another is now building) which shelters the shipping belonging to the place. It is absolutely without trade, yet has above ten thousand inhabitants, mostly sailors, and owns above three hundred sail of ships, which are hired out for freight. In time of war government seldom has less than a hundred in pay.

In 1359, the shipping of this place was very inconsiderable; for, to the naval armament of that year made by Edward III. Scarborough contributed only 1 ship and 16 mariners; when the following northern ports sent the numbers here recited:

Newcastle 17   ships,   314  mariners.
Barton on the Humber   3   30  
Grimsby 11   171  
Boston 17   361  
Hull 16   382 32

The range of buildings on the Cliff commands a fine view of the castle, town, and of innumerable shipping that are perpetually pasting backward and forward on their voyages. The spaw33 lies at the foot of one the hills, S. of the town; this and the great conveniency of sea-bathing, occasion a vast resort of company during summer; it is at that time a place of great gayety, for with numbers health is the pretence, but dissipation the end.

The shore is a fine hard sand, and during low water is the place where the company amuse themselves with riding. This is also the fish market; for every day the cobles, or little fishing boats, are drawn on shore here, and lie in rows, often quite loaden with variety of the best fish. There was a fisherman on the 9th of May , 1767, brought in at one time, 20 cods, 14 lings, and 8 holibuts, besides a vast quantity of lesser fish, and sold the whole for 3l . 15s . It is superfluous to repeat what has been before mentioned of the methods of fishing, being amply described, Vol . III. of the British Zoology ; yet it will be far from impertinent to point out the peculiar advantages of these seas, and the additional benefit this town might experience, by the augmentation of its fisheries. For this account, and for numberless civilities, I think myself much indebted to Mr. Travis , surgeon, who communicated to me the following Remarks:

Scarborough is situated at the bottom of a bay, formed by Whitby rock on the North, and Flamborough-Head on the South; the town is seated directly opposite to the centre of the W. end of the Dogger bank; which end (according to Hammond's chart of the North Sea) lies S. and by W., and N. and by E.; but by a line drawn from Tinmouth castle, would lead about N. W. and S. E. Tho' the Dogger bank is therefore but 12 leagues from Flamborough Head , yet it is 16 and a half from Scarborough , 23 from Whitby , and 36 from Tinmouth castle. The N. side of the bank stretches off E. N. E. between 30 and 40 leagues, until it almost joins to the Long-Bank , and Jutt's Riff.

It is to be remarked, that the fishermen seldom find any Cod, Ling, or other round fish upon the Dogger bank itself, but upon the sloping edges and hollows contiguous to it. The top of the bank is covered with a barren shifting sand, which affords them no subsistence; and the water on it, from its shallowness, is continually so agitated and broken, as to allow them no time to rest. The flat fish do not suffer the same inconvenience there; for when disturbed by the motion of the sea, they shelter themselves in the sand, and find variety of suitable food. It is true, the Dutch fish upon the Dogger bank; but it is also true they take little except Soles, Skates, Thornbacks, Praise, &c. It is in the hollows between the Dogger and the Well-Bank ., that the Cod are taken which supply London market.

The shore, except at the entrance of Scarborough pier, and some few other places, is composed of covered rocks, which abound with Lobsters and Crabs, and many other shell fish; (no Oysters) thence, after a space covered with clean sand, extending in different places from one to five or six miles. The bottom, all the way to the edge of the Dogger banks, is a scar; in some places very rugged, rocky, and cavernous; in others smooth, and overgrown with variety of submarine Plants, Mosses, Corallines, &c.34 Some parts again are spread with sand and shells; others, for many leagues in length, with soft mud and ooz, furnished by the discharge of the Tees and Humber .

Upon an attentive review of the whole, it may be clearly inferred, that the shore along the coast on the one hand, with the edges of the Dogger bank on the other, like the sides of a decoy, give a direction towards our fishing grounds to the mighty shoals of Cod, and other fish, which are well known to come annually from the Northern ocean into our seas; and secondly, that the great variety of fishing grounds near Scarborough , extending upwards of 16 leagues from the shore, afford secure retreats and plenty of proper food for all the various kinds of fish, and also suitable places for each kind to deposite their spawn in.

I. Greater Weever.   II. Saury.

The fishery at Scarborough only employs 105 men, and brings in about 5250 l. per annum, a trifle to what it would produce, was there a canal from thence to Leeds and Manchester ; it is probable it would then produce above ten times that sum, employ some thousands of men, give a comfortable and cheap subsistence to our manufacturers, keep the markets moderately reasonable, enable our manufacturing towns to undersell our rivals, and prevent the hands, as is too often the case, raising insurrections, in every year of scarcity, natural or artificial.

