Sewingshields Castle

According to tradition, Sewingshields Castle, also known as the "castle of the seven shields," near Hadrian's Wall, is one of the places associated with Arthur's resting place. He, Guinevere, his court of lords and ladies, and his hounds, are enchanted in a hall below the castle (or in a cave in the nearby crags), and would continue to remain there till some one should first blow the bugle-horn that lay on the table near the hall's entrance.

In one story, a farmer stumbled found by accident the entrance and went inside. He came upon a vast and vaulted hall, in the center of which blazed a fire without fuel, and the king and his queen and court reposing around in a theater of thrones and costly couches. On a table lay the spell-dispelling horn, sword, and garter. The farmer firmly grasped the sword and as he drew it from its scabbard, the eyes of the monarch and courtiers began to open, and they rose till they sat upright. He cut the garter, and as the sword was being slowly sheathed the spell assumed its ancient power, and they all gradually sank to rest; but not before Arthur had lifted up his eyes and hands and exclaimed:

"Woe betide that evil day
On which the witless wight was born,
Who drew the sword — the garter cut,
But never blew the bugle-horn!"

The story is a common theme in which farmers or shepherds stumble upon some underground passage and into a subterranean room, with one or more sleeping men and their hounds, and often a horn and a sword. Examples are the Seven Sleepers of Ephesus, the Three Tells, Ogier the Dane, Barbarossa, and the Hunter and his Hounds outside Brinkburn Priory.



  • Cooper, J.C., ed. (1997). Brewer's Book of Myth and Legend. Oxford: Helicon Publishing Ltd.
  • Denham, M.A. (1892). The Denham Tracts. Vol. 2. Strand: David Nutt, pp. 125-127.