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A.D. 769.

the tower, and the great five-light window of bishop Nevill, in the south transept, and is the fifth chancel erected on the site. 1. Saxon. 2. Norman. 3. Early English. 4. Rude Gothic. 5. Perpendicular. The history of the church may be easily read on the surface of its stones, both inside and out. The remains of a pre-reformation altar,* with its adjacent piscina, discovered in 1883, may be seen in the south transept, and a mutilated benetura in the south porch. All the Saxon, Norman, and Early English remains of any interest have been carefully preserved inside the church. On the west buttress of the south transept outside, about 18 feet from the ground, there is a square sun-dial in good condition, bearing the motto "Ora et labora," but no date appears upon it. Several minor features are noticed in the body of this work. The various changes of spoliation and renovation, through which the church has passed, will be found recorded under their respective dates.

The first historical event connected with Northallerton is The town des- its destruction by fire in 769, by Beornredus, or Earnredus, troyed. a tyrant king of Northumbria, who at the same time burnt down Catterick, the Roman Cataractonium. The Saxon church at Northallerton would most likely be destroyed at the same time.t

865. Battles at Alvertoun.

883. King Alfred.


Ninety-six peaceful years intervene, and then a sharp conflict is said to have taken place at Northallerton, between king Alfred and five Danish kings, who had invaded the kingdom with a great host. The latter were not defeated until a second sanguinary battle had been fought, although they were victorious elsewhere, and ultimately succeeded in subduing the country. Peter de Langtoft (an Austin friar, born in this county, who wrote a chronicle of the Danish invasion in French verse, in the time of Edward II.,) thus speaks of the struggle :

"Tille Alfred our kyng com tythings starke,

That fyve kyngs and fyve earles ver comen of Denmarke,
That wild on him renne, and reve him the coroune,

With alle ther grete folk, thei lay in Alvertoune."

About this time king Alfred the Great caused all the country between the Humber and Tweed, which had been laid waste in 769, to be re-inhabited.

In 1069, William the Conqueror provoked by the murder A singular of Robert Cumin, whom he had appointed to the earldom of phenomenon. Northumberland, sent an army against the Northumbrians to

*The altar-slab is unfortunately missing.

† Gale's MSS.

William was heard to swear by his usual oath, "By God's splendour," he would not leave a soul alive.

avenge his death, but when the army reached Northallerton, A.D. 1069. so great a darkness arose that one man could scarcely perceive his comrade, nor were they able by any means to discover which way to go. While thus they remained in a state of astonishment and suspense, they were told that the people of the city of Durham, whither they were going, had a certain Saint* who was always their protector in adversity, and to this they ascribed the sudden darkness which had overtaken them. Having either too much piety or prudence to think of waging war with heaven, the army returned to York, where William joined them, and leading them back again, ravaged and destroyed the country on all sides. Upon this occasion the town of Northallerton was again depopulated and destroyed.t

Ordericus Vitalis, a Norman monk, who wrote in the reign of Henry I., after giving an account of the horrible desolation of Yorkshire, in which statement he says, there perished above one hundred thousand human beings, adds the following reflections: "I have no doubt in asserting, that so horrid a butchery is a crime that cannot pass unpunished; for an Omnipotent judge and most rigorous avenger will strictly scrutinize the actions, and punish the guilt of the highest, as well as the lowest delinquent."‡

A further account of this great devastation in old English verse may not be unacceptable to the reader.§

Now William has sojourned and slayne alle his Enmy's,
And to the southe is turned, als King that won the Pris.
Tidings cam him fulle stout, that a grete Oste and Stark,

With Harold and with Knoute, the King's sonnes of Denmark,
Were aryved in Humbere, and an Earl Turkylle,

With Foulke withouten numbere the Norreis sell tham tille,

* St. Cuthbert, the patron Saint of Durham.