On discoursing with some very intelligent fishermen, I was informed of a very singular phænomenon they annually observe about the spawning of fish.35 At the distance of 4 or 5 leagues from shore, during the months of July and August , it is remarked, that at the depth of 6 or 7 fathom from the surface, the water appears to be saturated with a thick jelly, filled with the Ova of fish, which reaches 10 or 12 fathoms deeper: this is known by its adhering to the ropes the cobles anchor with when they are fishing; for they find the first 6 or 7 fathom of rope free from spawn, the next 10 or 12 covered with slimy matter, the remainder again free to the bottom. They suppose this gelatinous fluff to supply the new-born fry with food, and that it is also a protection to the spawn, as being disagreeable to the larger fish to swim in.

There is great variety of fish brought on shore. Besides those described as British fish, were two species of Rays: the Whip-Ray has also been taken here, and another species of Weever; but these are subjects, more proper to be referred to a Fauna , than an Itinerary, for a minute description.


Left Scarborough , and passed over large moors to Robin Hood's Bay On my road, observed the vast mountains of alum stone, from which that salt is thus extracted: It is first calcined in great heaps; which continue burning by its own phlogiston, after being well set on fire by coals, for six, ten, or fourteen months, according to the size of the heap, from being equal to a small hill. It is then thrown into pits and steeped in water, to extract all the saline particles. The liquor is then run into other pits, where the vitriolic salts are precipitated by the addition of a solution of the sal soda , prepared from kelp; or by the volatile alkali of stale urine. The superfluous water being then evaporated duely by boiling in large furnaces, the liquor is set to cool; and lastly, is poured into large casks, to crystallize.

The alum works in this country are of some antiquity: they were first discovered by Sir Thomas Chaloner , in the reign of Queen Elizabeth , who observing the trees tinged with an unusual color, made him suspicious of its being owing to some mineral in the neighborhood. He found out that the strata abounded with an aluminous salt.

At that time, the Englijh being strangers to the method of managing it, there is a tradition that Sir Thomas was obliged to seduce some workmen from the Pope's alum-works near Rome , then the greatest in Europe . If one may judge from the curse which his Holiness thundered out against Sir Thomas and the fugitives, he certainly was not a little enraged; for he cursed by the very form that Ernulphus 36 has left us, and not varied a tittle from that most comprehensive of imprecations.

The first pits were near Gisborough , the seat of the Chaloners , who still flourish there, notwithstanding his Holiness's anathema . The works were so valuable as to be deemed a royal mine. Sir Paul Pindar , who rented them, payed annually to the King 12,500 l., to the Earl of Mulgrave 1,640 l., to Sir William Pennyman 600 l.; kept 800 workmen in pay, and sold his alum at 26 l. per tun. But this monopoly was destroyed on the death of Charles I. and the right restored to the proprietors.


In these alum rocks are frequently found cornua ammonis , and other fossils, lodged in a stony nodule. Jet is sometimes met with in thin flat pieces, externally of the appearance of wood. According to Solinus, Britain was famous for this fossil.37

The sands near Robin Hood's village, were covered with fish of several kinds, and with people who met the cobles in order to purchase their cargo: the place seemed as if a great fish fair had been held there; some were carrying off their bargains,, others busied in curing the fish; and a little out at sea was a fleet of cobles and five-men boats, and others, arriving to discharge the capture of the preceding tides.38 There are 36 of the first belonging to this little place. The houses here make a grotesque appearance, are scattered over the face of a steep cliff in a very strange manner, and fill every projecting ledge, one above another, in the same manner as those of the peasants in the rocky parts of China . Sand's End , Runwick , and Staithes , three other fishing-towns on this coast, are (as I am told) built in the same manner.


The country through this day's journey was hilly, the coast high. Reach Whitby, called by the Saxons , Streaneshalch , or the bay of the light-house, a large town, oddly situated between two hills, with a narrow channel running through the middle, extending about a mile farther up the vale, where it widens, and forms a bay. The two parts of the town are joined by a good draw-bridge, for the conveniency of letting the shipping pass. From this bridge are often taken the viviparous Blenny, whose back-bone is as green as that of the Sea Needle. The river that forms this harbour is the Esk , but its waters are very inconsiderable when the tide is out. Here is a pretty brisk trade in ship-building; but except that, a small manufacture of sail-cloth, and the hiring of ships, as at Scarborough , like that town it has scarce any commerce. It is computed, there are about 270 ships belonging to this place. Of late, an attempt has been made to have a share in the Greenland fishery; four ships were sent out, and had very good success. There are very good dry docks towards the end of the harbour; and at the mouth a most beautiful pier. At this place is the first salmon-fishery on the coast.

