Daisies and Dragons at Bamburgh Castle

Yarns Around Northumberland at Bamburgh Castle

I do like a good story about a dragon, especially when there is a castle, a prince and a wicked witch involved! This month’s Yarns Around Northumberland tells the tale of Princess Margaret of Bamburgh and our featured pattern is a pretty, sleeveless jumper incorporating the flower stitch of our much loved Daisy Scarf. This month’s pattern is, of course, called Marguerite Daisy.

Marguerite Daisy is knitted from two skeins of our Yeavering Bell 4ply and this month’s pretty pretty colour is called Dreaming of Peonies.

The Legend of the Laidly Worm

Bamburgh castle has stood guard over the Northumberland coastline for over 1,400 years, dominating the landscape from it’s position 150ft above the sea. The name Bamburgh originates from when the castle was the Royal seat of the Kings of Northumbria. Aethelfrith, the first King of Northumbria named the fortress or ‘burgh’ after his Queen Bebba, which over the years was simplified to Bamburgh.

Over the centuries the castle has been built and rebuit; by the Saxons, the Normans and through to the Victorians, and the final restoration by the Armstrong family who now own it.

It is from the Anglo Saxon times that one of the great legends of the area arises, the legend of the Laidly Worm.

King Ida the Flame-bearer rules the kingdom of Northumbria with his queen. Together, they have a daughter Margaret famed for her great beauty and a son, Childewynd.

But Ida’s wife dies and he becomes besotted with an evil witch Behoc and marries her. Whilst the King’s son Childewynd is travelling overseas Behoc becomes deeply jealous of her beautiful step-daughter. She casts a spell on Margaret turning her into a ferocious fire-breathing dragon known as the Laidly Wyrme.

“I weird ye to be a Laidly Worm,
And borrowed shall ye never be,
Until Childe Wynd, the King’s own son
Come to the Heugh and thrice kiss thee;
Until the world comes to an end,
Borrowed shall ye never be.”

The dragon terrified the people of the kingdom, to appease her they left tributes of cattle and milk by the heugh at Spindlestone where the dragon often lingered. The King offered rewards to slay the dragon but none could defeat it. Eventually news of this terrifying dragon reaches Childewynd, along with troubling tales of the new queen Behoc. When he learnt of her cruelty towards the people and the power she held over King Ida he had a new ship built, with its keel made of the rowan tree; a sure protection against dark magic.

As Childewynd lands on the beach near the castle he finds the dragon raging, but as raises his sword to kill it when he hears it speak in his sisters voice, begging him to kiss her.

“O, quit thy sword, unbend thy bow,
and give me kisses three;
For though I am a laidly worm,
no harm I’ll do to thee!”

Childewynd kisses the dragon three times and it vanishes, leaving his sister in it’s place. Returning to the castle their father is over joyed too see them, and they confront the wicked stepmother. Chidlewynd touches her with a sprig of the rowan tree and she turns into a ugly toad, doomed to live at the bottom of the well in the castle keep.

Maidens beware. According to legend Behoc crawls out of the well every seven years to seek revenge on any innocent young lady who falls within her reach.

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