Knaresborough and The Original Witch

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  • Knaresborough

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Mother Shipton, the British Isle’s most renowned prophetess was born in a cave by the River Nidd in Knaresborough, Northern Yorkshire. This cave is famous for its petrifying water which turns everything to stone, it was considered a magical well for centuries and has been feared as well as used for healing purposes. The cave is dubbed England’s oldest visitor attraction.

Mother Shipton is surrounded by mysterious tales, in which she was born to an orphan child during a terrible storm and was large and mishapen, all the images of her make her out to be terribly ugly, the archetypal image of the horrid witch with warts on her long hairy chin that twists up and practically touches her nose.

She is said to have prophesied many things during her lifetime, including the Civil War, the dissolution of the monasteries, and the defeat of the Spanish Armada. She was born in 1488 and her original name was Ursula Sontheil. The tales surrounding her were passed down as oral histories and have blended with legend. A couple of her most famous prophesies:

Carriages without horses shall go,
And accidents fill the world with woe.
Around the world thoughts shall fly,
In the twinkling of an eye.

Over a wild and stormy sea,
Shall a noble sail
Who to find will not fail,
A new and fair countree
From whence he shall bring
A herb and a root
That all men shall suit
And please both the ploughman and the king.


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