The Hunter and his Hounds

The Hunter and his Hounds: a Legend of Brinkburn.

"Under a grassy swell, which a stranger may know by its being surrounded with a wooden railing, on the outside of Brinkburn Priory, tradition affirms there is a subterraneous passage, of which the entrance remains as yet a secret, leading to an apartment to which access is in like manner denied; and as these visionary dwellings are invariably provided with occupants, it is asserted that a hunter who had in some way offended one of the priors was along with his hounds, by the aid of enchantment, condemned to perpetual slumber in that mysterious abode. Only once was an unenthralled mortal favoured with a sight of the place and of those who are there entombed alive.

A shepherd, with his dog attending him, was one day listlessly sauntering oft this verdant mound, when he felt the ground stirring beneath him, and springing aside he discovered a flat door, where door had never before been seen by man—yea, that door opening upwards of its own accord on the very spot where he had been standing. Actuated by curiosity he descended a number of steps which appeared beneath him, and on reaching the bottom found himself in a gloomy passage of great extent. Groping along this warily, he at last encountered a door, which opening readily, he along with the dog was suddenly admitted into an apartment illumined so brilliantly that the full light of day seemed to shine there. This abrupt transition from darkness to light for some minutes deprived him of the power of observing objects correctly, but gradually recovering he beheld enough to strike him with astonishment, for on one side at a table, with his head resting on his hand, slept one in the garb of a hunter, while at some distance another figure reclined on the floor with his head lying back, and around him lay many a noble hound, ready as ever to all appearance to renew that fatal chase which consigned them all to the chamber of enchantment. On the table lay a horn and a sword, which, seeing all was quiet, the shepherd stepped forward to examine, and taking up the horn first applied it to his lips to sound it; but the hunter, on whom he kept a watch, showed symptoms of awaking whenever he made the attempt, which alarming him he replaced it, and the figure started no longer. Reassured, he lifts the sword, half draws it, and now both men became restless and made some angry movements, and the hounds began to hustle about, while his own dog, as if agitated by the same uneasiness, slunk towards the door.

Alive to the increased commotion and hearing a noise behind him very like the creaking of hinges, he suddenly turned round and found to his dismay that the door was moving to. Without waiting a moment he rushed through the half-closed entrance followed by his dog. He had not fled ten paces when, shaking the vault with the crash, the door shut behind him, and a terrible voice assailed his ears maledictions on him for his temerity. The fugitives traversed the passage at full speed, and gladly hailed the light streaming in at the aperture above. The shepherd quickly ascended the steps, but before he got out the cover had nearly closed. He succeeded, and that was all, in escaping perhaps a worse fate than those victims of monkish thraldom which he had just left; but his poor dog was not so fortunate, for it had just raised its fore-parts to come up when the door fastened on it and nipped it through!"



  • Denham, M.A. (1892). The Denham Tracts. Vol. 2. Strand: David Nutt, pp. 121-122.

This article incorporates text from The Denham Tracts (1892) by Michael Derham, which is in the public domain.