"It was shocking," says Simeon of Durham, "to see in the houses, the streets, and highways, human carcases swarming with worms, dissolving in 'putridity, and emitting a most horrible stench; nor were any left alive to cover them with earth, all having perished by sword or by famine, or stimulated by hunger, had abandoned their native land. During the space of nine years the country lay totally uncultivated. Between York and Durham not a house was inhabited, all was a lonely wilderness, the retreat of wild beasts and robbers, and the terror of travellers. The admirers of William the Conqueror must confess that in cruelty no pagan tyrant ever surpassed, and few ever have equalled, this christian (?) destroyer." It is supposed that above 100,000 human beings perished at this time. The recollection of the cruelties William had committed made him exclaim on his death-bed, “Multis, gravibusque peccatis onustus contremisco, et mox ad tremendum dei judicium rapiendus, quid faciam ignoro." In a general survey made a few years afterwards, Northallerton is described as "modo wastum est.”

Indubitanter assero quod impune non remittitur tam fatalis occisio; summos emin et imos intuetur Omnipotens Judex ac æque omnium facta discutiet ac puniet districtissimus vindex. Order. Vital, lib. 4, p. 514. § Langtoft's Chronicle.

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Comen to the Earl Edgar, with all thos of his kinde,
Sir Walthof he is thar, tho with that he met finde
Marlfwain Turkille Son, ond Swayne o doughty Knyght;
Of Scotlande Gospatrick, with them at all his myght.
The Normans in the Southe were in so grete affaray,
Of Kastelles and of Tonnes, they com oute alle Day.
To York ran ilk a man, to rescit in that Tonne,
That no Danes Man the Walles to breke doune.
Sir William Mellet was Warden of the Cuntres,
Sibrigh the Gaunt was set with to keep the Pees.
Thise two brought tydying, thei were comen by that Coste.
Therefore William the King did turne agayn his Hoste,
And swore a grete Othe, that he suld never spare,
Neither Lithe nor Lose, Northeren whut so thei were.
William turned agayn, and held what he had sworn,
All mad he wasteyn, Pasture, Medow, and Korne.
And slough both Fader and Sonne, Women lete thei gon,
Hors and Houndes thei ete, uncithis skaped non.
Now dwellis William efte, full bare was money wone,
Of gode men er none lefte, but slayn er ilk one.
Grete Sin did William, that swilk Wo did work,
So grete Vengeance he ham, of men of holy Kirk,
That did no wem to him, ne no Trespass,

Fro York unto Durham no wonyng Stede was,
Nien yere, says my Buke, lasted so grete Sorrow,

The Bishop Clerkes tuke their Lives for two borrows.*

William Rufus gave the Manor of Alverton to William Carilepho, Bishop of Durham, but it was afterwards confiscated.

The castle of Northallerton was erected near the town on the west side, by Geoffrey, surnamed Rufus, Bishop of Durham, in the time of King Henry I, but much nearer to it than the old Roman castrum. A short distance W.N.W. from the Bishop of Durham's Palace,t says Leland, "bee the ditches and the dungeon hille wher the castelle of Alverton some tyme stood." These castles were built for the protection of the town and neighbourhood in those times of feudal tyranny, when the inferior inhabitants of the country from the depressed state of their minds, and the severity of unequal laws, were not able to protect themselves.§

Stephen's accession to the throne raised the indignation of David, king of Scotland, who had taken an oath to support the claims of the empress Matilda, his niece. Levying an army with all possible speed, he marched against Stephen, possessing himself of all the castles, fortresses, and towns upon the route. The two monarchs met and concluded a peace at Durham, but subsequent claims made by David, to

*i.e. two sureties.

† Northallerton Cemetery occupies the site of the Palace.
Now known as the "Castle Hills."