In 1394 prodigious shoals of herrings appeared off this port, which occasioned a vast resort of foreigners, who bought up, cured the fish, and exported them, to the great injury of the natives. To prevent which, the King issued a proclamation, directed to the Bailiffs of St. Hilda's church, requiring them to put a stop to these practices.39


On the hill above the S. side of the town is a fine ruin of St. Hilda's church. The site was given to that saint by Oswy , king of Northumberland , about A. D. 657; possibly in consequence of a vow he made to found half a dozen monasteries, and make his daughter a nun, should heaven favor his arms. At this place was held, before King Oswy , the celebrated controversy about the proper season for keeping of Easter . Archbishop Colman supported one opinion from the traditions, which the Britains had of the example of St. John the Evangelist; and Wilfrid , on the contrary drew his arguments from the practice of St. Peter , on whom the catholic church was founded, and to whom were committed the keys of heaven. Oswy demanded of Colman , whether this was true? who confessed it was. "Then," says his majesty, "I will never contradict the Porter of heaven, least I "suffer by his resentment, when I apply for admission."40 St. Hilda founded a convent here for men and women, dedicated it to St. Peter , and became the first abbess.41 This establishment was ruined by the excursions of the Danes ; but after the conquest was rebuilt, and filled with Benedictines , by William de Percy , to whom the lordship was given by Hugh Lupus , Earl of Chester , nephew to the Conqueror. In less enlightened times it was believed that not a wild goose dared to fly over this holy ground, and if it ventured, was sure to fall precipitate and perish in the attempt.

Went about two miles along the shore, then turned up into the country, a black and dreary moor; observed on the right a vast artificial mount, or Tumulus , called Freeburgh Hill.

At the end of this moor, about three miles from Gisborough , is a beautiful view over the remaining part of Yorkshire , towards Durham , Hartlepool , and the mouth of the Tees , which meanders through a very rich tract. The country instantly assumes a new face; the road lies between most delightful hills, finely wooded, and the little vales between them very fertile: on some of the hills are the marks of the first alum works, which were discovered by Sir Thomas Chaloner .


Gisborough, a small town, pleasantly situated in a vale, surrounded at some distance by hills, and open on the east to the sea, which is about five miles distant. It is certainly a delightful spot; but I cannot see the reason why Camden compares it to Puteoli . Here was once a priory of the canons of the order of St. Austin , founded by Robert de Brus , 11291, after the dissolution granted by Edward VI. to the Chalmers : a very beautiful east window of the church is still remaining. This priory was also embattled or fortified in 1375, by permission of Edward III. Its revenue, according to Speed , was 712l. 6s. 6d. according to Dugdale , 628l. 3s. 4d. The town has at present a good manufacture of sail-cloth.


The country continues very fine quite to the banks of the Tees a considerable river, which divides Yorkshire from the bishoprick of Durham . After travelling 109 miles in a strait line through the first, enter Durham , crossing the river on a very handsome bridge of five arches, the battlements neatly pannelled with stone; and reach Stockton, lying on the Tees in form of a crescent. A handsome town; a corporation by prescription, governed by a mayor, recorder, and six aldermen; and is one of the four ward towns of the county. The principal street is remarkably fine, being 165 feet broad; and several lesser streets run into it at right angles. In the middle of the great street are neat shambles, a town-house, and large assembly-room. There is besides a large square, in which is a handsome Doric column thirty-three feet high. About a century ago, according to Anderson , it had scarce a house that was not made of clay and thatch; but is now a flourishing place, having rose on the decay of trade at Yarum . Its manufacture is a small one of sail-cloth; and great quantities of corn, and lead, (from the mineral parts of the country) are sent off from hence by commission. As the river does not admit of large vessels as high as the town, those commodities are sent down to be shipped about three miles lower. The port is a member of that of Newcastle , and has its custom-house and proper officers. The town lies at the distance of six miles from the bar; and the tide flows above eight miles above the bridge.

Stockton was antiently a chapelry belonging to Norton , which by length of time became ruinous, and too small for the increasing inhabitants. In 1710, a new church was begun by subscription; in 1712, it was consecrated by Bishop Crew ; and, in 1713, the place, by act of parlement, was made a distinct parish from Norton .

In 1721, a charity-school was begun by voluntary subscription, which succeeded so well, as to maintain at present a master, mistress, and forty boys and girls.


On the west side of the town stood the castle, founded (as some say) by King Stephen ; according to others, by John . It is reported to have been a strong and elegant building, having been the summer residence of the bishop of Durham . Tradition says, that King John was entertained here by Bishop Poictiers ; and at this place signed the charter of Newcastle . Bishop Farnham died here, in 1257. Bishop Kellow improved and made great additions to the castle: and here Bishop Morton took refuge, when he fled from the Scots , in the beginning of the troubles of Charles I. It was sold by order of parlement, in 1647, for 6165 l. , demolished, and the materials disposed of. What remained, is at present converted into a barn. The demesne lands belong to the bishop, and are set for 600 l. a year.


