Ferryhill was then called Ferie, and wild boars during this period in history, were very common, especially on hilly areas and woodland, which the town was at the time.
The Boar or Brawn of Brancepeth - named after Brawn's Path -was a dangerous beast that had made its home on Brandon Hill, and walked the forests in 'ancient undisputed sovereignty'. The marshy and wooded land, extended from Croxdale to Ferry (Ferie) wood, now the present location of Cleves Cross Farm, was one of the boar's favorite haunts. The Brancepeth knights nor could the monks of Merrington were able to get rid of this creature: -
He fear'd not ye loute with hys staffe,
He ye for ye knyghte in hys mayle;
He cared ne more for ye monke with hys boke,
Than ye fiendis in depe Croixdale.
Then out spake Hodge yt wyghte soe bolde
Yt nous on Fery hlye;
And he hathe sworne by Seynct Cudberte hys rode
Yt thys horride brawne shall dye;
And he hathe dygged a depe, depe pit,
And strewed it with braunches so grene.
A brave knight, Hodge (Roger) de Ferie, decided to do something about the creature at Cliff Cross (now called Cleves Cross), where he carefully marked the boar’s tracks, dug a pitfall, and slightly covered it with ‘boughs and turf’. To toil his victim into the pit, he used some bait, possibly cow meat, and stood in the shadows of the bushes with his great sword.
‘At once with hope and fear his heart rebounds’
With the result, the gallant animal came trotting on his onward path, and noticing the passage barred up, it rushed headlong on the vile pitfall, where he sank right down, and was struck with the great sword of Hodge.
According to the tradition, the bold knight is buried in the grounds of Merrington Churchyard. Any rate, there is a coffin-shaped stone in the grounds rudely sculptured with a sword and spade on each side of the cross. Nowdays, the grave marker for Sir Roger de Ferie can be found in the North Wing inside St. Johns Church, Kirk Merrington.
The grave marker of Sir Roger de Ferie, at the North Wing, inside St. John's Church, Kirk Merrington
Permission from Ms. Mary Kell, Churchwarden of St. John the Evangelist Church, Kirk Merrington, to allow use of personal photography inside the church.
Photography by Darrell Nixon, 2006
The seal of the knight stills remains in the Treasury of Durham, which exhibits his old antagonist a boar passant. The seal of Maude, his daughter, and wife of Alan of Merrington, has the boar’s head.
|"Omnibus, &c. Rogerus de Ferie, Sal. Noverit universitas vestra me concessise, &c. dilectis Dominis meis Priori et Conventui Dunelm.totam culturam meam in villa de Ferie que jacet propinguior Porte Curie predictor. Dominor.meor.in eadem villa. T. Waltro de Ferie, Alano de Pitingdun, Johe Longo, Wilto fil. Turstani, Witto genero Turstani, Robto Capellano de Merington, Witto de Biscoptun, Robto de Burkinside, et multis aliis"|
From the Treasury of Durham
The Year is
Year is 1867
During the 19th Century, the farmer of Cleves Cross Farm discovered on the premises a stone, apparently the remnant of a cross erected to commemorate the victory, and in the year 1867, whilst repairs were in progress to the stack yard, a deep hole in the ground was found, and the local people in the village of Ferryhill believed that this was the exact pit to which the boar was decoyed.
Cross baring the location of the slaughter of the Boar of Brancepeth in 1208, at Cleves Cross.
Paul Perry's Website, on Jarrow, Co. Durham, UK: www.paulperryl.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk
The plaque commemorating the Boar's death is now in the possession of the Local Council. However to keep the memory of the legend going, you can go to the farm, and you will see built into the wall a big stone, and a little tablet that reads: -
just above ye
part of Cleves
Cross marks the
site where by
Was killed by
Roger de Fery
|The Cleves Cross Commemorative Stone (top) inside Ferryhill Town Hall||The Cleves Cross Commemorative Stone (bottom) inside Ferryhill Town Hall|
Photography by Darrell Nixon, 2006