Here Be Dragons, Part Four...
Some notes on Monks and Ghosts

St. Benet's Abbey (and the ruins thereof) have a sinister reputation in
folklore, and there is some hint of a diabolist cell working secretly
within the monkish fraternity. One of these diabolists forms the basis for
the ghost of the Abbey, which i guess might be worked in to a good
storyline for a saga, so by way of apology I'll recount it here...

During the Norman Conquest and the years which followed while hereward the
Wake conducted his heroic guerilla warfare in the Fens St. Benets, a
powerful house woning land throughout Norfolk by grant of Canute but
physically isolated in the wild and eerie marsh also resisted the invaders.
Eventually a Norman army was raised and marched to put down the rebellious
monks, but the strong flint fortifications of the Abbey with it's castle
like walls and the marshes trecherous nature held the Normans off. The
Normans however managed to make a deal with a worldly monk, and it was
agreed that he would be made Abbott if he betrayed his fellows by opening
the gate. Some say he went beyond worldly, that he had made a deal with the
Devil himself, and in this eerie marsh who knows how corrupted some monks

He carried out his plan, and the Normans massacred all who resisted. Then
in front of the assembled monks, the betrayer was crowned with a mitre and
given the Abbott's symbols of authority. the Normans kept there bargain -
to the letter. As soon as the investiture was complete they threw a rope
around his neck and hanged him from the Abbey gateway. On moonless his
struggling figure appears hanging from the gate, reflected in the dark
waters of the rushing River Bure below the drawbridge...

One wonders why no exorcism was conducted - perhaps the monks felt it was a
fine warning to traitors and the impious???
St Benet's Abbey will have a high dominion aura, but the marshes around may
have a diabolical aura of 1 at night, 3 on moonless nights. It is possible
that the troupe may have to stay at the Abbey and learn the story, perhaps
first hand... and why has the Bishop of Norwich, with close ties to the
Monastery, taken no action???

An almost identical story is told of Howes Hill near Barnham where a Saxon
Monk is said to have betrayed the town of Thetford to the Vikings, in
return for a 'high position'. The Vikings kept their word, hanging him
from a tree on this isolated burial mound, already thousands of years old.
Howe Hill is also traditionally a place where pacts with the Devil could be
made - it features on my map of the NW Liberty of St Edmund, and I think
has a diabolical aura of 1, 2 at night and 4 on moonless nights or Unholy

Finally while on the subject of religious houses - a period tale,
historically accurate, dating from the reign of King John, so very recent
for 1220! On the North Norfolk coast, about 5 miles south (thus inland) of
Wells-On-Sea stood Binham Priory. Following a sacandal the Prior was
deposed, but his great friend Robert Fitzwalter the local lord would not
accept this and immediately called up his knights and laid siege. The
siege went on for some weeks, with the monks and locals holding off the
knights behind their walls - finally King John intervened, it is said with
a cry of 'By God's feet, either I or Fitzwalter must be King of England!'
when Fitzwalter ignored his royal order to desist. Finally John was forced
to send troops to impose peace... It is interesting to try and work out
how a group of monks kept Fitzwalter's mena t bay - perhaps the troupe
could be within, covertly sabotaging the siege by magic? It would be easy
to redate the siege to a date in 1220 with William the Marshall imposing

Another possibility is the secret underground passage said to link Binham
Priory with the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingam 3 miles
away. The passage is said to be haunted and treacherous (associated with
the fiddler in passage folklore motif) but may have allowed supplies and
sympathetic knights access during the siege.

Having said all that I suppose I should briefly mention Walsingham. In
1161 the Lady of the Manor, Richeldis de Faverches (I assume an apocryphal
name or normanisation of her name?) had a vision in which the Virgin Mary
instructed her to build a replica of her house in Nazareth where the
Annunciation had occurred here in Norfolk. The field where the Marian
Apparition appeared was damp,(with two springs) but had two possible dry
building spots: work began on one but the timbers would not square and
problems kept occurring. undeterred Richeldis spent the night in prayer -
in the morning the House was completed by Grace of god, but on the other

This is one of the most Holy spots in England - it's role in the Medieval
Church was similar to that of Lourdes today, and it is still a centre of
pilgrimage. Out of respect i will leave you to assign your own game
mechanics such as Domion Aura, but miracles are common here. IN the 12th
Century a House of Augustinain Priors was founded to look after the shrine
by Richeldis' son, and during the Crusades it was said by some that Mary's
original house was now here, transported by Angels because the holy land
was ruled by Saracens. In AM this may be literally true!

(I hasten to add that I mean no disrespect whatsoever to any of the great
religious traditions I deal with in this set of campaign notes, and I hope
none will be taken...)