In 1762, an act passed for building a bridge across the Tees , to form a communication with Cleveland , which was finished in April 1769. Its breadth is eighteen feet, that of the middle arch seventy-two, three inches; the two next sixty; the two others forty-four. The expence of building it was eight thousand pounds.

The salmon fishery is neglected here, for none are taken beyond what is necessary to supply the country. Smelts come up the river in the winter time.


Norton, before mentioned, lies on the way to Durham , at a small distance from Stockton . Here had been an antient collegiate church, founded before the year 1227,42 for eight prebendaries, or portionists, in the patronage of the bishops of Durham . The country from the Tees to Durham is flat, very fertile, and much inclosed. Towards the west is a fine view of its highlands. Those hills are part of that vast ridge which commences in the north, and deeply divide this portion of the kingdom; and on that account are called by Camden the Appennines of England .


The approach to Durham is romantic, through a deep hollow, cloathed on each side with wood. The city is pretty large, but the buildings old. Part are on a plain, part on the side of a hill. The abby, or cathedral, and the castle, where the Bishop lives, when he resides here, are on the summit of a cliff, whose foot is washed on two sides by the river Were . The walks on the opposite banks are very beautiful, and well kept. They are cut through the wood, impend over the river, and receive a venerable improvement from the castle and antient cathedral, which soar above.

The last is very old;43 plain without, and supported within by massy pillars, deeply engraved with lozenge-like figures, and zigzag furrows: others are plain. The skreen to the choir is wood covered with a coarse carving. The choir neat, but without ornament.

The chapter-house seems very antient, and is in the form of a theatre. The cloisters large and handsome. All the monuments are defaced, except that of Bishop Hatfield . The Prebendal houses are very pleasantly situated, and have a fine view backwards.

There are two handsome bridges over the Were to the walks; and a third covered with houses, which join the two parts of the town. This river produces Salmon, Trout, Roach, Dace, Minow, Loche, Billhead, Sticklebacks, Lamprey, the lesser Lamprey, Eels, Smelt, and Samlet. The last, before they go off to spawn, are observed to be covered with a white slime: they are called here Rack-riders , because they appear in winter, or bad weather: Rack , in the English of Shakespeare's days, signifying the driving of the clouds by tempests, a word still retained here.

That which is now a horse, even with a thought
The Rack dislimns, and makes it indistinct
As water is in water.

                                Antony and Cleopatra , Act iv.

There is no inconsiderable manufacture, at Durham , of shalloons, tammies, stripes and callamancoes. I had heard on my road many complaints of the ecclesiastical government this county is subject to; but from the general face of the country, it seems to thrive wonderfully under them.


Saw Coken , the seat of Mr. Car ; a most romantic situation, layed out with great judgment: the walks are very extensive, principally along the sides or at the bottom of deep dells, bounded with vast precipices, finely wooded; and many parts of the rocks are planted with vines, which I was told bore well, but late. The river Were winds along the hollows, and forms two very fine reaches at the place where you enter these walks. Its waters are very clear, and its bottom a solid rock. The view towards the ruins of Finchal-Abby is remarkably great; and the walk beneath the cliffs has a magnificent solemnity, a fit retreat for its monastic inhabitants. This was once called the Desert, and was the rude scene of the austerities of St. Godric , who carried them to the most senseless extravagance.44 A sober mind may even at present be affected with horror, at the prospect from the summits of the cliffs into a darksome and stupendous chasm, rendered still more tremendous by the roaring of the waters over its distant bottom.


Passed through Chester-le-Street , a small town, near which is Lumley-Castle , the seat of the Earl of Scarborough . The tract from Durham to Newcastle was very beautiful ; the risings gentle, and prettily wooded, and the views agreeable; that on the borders remarkably fine, there being, from an eminence not far from the capital of Northumberland , an extensive view of a rich country, watered by the coaly Tyne . Go through Gateshead , cross the bridge, and enter

NEWCASTLE, a large town, divided from the former by the river, and both sides very steep: the lower parts very dirty and disagreeable. The sides of the river are inhabited by Keelmen and their families, a mutinous race; for which reason this town is always garrisoned: in the upper parts are several handsome well-built streets.

The great business of the place is the coal trade. The collieries lie at different distances, from five to eighteen miles from the river; and the coal is brought down in waggons along rail roads, and discharged from covered buildings at the edge of the water into the keels or boats that are to convey it on shipboard. These boats are strong, clumsy, and round, will carry about 25 tuns each; sometimes are navigated with a square sail, but generally are worked with two vast oars. No ships of large burthen come up as high as Newcastle , but are obliged to lie at Shields , a few miles down the river, where stage coaches go thrice every day for the conveniency of passengers. This country is most remarkably populous; Newcastle with Gateshead contains near 30,000 inhabitants; and there are at lest 400 sail of ships belonging to that town and its port. The effect of the vast commerce, of this place is very apparent for many miles round; the country is finely cultivated, and bears a most thriving and opulent aspect.

