Category Archives: Tales Along The Old Corpse Road

The plot was hatched in January 2013, and first executed four months later. Fuelled by a visit to Wookey Hole in spring 2011, Dr Jim decided there was nothing to stop him travelling to the far-flung corners of the country with his trusty video camera, to visit the sites and see the sights that have featured in Old Corpse Road’s repertoire to the present day.

The visits were grouped by location, so the first episode focused on the Lake District, where the band found the original inspiration for their lyrical matter – the old myths, legends and folklore that the Tin Islands have been so rich in for centuries.

Tales Along The Old Corpse Road – Episode 4: The Tees Valley

Insidious Art And Serpentine Rites, a split 7″ with The Infernal Sea, contained the first new material from Old Corpse Road since November 2012 – and hence, since this video series started. When I knew that the 7″ was in production I arranged with the band to release an accompanying episode of Tales around the time of its release, as a piece of handy extra promotion. And, once Three Swords Records had the 250 copies of the 7″ cleared for release, so also was this episode ready to sail. And it starts with the band’s newest track.

0:00 – The Sockburn Worm: “The beauty of this story is that it is one of the least documented yet well known tales from around the area and as such many of the details are shrouded in mystery.” The legend tells of the slaying of a dragon, or a wyvern, or some other similar mythical creature by John Conyers, in the 11th Century, or maybe the 14th or 15th. The actual details are as clear as the mud in the Tees, so I take five of the current line-up of Old Corpse Road to Sockburn to investigate; we encounter the graves of both the Worm and of John Conyers, and I get a chance to show that studying Latin at GCSE 19 years ago wasn’t a waste of time.

29:21 – Hell’s Kettles: one of Old Corpse Road‘s earliest compositions, referring not to Satan making a cup of tea, but to some sinkholes at Oxen-le-Fields, just south of Darlington. Some say they are bottomless; others also allege that a cart of hay lies deep in one of the Kettles, complete with horses and the man who owned them. Can it be true? I figured the best way to find out was to build a device that owes more to James May’s Man Lab and Scrapheap Challenge, so I can actually take a look in the water without getting too wet. We will see how that pans out.

52:08 – Hob Headless Rises: the picturesque village of Neasham, beside the Tees between the sites of the two legends visited so far, provides its villagers with sanctuary from a headless goblin that terrorised the road to Hurworth-on-Tees. Hob Headless, it is said, could not cross the Old Kent Bridge into Neasham – but the bridge has been replaced, so are Neasham’s residents no longer safe? And what of Hurworth at the other end of the road? You’ll also find out what other demon has been exorcised form Neasham in recent times.

Hammer of Retribution Productions: http://www.thorcast.co.uk

Old Corpse Road: http://www.oldcorpseroad.co.uk

Inaccurate transcriptions of the Latin epitaphs on the Sockburn graves can be found here:
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/repo…

An even more inaccurate transcripton of Margery Conyers’ eulogy is found here, along with the Conyers family tree of the time:
http://www.british-history.ac.uk/repo…

Both of these were at least helpful in providing the final translation found in this video.

The Sockburn Worm poem, by James Conway, 1872:
http://www.darlingtonscouts.org.uk/#/…

The Northern Echo‘s report on the new Bishop of Durham’s inauguration with the Conyers Falchion:
http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/news…

Gazette & Herald: “The secret life of the hob”
http://www.gazetteherald.co.uk/archiv…

Fern Hill Brewing’s Hob Headless Porter
http://fernhillbrewing.blogspot.co.uk…
This contains the recipe that will allow any reasonably skilled brewer to recreate the beer; a further update gives tasting notes, for those who really want it.

Tales Along The Old Corpse Road Episode 3: Urban Legends

This series has focused so far on some near-pornographic scenery in the Lake District and West Country – but even in supposedly grim industrial towns in North East England, legends are many…

0:00 – The Cauld Lad of Hylton: amongst a housing estate in Sunderland, Hylton Castle has seen better days… were they necessarily better, though, in times of rich and morally bankrupt nobles who treated their servants worse than livestock? I’ve unearthed an extended version of the tale of Sir Robert Hylton’s murder of the stable boy, Roger Skelton, as well as the hauntings of the Cauld Lad that followed – and pass my own verdict on the case.

