King Oswald’s Gray

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On Christmas Eve,  1959, I drove along the  Old Roman road  between Greenhead and Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The  night was wet but I was  anxious to reach home and help the children decorate the Christmas tree, and so I pushed my car at a fast clip.

Suddenly my mother put her hand on my shoulder and  said, “Steady, Son, there is  danger ahead.”

Puzzled and excited at seeing her again- for Sarah Ann Schofield, my mother, had been dead for some years- I  turned to speak to her.  She had disappeared.  I shrugged off the incident as being a hallucination  brought on by  fatigue and continued on.

I was still musing over the incident when my  headlights illuminated a group of horses trotting across the road. I hit the brakes but  because of my speed I was  sure I couldn’t avoid them. My  auto slid toward them and right on through the last of the  horses.

When the car came to a stop I climbed out and walked  to the side of the road to see  where the horses had gone.  To  my astonishment,  there was no sign of them and no marks or breaks in the hedge that lined both sides of the road.

Getting back into  the car,  I glanced up the road to see a huge log  stretched across it. It was a large piece of tree trunk, newly felled, about four feet long. With considerable difficulty I rolled  it into the hedge. I surmise it had fallen off a  logger’s lorry.

Had I continued into the log at the speed I was traveling,  I never would  have been home for Christmas.

After the holidays I told a friend, Professor D.  Russel, a  lecturer in psychology at Newcastle University, about my  Christmas Eve experiences.

When I described  the place where I had seen the horses,  he told me that King Oswald of Northumbria had fought  a  battle at that spot in A.D. 600. There is  a cross by the  roadside commemorating this event, but I had not known  about it.

Our conversation cleared up a small mystery in connection  with the  horses. One horse, a gray, had had a leather piece over its back. This was not like a  modern saddle but was  just a simple leather piece with loops for stirrups.

The design and markings on it had been quite clear and distinct, with the  colors blue, red, and  green. Professor Russel explained  that  the design and colored markings as I described them were of a saddle worn more than one thousand years ago when  king Oswald was riding into battle.

James Schofield (as told to Mary Crowe)

Bristol, England

January 1967

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