Legends & Folklore
The Spinning Maiden
Long ago, in the time of King Arthur, the Vale of the Murk Esk was held by one Julian of Goathland
It was then ....as it is now ....a land surrounded by wild and open moor as treacherous as it is beautiful.
A place of peaty streams, rushing waterfalls, deep woods and fertile pastures.
It was here Julian thought to build himself a geat castle...a spot still known as Julian Park today...high above the tree fringed gorge where the Mallyan Spout plunges over the cliff to tinkle and seep amongst the bright green mosses and eventually splash into the beck below.
Julian cared little for the beauty of the place..he was a hard and cruel master and some say he was of Nordic blood and worshipped Thor and Woden. He saw only the plentiful timber and water to further his evil ambition and the chance to better impose his will on the common folk.
Now Julian was of the old belief that if any great house was to be securely built..life must be built within it...and so determined was he that his great Castle should withstand the ravages of all his enemies.and indeed time itself..he swore by the Ravens of Woden that the best beloved of all the Maidens of Eskdale should be walled up in the foundations of his keep.
This maid was Gytha, the only child of Gudrun of the Mill and as soon as the building was begun Julian sent out his men at arms to take her from her Father's house. She was at her spinning when they came upon her and so startled and afraid was she that when they brought her before her lord she still had her spindle in her hand.
When the people of Goathland realised Julian's intentions they followed the men at arms and pleaded with him to spare Gytha..but he only laughed with scorn at their prayers and tears and as punishment he seized Gudrun and decalred that he himself must build the wall behind whichhis daughter Gytha would perish slowly in the darkness..
When there were but two stones to be laid Julian had his men place a beaker of water and a loaf of bread beside Gytha...and in mockery of her wretchedness he added her spindle and spinning wheel....
Julian's evil grew with every passing day.
A year later, on the very night on which the maiden had been walled up, he was lying on his bed when the Castle was filled with a great wailing from the foundations of the keep.
Nearer and nearer it came to the room in which he lay until a white figure bearing a spindle appeared at his door and approached his bed.
Gytha's wriath stood motionless for a few moments then slowly stretched out an arm and held the spindle over his feet
criss-cross...criss-cross...criss-cross...three times she moved the spindle over the foot of the bed..
It seemed to Julian that invisible threads were being woven about his feet and ankles until , still gently wailing, she turned and lefrt him. and not until the castle was silent could Julian cry out and struggle from his bed. But when he tried to stand his feet were strangely numb and all he could do was shuffle from that day on...never getting better nor worse until the fatal night came round once more.
Then again all happened as before but this time the spindle wove its invisible threads three times above his knees..and for a year he was dead from the knees down, and was racked with shooting pains that came and went as suddenly as wild lightning.
At last he could bear no more and cursed his heathen gods,. He offered to repent and turn Christian and promised to build a Church for the people of Goathland if only he could be healed, but there was no remedy..
Each year on the appointed night the Spinning Maiden came again ...and each time she wove her threads a little higher than the last...and for ten years Julian died slowly from the feet upwards..
until at last his soul departed in a night of terrible storms....