Hazelrigg Dunnie

A mischievous being, or rather spirit, of the dunnie class. He frequented the heights in the vicinity of Hazelrigg, near Belford Moor (now Belford Mains), Northumberland.

Dunnie is reputed to have been a petty reiver of olden time who hoarded his gear in the crags, which contain several cavernous receptacles adapted fur concealment. On one occasion, however, he was surprised by the people of Hazelrigg in the granary robbing corn, and sacrificed to their vengeance. He was loath to die, for it took ''a the folks o' Hazelrigg" to kill him. This event happened "lang syne.'' His ghost, however, has haunted the place ever since. His pranks seem to lie chiefly in frightening the children and rustics of the village, and to be somewhat akin to those of the Hedley Kow. Often in the morning when the ploughman has caught his horse (as he thinks) in the field and brought him home and yoked him with fitting care, he will be horror-stricken to see the harness come slap to the ground just as he has finished; while his tractable brute, never guilty of such pranks, is already beheld afar off", kicking up his heels and scouring across the country like the wind. According to other accounts Dunnie (as his name imports) was a Brownie, and created uproar in mornings by an upturn of furniture. He also was general exchanger of babies between the fairies and thoughtless good wives, and was particularly on the alert when the midwife came, sometimes substituting himself for the horse that brought her and landing both her and her conductor in a morass, taking precious care that "Dun" at least should not be "in the mire."

He takes occasionally the form of dun-colored horse or pony. At other times his dim form is seen about the Crags, where he frequents a cave on the side of Cockenheugh, near Hazelrigg, called the Cuddie's Cove. Another favorite haunt is Fowberry Bridge, and he is seen at Collier (or Coller) braes, as well as at Bowden Doors. In the Crags he bewails the loss of his buried treasure, which is inferred from his constantly repeating of the following rhyme:

"In Collier heugh there's gear eneugh,
In Cocken heugh there's mair,
But I've lost the keys of Bowden Doors,
I'm ruined for evermair."



  • Denham, M.A. (1892). The Denham Tracts. Vol. 2. Strand: David Nutt, pp. 157-163.
  • Henderson, W. (1879). Notes on the folk-lore of the northern countries of England and the borders. Covent Garden: W. Satchell, Peyton and Co., pp. 263.