Introduction

Hi and welcome to my site.
Cheshire is full of weird and wonderful stories of the supernatural, local heores and the mysterious.
I will take you on a tour as I look deep into the Cheshire that lies underneath the wonderful countryside and find the secrets that still hide there.
What magic and long lost secrets will we find?
So, sit back and enjoy my journey. This is a land of Magic, Knights, Dragons, Wizards, Witches, Boggarts, Murder, Ghosts and Old Forgotten Knowledge.


I would love to hear your stories as well. So if you have anything you would like me to look into and find information out, please let me know.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT



SIR GAWAIN AND THE GREEN KNIGHT



This tale was written during the 14th century by an unknown author. It is written in a North West Midland dialect of Middle English, which mixes the dialet from North Wales and English Border. It is for this reason that as I briefy tell you the tale, I will also include the areas from my local area that seem to be the locations in the tale as many experts have agreed with, even though most areas are not named in the poem.






The tale starts in Camelot just after Christmas while King Arthur and his court are feasting and exchanging gifts. A large Green Knight entered the hall and set a challenge. The challenge was if someone could strike him once with his own axe, they would face eachother again one year and a day later. Sir Gawain (Arthur's youngest knight) accepts the challenge.

Gawain severed the Green Knight's Head clean off and thinking that was the end of the matter and wondering why someone would walk into the hall and demand such a challenge, he walks away. But the Green Knight stood up and instead off dying, he walked over to where his head was lying on the floor, he picked it up and placed it back on his neck as though nothing had happened. He told Gawain to met him at The Green Chapel on New Years Day the following year. And with that, he left.

Gawain thought no more about this meeting until the time of the meeting approached. Gawain set off on his journey. He crossed the river at Llangollen and went north to Holywell. He passed St Winifred's Well, through to the Wirral and then down to finally he came across a beautiful castle high on a hill.

It is claimed that this is Beeston Castle. The Lord of the castle, Bertilak de Hautdesert, and his wife welcomed Gawain and invited him to rest at the castle. Gawain explained his quest and Bertilak told him he had plenty of time as the Green Chapel was only a couple of days journey away. So Gawain agreed to stay three days.

Before going hunting the following day, Bertilak proposes a bargin to Gawain. He said that he will give Gawain whatever he catches, on the condition that Gawain gave him what he had gained during the day. Gawain accepts and Bertilak leaves. Later that day, Lady de Hautdesert enters Gawain's bedroom to seduce him. But Gawain refused and just gives in to a single kiss on the cheek. When Bertilak returned, he gave Gawain the deer he had killed and Gawain gave him a kiss on the cheek. The next day, the same happened and the exchange was a boar for two kisses. On the third day, Gawain accepts a green silk girdle from her Lady which she told him it would keep him from all physical harm. They exchanged three kisses. That evening, Bertilak returns with a fox, which he exchanged for three kisses but Gawain kept the girdle without telling him.


The next day, Gawain leaves the castle and heads towards the Green Chapel. This is said to be located in Lud's Church, Staffordshire. He crossed The Roaches and across the valley by the ruins of an abbey (Dieulacres Abbey).








As Gawain approaches the Green Chapel, the Green Knight appears at the top of the cliffe. Gawain is wearing the green girdle and offers his neck. The knight tries three times to chop off his head. 1st time Gawain ducks out of the way, 2nd the knight misses and 3rd the knight catches Gawain with a small cut on his neck. The Green Knight then reveals himself as Bertilak. He explains that this entire challenge was the idea of Morgan le Fay (Arthur sister).


As I said earlier, many of the areas I have named are thought to be the places in the poem. I will now list these places and give a little more information on them. Why dont you read the poem and see if you agree with me about these locations and if you dont agree, let me know which areas you think are in the poem and why.


LLANGOLLEN

This town is situated in Denbighshire, by the River Dee and on the edge of the Berwyn Mountains.

It takes its name from Saint Collen. He was a 6th century monk who founded a church beside the river. There are links to King Arthur --- FFYNNON ARTHUR (Arthur's Well) and CROES GWENHWYFAR (Guinnivere's Cross). Dinas Bryn Castle is thought to have housed the Holy Grail for a while. This castle is an ancient hilltop fort which still shows the remains of the walled castle built in the Middle Ages.





