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Gentleman's Magazine 1791 p.991
[bru]tality and depredation within his reach, retreated to this strong hold. This step is not so wide as to exceed the bounds of credibility; but the difficulty of escape afterwards arises from the most horrible situation any one must be in, every moment, by scrambling up a steep ascent upon the very edge of a naked precipice, with scarcely the appearance of security for either hand or foot: notwithstanding, to succeed in the attempt I am convinced is not impossible, especially where life or death are the alternatives. Returning by the same path, we passed the cave in an opposite direction, and came to a grotto, with a stone table in the middle, all cut out of the solid rock. This is said to have been done by the late Sir Christopher Musgrave, as occasionally a place of pleasure.
In some parts of the North of England it has been a custom, for time immemorial, for the lads and lasses of the neighbouring villages to collect together at springs or rivers on some Sunday in May, to drink sugar and water, where the lasses give the treat: this is called sugar-and-water Sunday. They afterwards adjourn to the public-house, and the lads return the compliment in cakes, ale, punch, &c.; and a vast concourse of both sexes always assemble at the Giant's Cave on the third Sunday in May for this purpose. Of this practice, Mr. Urban, I have been many years an eye-witness; and I shall be much obliged to any of your correspondents that can give me an account of the origin of this singular custom.
Two circular stone pillars, resembling ancient spears, near 12 feet high, and 14 assunder, point out to us The Giant's Grave, in Penrith churchyard; but the particulars of this curious monument of antiquity have been so frequently given, that to add here would be superfluous. Tradition, mostly something to rest upon, informs us that Torquin, refusing to obey the summons of King Arthur to appear at his Court, to answer for the ravages he daily committed, Sir Lancelot du Lac was dispatched to bring him by force. A battle was the consequence; Torquin fell, and was buried betwixt these pillars. The battle, I think, is celebrated in many ballads of the antient poets. The following, which I thought curious, may be met with in Percy's "Reliques of Antient English Poetry."
When Arthur first in court began, and was approved King,
By force of arms great vict'ries wanne, and conquest home did bring,
Then into England straight he came with fifty good and able
Knights that reverted unto him, and sate at the Round Table*.
And he had justes and tournaments, whereto were many prest,
Wherein some knights them did excelle, and far surmount the rest;
But good Sir Lancelo du Lake, who was approved well.
He for his deeds and feats of armes all others did excell.
When he had rested him awhile in play, and game, and sporte,
He said he would go prove himself in some advent'rous sorte.
He armed rode in forrest wyde, and met a damsell faire,
Who told him of adventures great, whereto he gave good eare,
"Such wold I find," quoth Lancelot, "for that came I hither."
"Thou seem'st," quoth she, "a knight full good, and I will bring thee thither,
Whereas a mightye knight doth dwell, that now is of great fame;
THerefore tell me what wight thou art, and what may be thy name."
"My name is Lancelot du Lake." Quoth she, "It likes me than,
Here dwells a knight who never was yet match'd with any man,
Who has in prison threescore knights and four that he did wound;
Knights of King Arthurs courts they be, and of his Table round."
She brought him to a river side, and also to a tree,
Whereon a copper bason hung, and many a shield to see.
He struck so hard the bason broke, and Torquin soon he spy'd,
Who drove a horse before him fast, whereon a knight was ty'd.
"Sir Knight," then said Sir Lancelot, "bring me that horse-load hither,
And lay him downe, and let him rest, we'll try our force together;
For, as I understand, thou hast, as far as thou art able,
Done great despite and shame unto the Knights of the Round Table."
* At Eamont bridge, not more than a mile and a half
from Penrith, is a circus, 40 yards in diameter, with a deep
ditch, having an entrance on the North and South; it is
called "King Arthur's Round Table." This, with the very fine
Druidical temple at Mayborough, close by, have frequently
been noticed by antiquaries.
|-- Giant's Caves
|-- Giant's Grave
|-- Maiden's Step