Stiperstones Wild Edric on his wild hunt over the devils chair

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Stiperstones Wild Edric on his wild hunt over the devils chair

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Wild Eadric. Imprisoned in the lead mines for his betrayal of the English peoples; now, when England is in peril he rides on his wild hunt in the direction of the foe.

He married a fairy princess, you know? He messed it up though. She told him not to do it and he went and did it.

There are thousands of people in there - that's why I have to put the warning on it - it's a health and safety issue - ""if ever you see the wild hunt -; make sure it doesn't see you. Or - it'll have you and you'll never be seen again.

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Eadric the Wild

Eadric the Wild (or Eadric Silvaticus), also known as Eadric Cild, was an Anglo-Saxon magnate of the West Midlands who led English resistance to the Norman Conquest, active in 1068-70.

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Signed art giclée print in a tube with data sheets

The early 12th-century historian John of Worcester writes that Eadric the Wild was a son of one Ælfric, whom he identifies as a brother of Eadric Streona, ealdorman of Mercia under King Æthelred the Unready. While five of Eadric Streona's brothers appear to attest witness-lists of King Æthelred's charters, no Ælfric makes a plausible candidate for identification with a brother of the ealdorman. It is possible that Ælfric was not a brother but a nephew of the ealdorman. If so, Eadric (the Wild) would belong to the same generation as his cousin Siward son of Æthelgar, who was himself a grandson of Eadric Streona.

Because Eadric's name is a common one in pre-Conquest England, identification with any of the landholders of this name listed in Domesday Book remains a ticklish affair. Nevertheless, it would seem that he held extensively in Shropshire and also held roughly 12 hides in Herefordshire. He is probably the Eadric son of Ælfric who held two estates from Much Wenlock Priory (Shropshire). Eadric and his cousin Siward ranked as the wealthiest thegns in Shropshire TRE.

One of my collectors sent this mounted and framed large version. It's been mounted in champagne and framed in a glossy black wood. The black frame brings out the dark border of the picture.


Resistance to Norman rule
Accounts of Eadric's act of rebellion in Herefordshire in 1067 are included in Manuscript D the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, John of Worcester's Chronicle and Orderic Vitalis.

After the Conquest of England by William of Normandy, Eadric refused to submit and therefore came under attack from Norman forces based at Hereford Castle, under Richard fitz Scrob.

He raised a rebellion and allying himself to the Welsh prince of Gwynedd (and Powys), Bleddyn ap Cynfyn, and his brother Riwallon, he unsuccessfully attacked the Norman castle at Hereford in 1067. They did not take the county, and retreated to Wales to plan further raiding.

During the widespread wave of English rebellions in 1069-70, he burned the town of Shrewsbury and unsuccessfully besieged Shrewsbury Castle, again helped by his Welsh allies from Gwynedd, as well as other English rebels from Cheshire.

It was probably this combination of forces which was decisively defeated by William in a battle at Stafford in late 1069. Eadric apparently submitted to King William in 1070 and later participated in William's invasion of Scotland in 1072. Another account states that he was captured by Ranulph de Mortimer after long struggles and handed over to the king for life imprisonment, some of his lands afterwards descending to the abbey of Wigmore.

The wild hunt
The Wild Hunt is an ancient folk myth prevalent across Northern, Western and Central Europe. The fundamental premise in all instances is the same: a phantasmal group of huntsmen with the accoutrements of hunting, horses, hounds, etc., in mad pursuit across the skies or along the ground, or just above it.

The hunters may be the dead or the fairies (often in folklore connected with the dead). The hunter may be an unidentified lost soul, a deity or spirit of either gender, or may be a historical or legendary figure like Theodoric the Great, the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag, the Welsh psychopomp Gwyn ap Nudd or the Germanic Woden (or other reflections of the same god, such as Alemannic Wuodan in Wuotis Heer ("Wuodan's Host") of Central Switzerland, Swabia etc.)

Seeing the Wild Hunt was thought to presage some catastrophe such as war or plague, or at best the death of the one who witnessed it. Mortals getting in the path of or following the Hunt could be kidnapped and brought to the land of the dead. A girl who saw Wild Edric's Ride was warned by her father to put her apron over her head to avoid the sight. Others believed that people's spirits could be pulled away during their sleep to join the cavalcade.