JULY 13.

Left Newcastle ; the country in general flat; passed by a large stone column with three dials on the capital, with several scripture texts on the sides, called here Pigg's Folly, from the founder.


A few miles further is Stannington Bridge, a pleasant village. Morpeth , a small town with a neat town-house, and a tower for the bell near it. Some attempt was made a few years ago to introduce the Manchester manufacture, but without success. Camden informs us, that the inhabitants reduced their town to ashes, on the approach of King John , A. D. 1216, out of pure hatred to their monarch, in order that he might not find any shelter there. But the Chronicle of Melros , p. 190. assigns a more rational cause, by saying that the Barons of the country destroyed both their own towns and the standing corn, in order to distress the King then on his march to punish their revolt.


The castle was seated on a small eminence. The remains are little more than the gateway tower. This fortress was built by William Lord Graystock , in the year 1358. It appears to have been entire in the days of Leland , and at that time in the possession of Lord Dacres ,45 who derived his right from his marriage with Elizabeth Baroness of Graystock ; and in the time of Queen Elizabeth , was conveyed into the family of the present Earl of Carlisle , by the marriage of a daughter of Thomas Lord Dacres with Lord William Howard of Naworth .46


Between Morpeth and Felton , on the right side of the road, stands Cockle Tower , an antient border-house of the larger size, fortified as the sad necessity of the times required. Mr. Grose tells us, that in the time of Edward I. it belonged to the Bertrams of Mitford , persons of much property in this county.

This place gave birth to William Turner , as Dr. Fuller expresses it, an excellent Latinist, Græcian, Oratour , and Poet ; he might have added polemic divine, champion and sufferer in the Protestant cause, physician, and naturalist. His botanic writings are among the first we had, and certainly the best of them; and his criticisms on the birds of Aristotle and Pliny are very judicious. He was the first who flung any light on these subjects in our island; therefore clames from a naturalist this tribute to his memory.47

Felton , a pleasant village on the Coquet , which, some few miles lower, discharges itself into the sea, opposite to a small isle of the same name, remarkable for the multitudes of water-fowl that resort there to breed. At Felton , the Barons of Northumberland did homage to Alexander II. King of Scotland , in 1216, in the reign of King John .48 Coquet island was a place of arms for the royal party in the time of Charles I. but was taken by the Scots , in 1643, with much booty of ammunition and cattle.


Near Felton , I had a distant view of Warkworth castle, in old times the seat of the Claverings , by descent from Roger Fitz-Richard , to whom it was granted by Henry II.49 Mr. Grose's elegant design of it makes me regret I did not take a nearer view.

At Alnwick , a small town, the traveller is disappointed with the situation and environs of the castle, the residence of the Percies , the antient Earls of Northumberland . You look in vain for any marks of the grandeur of the feudal age; for trophies won by a family eminent in our annals for military prowess and deeds of chivalry; for halls hung with helms and hauberks, or with the spoils of the chace; for extensive forests and venerable oaks. You look in vain for the helmet on the tower, the antient signal of hospitality to the traveller, or for the greyheaded porter to conduct: him to the hall of entertainment. The numerous train, whose countenances gave welcome to him on his way are now no more; and instead of the advent usher of the old times, he is attended by a valet eager to receive the fees of admittance.

There is vast grandeur in the appearance of the outside of the castle; the towers magnificent, but injured by the numbers of rude statues crouded on the battlements. The apartments are large, and lately finished in the gothic style with a most incompatible elegance. The gardens are equally inconsistent; trim to the highest degree, and more adapted to a villa near London , than the antient seat of a great Baron. In a word, nothing, excepting the numbers of unindustrious poor that swarm at the gate, excites any one idea of its former circumstances.

William Tyson , a noble Saxon , Baron of Alnwick , fell on the side of Harold at the battle of Hastings . The Conqueror bestowed his daughter and fortune on Ivo de Vesci . In 1310, a natural son of one of his descendants was left under the guardianship of Antony Beke , Bishop of Durham , who betrayed his trust, and sold this barony to Henry Lord Percy . The castle underwent two memorable sieges. In 1093, by Malcolm III. of Scotland , who, with his son Edward , lost their lives before it: and in 1174, William I . after a fruitless siege, was defeated and taken prisoner near the same place.

The abby lay a little north of the town. Nothing is left but the fine square gateway. It was founded by Eustace Fitz-John , in 1147, for Premonstratensian canons,50 and at the dissolution supported thirteen, whose revenues were about 190 l. a year.

A stage further is Belford , the seat of Abraham Dixon , Esq; a modern house; the front has a most beautiful simplicity in it: the grounds improved as far as the art of husbandry can reach; the plantations large and flourishing: a new and neat town, instead of the former wretched cottages; and an industrious race, instead of an idle poor, at present fill the estate.


