Tyne and Wear HER(7852): Fatfield, Worm Hill - Details
Fatfield, Worm Hill
According to the legend, the "Lambton Worm" coiled itself three times around the hill. Some say that this relates to Penshaw Hill where the Earl of Durham's Monument is located (HER 3094) - there are earthworks around Penshaw Hill. The young heir of the Lambton Estate, according to the rhyme, was finishing one Sunday when he was supposed to be at church, and caught an "evil-looking worm" which he tore off his hook and through down a well. Whilst the boy grew up and went abroad to fight, the worm grew in the well until it had the strength to climb out. Eventually it slithered out, basked on a rock during the day, and then coiled itself round the hill near Lambton Castle. It became the terror of the neighbourhood, eating sheep, lambs and cows, trampling cornfields and meadows. In desperation the farmers filled a trough in Lambton Castle with milk, and the worm drank the equivalent of the yield of nine cows every day. Many knights tried and failed to kill the worm. After seven years the young Lord of Lambton returned from battle. He consulted a witch who told him that after he had killed the worm, he must slay the first living thing he met, or the Lords of Lambton would be cursed, never to die in their beds for nine generations. Lord Lambton stood on a rock in the river, his armour studded with blades, and cut off part of the worm's tail. The worm coiled itself round the Lord's body and legs, and was cut by the spear blades on his armour. The Lord cut the creature into pieces, which were washed away by the River Wear. Seeing the death of the monster, the young Lord's father rushed to congratulate him. The son could not obey the witch's advise and so killed a hound which had come out of the wood. So the worm was slain, but it was said that for nine generations no Lord of Lambton died peacefully in his bed.
Frank H. Rushford, c1950, Houghton le Spring: A History, pp 80-81; Raymond Selkirk, 2001, Chester-le-Street & its place in History, pp 350-352