Saturday, June 13, 2015

Who was The Cout of Kielder?

Today, I research a scene in which the evil Simon Beaumont, seeking a way to return to his own time, visits Hermitage Castle and the nearby grave of the Cout of Keilder...or Kielder, depending who's writing.

The cout of Keilder is one of the very lesser known historical figures, which means that it takes relatively less time to research him and his grave site (say, a few hours, a day) than to research all that is known of Robert the Bruce.  This makes it easier, of course, and yet, we get only little glimpses of who he was, and they tend to conflict.

As an author, of course, I can choose: does Simon remember the Cout who was the innocent victim invited to dinner and murdered? Was he young and brave as one report says, or a vicious, brutal man who terrorized the countryside?  (Brave and terrorizing don't go together in my mind.)  Most stories, if they mention his size at all, agree that brave or terrorizing, he was a giant of a man.

So, collected here from around the web, a number of views of who the Cout of Keilder was:

The Cout who was murdered after being invited to dinner:

The cout (colt ) of Kielder was considered a brave young man who was also headstrong but was admired for his physical prowess. While out with a group of other young lads he ignored the local legend that one would be tempting fate if they were to ride counterclockwise (widdershins) around the Kielder stone. With a helm festooned with holly and rowan and the belief he wore a suit of mail that was magical, he tempted fate. The young men were caught by de Soulas and invited to Hermitage Castle.  Though they were treated with Border hospitality, soon it became apparent that de Soulas was going to murder them. With the prowess of the young, the cout was able to fight off de Soulas and the youngmen escaped on their horses. But de Soulas and his men were quickly in hot pursuit.  De Soulas summoned up a Border demon… the Brown Man, who told him that the Cout’s magic would not protect him in running water and they chased the young men to the Hermitage water where the cout stumbled and fell and as he tried to scramble to the other side with their spears they held the young man under the water and he drowned.  Where this happened is now called the Cout of Kielder Pool. 

Or, the same image from Geograph:

The Cout of Keilder's Grave

giving the following information:
Information plaque by the grave, between the Hermitage Water and the site of the chapel. Keilder vs Kielder? It has been suggested that the latter, like the forest just over the border, is correct. In those far off days, however, the locals then as some do now, pronounced Kielder as Kylder, so they would probably spell it as Keilder and the plaque is almost certainly correct. 

Another version of the Cout is found at Most Haunted Castles dot com:

The final chapter of this reign of terror has a touch of ambiguity as is common with most tales associated with Hermitage Castle. About a quarter of a mile to the north-west of the castle there is a small mound next to the ruins of a chapel. This mound is said to be the grave of a giant of an Englishman, a Tynesdale baron called the Cout of Kielder.This cout is said to have terrorized the area wearing magical chain-mail armor which was impervious to blows. He was finally killed by drowning in a deep pool of water in the river. This pool, which is very near to the grave, is known as the Drowning Pool. Whether he was the one and same man as the Cout of Kielder massacred by the Bad Lord Soulis is open to conjecture.A visitor had once experienced the eerie sensation of being pushed toward the water when he was near the Drowning Pool. Whether there is a ghost lurking in its depths or there is other paranormal activity is open to investigation.

The Forestry Commission site puts a slightly different spin on it:

From his base at brooding Hermitage Castle, the Scottish noble vied and eventually murdered the Cout of Kielder for sway over the land, but for his wicked ways he was boiled alive! 
Haunted Palace Blog dot Wordpress gives both portrayals of the Cout, both as one who terrorized the land, and the champion of the land who tried to stop the wicked Soulis:

The tale of a terrifying knight possessed of magical armour is sometimes linked to Clouts grave site bwthe Wicked Lord Soulis, sometimes not.  In one version of the tale the Cout of Keilder, a giant, comes as a champion to kill the sorcerer, but the sorcerer knowing the Cout has magic armour and cannot be killed by weapons tricks him and drowns him in Hermitage Water.  Other versions say the Cout was wicked himself and terrorised the inhabitants of the castle until he was drowned.
A grassy mound just outside the nearby chapel purports to be the burial-place of the Cout.  It is sited outside the graveyard on unconsecrated ground.
Rainy chapel bw

Keys to the Past dot Info reports that:
 Old Kielder was the home of a 14th century border chieftain, the Cout (or Colt) of Kielder. Legends claim that his prowess in battle was due to his magical armour, and the mystical holly and rowan leaves he wore in his helmet. 

