Long, long, longer ago than you should care to remember there lived two rich brothers. Now, these brothers weren’t ordinary men but giants with fine homes and a shared, grand, oak chest full of treasure.

One brother lived atop the hill at Norton Camp, the other at Stokesay Castle. And as for their treasure, that was kept hidden beneath Stokesay Castle so none of the little people nearby could get near it.

Two giants, one treasure chest and only one golden key which the brothers took it in turns to keep safe.

And what happened when one giant wanted to count the gold coins?

He would bellow across the valley and his brother would throw the key, soaring over the River Onny and straight into his hand.

That is until one day when the throw was short, and the key fell with a glittering splash into Stokesay Castle moat.

In amongst the marestails the newts caught sight of the beautiful trinket and claimed it as their own. They hid it away in the muddy depths where only newts could go. No matter how the two giants searched they could not find the key in the murky waters.

Where is the treasure now?

It’s still there, under the castle, but don’t dare to go in search of it. The giants vowed if they weren’t to have it, no-one else would. They put their pet, a giant black raven with a sharp, sharp beak to guard it. If you go in search of treasure he’ll be watching you with his beady eye.

en français

Le Trésor de Stokesay

Il y a très, très longtemps, plus longtemps que vous aimeriez vous en souvenir, vivaient deux riches frères. Or, ces frères n’étaient pas des hommes ordinaires mais des géants avec de jolies demeures et un grand coffre de chêne à tiroirs rempli de trésors.

L’un des frères vivait au sommet de la colline, à Norton Camp, l’autre au Château de Stokesay. Quant à leur trésor, qui était gardé caché sous le Château de Stokesay, nul parmi les petites gens du voisinage ne pouvait s’en approcher.

Deux géants, un coffre à trésor et seulement une clef en or que les frères gardaient en sûreté chacun à leur tour.

Et que se passait-il lorsqu’un géant voulait compter les pièces d’or ?

Il hurlait à travers la vallée et son frère lui jetait la clef qui s’élevait dans les airs, par-dessus la rivière Onny et atterrissait dans sa main.

Il en fut ainsi jusqu’au jour où le lancer fut trop court et que la clef tomba, dans un retentissant éclaboussement, dans les douves du Château de Stokesay.

Parmi les prêles, les tritons aperçurent ce joli bijou et en revendiquèrent la propriété. Ils cachèrent la clef dans les profondeurs boueuses où seuls les tritons pouvaient aller. Les deux géants eurent beau chercher, ils ne purent trouver la clef dans les eaux ténébreuses.

Où est le trésor aujourd’hui?

Il est toujours là, sous le château, mais ne vous avisez pas de partir à sa recherche. Les géants firent le serment que si eux ne devaient pas l’avoir, personne d’autre ne l’aurait. Ils postèrent leur animal en sentinelle, un corbeau noir géant avec un bec très, très pointu. Si vous allez à la recherche du trésor, il vous aura à l’œil.

Translation: Euro Langues Assistance & Tradufrance

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Background facts

Stokesay Castle

Stokesay Castle isn’t actually a castle but a fortified manor house. It was built between 1291 and 1305 by a rich wool trader called Lawrence of Ludlow. He bought the site from a Norman family named de Say who had erected the first house around an old Saxon hall. In Anglo-Saxon stoke means farm, so Stokesay means the de Say family farm.

copyright Gordon Dickins

Stokesay Castle has a dry moat, but that has not always been so. A print of the castle dating back to 1731 shows a moat full of water. It would have been channelled from the pond and stream nearby.

The “Castle” is one of the best preserved houses of its type in Britain and well worth a visit. It is managed by English Heritage who have produced a very interesting audio tour which you should take care not to miss.

Don’t get the idea this story is true, there is no evidence of any treasure. And if you tried digging in and around the Castle you’d get into a lot of trouble.

Norton Camp

Norton Camp Hill, the site of the second giant’s home, is topped by an Iron Age Hillfort. This is by no means as spectacular as other hillforts found in Shropshire but the walk up the steep thickly wooded hill is very pleasant.

The Newts

In the painting you can see a female great crested newt (left) and a male palmate newt (right). These are two of the native British species of newt, the third being the common or smooth newt.

Newts spend summer and autumn living on land, winter hibernating and only in spring can they be found in ponds. They go to ponds to pair-up and mate and lay their eggs on pond plants. The young are born in the pond as tadpoles with feathery gills, some change into newts by the middle of August but many over-winter as tadpoles in the pond.

Marestails

Marestail is a waterweed often seen in ponds and shallow water in Britain. Its tiny pink flowers have no petals and grow at the base of the leaves by the stem. Artistic licence allowed me to put the flowers on the tips of the plants, so my marestails are unique!

The Key

The key is based on a Viking key found at the remains of the Viking capital of Britain, Jorvik, in modern day York.

The Vikings invaded Britain on June 8 793AD and later set up their capital at Jorvik where they were ruled by Eric Bloodaxe. Viking rule (or Danelaw) only lasted for about 90 years before the Saxons recaptured the city.

en français

Le Château de Stokesay

Le Château de Stokesay n’est pas vraiment un château mais un manoir fortifié. Il fut construit entre 1291 et 1305 par un riche marchand de laine appelé Lawrence of Ludlow. Il avait acheté le site à une famille normande appelée de Say qui avait érigé la première maison autour d’un vieux manoir saxon. En anglo-saxon, stoke signifie ferme, ainsi, Stokesay signifie la ferme de la famille de Say.

copyright Gordon Dickins

Le Château de Stokesay dispose de douves asséchées, mais il n’en a pas toujours été ainsi. Une gravure du château datant de 1731 montre des douves remplies d’eau. Elles étaient canalisées depuis l’étang et la rivière toute proche.

