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illustrious house, who died in 1266. This nobleman stood loyally to King Henry III. during the Barons' War, and thereby "escaped the misfortune of seeing, as his neighbour the baron of Mitford saw, his patrimonial estate strewed like a wreck around him." As he had no heir-male, however, his daughter Mary carried them at his death into the family of her husband, William, Lord of Greystoke, "a race recorded eminent in deathless fame," one of whom, Lord Greystoke, who died at Brancepeth in 1358, rebuilt Morpeth Castle on a grander scale. Elizabeth, daughter and sole heir of the last of the Greystokes, married Thomas Lord Dacre, of Gilsland, called Lord Dacre of the North, in the possession of whose descendants the barony continued down till the reign of Elizabeth, when the honours and estates of George Lord Dacre, who died under age, descended to his two sisters, Ann and Elizabeth, of whom the latter married Lord William Howard, "Belted Will." (See vol. ii., page 532.) The grandson of "Belted Will" was created Lord Dacre of Gilsland, Viscount Morpeth, and Earl of Carlisle in 1661; and from him the present Earl of Carlisle is lineally descended and inherits the barony of Morpeth and its appurtenances.

Of the old stronghold of the Merlays, only some curtain walls now remain, if these, indeed, can be determined to

date from so far back. A later fortified gate tower was built by William, known as the Good Baron of Grey stoke, who died in 1359, and who occasionally resided at his castle of Morpeth. There are winding stairs to the top of the tower, which is remarkable for strength and beauty. It is embattled, and formerly had angular speculating turrets at the north-east and south-east corners, with a communication by an open gallery, which was supported on projecting corbels. In the centre of the arched roof of the gateway is a square aperture, calculated to annoy any such assailants as should get the mastery of the outer gate. The building was repaired some years ago, for offices of the agent of the owner, Lord Carlisle.

The castle was still a place of strength in the reign of Charles I. It was taken by the Scots, under General Lesley, in January, 1644; but they were driven from it in the following year, after a protracted siege of twenty days, by the Marquis of Montrose, the General for the King in Scotland. The trenches still visible to the westward of the castle were probably raised by Montrose's army. Leland, in his Itinerary, written in Henry VIII.'s time, says, "Morpith Castle standythe by Morpith towne; it is set on a highe hill, and about the hill is moche wood. Towne and Castle belong to the Lord

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Dacres. It is well mayntayned." Hutchinson, whose "View of Northumberland " was published in 1778, says he found little remaining of the castle but the old gateway, and some miserable shattered parts of the outward wall, which enclosed the area and interior buildings. The space within includes about an acre of ground, measuring eighty-two yards from north to south, and fifty-three from east to west. It was converted in modern times into a garden, and no building of any kind now remains within.

Early Wars of Northumbria.


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stretched away to the rear of the present site of Beaufront, and intercepted the Northumbrian advance by way of Watling Street. If such was the case—and it appears extremely likely-the position would be guarded on its southern and western boundaries by the river, and on the north by the still formidable Roman Wall. Being bold, numerous, and well-equipped, the Welshmen had not the remotest fear of a reverse. They settled round their fires, shared their booty, and spent their leisure in revelry of the wildest kind. Their system of watching, however, must have been extremely defective. The Northumbrians appear to have been close at hand when this halt was called; but not caring to attack with an inferior force, they strongly entrenched themselves on a hill that overlooked the bridge at Chollerford.

OR a long period, in 634-5, the Britons were in undisputed possession of the plain of York. The Saxon "princelings" had been killed, and Cadwalla, their vanquisher, experienced little opposition to his onward progress. Being savage and cruel, he made periodic raids of vengeance into the northern parts of the territory, and seldom returned without a great haul of booty. It was during one of these high-handed exploits that the marauder's career was luckily checked. Oswald, the second son of Ethelfrith, was now heir to the unhappy land, and he was naturally anxious to regain possession of his own. Though trained among the holy men of Scotland, and by no means of a warlike disposition, the young prince was eminently cool and clear-headed. Waiting until Penda was thoroughly involved with his southern foes, Oswald suddenly entered Northumbria, consulted a few of his adherents, and then retired to a safe hiding place in the Cheviots. It was amid the secluded gorges of this mountain range that the details of an eventful compaign were settled. Though many hardy fighting men responded to their chieftain's call, and swore to aid in the expulsion of the domineering Welsh, they only constituted a small army for the accomplishment of such a serious task as lay before them. But though deficient in numbers, as Bede says, they were strengthened with the faith of Christ. When everything was in readiness for a move, Oswald explained that all who followed him must cast aside their idolatry, as he meant to fight for the reinstatement of that holy religion which Edwin and his queen had so auspiciously inaugurated. There being no dissentients to either the object or the plan of operations, the order was given for a general rendezvous in the beauteous valley of the North Tyne, and it resulted, as may be supposed, in a considerable acquisition of strength to the Anglian army.