Llangollen was an important coaching stop for the mail coach on the old mail route along the A5 London to Holywell road. Other transport was the Ellesmere Canal which ran to Hurleston Junction (nr Nantwich). This is now known as the Llangollen Canal.






And the Llangollen Railway is now a great tourist attraction. It was opened on the 2nd June 1862, closed for passengers on 18th January 1965, closed for goods in April 1968 but it re opened on 13th September 1975.



The annual Eisteddfod Folk Music Festival is held here lasting a week.


Nearby is Valle Crucis Abbey, this is a former Cistercian Monastery built in the 13th century.










Llangollen is also home to Plas Newydd. This was originally a small cottage when the Ladies of Llangollen moved in during 1780. Between 1798 and 1814, Lady Eleanor Butler and Miss Sarah Ponsonby conducted their restoration and rebuilding work. They lived together for almost 50 years. It is said that only men can see their ghosts on Christmas Eve.












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ST WINIFRED'S WELL



St Winifred's well and chapel has been visited by people for 1300 years wishing to be healed or for their faith.






This place began with a legend. In AD 660, this area was a number of huts centered around a church. Winefride was a young lady who was the daughter of a local prince. Caradoc, the son of another prince, was very taken with Winefride. He asked her to marry him but she refursed. Caradoc would not leave her alone and she tried to hide in the church. Caradoc found her and angry that she wouldnt marry him, he attacked her and chopped of her head.


Winiefride's head rolled away from her body and where it stopped, a spring with healing powers appeared. Winefride's Uncle Brena, placed her head next to her body and prayed over her. She rose again and placed her head back on her neck. She became a nun and then Abbess.
Winefride died about 20 years later.


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BEESTON CASTLE


This area is listed in the Domesday Book as BUISTAN in Broxton Hundred. It was held by WULFWY and the lands were owned by ROBERT, son of Hugh. The settlement became known as Bestan in 1282.


Overlooking the village is Beeston Castle. This castle is probably built on an Iron Age Fort and the remains of early settlements dating back to 800 BC have been discovered here.





The castle was built 1225 by Ranulf Blundeville, Earl of Chester, as part of his Welsh border defences. In 1237, the castle passed to Henry lll and it was used as a prison during his battles with the Welsh. Edward l improved the castle and by the time of his murder at Berkeley Castle in 1327, Beeston Castle was nearly complete. The castle was partially destroyed by the Parliamentarians during the Civil War.

As well as being associated with Bertilak, another interesting story involving the castle is of course the gold and treasure hidden within it. This tale is covered in my blog.

There are a few ghost sightening associated with this castle.


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DIEULACRES ABBEY




This Cistercian abbey was founded by white monks near to a ford across the River Dee at Poulton, near Chester. They had been sent there by the Earl of Chester for two reasons. First because they were safe away from the Welsh and second because the Earl had had a dream about this area.



Monks were among the few who could read and write and because of this, many beleive it is a monk who wrote Sir Gawain's story. It is of course in the right location and there is another story from the right time that associated with the abbey.

In 1379, the Abbot of Dieulacres was involved in a terrible deed where a local man was beheaded on the moors by the abbey.

This photo is located to where the abbey once stood, there is a farm here now,


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THE ROACHES


This is named from the French --- LES ROCHES - meaning the rocks.







It is a rocky ridge above Leek, Staffs and is popular with hikers and rock climbers. It is made up of coarse sandstone.

In clear weather you can see all Cheshire and Snowdon in Wales.

It is of course, near to Lud's church.


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LUD's CHURCH (the green chapel).




This area is allegedly named after Walter de Ludauk, leader of the local Lallards (15th century religious leaders who secretly worshipped here).










This deep chasm is over 100m long, 18m deep, overgrown and covered in moss. Only on Midsummers Day does sunlight penetrate deep into this chasm, which adds to its magic and mystery.






If you beleive in local legends, Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and Bonny Prince Charlie are all said to have hidden from the authorities here.



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