Friday, 23 July 2010

St.Cuthbert’s Devils (NU218360)

As you will no doubt know, St.Cuthbert spent a good deal of his time as a hermit living on Inner Farne. As he was somewhat in demand for one reason or another, he must at times have felt like the hermit-in-the-hole in Monty Python’s Life of Brian when another interruption came his way. But before he settled down to his expected life of solitude it is said that he had to first banish certain ‘demons’ or ‘devils’ from the island so that he could get some peace. This he did, sending them packing to neighbouring Wideopens Island.

Long after Cuthbert had been carried off the island in a box and laid to rest, more recent inhabitants of Inner Farne reported catching sight of these creatures:

… Clad in cowls, and riding upon goats, black in complexion, short in stature, their countenances most hideous, their heads long – the appearance of the whole group horrible. Like soldiers they brandished in their hands lances, which they darted after in the fashion of war. At first the sight of the cross was sufficient to repel their attacks, but the only protection in the end was the circumvaliation of straws, signed with the cross, and fixed in the sands, around which the devils galloped for a while, and then retired, leaving the brethren to enjoy victory and repose.

Quite what the brethren were ‘on’ it is impossible to say. A little too much of the local mead, perhaps?

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