Myths & Legends
The Devil Stone
A flagstone on the pathway between the abbey and the old Campy Hill graveyard. Avoided by generations of Hexham children and marked by many years of spitting for good luck! This tradition may originate in the idea of the Plague Stone, as mentioned in Fairless’s 1853 Guide to the Abbey Church of Hexham:
Plague or Silver stones were placed … when the plague existed in a town, one of the parties in money transactions deposited the money in a cavity on the stone, and retired to a distance, while the receiver advanced and took it out, thus avoiding contagion.
Go to Hexham!
A Newcastle malediction, or curse. (From Denham Tracts) Possibly a reference to Hexham’s purpose-built gaol – the first in the country.
Where they knee-band lops [fleas] and put spectacles on blind spiders. (From Denham Tracts)
A Hexham Measure
Up heaped, pressed down, and flowing over. (From Denham Tracts)
Probably originates from the fact that, prior to the national standardisation of measures, the quarter-peck measure in Hexham was twice the size of that of Newcastle.
Silly – good-natured, like a Hexham goose; bid him sit down and he will lie down. (From Denham Tracts)
He comes fra Hexham Green, and that’s ten miles ayont Hell. (From Denham Tracts)
Presumably from a confirmed townie!
Probably related to the Hexham Measure – see above. (From Denham Tracts)
The Pipers o’ Hexham
Everyone for their ain hand, like the Pipers o’ Hexham. (From Denham Tracts)
The Queen’s Cave
A hollow in the woods at Swallowship in Hexhamshire. Reputedly the place where Queen Margaret took refuge after the Battle of Hexham in 1464 and encountered a gallant robber. Unfortunately, the historical record shows that Queen Margaret was in France at the time of the battle! Further information the legend (and the battle) is in Hexham Historian 8 (unfortunately not available via this website). The battle is also covered in an article by Timothy Owens in Hexham Historian 24. An article in the Hexham Courant also debunks the myths of the Battle of Hexham and the Queens Cave.