Post-rebellion
Domesday Book mentions 'Edric salvage' as the former tenent of six manors in Shropshire and one in Herefordshire. He may have held others but there is a profusion of Eadrics in Domesday, rendering closer identification difficult if not impossible. R. W. Eyton commented that 'a genealogical enthusiast would have little hesitation in assuming as a conclusion 'the possibility that William le Savage, who held Eudon Savage, Neen Savage and Walton Savage of Ranulph de Mortimer in the twelfth century, could have been a descendant of Eadric'. Eadric's cousin Ealdraed inherited his land at Acton Scott, which was later held by William Leyngleys ('the Englishman' died 1203), likely to have been Ealdraed's descendant. The property is still in the hands of Leyngleys' descendants, the Actons, having passed down through the generations without ever being sold.

Eadric's byname
In the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (MS D), Eadric is nicknamed Cild (literally "child"), which may signify a title of rank. He was also known as "the Wild", as witnessed by such bynames as se wild, salvage and in Latin, silvaticus. According to Susan Reynolds:

"Historians have generally treated Eadric's surname as a nickname .. A likely explanation is that Eadric was one of a group of people well known in their own day as 'silvatici'. Orderic Vitalis says in his description of the English risings of c.1068-9 that many of the rebels lived in tents, distaining to sleep in houses lest they should become soft, so that certain of them were call silvatici by the Normans. He is not the only chronicler to make it clear that the English resistance was very widespread or to describe the rebels as taking to the woods and marshes. The Abingdon chronicle says that many plots were hatched by the English and that some hid in woods and some in islands, plundering and attacking those who came in their way, while others called in the Danes, and that men of different ranks took part in these attempts ... That they should have made their bases in wild country and, like the twentieth-century maquis, have been named for it, is perfectly credible."

Reynolds further notes that:
"If it is true, however, that the silvatici were for some years a widespread and well-known phenomenon, that might help to explain aspects of later outlaw stories that have puzzled historians. Few outlaws in other countries have apparently left so powerful a legend as Robin Hood. ...The most famous outlaws of the greenwood before him were probably the Old English nobility on their way down and out."

Godda

Wild Edric’s elf-maiden wife
Shropshire men must have been well acquainted with the fairies five hundred years ago. It was reported then that our famous champion, Wild Edric, had had an elf-maiden for his wife. One day, we are told, when he was returning from hunting in the forest of Clun, he lost his way, and wandered about till nightfall, alone, save for one young page. At last he saw the lights of a very large house in the distance, towards which he turned his steps; and when he had reached it, he beheld within a large company of noble ladies dancing. They were exceedingly beautiful, taller and larger than women of the human race, and dressed in gracefully-shaped linen garments. They circled round with smooth and easy motion, singing a soft low song of which the hunter could not understand the words. Among them was one maiden who excelled all the others in beauty, at the sight of whom our hero's heart was inflamed with love. Forgetting the fears of enchantment, which at the first moment had seized him, he hurried round the house, seeking an entrance, and having found it, he rushed in, and snatched the maiden who was the object of his passion from her place in the moving circle. The dancers assailed him with teeth and nails, but backed by his page, he escaped at length from their hands, and succeeded in carrying off his fair captive. For three whole days not his utmost caresses and persuasions could prevail on her to utter a single word, but on the fourth day she suddenly broke the silence. "Good luck to you, my dear!" said she, "and you will be lucky too, and enjoy health and peace and plenty, as long as you do not reproach me on account of my sisters, or the place from which you snatched me away, or anything connected with it. For on the day when you do so you will lose both your bride and your good fortune; and when I am taken away from you, you will pine away quickly to an early death."

Her name was Godda or Goda or Gondul.

He pledged himself by all that was most sacred to be ever faithful and constant in his love for her, and they were solemnly wedded in the presence of all the nobles from far and near, whom Edric invited to their bridal feast. At that time William the Norman was newly made king of England, who, hearing of this wonder, desired both to see the lady, and to test the truth of the tale; and bade the newly-married pair to London, where he was holding his Court. Thither then they went, and many witnesses from their own country with them, who brought with them the testimony of others who could not present themselves to the king. But the marvellous beauty of the lady was the best of all proofs of her superhuman origin. And the king let them return in peace, wondering greatly.

Many years passed happily by, till one evening Edric returned late from hunting, and could not find his wife. He sought her and called for her for some time in vain. At last she appeared. "I suppose," began he, with angry looks, "it is your sisters who have detained you such a long time, have they not?" The rest of his upbraiding was addressed to the air, for the moment her sisters were mentioned she vanished. Edric's grief was overwhelming. He sought the place where he had found her at first, but no tears, no laments of his could call her back. He cried out day and night against his own folly, and pined away and died of sorrow, as his wife had long before foretold.