RIVAL PREPARATIONS FOR THE STRIFE. But the movement served to warn Cadwalla of the danger that threatened him. His savage hordes had


It was here, on classic ground, that they resolved to await the onslaught which they knew their intrepid adversary would not long defer. But though in readiness, they were not idle. Bede-who wrote when the fight was actually in men's recollections-tells us that Oswald prepared a sign of the holy cross as the emblem under which he would make his stand, and that he persisted in rendering aid while his followers fixed it firmly in the ground. Then ordering all present to kneel, he raised his voice in the silence of this wild upland, and prayed for the help of heaven in the just war that was about to be waged against the haughty and fierce invaders. The supplication having concluded, and the first ruddy gleam of dawn having shown itself in the eastern sky, the ven

erable chronicler goes on to say that the Northumbrians "advanced towards the enemy, and obtained the victory as their faith deserved." William of Malmsbury accepts the same story, and would have us believe that the Angles left their carefully planned entrenchments and risked an encounter in the open field, for no other reason than that it would be "highly disgraceful for them to meet the Britons on unequal terms." Such, of course, may have been the chivalrous feeling of Oswald, but, to say the least, it is very improbable. It is much more likelyseeing that a kingdom was at stake-that he husbanded his strength behind the earthworks that formed the first line of his hill defence, and hoped his choice of place would help to make amends for his lack of numbers. And this it most assuredly did. Whether the Welsh attack was delivered at early morn or dewy eve, it was both fast and furious when it did come. Cadwalla, "the fierce afflictor of his foes," fully sustained his reputation. He led his daring followers towards the Northumbrian position amid a shower of missiles, and tried to penetrate the wall of spears that bristled behind their ramparts. But his utmost efforts were unavailing. One contingent after another endeavoured to overcome the steady throng which gathered round the Northumbrian prince, and each in turn was compelled to retire in eonfusion. Then came the warlike Welshman, with his best and bravest, and the crucial point of the struggle was at once reached. As the southern chief rushed at the obstacle before himprobably, says a modern writer, constructed from the debris from the Roman vallum itself—a fatal shaft pierced his breast, and he dropped backwards in full view of the combatants. Dismayed at the fate of their fallen leader, the Welsh wavered, and the momentary hesitation threw the rearmost contingent into some disorder. Seeing the evident uncertainty of his assailants, and noting their lack of fire and enthusiasm, Oswald judiciously let loose his Angles, and, dashing headlong on the disheartened foe, turned a slight repulse into an irretrievable disaster. Flying in all directions, the Welshmen were cut down in hundreds. The carnage became so horrible, indeed, that "the heaps of slain were countless." They were thickest near that portion of the old wall which lay between them and their late encampment. Throwing away their arms, in order the more readily to scramble over, they died there as so many thousands of the Ottadini had done two or three centuries before. "Never was day more lamentable for the Britons, or more joyful for the Angles." It completely dissipated all hope of the ancient stock ever becoming a permanent power in the land again. It proved, beyond all question, that if the Anglians had come as helpers, they meant to remain as rulers. It was a victory so thorough and so complete that only few of the invaders survived it, and led many of the monkish writers to assert that nothing but the interposition of celestial power could have so utterly confounded Oswald's foe.


Whether it was a belief of this kind that led to the site of the battle being called "Heavenfield," it would be impossible to say; but Bede vouches for the fact that, at a later day, the brethren of the church at Hexham used to make annual pilgrimages to the spot, and there watch and pray for the repose of St. Oswald's soul. So largely did this custom grow, even before Bede's time, that he tells us 66 they have lately made the place more sacred and honourable by building a church at it"-the first, in all probability, that the followers of Christ ever reared in Northumbria for memorial purposes. In its locality, in later years, wooden crosses have frequently been found; and, if we believe Camden, a silver coin of Oswald'swith his bust on one side and a cross on the reverse-was brought to light during the progress of some repairs to the structure in the time of Queen Elizabeth. These are circumstances which must be taken into account in determining the actual scene of the battle. The strongest evidence, however, is to be found in the fact that the position taken by Cadwalla, after his move from Hexham, is just what a skilful leader would have taken if his object had been to intercept a hostile advance from the north. It effectually covered both Watling Street and the Devil's Dyke-a few miles south of their junction— and had the ready made defence of the Roman Wall between it and the expected enemy. That Cadwalla failed to place sentinels on that rampart is inexplicable. It may be, as historians tell us, that he misjudged the capacity of the small force that was being led against him, and felt sure he could oust them, at his own time, from any position that the natural character of the neighbourhood would enable them to select. He was mistaken, as many a greater man has been since, and yielded up his valiant life as the penalty.


