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Burning of the Bartle, West Witton

Famous for the Burning of the Bartle festival, when an effigy of St Bartholomew is burned in the town. The festival takes place on the nearest Saturday to the 24th of August.

At 9.00 pm a life-sized effigy called the bartle is paraded through West Witton accompanied by repeated chants of the Bartle doggerel (below).  It is then stabbed and then set ablaze.  The root of the ceremony is supposed to relate to either: a pig thief who was executed in the 18th century after hiding in the local hills, some relation to St Bartholomew, or a giant who roamed the area. The following rhyme is associated with the ceremony:

In Penhill crags he tore his rags
At Hunter's Thorn he blew his horn,
At Caplebank Stee he broke his knee
At Briskill Beck, he broke his neck,
At Wadham's End, he couldn't fend.
At Briskill End, he made his end.
Shout boys shout.

(Source: From Edenvale to the plains of York: or, A thousand miles in the valleys of the Nidd and Yore by Edmund Bogg, 1894)

The following rendition of the doggeral is more accurate to that used in the actual ceremony:

On Penhill Crags he tore his rags
Hunters Thorn he blew his horn
Cappelbank Stee happened a misfortune and brak' his knee
Grassgill Beck he brak' his neck
Wadhams End he couldn't fend
Grassgill End we'll mak' his end
Shout, lads, shout!

Directions: On the A684 to the West of Layburn.

The 2011 Festival is on the 27th August and you can find more details on the Bartle Burning website.

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