Thursday, July 20, 2017

Dacre Castle

Dacre Castle is located four miles south-east of Penrith, in the county of Cumbria in the north-west of England about half-way between Manchester and Glasgow, near the border of Scotland. The name ‘dacre’ originated from the Celtic word ‘daigr’ which means ‘tear’ (tear as in a drop of water). This is probably related to the waters of the nearby Dacre Beck. ‘beck’ comes from the Middle English word ‘bek’ which itself is derived from the Old Norse work ‘bekkr’ meaning ‘a small stream’. Dacre Beck is a major tributary of River Eamont.

Dacre Castle

Photo of Dacre Castle

Dacre Castle is technically not a castle. It is a pele (pronounced ‘peel’) tower. This is a kind of fortification built along the English and Scottish borders. It serves as a watch tower. Each tower has an iron basket at the top. When enemy elements approach, a signal fire is lit. The tower also becomes the living quarters of the Lairds (Scottish word for landowner) and landlords in the vicinity. Dacre Castle is the original home of the Dacre family. The first Lord Dacre was Alexander de Dacre, a crusader, who lived in the 12th century. Today Dacre Castle is part of the Hasell estate.

A quadrangular building with four turrets, Dacre Castle has got red sandstone walls which are seven feet thick. This is more solid than the standard pele tower wall which is normally six feet or less in thickness. The main tower itself is 66 feet high. In the late 17th century, the fifth Lord Dacre added large windows to the tower. The castle has a tunnel-vaulted and fireproofed basement. This castle is a rarity in that it is in very good repair, looking just as well-maintained today as it did in some centuries-old paintings.

On the 12th of July, 927, Dacre Castle was said to be the meeting place of kings from all over Britain. Among the royalty who attended were Athelstan, the Saxon King of England, Constantine, King of Scots and Owen Caesarius of Cumberland. The meeting was arranged to make a peace treaty between England and Scotland. Unfortunately, the fruit of their labor was short-lived.

In 937, Constantine II of Scotland allied with Eogan of Strachclyde and Olaf Guthfrithson, the King of Dublin, to invade England. Athelstan rallied the English army and marched north to stop the invaders. Then began the Battle of Brunanburh, considered to be one of the bloodiest events of the era.

Five English kings and seven earls fell on the battlefield. Alfric and Athelwin, the king’s cousins, were among the mortal casualties together with a well-known Saxon bishop. Nevertheless the combined Scottish and Viking army was defeated. It was a day of gory glory for the English. This victory was remembered till today for its undeniable importance in British history.

However, it seemed that the three kings who took part in the earlier peace-making efforts were not satisfied with the outcome. Years after they had departed from the living world, their shades had been sighted at Dacre Castle. Apparently the heat of battle was not that easily cooled by a ride across the Styx. Perhaps the thousands who fell in battle on that fateful day provided the cosmic energy that opened a portal between the worlds.

Actual the unending ghostly royal conference pales in comparison to another gruesome event that took place in Dacre Castle. This involved a young lord, a French girl and an Italian tutor.

In the 15th century, Sir Guy Dacre was the young heir to the castle. He became enamored with the lissome charms of Eloise. She was the daughter of a French nobleman. He courted her to no avail. She was immune to his inept attempts to win her heart. The young man had an Italian tutor. So he sought the assistance of the, presumably, older and more experienced teacher.

Dacre Castle Ghosts

Sir Guy Dacre left to do his duty in battle in Scotland. Back at the castle, the Italian tutor plied the young lady with his amorous skills. He succeeded beyond the call of duty. Eloise fell for the Italian tutor and they became lovers. When Sir Guy Dacre returned from Scotland, he had no inkling of what had been going on behind his back. He proposed to Eloise. She accepted. So far so good.

Then Sir Guy Dacre had to leave again to answer the call of duty in Scotland. This time, he assigned his trusted friend, Lyulph, to keep an eye on things while he was away. Now that the cat, so to say, had gone away, the French mouse and the Italian rat began to play again. Lyulph found out their illicit liaison. The despicable duo left the castle and went to York. Lyulph apprised Sir Guy Dacre of the real situation.

The cuckolded knight went in pursuit of the runaways. Before long, he captured Eloise. He brought her back to the castle. She was thrown into a dark dungeon. Eloise was not incarcerated alone. She found her lover there, too. He was chained to the wall. She rushed up to him. When she tried to kiss him, his head rolled off his shoulders and fell to the ground. Apparently, Lyulph had captured the villain and prepared him, befittingly, for her return.

Eloise must have screamed her head off and cried her heart out. There was so succor for her. She was kept in the cell. The corpse of her dead lover rotted away. Her mind fell apart, too. She was totally insane by the time she gave up the ghost and crossed the great divide.

However, her ghost and that of her lover remained in the castle. Their specters roamed its corridors bewailing and bemoaning their fate. Avid ghost-spotters would have a field day at the Dacre Castle. Two ghosts that arose from such macabre and gruesome deaths would surely make for very exciting sightings.

Today, Dacre Castle not only still stands watch on the border of England and Scotland but it also serves as a portal between the normal and paranormal dimensions.

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