Scabbit Sheep



The River Tyne is found in England and flows east into the North Sea. It has two main tributaries, the North Tyne and the Rede, and in the valleys of these two rivers lived the most active and the most feared of all the reivers in England. These infamous people vied with the Armstrongs of Liddesdale in notoriety, and for generations were a constant threat to their neighbours, not only in Scotland, but in England, too.

There lived the Robsons, the Halls, the Dodds, the Herons, the Fenwicks,
the Selbys, the Charltons, the Potts and others. Their descendants still live there as they were not deprived of their land and dispersed, as were the Armstrongs in Liddesdale.

One day, a body of Charltons made their way by well-worn tracks, not into Scotland, but west, across the hills into neighbouring Cumberland. Reaching the territory of the Graham families, they ‘lifted’ several hundred of their sheep and made off for home.

The journey back was a slow one, being restricted to the unhurried pace of the flock of sheep, and the need to keep to secret tracks to avoid detection. Eventually, they returned to Northumberland safely, well satisfied with a job well done.

But only days later, they noticed that all was not well with their sheep, and on close examination they discovered that their newly acquired flock was infected with sheep scab and, worse, the Charlton’s own sheep had become infected too.

This was more than the Charltons could suffer and, in fury, they rode off back to Graham land.

There, they grabbed the first Grahams they encountered, seven in number, and promptly hanged them.

Before leaving they left a warning:-

'Next time gentlemen cam to tak ther schepe, they were no to be scabbit!'


You will find the village of Charlton, near Bellingham, Northumberland.

Map ref: 80 809 850

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