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Netherby Hall

Netherby Hall

Historic Arthuret

Netherby Hall, the historic home of the Graham family, is a Grade II listed mansion. It stands upon the site of the Roman fort of Castra Exploratorum. Its nucleus is a 15th-century pele tower, extended or altered in 1639 for Sir Richard Graham and enclosed by extensive later additions to the house (in the late 18th century), with further extensions taking place in 1833 for Sir James Graham l by William Burn. The original pele tower is thought to have been built with stone from the fort and the remains of the fort and its vicus noted by Tudor antiquarians have been obliterated by the later extensions of the Hall. The mansion is located at Arthuret.

The Netherby Estate, owned by the Graham family for 400 years, extends over a large area of the parish along the Scottish border. A Gothick folly known as the Coop House was probably built about 1772 as an adornment to the estate. It is now leased by the Landmark Trust, and has been restored.

Arthuret is a civil parish in the Carlisle district of Cumbria, England. According to the 2001 census it had a population of 2,434, increasing to 2,471 at the 2011 Census. The parish includes the small town of Longtown and the village of Easton.

The church at Arthuret dominates the hillside in the village, about half a mile from Longtown. It is said to be the resting place of the legendary King Arthur, the present gothic style church was erected in 1609, during the reign of King James I. The church overlooks a suggested site of the Battle of Arfderydd, fought in 573 A.D., mention of which appears in Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Vita Merlini and also in the Annales Cambriae (written 1100).

The battle took place very early in the reign of the King of Strathclyde, Rhydderch Hael, (patron of St. Kentigern, and Myrddin’s supposed brother-in-law), between the Warlord Gwenddoleu ap Ceidio and his cousins Peredur and Gwrgi, Princes of either Ebrauc (Modern York), or possibly from Gwynedd. In this battle, Gwenddoleu loses his life, and it is not known if one of his brothers, Nudd and Caw, survived to succeed him as king of Arfderydd afterwards.

In this battle Myrddin kills his nephew (by his sister Gwenddydd, wife of King Rhydderch Hael), who was fighting on the opposing side. This act drove Myrddin mad and he spent the rest of his life roaming the Forests of Celyddon. 140 other men of rank suffered battle-madness and perished in these woods.

In the Black Book of Carmarthen is recorded a poem which takes the form of a dialogue between Myrddin and the Welsh bard Taliesin; it records how Myrddin wore a gold-torque and tells of his grief at the death of King Gwenddolau. The battle is said to have lasted six weeks and three hundred men were killed and buried nearby. It was one of the three futile battles of Britain, fought over a lark’s nest.

Myrddin:
How sad with me, how said,
Cedfyl and Cadfan are fallen!
The slaughter was terrible,
Shields shattered and bloody.

Taliesin:
I saw Maelgwn battling–
The host acclaimed him.

Myrddin:
Before two men in battles they gather
Before Erith and Gwrith on pale horses.
Slender bay mounts will they bring
Soon will come the host of Elgan.
Alas for his death, after a great joy!

Taliesin:
Gap-toothed Rhys, his shield a span–
To him came battle’s blessing.
Cyndur has fallen, deplorable beyond measure
Generous men have been slain–
Three notable men, greatly esteemed by Elgan.

Myrddin:
Again and again, in great throngs they came,
There came Bran and Melgan to meet me.
At the last, they slew Dyel,
The son of Erbin, with all his men.

Taliesin:
Swifly came Maelgwn’s men,
Warriors ready for battle, for slaughter armed.
For this battle, Arderydd, they have made
A lifetime of preparation.

Myrddin:
A host of spears fly high, drawing blood.
From a host of vigorous warriors–
A host, fleeing; a host, wounded–
A host, bloody, retreating.

Taliesin:
The seven sons of Eilfer, seven heroes,
Will fail to avoid seven spears in the battle.

Myrddin:
Seven fires, seven armies,
Cynelyn in every seventh place.

Taliesin:
Seven spears, seven rivers of blood
From seven chieftains, fallen.

Myrddin:
Seven score heroes, maddened by battle,
To the forest of Celyddon they fled.
Since I Myrddin, am second only to Taliesin,
Let my words be heard as truth.

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