27:55 – Glassensikes at Witching Hour: I recruit some locals to go on a guided tour of the streets of Darlington, following the former course of the stream, Glassensikes, which once ran through the western side of the town. With some extra information obtained during the tour, we also throw in more of Darlington’s local history than we first bargained for, involving the Pease family, the Quaker movement they belonged to, and the monuments they left behind. I’ve made a crude reconstruction of Glassensikes, which helps to show why it was considered such a forbidding obstacle for those who had to cross it. And we all recommend a local delicacy.

If the sound seems a bit weird during the Hylton Castle section, it was so windy that day I had to use the wind cut setting on the camera or I’d have been inaudible against those howling gales.

Overall, though, I reckon this episode of Tales will stand up as a fine promotional exercise for North East England!

Hammer of Retribution Productions: http://www.thorcast.co.uk
Old Corpse Road: http://www.oldcorpseroad.co.uk

Channel 4’s Time Team episode at Hylton Castle, January 1995:http://www.channel4.com/programmes/ti…
Rob Kirkup’s Ghosts of the North East, visiting Hylton Castle: http://www.ghostsofthenortheast.co.uk…
The Sunderland Echo – “Was the Cauld Lad murdered after all?”: http://www.sunderlandecho.com/what-s-…

The Northern Echo – “Take a stroll where the ghost hounds roamed”:http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/arch…
The Northern Echo – “Pierremont: the clock and the fountain”: http://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/feat…
The Quakerhouse: http://www.quakerhouse.co.uk

Tales Along The Old Corpse Road – Episode 2: The West Country

Having told the tales on offer round the Lake District, the focus of this project shifted to a far away part of the country where the people drive tractors, drink cider and say “proper job” all the time. That’s right, I’ve come to the West Country.

0:00 – The Witch Of Wookey Hole: the legend that inspired this entire series in the first place. I’ve filmed the entire guided tour of the caves at Wookey Hole, as it takes only a few minutes to reveal the story of the Witch. Find out about the divers who discovered the underwater chambers, the strangely-shaped stalagmites, and another of Somerset’s famous products… from the Cheddar Gorge. Also, where might you have seen these caves on TV?
42:58 – The Wild Hunt: a widespread legend of a pack of spectral dogs found in many parts of England and Wales, usually without too many specific details.  Whereas the original Old Corpse Road lyrics reference Gabriel’s Hounds from Yorkshire and Lancashire, I travel to Cornwall to investigate a version of this legend that can be tracked across the local countryside.  Find out how a drunken priest called Dando gave rise to the Cornish Wild Hunt, where he went and what happened to him and his hunting chums…

Find out also why the further legend of The Devil’s Footprints, from the area around the mouth of the River Exe, has not been included. Believe me, it should have been.

Tales Along The Old Corpse Road, Episode 1

The plot was hatched in January 2013, and first executed four months later.  Fuelled by a visit to Wookey Hole in spring 2011, I decided there was nothing to stop me travelling to the far-flung corners of the country with my trusty video camera, to visit the sites and see the sights that have featured in Old Corpse Road‘s repertoire to the present day.

This first episode focuses on the Lake District, where the band found the original inspiration for their lyrical matter – the old myths, legends and folklore that the Tin Islands have been so rich in for centuries.

0:00The Old Corpse Road: I visit the path that once led from the village of Mardale, now sunk under the Haweswater, to Shap Abbey – and find out how much of a hard slog it was to haul the dead over a mountain.
17:55The Oakmen Of Naddle Forest: despite some confusion as to where Naddle Forest really is (and what the trees are), I search for the bluebells that are tied into the legend, and incur the wrath of the Oakmen…
31:19The Crier Of Claiffe: the ferry across Lake Windermere still runs to this day in the same place, so take the trip across, looking for where the Crier stood on Claiffe Heights, and chase him to his original base.
44:38 – The Oakmen Of Naddle Forest (revisited): not one to be defeated easily, I return three weeks later on a bluebell hunt… with reinforcements! Four members of the band are here to point out where their early photoshoots and demo covers came from – it’s a guided tour of the forest!