CHAPTER III

Legends and Traditions

WILD EDRIC

The following is from Shropshire Folk-Lore A Sheaf of Gleanings by Charlotte Sopshia Burne and Georgia Jackson printed in 1888

"Said the son unto the father, 'There are horsemen on the wold!
Mounted warriors, riding chargers, trembling, snorting, grey, and cold,
Keeping rank they come, close marching, six by six and three by three,
Lances gleaming, banners steaming, in the death-wind floating free.
Over hill and vale nine stone-casts, stretches forth the gallant train,
'Tis King Arthur with his army! 'tis King Arthur comae again!'
' If 'tis Arthur, follow, follow! take each man his bow and spear!'
'Forward! follow! ' rang the war-cry, o'er the mountains far and near."
Chants Populaires de la Breiagne (tr. C.S.B.).

It will be necessary to trespass a good deal upon the domains of history in order to do full justice to the legend of a 'popular hero' so little known, and so important, that he demands a chapter to himself. The name of Hereward le Wake, the patriot of the Isle of Ely in the days of the Conqueror, is sufficiently famous, but that of his contemporary Edric Silvaticus, Salvage, or the Wild, the leader of revolt on the Welsh borders, has not been celebrated in romance, and is consequently comparatively forgotten. Yet his exploits make a much larger figure in trustworthy history than the somewhat shadowy doings of Hereward.'

'Wild Edric,' to give him the name which Salopian tradition assigns to him, was nephew to Eadric Streona, the infamous Ealdorman of the Mercians under Ethelred the Unready, and was himself the owner of considerable estates in Shropshire and Herefordshire.

  • In Domesday Book he appears under the name of Edric Salvage, as having held in Shropshire the manors of Hope Bowdler, Weston-under-Red-Castle, and (with another) Middleton, in the days of Edward the Confessor. He is certainly the person meant by 'Edric,' who at the same time had owned Chelmarsh, Walton Savage, Eudon George, Overton, and Rudge—in all of which manors he was succeeded by under-tenants of Ralph Mortimer. There is also preamptive evidence that he was the ' Edric, a freeman,' who had held Bayston, Pitchford, Cantlop, Adderley, and ' Elmundewic.' But there was at least one other tenant-in-chief named Edric in Shropshire in the time of King Edward, and it is impossible in all cases to distinguish between them. In his five Herefordshire manors-as well as those in Shropshire already mentioned—he was succeeded by Ralph Mortimer of Wigmore Castle. Nowhere was he succeeded by any who can with any probability be set down as his children.

Very early in the Conqueror's reign, in August, 1067, when his sovereignty over more than half the shires was in reality only nominal, we find Wild Edric already in arms against him. Hereford was one of the few counties which had then been subdued, owing no doubt to the presence of the Norman Richard Fitz Scrob and his followers, whose fortress of Richard's Castle, near Ludlow, the first building of the kind in England, had already provoked the indignation of his English neighbours in the days of the Confessor. Richard and his men, aided by the garrison of Hereford, continually harried Eadric's land, because he refused to submit to the new king. Eadric therefore allied himself with the two Welsh kings Bleddyn and Rhiwallon, both of whom had been followers of Harold in former times. These three with their forces harried Hereford as far as the river Lugg, and after remaining long enough to reduce the garrison of Hereford to great distress, they returned home laden with enormous booty.

Two years afterwards, when the greater part of England had submitted, we find Eadric still independent. In the great rising of 1069, when almost every shire took up arms, Shrewsbury, which had been garrisoned by the Conqueror, was besieged by the united forces of Bleddyn of Wales (now sole king), and the men of Cheshire, — a shire still untouched by the Norman invaders, — 'to whom the inhabitants of the town, with Edric Guilds, a powerful and warlike man, were auxiliaries." By tremendous exertions on the part of the Conqueror these various risings were at length put down, and in the following year, 1070, (probably soon after the departure of that Danish fleet which had been the support of the revolt in the north), Eadric, that 'vir strenuissimus,' as the chronicler Simeon of Durham calls him, made peace with the king. It is nowhere said that he submitted.

Only the Isle of Ely still held out, and this last isolated strong- hold was broken up in the following year. Little by little the old landmarks were done away, the old earldoms abolished. The Norman was master of the land.

