Keys to the Past


Conyers, John

This is one of the legends of County Durham. Sir John Comnyers is reputed to have killed a monstrous and poisonous vermine which overthrew and devoured many people, nicknamed the Sockburn Worm. The event is first commemorated by a record in 1396AD. This ceremony has been re-enacted many times - usually when the bishop-elect for Durham first entered the county. In this the Lord of Sockburn met the Bishop in the Tees river giving a falchion (a sword with a curved edge) that is said to be the one used to kill the worm. The weapon is then returned to the Lord by the Bishop proposing his good health.

The legend is thought to have several possible sources; perhaps a victory over the Scottish or the Vikings of York. Regardless the Conyers family have been appointed to a range of posts within the Medieval Bishop's household staff.

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