Upsall and its Crocks of Gold

Castle remnants including more recent wall

I’m sure I’d heard this one a long time ago, it’s a story about travelling far but then realising that treasure can be found at home… and if you don’t believe it’s true, just look for the elder tree in the old castle grounds.

High up on a spur of the Hambleton Hills, overlooking the great Vale of York and the hills beyond it, and the whole country, from York into the county of Durham, stands the small village of Upsall. In this village they tell a story of a man, in days of old, found treasure near their old castle.

At the village of Upsall resided, many years ago, a man called George, who dreamed, on three nights successively, that if he went to London Bridge he would hear of something greatly to his advantage. He pondered this a while, but thought it best to take note of these dreams and set off to the capital as soon as he could.

George went, taking many days to travel the whole distance from Upsall to London on foot. Having arrived there, he waited near the centre of the bridge, until his patience was nearly exhausted, and he began to feel he had acted very foolishly indeed. A kindly Quaker, who had passed him by earlier in the day, stopped to ask why he was waiting there for so long. After some hesitation George told this kindly stranger about his dreams. The Quaker laughed at his simplicity, and told him that he had had that night a very curious dream himself, which was, that if he went and dug under an elder bush in Upsall Castle Yard, in Yorkshire, he would find a pot of gold, but he did not know where Upsall was, and inquired of the countryman if he knew?

George, reluctant to share this possible bounty, claimed he had never heard of such a place, and then, thinking his business in London was completed, returned immediately home.

As soon as he arrived in Upsall, he grabbed his spade and went to the old castle yard, without even stopping for a rest and a drink. George dug beneath the bush, and there found a pot filled with gold coins, but on the cover was an inscription in a script he did not understand.

He hid the gold in a safe place, secure he had made his fortune, but the pot and cover were put on display in the village inn. One day, a bearded stranger came in, and while waiting for his food, saw the pot, and exclaimed with surprise!

‘Why have you a pot lid, with writing in the old language?’ He asked the locals. No one replied to him, so this time he asked ‘Do any of you know what it says?’.

They admitted they did not, so the stranger took the pot lid down and read it out to them:

Look lower, where this stood

Is another twice as good’

The man of Upsall, one of the crowd, upon hearing this slipped from the inn, grabbed his space, and dashed to the old castle. This time he dug deeper below the bush, and found another pot filled with gold, far more valuable than the first.

It had taken longer to dig up the second pot than the first, and it was after dark before he managed to struggle home with his treasure. When he woke up the next morning, he emptied the gold out and noticed that this also had an inscription on the lid. It was a repeat of the first one, which he remembered had been translated as:

Look lower, where this stood

Is another twice as good’

He went straight back to the castle, and the hole which he had not yet had time to refill. Encouraged by the inscription, he dug deeper still, and found another pot which made him rich until the end of his days.

If anyone should doubt this story, then find your way to the old castle at Upsall and you’ll find the bush still there that hid the treasure beneath it. Just look for an old elder bush, near the north-west comer of the ruins.