Cauld Lad of Hilton

Cauld Lad of Hilton A helpful but mischievous spirit, half BROWNIE and half ghost, who once haunted Hilton Castle in Northumbria, England.

According to legend, the Cauld Lad once was a stable boy, Roger Skelton, who was killed in 1609 by Lord Robert Hilton in a state of passion. The lord ordered the boy to fetch his horse and became enraged when he failed to do so quickly enough. He stormed into the stable and struck the boy with a hay fork, killing him. He tossed the body in a pond.

The spirit, a naked boy, would make nighttime visits to the kitchen of the castle, in a wing built in 1735. He was seldom seen, but was often heard singing sadly. He made clean what was dirty, and if he found no work to do he made dirty what was clean, and mixed the salt, sugar and pepper and upset the utensils and dishes. He is said to have once given a terrible fright to a servant who liked to sneak drinks from the cream. Once while doing so she heard a voice over her shoulder say, “Ye sip, and ye sip, and ye sip; but you never give the Cauld Lad a sip.” She fled in terror.

The servants eventually banished the spirit by laying out a cloak and hood of Fairy green one night. At midnight the Cauld Lad appeared. He donned the clothes and gamboled about the kitchen all night. At the hour before dawn, he drew his clothes about him and said,

Here’s a cloak and here’s a hood: The Cauld Lad of Hilton will do no more good.

With that, the spirit vanished forever. Hilton Castle is now in ruins.


The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits– Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley – September 1, 2007