Wednesday, 14 September 2011
It lays almost at the base of the hill where the cottage we are staying at is situated atop of in Mallerstang dale. Mallerstang is a secluded dale which has always seemed to have an ar of wildness and romance about it, which is inspired by the natural beauty and legend . . . although in truth the name when translated quite simply means duck pool.
Poet Close says that Mallerstang was "a land where witches and fairies were said to dance" . . . a place of myth and magic, where in the twilight before ligical history, fearfilled stories danced through men's minds . . . and imaginations. The early inhabitants left the horrifying image of the dragon to haunt the valley, the dragon being a symbol often associated with places sacred to the pagan people.
This myth survives in Pendragon Castle, named so for the mound upon which it stands . . . "Pen" being the celtic name for hill . . . and the "dragon" being the legendary beast which was once believed to have lived withhin the mound, and a symbol of the power of ancient beliefs . . . the half forgotten story having given birth to another legend . . . that the castle was the home of Uther Pendragon . . . father of King Arthur.
Uther was a legendary warrior and stories are told that he was a giant with cannibal tendancies. He was a leader of the Cymric people and fought against the Saxons, up and down the West of the country. This castle is thought to have been built by him in the latter part of the fifth century.
In Arthurian legend Arthur's conception was surrounded by magic and treachery, Merlin having supposedly helped Uther to assume the likeness of King Gorlois so that he could spend a naughty night with Queen Igerna in Tintagel Castle down in Cornwall. A night which resulted in the birth of one of Britains greatest kings . . . the fabled King Arthur.
Uther Pendragon was not known for his kindess and it is said he ruled with a "Rod of Iron." His enemies, the Saxons did not defeat him in war, but did eventually kill him through treachery. They laid seige to Pendragon, but the castle held firm, and so they poisoned the water supply. KIng Uther, along with all his men, died from the effects of drinking the poisoned water from the Castle's well in 515. Upon his death anarchy returned to the land, until eventually Arthur was old enough to control and expand on his father's lands to create a United Kingdom. It is said even now that Uther's ghostly figure can be seen astride a mighty horse, galloping across Shap Fell on wintry nights . . .
Is it any wonder that we fell in love with this area all those years ago back in 2007 when we first visited this place. How could one not love a place filled with such spectacular beauty and magical myth . . .
If you'd like to see what was on the Menu yesterday, hop on over to The English Kitchen to find out more!