Discover the Dales

Legends of the Dales

Mother Shipton's Cave

Mother Shipton

It was said that Mother Shipton was born an illegitimate child, Ursula Southeil in 1488, in a cave off the River Nidd in Knaresborough in North Yorkshire. She married local carpenter Toby Shipton at the age of 24 and over time became known as Mother Shipton.

The tales indicate that people believed Mother Shipton to be a witch, an ugly old lady, with a large nose and warts all over her face. But this isn’t why the legend of Mother Shipton lives on, it is due to her remarkable ability to predict the future. It was her prophetic writings that began to appear in 1641 that made her into a Yorkshire legend.

Her prophecies were forewarnings that were feared as many came true.  Many of the dark prophecies were written as poems came true in her life time and shortly after her death.  Such as the invention of iron ships and the great fire of London.

Her most famous prophecy was that of Cardinal Wolsey. Cardinal Wolsey was appointed the archbishop of York yet Mother Shipton’s prophecy indicated that he would never reach York. In his fury of such defiance he threatens that on his arrival to York he will see Mother Shipton burnt on a stake for reasons of which craft. Mother Shipton only laughed and repeated her prophecy.

Cardinal Wolsey never did reach York. He was arrested for high treason by order of the King and died on his journey back to London.

Mother Shiptons House