The Rookhope Ryde
A recitation. Taken down from the chanting of George Collingwood of Ryhope, who died 1785. Adapted by Andrew Calhoun, recorded on Rhymer's Tower.
Rookhope stands in a pleasant place,
If the false thieves woud let it be;
But away they steal our goods apace,
And ever an ill death may they die!
Great troubles Weardale has had in hand,
With borderers raiding hither and thither,
But the greatest fray that ever they had
Was with the men of Thirlwa and Williehaver. (pronounced Willeva)
They gathered together so royally,
The stoutest men and the best in gear,
And he that rode not on a horse,
I’m sure he rode on a weil-fed mare.
So in the morning, before they came out,
So well, I say, they broke their fast;
In the forenoon they came unto a high field,
Where some of them did eat their last.
Then o’er the moss, and o’er the moor,
With whistle, prance and cry came they,
One of them to another did say,
“I think we have men enough this day.
“For Weardale men are gone from home;
They are so far out-o’er yon fell
That some of them’s with the two earls rising,
And others fast in Barnard castell.
“We shall get sheep and horse enough,
For there is none but women at home;
The only fend that they can make,
Is loudly cry as they are slain.”
Then in at Rookhope-head they came,
And there they thought have had their prey,
But they were spied coming over the Dry Rig,
Soon upon Saint Nicholas’ day.
Rowley was the first man that did them spy;
With that he raised a mighty cry;
The cry it came down Rookhope burn,
And spread through Weardale hastily.
Then word came to the bailiff’s house,
At the East Gate, where he did dwell;
He was walked out to the Smale Burns,
Which stands above the Hanging Well.
His wife was sad when she heard tell,
So well she knew her husband wanted gear;
She had him saddle his horse in haste,
And neither forget sword, jack, nor spear.
But when the bailiff gathered the men,
They numbered fifty at the best;
The thieves of Thirlwa and Williehaver
Made up a hundred at the worst.
But all that was in Rookhope-head,
And all that was in Nuketon Cleugh,
Where Weardale men o’ertook the thieves,
There they fought them well enough.
From the time the fray began,
It lasted only but an hour,
Till many a man lay weaponless,
And many a man was wounded sore.
Also before that hour was done,
Four of the thieves were slain,
Besides all those that wounded were,
Eleven more were prisoner taken.
One of our Weardale men was slain,
Rowland Emerson, sad to tell,
Because he fought unto the right.
I trust to God his soul is well.
The rascal thieves, they have good hearts,
They never think to be o’erthrown;
Three banners against Weardale men they bore,
As if the world were all their own.
The Weardale men, they have good hearts,
They are as stiff as any tree;
For, if they’d every one been slain,
Never a foot back man would flee.
And such a storm amongst them fell
As I think you never heard the like,
For he that bears his head so high,
He oft-times falls into the dyke.