The legend of Prince Oswy at Roseberry Topping

It's no wonder that Roseberry Topping has inspired many myths and legends, © Gareth Wilson

It's no wonder that Roseberry Topping has inspired many myths and legends,

The legend of Prince Oswy is quite well known and features in many historical books. Perhaps we'll never know how much of the story is true.

A long, long time ago lived Oswald, King of Northumbria. He and his wife had a son whom they loved very much. They named him Oswy after his father.

Then one night the Queen had a terrible nightmare. In it she dreamed that her beloved Price Oswy would drown on the day of his second birthday. So vivid was the dream that she was convinced it must be a premonition.

When she told King Oswald he summoned together all his wise men to give their advice. After much discussing the wise men agreed – the dream was destined to come true and Prince Oswy was sure to drown on the day he turned two.

The queen was distraught, but determined that she would prevent her son’s untimely death. She decided to take Prince Oswy somewhere where there was no deep water. She travelled south and climbed to the summit of Roseberry Topping. Exhausted from the long journey and convinced Prince Oswy was finally safe she fell asleep.

Unbeknown to the queen there's a spring known as Roseberry Well close to the summit. As she slept Prince Oswy wandered off to explore...

On awakening and finding Oswy's lifeless body in the well the queen was inconsolable. So bad was the grief that she also died soon afterwards. Heartbroken, King Oswald decreed that the pair should be taken away and buried together in Tivotdale and that this burial place should have its name changed to Oswy-by-his-mother-lay. Over time this name was shortened and we now know it as the village of Osmotherley.