On an eminence on the sea-coast, about four miles from Belford , is the very antient castle of Bamborough , founded by Ida , first king of the Northumbrians , A. D. 548. It was called by the Saxons , Bebbanburh ,51 in honor of Bebba, Ida's queen. It was at first surrounded with a wooden fence, and afterwards with a wall. It had been of great strength; the hill it is founded on is excessively steep on all sides, and accessible only by flights of steps on the south-east. The ruins are still considerable, but many of them now filled with sand, caught up by the winds which rage here with great violence, and carried to very distant places. The remains of a great hall are very singular; it had been warmed by two fire-places of a vast size, and from the top of every window ran a flue, like that of a chimney, which reached the summits of the battlements. These flues seem designed as so many supernumerary chimnies, to give vent to the smoke that the immense fires of those hospitable times filled the rooms with: halls smoky, but filled with good cheer, were in those days thought no inconvenience. Thus my brave countryman Howel ap Rys , when his enemies had fired his house about his ears, told his people to rise and defend themselves like men, for shame, for he had known there as greate a smoake in that hall upon a Christmas even .52

Bamborough village is now very inconsiderable. It once was a royal borough, and sent two members: it was even honored with the name of a shire, which gave name to a large tract extending southward. It had also three religious foundations: a house of friers preachers founded by Henry III. a cell of canons regular of St. Austin ; and a hospital.


This castle, and the manor belonging to it, was once the property of the Forsters ; but (on the forfeiture of Thomas Forster , Esq; in 1715) purchased by Lord Crew , Bishop of Durham , and with other considerable estates, left vested in Trustees, to be applied to unconfined charitable uses. Three of these Trustees are a majority; one of them makes this place his residence, and blesses the coast by his judicious and humane application of the Prelate's generous bequest. He has repaired and rendered habitable the great Norman square tower: the part reserved for himself and family is a large hall and a few smaller apartments; but the rest of the spacious edifice is allotted for purposes which make the heart to glow with joy when thought of. The upper part is an ample granary; from whence corn is dispenced to the poor without distinction, even in the dearest time, at the rate of four shillings a bushel; and the distressed for many miles round, often experience the conveniency of this benefaction.

Other apartments are fitted up for the reception of shipwrecked sailors; and bedding is provided for thirty, should such a number happen to be cast on shore at the same time. A constant patrole is kept every stormy night along this tempestuous coast, for above eight miles, the length of the manor, by which means numbers of lives have been preserved. Many poor wretches are often found on the shore in a state of insensibility; but by timely relief, are soon brought to themselves.

It often happens, that ships strike in such a manner on the rocks as to be capable of relief, in case numbers of people could be suddenly assembled: for that purpose a cannon53 is fixed on the top of the tower, which is fired once, if the accident happens in such a quarter; twice, if in another; and thrice, if in such a place. By these signals the country people are directed to the spot they are to fly to; and by this means, frequently preserve not only the crew, but even the vessel; for machines of different kinds are always in readiness to heave ships out of their perilous situation.

In a word, all the schemes of this worthy Trustee have a humane and useful tendency: he seems as if selected from his brethren for the same purposes as Spenser tells us the first of his seven Beadsmen in the house of holinesse was.

The first of them, that eldest was and best,
Of all the house had charge and government,
As guardian and steward of the rest:
His office was to give entertainement
And lodging unto all that came and went:
Not unto such as could him feast againe
And doubly quite for that he on them spent;
But such as want of harbour did constraine;
Those, for God's sake, his dewty was to entertaine.54


Opposite to Bamborough lie the Farn islands, which form two groupes of little isles and rocks to the number of seventeen, but at low water the points of others appear above the surface; they all are distinguished by particular names. The nearest isle to the shore is that called the House Island , which lies exactly one mile 68 chains from the coast: the most distant is about seven or eight miles. They are rented for 16l. per annum : their produce is Kelp, some few Feathers, and a few Seals, which the tenant watches and shoots for the sake of the oil and skins. Some of them yield a little grass, and serve to feed a cow or two, which the people are desperate enough to transport over in their little boats.

JULY 15.

Visited these islands in a coble, a safe but seemingly hazardous species of boat, long, narrow, and flat-bottomed, which is capable of going thro' a high sea, dancing like a cork on the summits of the waves.

Touched at the rock called the Meg , whitened with the dung of Corvorants which almost covered it; their nests were large, made of tang, and excessively fœtid.

Rowed next to the Pinnacles , an island in the farthest groupe; so called from some vast columnar rocks at the south end, even at their sides, and flat at their tops, and entirely covered with Guillemots and Shags: the fowlers pass from one to the other of these columns by means of a narrow board, which they place from top to top, forming a narrow bridge, over such a horrid gap that the very sight of it strikes one with horror.


