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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)