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Horse Closes.

This legend relates to one of the miracles of St. Cuthbert, written by Reginald, a monk of Durham. “The Abbot of Furness being about to set out on a journey to the shrine of St. Cuthbert in Durham Cathedral, selected on the previous evening those horses which he intended should carry him and his retinue to that city. In the night a thief attempted to steal one of the chosen horses, but the horse was so surrounded with hedges that he could not lead the horse away.

Having with great difficulty cut a path through them, he returned to the horse, and endeavoured by main force to pull it through the opening he had made. In vain were his efforts. Until the sun rose the thief persevered in the attempt, and at last returned to relinquish his project. To his astonishment he found that his hands were fast to the reins, and that it was out of his power to stir from the stable.

There in the morning he was found by the abbot who was loud in his praises of “the Holy Cuthbert” in defeating the designs of the robber who would have stolen the steed specially dedicated to his service. The would be thief, was allowed  to depart, but the event was told to the monks of Durham and handed down to them as one of the many miracles wrought by their favourite saint.”

From “Churches, Castles, and Ancient Halls of North Lancashire”  Vol.1 by E.Roper

The Dane Ghyll Story.

The Abbey Monks obtained their salt from the Furness area until a better source was discovered in the Fylde district. According to legend, Danish warriors destroyed the Furness salt works and proceeded to import salt which the monks could not afford; salt beef, mutton and even bacon were unknown to the people at this time due to the Danes’ destruction of the Salt House.

One day some of the men from the Salthouse farms saw a group of Danes out for a day’s sport near the abbey grounds. They had been wanting to get their revenge for a long time so they began to attack their enemies and a battle took place. The only one to escape was the Captain of the Danes. The rest were killed; the captain fled and eventually entered the monastery to become a monk. This is how Dane Ghyll is supposed to have been so named, the present valley being the place where the battle was fought between Salthouse men and Danish warriors.

From “The History of the Hamlet of Salthouse” by W.B. Kendall, published by the Barrow Naturalists’  Field Club, 1948.


 The name Dane Ghyll first appears in 1535 when the place was included under the Furness villages belonging to the abbey. Dane Ghyll is listed as paying rent of 9s.8d. in silver a year -  about 49p. The two elements of the Norse name suggest Danr’s ravine, Danr being a personal name and gil or gill a ravine. In Professor Ekwall’s place names, Dane Ghyll is located east of Hawcoat in the valley of a stream. Dane Ghyll gave its name to a mansion built in the 1870s which was demolished after World War 11, to Dane Ghyll School, and to a modern housing estate.

The name “Pyper” originates from the following story that is set in the period following the completion of Furness Abbey Church. A certain land owner and salt worker lived in Salthouse Village. He used to breed horses and break in young horses that had been running wild in the forest; he sold these at fairs. He was known as the pyper because he was always playing his bagpipes.

One day he took a young horse he was breaking in to Dalton smithy to be shod. After the shoeing he stayed a long time drinking in the ale house while playing his bagpipes. In the evening as he was riding his horse home past the abbey gates, he heard the monks singing in the church. He rode through the open door, up the nave and into the quire. When he reached the high altar the horse suddenly dropped to its knees, its new shoes falling from its hooves. The pyper fell senseless to the ground. The monks nursed him until he had recovered from his shock. The pyper then decided to save his soul by giving his land, his horses, and all that he owned to the monastery, where he stayed for the rest of his life. The monks then took possession of the pyper’s land.


From “The History of the Hamlet of Salthouse” by W.B. Kendall, published by the Barrow Naturalists’ Field Club, 1948.

The Pyper.

The Legend of Wimund.

Wimund was born in the early 12th century in an obscure part of England. He became a transcriber and later a monk of Furness. He made excellent progress in his studies. He was sent with others to the Isle of Man where he learnt Manx. Physically he was a giant.

He was ordained a bishop but unfortunately this ecclesiastical status went to his head and he became a warrior, proclaiming himself son of the Earl of Moray who had been disinherited by the Scottish king. Bishop Wimund’s followers assisted him in an attack upon the neighbouring islands which they ravished. They then attacked some parts of Scotland harassing the pious King David. Wimund’s forces increased daily; they overran the provinces. Rape and murder were aspects of this guerrilla warfare.

“Straight to the ships our hero took his way

Embarked his men and skimmed along the sea.”

After a defeat by the Scots, he collected another band of plunderers and again devastated the isles and the provinces of Scotland. King David bribed him as he could not overcome Wimund, offering him a province; the monastery of Furness was included in the gift. Certain country people who dreaded Wimund’s power and who detested his arrogance, laid in wait for him at the abbey where they seized and bound him, castrating him and plucking out his eyes. This miserable arch robber retired to the monastery of Byland, where he lived for many years as a humble, devout and penitent man.

Source: “Annales Furnessiences” by Thomas Alcock Beck. 1844.

A   Happy Ending.

The wedding photo of Mr. &  Mrs. Vincent was taken 18 June 2005 by Alice Leach and reproduced here by kind permission of the newly weds.