Two years later Eadric appears among the personal followers of William in his expedition against the Scotch in the autumn of 1072—an arrangement probably intended to keep the wild Marchman safely under the king's own eye. And this is the last that authentic history has to say of our Border champion, save the negative evidence of Domesday, that all his lands passed into the hands of Normans, most of them into those of Ralph Mortimer of Wigmore. There is, however, in the Monasticon a quotation from the family chronicler of the House of Mortimer, which mentions Eadric, but with so many glaring mistakes of detail that it is hard to decide whether there can be any foundation for any part of the account it gives of him. The historian of Shropshire, Mr. Eyton, says, 'All that I venture to conclude [from it] is, that some time between 1072 and 1085, Edric Sylvaticus forsook his allegiance to King William; that William fits Osborn, Earl of Hereford, being dead, Mortimer was appointed by the king to reduce Edric; that Mortimer succeeded in so doing, and obtained many of the forfeited estates of Edric as a reward for this service; but that he became Lord of Wigmore [which was built by William fitz Osbern, - not, as the chronicler declares, as the conqueror of Edric, to whom it never belonged—-but] as the king's principal lieutenant in Herefordshire after the forfeiture of Earl Roger de B1-itolio [son of William fitz Osborn] in 1074. The fate of Edric Sylvaticus is unchronicled, for the words of the Mortimer annalist, which point to death in prison, can only be taken as indicating the writers ignorance of any specific fact.

Knocking in the lead mines

Most likely some mystery hung over his end. For it is not many years since, in the West Shropshire hills, in the very neighbourhood where Edric's estates lay, and where also lay the greater number of the very few Shropshire manors retained after the Conquest by Englishmen (no doubt Edric's old friends and comrades, perhaps his kindred), there were people to be found, if there are not some now, who believed Wild Edric to be still alive, imprisoned in the mines of that wild west country. He cannot die, they say, till all the wrong has been made right, and England has returned to the same state as it was in before the troubles of his days) Meantime he is condemned to inhabit the lead-mines as a punishment for having allowed himself to be deceived by the Conqueror's fair words into submitting to him. So there he dwells with his wife and his whole train. The miners call them the 'Old Men,' and sometimes hear them knocking, and wherever they knock, the best lodes are to be found.' Now and then they are permitted to show themselves. Whenever war is going to break out, they ride over the hills in the direction of the enemy's country, and if they appear, it is a sign that the war will be serious.

If you see him, hide

Such, in substance, was the account given some years ago by a young women from Rorrington to her mistress, who repeated it to me. The lady, wishing to draw out the girl's' knowledge, professed not to understand whom she meant by the 'Cong-kerry,' as she called him. ' What! did you never hear of the Cong-kerry, ma'am! ' exclaimed the maid, who, by the way, could neither read nor write. 'Why, he used to hang up men by the heels because they were English! Oh, he was a bad man!'

She declared that she had herself seen Wild Edric and his men. It was in I853 or 1854, just before the Crimean war broke out. She was with her father, a miner, at Minsterley, and she heard the blast of a horn. Her father bade her cover her face, all but her eyes, and on no account speak, lest she should go mad. Then they all came by; Wild Edric himself on a white horse at the head of the band, and the Lady Godda his wife, riding at full speed over the hills. Edric had short dark curly hair and very bright black eyes. He wore a green cap and white feather, a short green coat and cloak, a horn and a short sword hanging from his golden belt, 'and something zig-zagged here' (touching her leg below the knee). The lady had wavy golden hair falling loosely to her waist, and round her forehead a band of white linen, with a golden ornament in it. The rest of her dress was green, and she had a short dagger at her waist. The girl watched them pass out of sight over the hills towards the north. It was the second time her father had seen them. The former time they were going southwards. 'And then Napoleon Bonaparte came.'

'Many people say,' added our authority, 'that the miners always do seem to know when a war is going to be desperate.'

Flocks of Wildfowl and storms of wind are generally considered to account for stories of the passing of the Wild Huntsman; but what an extraordinary imagination it must have been which suggested all these elaborate details!

I never succeeded in getting a second version of this curious story, and the woman who told it could not be traced. But its points of likeness to other such legends, and also its variations from them, are too remarkable to leave room for any doubt of its being a genuine piece of folk-tradition.

The name given to Edric's wife, the "Lady Godda," curiously coincides with that of Frau Gauden or Gode, the huntress of whom Mecklenburg tradition tells that her impious words, 'The chase is better than heaven,' doomed her to follow it to all eternity.'