This decisive battle has been variously named. Some have called it Heavenfield, from the circumstance of the cross; and some Haledown, or Holy Hill, from the fact that a square entrenchment is still visible near the village of Halton. But there have been so many centuries of warfare in south Northumberland that the prevalence of earthworks cannot be regarded as of much moment. Bede, though he indicates the district clearly enough, speaks of the fight as having taken place near Denisesburn-doubtless a brook that flowed in the vicinity. There is no stream so designated in the present day; but in the Erring burn-which enters the North Tyne a short distance above Chollerford- —we evidently have the watercourse referred to. As all these places are in a cluster, it is of little consequence, perhaps, which name is used. Their enumeration is mainly important as helping to strengthen the belief that the centre of the fight was between the Erring burn and the Wall-the site, in fact, on which St. Oswald's Church still perpetuates the Northumbrian triumph.


The happiest results followed the discomfiture of the pagan host. Bernicia and Deira were again united under one king, and, by his wise and merciful administration, soon recovered some of their old prosperity. In the new ruler, the Christians had a firm friend. No sooner was he securely seated on the throne, we are told, than he began to devise means for reclaiming such of his countrymen as had lapsed into heathendom, and for the conversion of those who had remained without the pale. To accomplish his object, he sought aid from the monks of Iona-the

holy men amongst whom so much of his own exile had been spent. The request was granted, and in the summer of 635, Aidan commenced his labours amongst the lowly dwellers of the northern dales. Having established himself at Lindisfarne-now known as Holy Island-he commenced that marvellous mission which has since been the admiration of the world. Though the language spoken by the Angles was an unknown tongue to the kindly monk, he was by no means discouraged. Accompanied by Oswald in person, he began his exposition of the new faith, and "it was a most touching spectacle," we read, "to mark how patiently and carefully the king interpreted the word of life as it fell from Aidan's lips, and made it a living reality to the listening throng." In seven days, if the story can be credited, as many as 15,000 persons were baptized in the rippling streams around the royal residence at Bamborough; and similar scenes were oft repeated elsewhere. As an evidence of the earnestness of the converts, and the munificence of the king, a noble monastery soon rose above the cliffs of Lindisfarne. Being occupied by earnest teachers from Scotland, the new building at once became the centre of a grandly civilizing system. Its offshoots were quickly seen at Tynemouth, Hartlepool, Gateshead, and other distant localities. Its missionaries spread over the heathen realms far south of the Humber, and the reception of the new faith generally marked the people's submission to Oswald's authority. Slowly, but steadily, his power increased. First Wessex, then East Anglia, and afterwards the Picts and Scots, came to acknowledge his sway; and ere long the King of Northumbria was again chief among the rulers of the Heptarchy.

OSWALD'S DOWNFALL AT MAESERFIELD. In his exalted capacity as Bretwalda, Oswald exercised an influence over his kinsmen that was eminently beneficial, and pursued a policy that augured well for the national weal. He strove to imitate the wise administration of Edwin rather than to eclipse the warlike glory of Ethelfrith, and in this path he would have been content to labour if Fate had so willed. His peaceful exertions, however, were not to continue. After reigning eight years, and when in the full floodtide of his prosperity, he was suddenly called upon to battle once more with the pagan hosts. Penda-who had watched with indifference the priestly missions to Wessex-could not tolerate Northern interference with the affairs of East Anglia. Gathering his savage Mercians quietly together, he overran that country, slew its religious ruler, and then annexed it. To avenge this slaughter and release his fellow-Christians from the pagan yoke, Oswald, in 642, led an army of Northumbrians into the enemy's land. A battle ensued at Maeserfield-a place adjacent, probably, to the present town of Oswestry-and the Northern force sustained a crushing defeat. Oswald, fighting bravely, died with his soldiers; and his body, when afterwards found among the slain, was subjected to the grossest indignity. After striking off the head and arms, Penda had them fixed upon stakes of wood, and reared above the scene of conflict. In this manner, it is said, he hoped to keep the monks away from his own land. The plan, for a time, seemed fairly effective, but, in the end, the disciples of Aidan carried off the relics to Lindisfarne, and, with their stories of miraculous healing, soon made the maimed limbs more powerful than the arms of the living man.


The condition at Northumbria, for some years after the crushing defeat of Maeserfield, was by no means an enviable one. The country-being distracted by civil wars between rival claimants for its throne-lay at the


mercy of Penda, and he made desolate many of its richest and fairest valleys. From the Humber to the Tyne, and thence onward to the Cheviots, he everywhere showed his victorious banners. Even the royal seat at Bamborough -with its commanding fortress on the rock-was besieged

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