The Ghost of Linstock, Part 1

Okay, so that is unfortunately an overly optimistic title.  The Ghost of Linstock--one Bishop Ireton--is an elusive ghost, at least on the internet.  Can you really blame him?  He died in 1282, when the internet was not even a gleam in Al Gore's eye.  What does he know about haunting the internet?

haunted castle, bishops of carlisle, ralph irton, ralph ireton
From ghostsnghouls.com
Sadly, the story, which I stumbled across while researching MacDougall's whereabouts, is out there just enough to be tantalizing, but not enough to give us any more details.  Would it be a spoiler to say why I'm researching MacDougall's whereabouts?  Maybe.  But readers of The Blue Bells Chronicles will know that MacDougall escaped, taking Christina with him.  Niall, the Laird, and Hugh, losing patience with MacDougall, are seeking him out.  In their pursuit, they end up in Merry Olde England, although I doubt they viewed it as very merry.

By the year 1317, those who had not sworn fealty to Bruce lost their lands in Scotland.  Of course--even this simple statement requires a little bit of background.  Those who have watched Braveheart may view the Scottish nobles as...um...wishy-washy at best.  Evil, horrible, awful, no-good traitors who abandoned William Wallace and his men to be decimated at worst.

I personally think it's incumbent upon us to understand the times before passing judgment.  We may yet pass judgment, but we must understand the times first and consider what we ourselves would have done in the same situation.  In 1296 when Alexander died, many Scottish lords had lands in both Scotland and England.  Imagine that you, personally, have a home in your own state, but also a couple of houses and a factory and a business, in states on the opposite side of the country.  These homes are beautiful and cost you a small fortune.  These businesses are providing you income that gives you the life you're used to.

Taking a stand means you lose your beautiful home...perhaps your beautiful home with beautiful gardens or acres of forest or peaceful lakes.  It means you lose your company that you've spent your life building, that provides your children with their beautiful home, their horse-riding lessons, their tennis lessons, ski vacations, dinners out, private schools, nice cars, and more.

In fact, taking a stand means you might end up being sliced open from sternum to uh...much lower down...and having your bowels lifted out and burned before your glazed-in-horrendous-pain-but-still-operating eyes while you contemplate further torture.

This was the time of the Scottish nobles of the late 1200s and early 1300s.   Perhaps I digress a bit.  We were talking about Alexander MacDougall, of the Thieving MacDougalls.  He has not sworn fealty to the Bruce.

And why did this matter?  Because the Bruce saw that his country had been compromised by money: by men who hesitated to stand for their country, for their people, because of split loyalties.  He believed in mercy.   That is a story unto itself.  But he also saw that these split loyalties were tearing his country apart and harming the people of Scotland.  He was a man who believed in mercy...but he took a hard stand here for the better good: swear fealty to Scotland, or forsake your lands here.

It's possible I've digressed again.  Or perhaps I'm only laying the historical groundwork--The History Behind the Story.  MacDougall is now in England because he has not sword fealty to the Bruce.  Perhaps he is reluctant to lose his lands in England.  Perhaps they provide him more income than his lands in Scotland.  Not that MacDougall is my favorite among all those who populate The Blue Bells Chronicles by far...but his choice is understandable.  If you had two jobs and must choose between them, are you going to pick the one you like that pays $30,000 a year or the other one that's okay, but pays you a million a year?

Linstock Castle, Cumbria, Bishops of Carlisle
So...MacDougall has perhaps never been a fan of the Bruce anyway and has now fled to England.  But he has an interim stay in his flight: The Bishop's Palace at Linstock, once spelled Lynstock, and called the Bishop's Palace because it was used by the bishops of Carlisle--one of whom is said to still haunt the place.

This is the sort of place that's a novelist's dread or dream, depending on your view.  Little is written about it--leaving room for the imagination.  Very little is written about it--meaning it's impossible to be accurate.  Yet the details that are there are fascinating--leading to the temptation to 'information dump' to tell the reader about this interesting place.

But why would Niall and Hugh discuss the ghost of Bishop Ireton in their pursuit of MacDougall?  They likely wouldn't.  And so, I'll tell about it here...tomorrow!  Stay tuned!



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