THE romanticised version of Sir Bertram’s legend begins with him pledging to Isabel, daughter of Lord Widdrington, that he would carry out a daring deed to be worthy of marrying her. His chance came when Earl Percy led his knights into Scotland to attack Earl Douglas, but in a bloody battle Bertram was badly wounded and taken to Wark Castle where he asked for a message to be sent to Isabel, begging her to come to his side.
When she failed to arrive, Bertram and his brother discovered that she had disappeared on the journey to Wark and the two brothers decided to separate to search for her. When Bertram reached the castle of a Scottish chieftain where Isabel was being held captive, he saw a man dressed in highland costume who was about to take her away on horseback.
As he attacked and killed his ‘enemy’ – his brother in disguise – he also accidentally killed his betrothed. In penitence, he gave all his land and wealth to the poor and spent the rest of his life in a tiny hermitage beside the River Coquet.
An original three-part ballad written on the subject by Thomas Percy in the 18th century is reproduced, along with a description of the Hermitage and an outline of its history which first appeared in Ian Smith’s guide to Warkworth village.