Winter’s Gibbet, or Stob, at Steng Cross, near Elsdon, is one of the region’s most infamous landmarks. It stands, somewhat eerily, in an isolated spot high in the midst of the bleak Northumberland Moors – a reminder of the hanging of one William Winter in 1792.
Winter was a highwayman and a wanderer who, one night in late 1791, sought shelter from an old woman by the name of Margaret Crozier (some sources give her name as
) in her cottage
near The Raw Farm on the Rothbury-Elsdon road. During the night Winter and his
accomplices robbed and killed the woman – but they were tracked down, tried and
executed at Westgate, Elizabeth .
After sentence had been passed, the judge ordered Winter’s body to be hung in
chains until it rotted in the hills above Elsdon. Newcastle
The original gibbet has been replaced on at least one occasion with a replica, and a concrete head now hangs from the noose rather than the morbid remains of Mr Winter! Slivers from the original gibbet were sought by nearby villagers as they were reputed to be a cure for toothache.
Near the site can be found the base stone of an Anglo-Saxon cross – the original ‘Steng Cross’, a boundary stone which marked the highest point on this former drove road.
The illustration is taken from the Monthly Chronicle of North Country Lore & Legend of March 1890 (artist Robert Wood), which shows the spot a few years after the original gibbet had been replaced. It looks pretty much the same today.