How Hall, Newby
|Newby and Howe Hill|
Here evidently men have warr’d with men,
In deadly combat, in some bygone age,
Which I would fain record upon the page
Of Cleveland’s History: alas! my pen
Can only chronicle—that such has been! 5
But when, or by who, the fierce fight was fought,
The Historian cannot picture as he ought,
And only surmise that the strife was keen
From broken swords and armour, and the bones
Of men manuring the land which they defiled. 10
Yet blame not him who fought for wife and child
Against the vile marauder; for the groans
Of a down-trodden people o’er must be
More than a trumpet-call to Death or Liberty.
George Markham Tweddell
I think Tweddell is referring to the village of Newby (in modern day near the Coulby Newham estate on the outskirts of Middlesbrough. There is a Howe Hill and Howe Lane there with tales of a battle.
Thanks to Em Inkles who found this site with quotes from two of Tweddell's fellow local historians - John Walker Ord and John Graves, whose books he was familiar with and who he also knew. Tweddell spent a life time collecting materials for his own People's History of Cleveland.
Tweddell, a careful historian, refrains from speculating here about the battle, while Ord and Graves offered -
(The following quotes are from this site - http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/3124/howe_hill_newby.html
Graves had this to say in his 1808 book The History of Cleveland.
"Within this township, and nearly at an equal distance between the villages of Seamer and Newby, there is a remarkable tumulus, significantly called HOW-HILL, which is not known to have ever been opened. In the fields adjoining towards the south, on the side of a hill, are evident marks of entrenchment; and in the valley or plain beneath, it is reported that armour, swords and human bones have been frequently turned up by the plough."
The line about 'armour, swords and human bones' is almost the one in the poem.
"The parish of Seamer contains several objects of antiquarian interest. The most important is How Hill, a large tumulus, half way between the villages of Seamer and Newby, close to a farmhouse, the property of Colonel Wyndham. This is, perhapsthe most complete of the Cleveland tumuli; but whether Celtic, Roman, or Saxon, we have no sense of judging, not having had the opportunity of exploring the interior. he tenant assured us that some years ago he assisted in partially examining this ancient memorial, but found nothing except large masses of freestone, with fragments of bones".
"There is one possiblity, unknown to Graves; that this is not the site of the Battle of Bardon-Hill but of the so-called Battle of Catterick. If the band of heroes from Manau Gododin had sheltered in the ruins of the Roman town whilst they drank for a year, then their last hopeless battle against the Saxons may well have been to the east, towards the coast. Unfortunately for us, Polydore Vergil was allowed to ship all his working papers to Rome, and with them went perhaps many written sources of the period, which are now lost. Instead of speculating about Arthur, modern historians might be better occupied searching in some mouldering archives in Rome for these early accounts".
The North York Moors