Keys to the Past also links to some very interesting historical maps of the areas.

A view of Hermitage Castle from the chapel, near which the Cout is buried:

At Georgraph dot org dot UK we find a picture of the Cout's gravestone, which other sources specify is near the river where he was drowned by being held down with spears:

The Cout of Keilder's Grave

Discover the Borders tells us that the mysterious Cout may have been:
Description: Remains of a 13th or 14th century chapel and graveyard are enclosed within the defensive earthworks of an earlier farmstead. A low mound known as the "Cout o' Kielder's Grave" may be the grave of Sir Richard Knout (Knut) of Kielder, Sheriff of Northumberland, who died about 1290. Ownership: Public access on moorland. Situation – OS ref: NY 493960 How to...

Here's an image of the map showing the area in which the Cout's grave is found,and the chapel earthworks, from Canmore:

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Talking with the Time Travel Trio: Part Three

Tell me about your characters.
DENNIS: Katya Sevnik is my main character from Katya and Cyrus Time Pilgrims, Almost Yesterday and my latest, (not yet released) Tomorrow’s Borrowed Trouble. Katya is a strong, independent young woman plagued with a condition known as temporal amnesia. She has no clue what year she is from and is trying desperately, to locate her family. Because of Katya’s time displacement and amnesia, she has not matured beyond the age of twenty, although it is revealed that she has lived for over ninety years. Her life experiences include dancing the Charleston as a 1920s flapper girl and experiencing the rock-and-roll era of the 1960s. She becomes a sponge in every time period she visits, soaking up the culture and instantly becoming one with the period. Katya and fellow Time Pilgrim Cyrus are lovers. Before Katya came into his life, Cyrus (the bosses' son) was all business. Katya enjoys showing him that time can sometimes be traveled just for the sheer fun of it.
Another fan favorite character is Hickory Dickory Doc (Doc), the most powerful canine Time Pilgrim of them all.
LAURA: I love the sound of your characters! Like Andrew and Drew in Time for Andrew, Shawn and Niall are identical, if cross-century, twins. There, however, the resemblance ends. Shawn and Niall have both had trauma and loss in their lives. Both, for instance, have lost their fathers to violence. However, they've reacted very differently to it. Shawn, living in modern America, drove himself. He worked hard and played harder. He became a gambler, a drinker, a lady's man, liar, and cheater. He has more confidence than ten men combined. He's generous, showering his girlfriend's young cousins with gifts, and throwing fantastic barbecues and parties on his twenty acres. He loves his mother, buys her a house, and gives her the Great Dane she loves. He lifts an orchestra to great heights with his drive, marketing, personality, and sheer will. He lives by the motto Life is about having fun! 
Niall Campbell, by contrast, is a Highland warrior, raised in the tough world of Scotland's wars of independence, in a time and place where you may get whipped for kissing the Laird's daughter, where faith surrounds his life as powerfully as the walls of Glenmirril Castle, where if you want to eat, you may have to face the MacDougalls, who have once again stolen your cattle, where if you want those you love to live, you may have to stand between them and Longshanks' charging warhorses.