All this was rectified by the celebrated "Magna Charta," 1215.

which Stephen would not submit, served only to irritate the A.D. 1135. king of Scotland, and hostilities recommenced. Stephen being absent on continental affairs, a truce was effected until his return, but on his arrival in England the country was again exposed to the miseries of intestine war. In March,

1138, king David crossed the Tweed at the head of an army David of Scotwhich he had collected from every part of his kingdom, to land invades defend the title of his niece Matilda.* Chroniclers describe England. the Scotch army as a wild and barbarous multitude, many of whom gathered from the recesses of the Highlands, were men fierce and untutored, half clad, and with only the rudest weapons of war. This undisciplined host passed through Northumberland, devastating the country, reducing towns to ashes, dismantling fortresses, and committing unheard of barbarities upon the miserable inhabitants. It is related of them that they behaved after the manner of wild beasts, slaying all who came in their way, sparing neither old age in its helplessness, nor beauty in its spring, nor infant in the womb.

The fury of these massacres exasperated the northern nobility, who might otherwise have been disposed to join the king of Scotland. Thurstan, archbishop of York, an aged man, seemed to derive new youth from the crisis which demanded the exertion of his energies. He shook off the An army weight of years, and, organising an army, he earnestly organized. exhorted the barons and soldiers to defend their country from the ravages of the invaders. William, earl of Albemarle, Roger Mowbray, Robert de Ferrers, William Piercy, Walter L'Espec, and others of their compeers, assembled their troops, and encamped at Elfer-tun, now called Northallerton, and there awaited the enemy. The advance of the Scots had been so rapid, that Stephen, who was occupied with repressing the rebellion in the south,t had not time to reach the scene of action.

The hostile armies were brought face to face, and the standard raised by the English on Cowton Moor, three miles north of Northallerton, on Monday, October 22, 1138.

The Scottish army, the first division of which was led by prince Henry, son of David, crossed the Tees in several divisions, bearing as a standard a lance, to which was fixed a bunch of the "blooming heather." They did not form, as was the case, with more disciplined armies, distinct bodies of horse and foot, but each man brought to the field of battle

*It is a true saying that women and wine are, directly or indirectly, the cause of all evil and misery. (Ecclus. xix, 2.)

†The confederacy organised by Robert, Earl of Gloucester.


The Standard raised.

A.D. 1138. such arms as he could obtain. With the exception of the French or Norman knights whom the king of Scotland brought with him, and who were armed cap-a-pie, with complete suits of mail, the great mass of his soldiers displayed a disorderly equipment. The men of Galloway and other parts of the west wore no defensive armour, and bore long and sharp pikes or javelins as their only weapon. The inhabitants of the Lowlands, who formed the chief part of the infantry, were armed with spears and breastplates; while the Highlanders, who wore a bonnet adorned with plumes, and a plaid cloak fastened at the waist by a leathern belt, appeared in the fight with a small wooden shield on the left arm, while in the right hand they bore the claymore or broadsword. The chiefs wore the same armour as their soldiers, from whom they were only distinguished by the length of their plumes.

Speech of
Robert de

The army being drawn up for battle, Robert de Brus (Bruce) eloquently addressed the soldiers, representing to them :

"That though he was rightfully a subject to the king of England, nevertheless, from his youth, he had been a friend and familiar to the king of Scots; and, therefore, being an old soldier, and sufficiently skilled in military affairs; as also not ignorant of the danger impending, considering likewise the ancient friendship between himself and that king; and that he stood obliged to him, not only by the band of friendship, but by a kind of necessary fidelity, desired leave of his fellow soldiers to go to him, with purpose either to dissuade him from fighting or friendly to leave him. And, accordingly coming into his presence told him, that what he had to advise, should be honourable to himself and profitable to his realm; adding that the English had been his best friends, and that they had so approved themselves to Duncan and Edgar, his brothers, in their greatest exigence, instancing sundry particulars wherein they had obliged him when he stood most in need of their aid; demonstrating likewise to him the unavoidable consequences of war, viz., rapine, spoil, and destruction. And that though his army was more numerous, yet the English were more valiant and strong, and resolved to conquer or lose their lives.

"Which expressions so wrought upon the Scotch king, that he forthwith brake out into tears, and had condescended to a peaceable accord, but that William Mac Duncan, his nephew (a person of extraordinary courage, and the chief instigator of this invasion) came in, and in great fury charging Brus with treachery, dissuaded the king from hearkening unto him."

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