Le ‘Château’ est l’une des maisons de ce type les mieux préservées en Grande-Bretagne et vaut bien qu’on la visite. Il est dirigé par le Patrimoine Anglais qui a produit une cassette audio de la visite très intéressante que vous devriez ne pas manquer.

Ne vous mettez pas dans la tête que cette histoire est vraie, il n’y a aucune preuve d’un trésor quelconque. Et si vous tentiez de creuser ça et là autour du château, vous auriez beaucoup d’ennuis.

Norton Camp

Norton Camp, le site de la demeure du second géant, est surmontée par une colline fortifiée de l’Age de Fer. Elle n’est pas du tout aussi spectaculaire que d’autres collines fortifiées qu’on peut trouver dans le Shropshire mais la promenade sur cette colline escarpée et aux bois touffus est très agréable.

Les Tritons

Le tableau représente un grand triton femelle à crête (à gauche) et un triton mâle palmé (à droite). Ce sont deux des espèces de triton d’origine britannique, la troisième étant le triton commun ou plat.

Les tritons passent l’été et l’automne à terre, l’hiver en hibernation et on ne peut en trouver dans les étangs qu’au printemps. Ils se rendent dans les étangs pour s’accoupler et pondent leurs oeufs sur les plantes lacustres. Les jeunes naissent dans l’étang à l’état de têtards et sont dotés de branchies duveteuses, certains se transforment en tritons à la mi-août mais beaucoup restent à l’état de têtards pendant tout l’hiver dans la mare.

La Prêle

La prêle est une herbe aquatique qu’on voit souvent dans les étangs et les eaux peu profondes de Grande-Bretagne. Ses petites fleurs roses sont dépourvues de pétales et poussent à la base des feuilles à la tige. La liberté artistique m’a permis de mettre les fleurs sur les pointes des plantes, c’est pourquoi mes prêles sont uniques!

La clef

La clef est inspirée d’une clef Viking trouvée dans les ruines de la capitale Viking de Grande-Bretagne, Jorvik, dans le York actuel.

Les Vikings envahirent la Grande-Bretagne le 8 juin 793 et établirent plus tard leur capitale à Jorvik où ils étaient gouvernés par Eric Bloodaxe. Le règne viking (ou loi danoise) ne dura que pendant environ 90 ans avant la reprise de la ville par les Saxons.

Translation: Euro Langues Assistance & Tradufrance

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Key Stage 2 Activities

More Than Your Wildest Dreams

Imagine you and a friend find the giants’ treasure. Now you are rich what will you spend all your money on? Make a list of the first five things you would buy.

A View From The Bottom Of The Pond

The painting is seen from the viewpoint of a pond snail on the bottom of Stokesay Castle moat. Can you imagine what the world above water would look like to a fish.

Draw a picture and ask a friend if they think you’re right.

Where Did They Come From?

The key in the picture is modelled on one found at the Viking city Jorvik. No doubt, you’ve all heard of the Vikings, but do you know where they came from? Three of the countries listed below are correct, which are they?

  1. Denmark
  2. Germany
  3. Spain
  4. Norway
  5. Sweden
  6. France

You can find out if you are right by clicking on Answers to activities at the foot of the post, but make sure you try to solve the other questions on this post first or you’ll be given spoilers.

If Only…

Stokesay Castle’s moat has dried up so this story could not happen now. Lots of things would be very different if only a few details were to change.

Think up some one-liners of the consequences of:-

a. Children going to work while their parents went to school.

b. Television never having been invented.

Do You Know About Newts?

There’s more than one kind of newt. Can you find out which three species of newts are found in Britain?

If you that answer you’ll probably know when is the best time to find a newt in a pond.

Is it:

a. Winter
b. Spring
c. Summer
d. Autumn / Fall

Why not visit a local pond to see if you can spot a newt or any other wildlife.

The Three Ravens

Three Ravens is a very old English song about the death of a knight. Listen to the music file and see if you can fit the lyric to the tune. “Leman”, mention in the last verse, is an archaic word for a ‘beloved sweetheart’.

See lyric…

The Three Ravens

There were three ravens on a tree. Down-a-down, hey, down-a-down
And they were black as black can be. With a down.
The one of them said to his mate, “Where shall we our breakfast take?”
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

Down in yonder green field, Down-a-down, hey, down-a-down
There lies a knight slain under his shield. With a down.
His hounds they lie down at his feet. So well can they their master keep
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

His hawks they fly so eagerly. Down-a-down, hey, down-a-down
There is no fowl dare him come nigh. With a down.
Down there comes a fallow doe, As great with young as she might go
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

She lifted up his bloody head. Down-a-down, hey, down-a-down
And kissed the wounds that were so red. With a down.
She got him up upon her back, And carried him to the earthen lake
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

She buried him before the prime. Down-a-down, hey, down-a-down
She was dead herself ‘ere evensong time. With a down.
God send to every gentleman Such hawks, such hounds and such a leman
With a down, derry, derry, derry down, down.

Answers to activity questions-

The Vikings came from Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

The three types of native British newts are the Great Crested Newt, the Palmate Newt and the Common or Smooth Newt.

You are most likely to see a newt in a pond in Spring.

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