Landed at a small island, where we found the female Eider ducks55 at that time sitting: the lower part of their nests was made of sea plants; the upper part was formed of the down which they pull off their own breasts, in which the eggs were surrounded and warmly bedded: in some were three, in others five eggs, of a large size, and pale olive color, as smooth and glossy as if varnished over. The nests are built on the beach, among the loose pebbles, not far from the water. The Ducks sit very close, nor will they rise till you almost tread on them. The Drakes separate themselves from the females during the breeding season. We robbed a few of their nests of the down, and after carefully separating it from the tang, found that the down of one nest weighed only three quarters of an ounce, but was so elastic as to fill the crown of the largest hat. The people of this country call these St. Cuthbert's Ducks, from the saint of the islands.56

Besides these birds, I observed the following:

Puffins, called here Tom Noddies ,
Auks, here Skouts ,
Black Guillemots,
Little Auks,
Shiel Ducks,
Black and white Gulls,
Brown and white Gulls,
Herring Gulls, which I was told fed sometimes on eggs
        of other birds,
Common Gulls, here Annets ,
Kittiwakes, or Tarrocks,
Pewit Gulls,
Great Terns,
Sea Pies,
Sea Larks, here Brokets ,
Jackdaws, which breed in rabbet-holes,
Rock Pidgeons,
Rock Larks.

The Terns were so numerous, that in some places it was difficult to tread without crushing some of the eggs.

The last isle I visited was the House Island , the sequestered spot where St. Cuthbert passed the two last years of his life. Here was afterwards established a priory of Benedictines for six or eight Monks subordinate to Durham . A square tower, the remains of a church, and some other buildings, are to be seen there still; and a stone coffin, which, it is pretended, was that of St. Cuthbert . At the north end of the isle is a deep chasm, from the top to the bottom of the rock, communicating to the sea, through which, in tempestuous weather, the water is forced with vast violence and noise, and forms a fine jet d'eau of sixty feet high: it is called by the inhabitants of the opposite coast the Churn .

Reached shore through a most turbulent rippling, occasioned by the fierce current of the tides between the islands and the coast.

JULY 17.

Pursued my journey northward. Saw at a distance the Cheviot hills; on which, I was informed, the green Plovers breed; and that, during winter, flocks innumerable of the great Bramblings, or Snow-flakes appear; the most southern place of their migration, in large companies.

The country almost woodless, there being but one wood of any consequence between Belford and Berwick . Saw on the left another antient tower, which shewed the character of the times, when it was unhappily necessary, on these borders, for every house to be a fortress.

On the right, had a view of the sea, and, not remote from the land, of Lindesfarn , or Holy Island, once an episcopal seat, afterwards translated to Durham . On it are the ruins of a castle and a church. Mr. Grose has given an entertaining and ample history of the place; and has informed me, that the ruins are fine remains of the Saxon massy architecture. Its first bishop was Aidan in 635. In some parts of the island are abundance of Entrochi , which are called by the country people St. Cuthbert's beads.

After a few miles riding, have a full view of Berwick , and the river Tweed winding westward for a considerable way up the country; but its banks were without any particular charms,57 being almost woodless. The river is broad, and has over it a bridge of sixteen very handsome arches, especially two next the town.


Berwick is fortified in the modern way; but is much contracted. in its extent to what it was formerly; the old castle and works now lying at some distance beyond the present ramparts. The barracks are large, and consist of a center and two wings. On the cession of this place, as one of the securities for the payment of the ransom of William I. of Scotland , (according to the Polychronicon of Durham , quoted by Camden) the castle (now a ruin) was built by Henry II. That politic prince knew the importance of this key to the two kingdoms. I imagine it had been little understood before the reign of his illustrious prisoner: for about seventy years preceding, Edgar , one of his predecessors, had presented this place, with the lands of Coldingham , to the abby of Durham .58 From the time of its cession to the Scots by Richard I. it for near three centuries became an object of contention between the two nations: but in 1482, the last year of Edward IV. was finally wrested from Scotland . By a convention between Edward VI. and the Queen Regent,59 it was declared a free town, if so it could be called, while the garrison and castle remained in the power of the English. James I. of England confirmed to it the privileges granted to it by Edward IV. It remained a place independent of both kingdoms, under its proper jurisdiction, till 1747, when legislature annexed it to England . The lands belonging to it, or what are called Berwick Bounds , are about 8000 acres.

The religious had five convents, all founded by the Scottish monarchs. Here were Mathurines, Dominicans , and Franciscans , and two nunneries, one of Benedictines , another of Cistertians .60 The church was built by Cromwell , and, according to the spirit of the builder without a steeple. Even in Northumberland , (towards the borders) the steeples grow less and less, and as it were forewarned the traveller that he was speedily to take leave of episcopacy. The townhouse has a large and handsome modern tower to it: the streets in general are narrow and bad, except that in which the townhouse stands.