Surrounding Niall and Shawn are Allene, Niall's betrothed and later wife; Amy, Shawn's pregnant girlfriend who sees the good in Shawn, who believes he's more than the party-boy public persona he shows, until she finally has to face his bad side; Angus, the inspector assigned to Shawn's 'missing persons' case who falls in love with Amy; Christina, who helps Shawn and Niall in a daring rescue at great risk to herself and becomes part of life at Glenmirril; the Laird who rules Glenmirril and hides away in a secret dungeon to do the woodwork he finds soothing, but which is unseemly for a laird, and his giant of a brother, Hugh, and Brother David and the boy without a name, Red, whom Shawn and Niall find in Roman ruins that are ancient even by Niall's time.
DENNIS: Laura, I love the idea of cross century twins. I have twins in the Time Pilgrim stories as well. Cyrus and Cathy Callahan are very close twins but the twist is, Cathy decides to stay in 1906 when she falls in love with a man that helped her in the San Francisco earthquake. When he finally comes back to the present, it’s seventeen years later. Now Cyrus’s baby sister is old enough to be his mother.
LAURA: How strange to see your twin sister so much older than yourself!  Niall and Shawn have a discussion about Niall being his elder, which exasperates Allene, as they're the same age.  Although, of course, Niall is technically 700 years older than Shawn.
ANGELA: In my first time travel/romance, All Bottled Up, the heroine is jilted by her fiancĂ©e the day before her wedding.  She actually wishes for the perfect man, and poof out comes a sexy highlander in a kilt. 
LAURA: Yep, that sounds about right!
ANGELA: In my first full-length time travel/romance, Once Upon A Highlander my hero, Alec MacLean is tossed into the 21st century at the behest of his eccentric grandmother to retrieve a missing deed, and appears just as the heroine, Caroline Hughes is attacked by thugs.  The pair is brought back to 17th century Scotland just in time to stop the Earl of Argyll and England’s king from taking his lands. 
DENNIS: I own All Bottled Up on my Kindle. The genie is a hoot. I will have to check out your full length novel.
What era do they go to?
DENNIS: Too many to list them all, but here is a sampling:
Chicago Fire 1871
Kennedy assassination 1963
1980s party
Great San Francisco Earthquake 1906
Gold Rush 1849
Summer of Love 1967
World Trade Center 2001
Titanic 1912
2001 theme party
Chicago World’s Fairs 1933, 1893, 2033
Many more in the upcoming book, including the American Civil and Revolutionary wars, Native American village, 62 B.C., The great Dust Bowl of Oklahoma, 1935, the horrific tornado in Moore, Oklahoma from way back in 2013…
LAURA: Very exciting! Lots of times to research! Maybe your characters will bump into Lisa Mason's characters in the Summer of Love! The Blue Bells Chronicles covers both the present time, and Scotland in the time from June 1314 up to May of 1318. The medieval half of the story is set against the backdrop of the Wars of Independence, in which Scotland fought for years against England's attempt to take over their country.
DENNIS: I was very surprised when I learned of Lisa’s book, Summer of Love. I had already written my segment. When I spoke to her, she thought it was cool that we had the same interest. 1314 to 1318 was of great historical importance in Scotland.
ANGELA: Personally, I’m a medieval girl. However, I love my highlanders in kilts….so I have no choice to go beyond the 16th century in order to be historically correct!
DENNIS: Ah yes, the kilts. Being a man, I always wondered what appeals to woman so much about them.
READERS: Why do women like kilts so much?
For More on the Authors: See Parts One and Two of our Time Travel Conversation.
Coming next: Part Four

