|"Then Whitby's nuns exulting told,
How to their house three barons bold
must menial service do;
They told how in their convent-cell
A saxon princess once did dwell,
The lovely Edelfled;
And how of thousand snakes, each one
Was changed into a coil of stone
When holy Hilda pray'd -
Themselves, within their holy round,
Their stony folds had often found."
Marmion, canto ii
Sir Walter Scott.
Ord comments on this
" Sir Walter like all true antiquarians, had large faith. "These miracles" he says, "are much insisted on by all ancient writers who have occasion to mention Whitby or Saint Hilda. The relics of the snakes which infested the precincts of the convent, and were at the abbess's prayer not only beheaded but petrified, are still found about the rocks and are termed by protestant fossilists Ammonitae"
The History and Antiquities of Cleveland
Posted by fitzcoraldo
7th October 2002ce