It is always dangerous to meet the Wild Hunt. Either death, madness, or blindness may be the consequence. In German tales, the common precaution is to throw oneself face downwards on the ground; in ours, the girl was desired to cover her face with her shawl, and not to speak. In all the stories of Hackelberg, the Wild Huntsman of Westphalia and Saxony, death overtakes those who address him or mock his hunting cry And we all know that a ghost can do no harm unless the ghost-seer speaks to it.

The coming of Edric and his train was heralded by the sound of a horn. Now when Thomas the Rhymer led the horse-dealer to the recesses under the Eildon hills, and showed him the multitude of men and horses wrapped in magic sleep in long rows of underground stalls awaiting the battle of Sheriff Moor, he showed him also a horn and a sword. Whoever should blow the one and draw the other, would break the spell which held them motionless.'

Indeed, though there may be some points of likeness between the vision of Wild Edric and that of the Wild Hunt, our legend is far more closely akin to another grand myth, that of the Enchanted Heroes, such as the Rhymer's army, and as those many champions --the great Karl, Frederick 'Barbarossa,' Holger Danske, the Nibelungs, the Three Confederates of Switzerland—who slumber in the hills and caves of kindred lands of the Continent, ready to awaken in the hour of their country's utmost need.'

Often, too, is it told of kings who have fallen in battle, 'He is not dead; he will return.' So it was said of Harold after Hastings, of Olaf Tryggvason, of Sebastian of Portugal, of Roderick ' the last of the Goths.' Every conquered nation too (and the English, in Wild Edric's day, were a conquered nation has its dream of a Golden Age under some famous ruler, who will one day come again and bring back the good old times. Irish, Servians, Mexicans, Moors, - all look for their own beloved champion; and who does not know that King Arthur will return.

The Bretons, the exiled descendants of his people (if indeed he ever lived, or ever had a people I), believe that he leads them on to battle even now. And 'whenever a war is threatening, there may be seen, as a prophetic sign, the army of Arthur defiling over the tops of the dark mountains at the break of day,' just as did Edric and his men over the Shropshire hills.

But there is one remarkable difference between the history of Wild Edric and those of other champions of the oppressed They all died in fair fight at the head of their men, striving manfully to the last. Edric gave up the struggle and "made peace." Accordingly, while they are rapt away into some quiet and peaceful mating-place until better times, his prolonged life, we find, is not given him as a blessing, but as a doom. When the good old days come again, his lot will be, not to reign in triumph, but to die in peace.

Over and over again in popular tales is it found that the deeds and attributes of the gods of one age are repeated in the heroes and demigods of another, and thus it is no surprise to us to learn that this myth of the spell-bound hero who shall return, bringing victory, is but a reminiscence of the doings of the supreme god of our heathen forefathers —Woden, the victory-bringer, the war-god, riding his grey horse at the head of his Einherjar or chosen warriors, the spirits of the brave who have fallen in battle, and whom he leads sometimes to the battle-field of their living friends, sometimes to the chase of the wild boar Saehrimnir, which each day is slain and each morrow revives to afford them a fresh hunt, a fresh capture, a fresh feast.

The madness which was to be the consequence of addressing Wild Edric's band is a mark of their once-divine character. In all ages and countries insanity has been thought to be a token of inter course with the gods; sometimes sent in anger (quem Deus vult perdere prius dementat), but more often as a mark of divine favour, so that the poor lunatic's utterances have been regarded in the light of prophecies and treated with respect. And Woden's own name,' be it remembered, signifies the Madman, the 'wud,' raging deity. He is in his original character, the 'Teutonic representative of the universal Storm-God, riding on the blast, driving the clouds before him, and scattering them as a victorious general the foe. Then the storm sinks to rest—in that cavern of the winds, it may be, of which we read in Grecian fable,--yet the Storm-God is not dead, but sleeping; he is but spell-bound; he will return!

So thought our fathers in the early ages of the world, when they believed the powers of nature to be living godlike beings, acting after their own will. And yet, when all is said, this steadfast looking for a deliverer who shall bring back a Golden Age, which is so deeply rooted in the traditions of every nation, can hardly be regarded solely as a nature myth by those who remember how the promise of the Great Deliverer was given ere the gates of Eden closed on our first parents. Thence their descendants have everywhere carried with them the knowledge of the God who hideth His face for a season, and shall one day come again, making the clouds His chariot, and riding upon the wings of the wind.

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The Devil's Chair
The Devil\'s Chair 52.586380, -2.932904 Wild Eadric on his wild hunt over the Devil\'s Chair on the Stiperstones.
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