Gilsland, on the Northumberland–Cumberland border, is in modern gazetteers assigned to Northumberland, Gilsland Spa to Cumberland. Nineteenth-century authors do not always make this distinction. William Henderson, for example, in his Folk-Lore of the Northern Counties (1866), after talking about the Cauld Lad o’ Hilton (see HYLTON CASTLE, Co. Durham), writes:
A friend of mine, who was born and brought up in the Borders, tells me of another Cauld Lad, of whom she had heard in her childhood, during a visit to Gilsland, in Cumberland. He perished from cold at the behest of some cruel uncle or stepdame; and ever after his ghost haunted the family, coming shivering to their bedsides before anyone was stricken by illness, his teeth audibly chattering; or, if it were to be fatal, laying his icy hand upon the part which would be the seat of the disease, saying,
‘Cauld, cauld, aye cauld,
An’ ye’se be cauld for evermair!’
This sad (and for the beholder horrifying) apparition plays the part of the Irish banshee, acting as a family death-warning. Few, if any, such warnings, however, were as specific in the information they had to impart.