Michael Linton's Bayeux Tapestry: 1066 - A Medieval Mosaic and Puzzles
BATTLE ABBEY ROLL.
ACCOUNT OF THE NORMAN LINEAGES.
IN THREE VOLUMES.—VOL. III
JOHN MURRAY, ALBEMARLE STREET.
PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED,
STAMFORD STREET AND CHARING CROSS.
This electronic edition
was prepared by
Michael A. Linton, 2007
(Soules, Leland): from Soules, arrondissement of St. Lo. "The men of Sole," according to Wace, were conspicuous at the battle of Hastings, "striking at close quarters, and holding their shields over their heads so as to receive the blows of the hatchet." The fief of Soules was held of the Honour of St. Lo at the time of the Conquest; but was soon afterwards granted to the chapter of Bayeux. Under Henry II., there was a William de Soules who held three knights' fees in Normandy; two of them in the Comte of Mortaine.—M. de Gerville. John Soule, of Salop and Oxon, and Ralph Soule, of the latter county, occur in the Hundred Rolls about 1272. In the Camden Roll the arms are thus given: "Munsire Bartho de Sulee l'escu d'or a deux barres de gueules." The Kentish family of this name (of whom John de Soles bought Betshanger in 1347) derived it from the manor of Soles (Domesday) in the parish of Nonington. This family was in early times most powerful in Scotland, where it gave its name to the barony of Soulistoun—now Saltoun—in East Lothian. Ranulph de Soulis witnesses a Stirling charter of David I.: and either he, or one of his successors, is styled Pincerna Regis. They were frequent benefactors to Newbottle Abbey and other monasteries; and "their power," says Sir Walter Scott, "extended over the South and West Marches, where they appear to have possessed the whole district of Liddesdale, with five rich baronies in Roxburghshire. Near Deadrigs, in the parish of Eccles, in the East Marches, their family bearings still appear on an obelisk. William de Soulis, Justiciarius Laodoniae, in 1281, subscribed the famous obligation, by which the nobility of Scotland bound themselves to acknowledge the sovereignty of the Maid of Norway and her descendants; and in 1291 Nicholas de Soulis appears as a competitor for the crown of Scotland, which he claimed as the grandson of Margery, a bastard daughter of Alexander II., who, could her legitimacy have been ascertained, must have distanced all other competitors. His grandson was John de Soulis, a gallant warrior, warmly attached to the interests of his country, who, with fifty Borderers, defeated and made prisoner Sir Andrew Harclay, at the head of three hundred Englishmen, and was himself slain fighting, in the cause of Edward the Bruce, at the battle of Dundalk, in Ireland, 1318. He had been joint-warden of the kingdom with John Cummin, after the abdication of Wallace in 1300, in which character he was recognized by John Baliol, who, in a charter granted after his dethronement, and dated at Rutherglen (1302), styles him Custos regni nostri. The treason of William, his successor, occasioned the downfall of the family. This powerful baron entered into a conspiracy against Robert the Bruce, in which many persons of rank were engaged. The object, according to Barbour, was to elevate Lord Soulis to the Scottish throne. The plot was discovered by the Countess of Stratherne. Lord Soulis was seized at Berwick, although he was attended, Barbour says, by three hundred and sixty squires, besides many gallant knights. Having confessed his guilt in full Parliament, his life was spared by the King; but his domains were forfeited, and he himself confined in the castle of Dumbarton, where he died. From this period, the family of Soulis makes no figure in our annals."
Tradition, however, tells a widely different tale. It recounts how Lord Soulis retreated to his Border castle of Hermitage, and fortified it, by the help of a familiar sprite named Redcap, whom he held in thrall by magic spells; how he forced his unwilling vassals to labour, like beasts of burden, in dragging materials for the work; and how, worn out by his cruelties, they laid their case before the King. They could not tell how to help themselves. Not only was the sorcerer of prodigious bodily strength, but he was held to bear a charmed life, not to be harmed by "forged steel," and not to be bound by chain or "hempen band." Again and again did they present themselves with their complaints and grievances, till at last the King, wearied and irritated beyond endurance, peevishly exclaimed, "Boil him an ye list, but let me hear no more of him!" The messengers, accepting this as their answer, departed forthwith; and when the King, thinking over his hasty words, and of the savage temper of the men to whom they had been spoken, hurriedly sent over to the Border to recall them, the work was already done. They had managed to seize Lord Soulis in despite of Redcap, and carried him to the Nine Stane Rig (an old Druidical circle on the hill descending to the Water of Hermitage), where they swung a huge cauldron on an iron rod laid across two of the stones, kindled a fire beneath, and made it red-hot. Then, rolling up the wizard in a sheet of lead, they plunged him in, heaped on fresh fuel, and boiled him till they had melted "lead, and bones, and a'." It is said that this cauldron was long preserved at Skelfhill, a village between Hawick and the Hermitage. The stones used are still pointed out; and on the place where they "boiled the pot" no grass has ever been known to grow. The old castle itself—half buried as most old buildings are—is believed to have sunk into the ground "under the load of its iniquity": and the wizard's chamber still harbours the demon to whom Lord Soulis, before crossing its threshold for the last time, flung the keys over his left shoulder, bidding him keep them till his return. Once only in seven years Redcap unlocks the door. "Into this chamber, which is in reality the dungeon of the castle, the peasant is afraid to look; for such is the active malignity of its inmate, that a willow inserted at the chinks of the door is found peeled, or stripped of its bark, when it is drawn back."—Sir W. Scott. The Borders are rife with stories concerning this wicked Lord Soulis. Close under his castle wall is the deep black pool in the Water of Hermitage where his great Northumbrian rival, the Cout of Keeldar, was held down by the spears of his troopers till they had drowned him. A young chief of the Armstrongs, who had once saved his life when in great jeopardy, and sheltered him under his own roof at Mangerton, was brought as a guest to the Hermitage, and, while sitting at supper, treacherously put to death.
- ↑"Redcap is a popular appellation of that class of spirits which haunt old castles. Every ruined tower in the S. of Scotland is supposed to have an inhabitant of this species."—Sir Walter Scott.