Archie Armstrong

It was common for the reiving clans of Liddesdale, over the Border in Scotland, to extend their activities well into England where rich pickings were to be had.

Archie Armstrong was a prominent member of the Armstrong Clan whose home base was in Liddesdale and he with his friends had taken part in many a raid into England usually returning with welcome additions to the larder.

One day his luck ran out. In an ambitious raid to Tynedale he was captured alive and uninjured. He was flung into a dungeon in Haughton Castle there to await the pleasure of his captors.

Sir Thomas Swinburne, the castle owner, had been party to Archie’s capture and saw to it the Archie was securely imprisoned pending a decision on Archie’s punishment.

But Swinburne had other things on his mind. He had received an important summons to York by the Lord Chancellor, Cardinal Wolsey, and was to attend immediately.                 

He was well on his way to York when he was aware of a large key hanging from his belt. It was the only key to Archie’s cell and he would not be returning to Haughton for a week or more. Three days had already passed since Archie’s capture and it was likely that he would have been without food and water during that time.

Sir Thomas was faced with the choice of returning to Haughton and incurring the displeasure of the Cardinal or allowing Archie to die a painful death.

Being a compassionate man, something of a rarity in those days, Sir Thomas in alarm turned his horse about and headed home to his castle at a furious pace.

He had come far and there was a long journey ahead of him.

His horse collapsed under him with fatigue but he got another and eventually reached Haughton at midnight, exhausted.

But when the entrance to the dungeon was opened his worst fears were confirmed. Archie Armstrong was dead.

His features were contorted with a fearful look of horror and the flesh of his forearm had been gnawed away.

The ghost of the reiver haunted the castle thereafter with dreadful shrieks coming from the dungeon.

A priest was brought from nearby Simonburn to exorcise the ghost which he did with the help of a large black bible.


Years later, the bible was taken away for repair and immediately the shrieking was heard again.

The ghost had returned

Hastily, the bible was returned to its place in the castle and the shrieking ceased.

Archie was at rest again.