Abundance of wool is exported from this town: eggs in vast abundance collected through all the country, almost as far as Carlisle : they are packed up in boxes, with the thick end downwards, and are sent to London for the use of sugar refiners.


The salmon fisheries here are very considerable, and likewise bring in vast sums; they lie on each side the river, and are all private property, except those belonging to the Dean and Chapter of Durham , which, in rent and tithe of fish, bring in 450 l. per ann ., for all the other fisheries, are liable to tythe. The common rents of those are 50 l. a year, for which tenants have as much shore as serves to launch out and draw their nets on shore: the limits of each are staked; and I observed that the fishers never failed going as near as possible to their neighbor's limits. One man goes off in a small flat-bottomed boat, square at one end, and taking as large a circuit as his net admits, brings it on shore at the extremity of his boundary, where others assist in landing it. The best fishery is on the south side:61 very fine salmon trout are often taken here, which come up to spawn from the sea, and return in the same manner as the salmon do. The chief import is timber from Norway and the Baltic .

26 Camden, Brit . II. 902.

27 Leland's Itin. I. 62.

28 Herbert's Henry VIII. 478.

29 Rapin , II. 46.

30 Whitelock , 83, 133. 146. 147. 163.

31 Itin. I. 62.

32 MS. Hist, of Hull , in Lord Shelburne's library.

33 The waters are impregnated with a purgative salt (Glauber's) a small quantity of common salt, and of steel. There are two wells, the farthest from the town is more purgative, and its taste more bitter; the other is more chalybeate, and its taste more brisk and pungent. D. H.

34 I met with on the shores near Scarborough , small fragments of the true red coral.

35 Mr. Osbeck observed the same in S. Lat . 35, 36, in his return from China . The seamen call it the flowering of the water. Vol . II. 72.

36 Vide Tristram Shandy .

37 GAGATES hic plurimus optimusque est lapis: Si decorem requiras, nigro gemmeus: si naturam aqua ardet, oleo restinguitur: si potestatem attritu calefactus applicita detinet, atque succinum . C. xxiv.

38 From hence the fish are carried in machines to Derby, Litchfield, Birmingham , and Worcester : the towns which lie beyond the last are supplied from the West of England .

39 Rymtr's Fœdera , VII. 788.

40 Bede , Hist. Eccl. lib. III. c. 25.

41 Oswy was properly the founder.

42 Tanner 115.

43 Begun in 1093, by Bishop William de Carilephs .

44 St. Godric was born at Walpole in Norfolk , and being an itinerant merchant, got acquainted with St. Cuthbert at Farn Island . He made three pilgrimages to Jerusalem ; at length was warned by a vision to settle in the desert of Finchal . He lived an hermitical life there during 63 years, and practised unheard-of austerities: he wore an iron shirt next his skin, day and night, and wore out three: he mingled ashes with the flour he made his bread of; and, lest it should then be too good, kept it three or four months before he ventured to eat it. In winter, as well as summer, he passed whole nights, up to his chin in water, at his devotions. Like St. Antony , he was often haunted by fiends in various shapes; sometimes in form of beautiful damsels, so was visited with evil concupiscence, which he cured by rolling naked among thorns and briars: his body grew ulcerated; but, to encrease his pain, he poured salt into the wounds: wrought many miracles, and died 1170. Britannia sacra , 304. About ten years after his decease, a Benedictine priory of thirteen monks was founded there in his honor, by Hugh Pudsey , Bishop of Durham .

45 Leland, Itin . VII. 62.

46 Wallis II. 299 .

47 He was born in the reign of Henry VIII. died in 1568.

48 Wallis , II. 356.

49 Idem, 351.

50 Tanner , 393.

51 Saxon Chr . 19.

52 Hist. Gwedir family , 118.

53 Once belonging to a Dutch frigate of 40 guns; which, with all the crew, was lost opposite to the castle about sixty years ago.

54 The Rev. Thomas Sharpe , B. D.

55 Vide Br. Zool . II. No. 27,. I have been informed that they also breed on Inch-Colm , in the Firth of Forth .

56 I must here acknowlege my obligations to Joseph Banks , Esq; who, previous to his circumnavigation, liberally permitted my artist to take copies of his valuable collection of Zoologic drawings; amongst others, those of the Eider Ducks.

57 The beautiful banks of the Tweed verify the old song from Melros to Coldstream .

58 Anderson's Diplom . No. IV.

59 Rymer , XV. 265.

60 Keith , 243. 270. 274. 280. 281.

61 For a fuller account of this fishery, vide British Zoology , III. No. 143. To it may also be added, that in the middle of the river, not a mile west of the town, is a large stone, on which a man is placed, to observe what is called the reck of the salmon coming up.

Thomas Pennant, A Tour in Scotland 1769 (London: Benjamin White, 1776)

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