The 20th of March is World Storytelling Day; a day devoted to telling stories. Is there a better way to celebrate World Storytelling Day in Durham than to share some local legends?
You never know, some of these tall tales could inspire you to take a day out in Durham to investigate the locations where these stories took place.
Jimmy Allen, The Gypsy Piper
Jimmy Allen came from a family of border gypsy’s and was known for his string of crimes. His one redeeming quality was his ability to play the smallpipes. The sound soon became associated with Jimmy, and he was known as “the man with the golden pipes”. Jimmy was known for charming his way out of punishment for his crimes, but one day his luck ran out.
Jimmy Allen got caught stealing a horse in Gateshead, and was sent to Durham to serve his punishment. At first, he was to be shipped off to Australia, but due to his advanced age, King George III issued a pardon. Unfortunately, news of the pardon got to Durham a little bit too late. Jimmy Allen died in prison four days before news that he was a free man reached him.
St Cuthbert’s move to Durham
One of the most well known stories in Durham is the transfer of St Cuthbert’s relics. St Cuthbert is one of the most prolific Northern Saints, and was best known for bringing Christianity to the North East of England.
After his death in 687, monks and other Christians from Lindisfarne carried Cuthbert’s body as they fled from the Danes. Eventually, they found rest for his remains in Durham, resulting in the building of the Cathedral and the foundation of the city. His casket was opened 11 years after his body was transferred, and was found to be perfectly preserved. You can visit the shrine of St Cuthbert at Durham Cathedral to this day.
The Weardale Fairies
If you’re a fan of fairy stories, we have one for you. A young girl found a group of fairies singing and dancing inside a rock. After their encounter, a wise woman warned her parents to keep their home quiet at midnight, lest the fairies take their child away. Unfortunately, despite their best efforts, the child was taken away by the fairies of the Dales.
The girl’s father, desperate to get his child back, went back to the wise woman. She advised him to return to the fairies with three gifts to pacify them. He needed something which gave light without being burned, something taken from an animal without drawing blood and a chicken with no bones. He returned to the fairies hideout with a gloworm, the shedded skin from a lizard and a chicken’s egg.
The fairies laughed at him upon receiving the gifts and the man thought he would never see his daughter again. Just as he gave up hope, he turned around and there she was, standing before him.
Make your day out in Durham more interesting
If you’re planning to celebrate World Storytelling Day in Durham, why not include a morning at Diggerland in your itinerary? Our Durham park is just a stone’s throw away from all of the sites we mentioned in these folk tales. Pre-book your tickets today!
- £25.95pp for anyone over 100cm tall
- £12.97pp for anyone over the age of 65
- Free entry for carers with any paying visitor who is registered as disabled
All information correct as of: 14/02/2023