Friday, January 17, 2014

Talk with a Time Travel Trio: Part Two

Welcome to Part 2 of our Talk with a Time Travel Trio, featuring Angela Rose, Dennis Higgins, and Laura Vosika. 
Welcome blog hoppers!  If you'd like to go to the Blog Hop and Giveaway, scroll down to the post below or make a direct jump.  In keeping with the Scottish theme of my blog, I'm giving away a beautiful hardcover copy of Jim Hewitson's Scottish Miscellany, a collection of fascinating information about all things Scottish.  At the bottom of Talking with a Time Travel Trio Part One, you'll find the list of links to other blogs.  All you need to do to enter is leave a comment letting me know how to reach you in case you win.  If you like, tell us what era you'd visit, if you could time travel.  And--if you're so inclined--why!
And back to our interview, picking up from Part One:
Who is your favorite time travel author?
DENNIS: See above, Richard Matheson and Jack Finney.
LAURA: I also really liked Jack Finney's time travel novels. I think maybe my all time favorite is Michael Creighton's Timeline. I particularly like that he gives a very realistic portrayal of the time. We see the researchers enamored of the romance of the time, and then we see the brutality of the time close up. We also see that question answered, both in the character who has become trapped in the past and the character who chooses to stay: what do they become, living in a very different set of circumstances?
DENNIS: I am also a Michael Creighton fan. Timeline was brilliant.
ANGELA: The aforementioned…..Melissa Mayhue and Veronica Wolff.
What kind of research did you do on time travel?
DENNIS: All of the time travel in my stories comes from my imagination. What I did have to research was the subject matter of my books. In other words, I had to research the various time periods. In order to write Parallel Roads (Lost on Route 66), I actually travelled a good portion of the decommissioned, yet historic route. That book was set in the present as well as 1946, so I had to research life in that one particular year for events, attitudes and speech patterns. Some of this just comes to me and I’m not sure why. I’m not a huge believer in the supernatural, but often I feel like I channel the time periods, somehow.
LAURA: I've done a bit of research both on time travel in literature--the history of authors using time travel, and the methods they use--and a bit of research on scientific looks into the possibilities. There are scientists who take it quite seriously and have some ideas about how it could be done. I also did a fair amount of reading on a phenomena known as time slips, in which--at least if the stories aren't hoaxes--there are those who believe they've accidentally slipped into the past.
ANGELA: I prefer it when people travel into the past rather than to the future.  Although, I do enjoy a bit of both.  I always do an extensive search of the time period my hero or heroine is traveling too. I love using stories that are based on true facts as inspiration.
DENNIS: I have read about people experiencing time slips with keen interest. I have a friend who swears he experienced it. I also prefer the past, Angela. There just seems to be more romance and intrigue there.
LAURA: Angela, I also prefer the past for my 'time travel experiences.'  I think it's because I'm curious about actual events, and how they affected people.
What is the mode of travel in your novels?
DENNIS: My answer is a little bit unique on this one. There are multiple components to being able to travel in time in my novels. First, a person has to be born with the God-given ability, but then they must know the secret, which is contained in the simple element of water. The water that is all around us and within us every day, is the same water that has existed in every time period since the Earth was formed. It is the conduit to every possible time period. So it is the same water as my character’s Kevin and Cheryl encounter down Route 66 in 1946, or Katya and Cyrus encounter during the great Chicago Fire of 1871 and even the Kennedy assassination of 1963. One could say that when Shawn Kleiner found himself in the world of medieval Scotland from your Blue Bells Chronicles, Laura, the same water was present as in the modern Lock Ness. That same water existed in the time period in which James came to Robin Summers, via Zahir the Genie in All Bottled Up in your story, Angela. I am not saying this was Shaun and James’s mode of transportation, just that the same water was in all these time periods. But it is water, along with concentration that my character’s use as their main mode of travel.
LAURA: Fascinating theory! To an extent, I used something similar--the idea that Shawn and Niall switch when they are both in a castle that existed both then and now. Of course, that's not the only time they switch. They also cross between time when a re-enactment of a historic battle (Bannockburn) occurs at the same date and place as the historic battle. The real answer, though, seems to be that the time switches only happen when Shawn and Niall are in those locations together, on the same dates. So as not to give away spoilers, I'll only say that the answer, for them, seems to involve a particular item and an ancient prophecy. But I leave it to the reader to decide, is it time travel that they can control, or is it the work of more powerful forces?
ANGELA: So far it’s been a genie’s bottle, ancient books or journals.
DENNIS: I love all of these modes of travel. Truly fascinating.
Do you think in future works (no pun intended) you might use a different method?

DENNIS: Sure, it’s possible. I don’t like to limit myself.
ANGELA: Absolutely! That’s what I love about time travel, uncovering different portals to the past!
LAURA: I'd have to agree. Anything is possible. When I finish The Blue Bells Chronicles (which I expect to conclude with the fifth book), I'll be getting back to another Work In Progress, tentatively titled The Castle of Dromore. Like The Blue Bells Chronicles, it's a story of modern and medieval Scotland, of past and present touching one another. But it's more via haunting and visions, than actual time travel.
DENNIS: The Castle of Dromore sounds fascinating.
LAURA:  Thanks, Dennis!  I'm looking forward to getting back to it!
Coming on January 20: Part Three of Four
Introducing the Authors:
Angela Rose

Ms. Rose loves reading, writing, history, romance and all things Scottish! She is a member of  Romance Writers of America, as well as its local chapter the Heart of Carolina and the Triangle Writer’s Group, both located in Raleigh, NC. All Bottled Up is her first time travel/romance. Look for her next book, a full-length Time Travel/Romance, Once Upon A Highlander coming soon.

Amazon: US UK  Nook 


Dennis Higgins

Dennis Higgins is world traveler and distant relative of Davy Crockett. A native of Chicago, Illinois, he has always possessed a romance with things of the past that are gone but not forgotten.  He now lives in the suburbs with his lovely wife, two dogs and three birds.
Among his influences are:  Richard Matheson, Jack Finney, Dean Koontz, Joan Wester Anderson, Peter S. Beagle and Audrey Neffenegger . The Time Pilgrims series is exciting and treasured and loved by young adult, new adult as well as adults.
You can find Dennis Higgins at:
Website  Facebook  Amazon

Laura Vosika


Laura Vosika grew up in the military, visiting salt mines, castles in Europe, and the historic sites of America’s East Coast. In addition to writing, she has worked as a freelance musician on flute, harp, and trombone, and teaches private music lessons.  She is the mother of nine children.