THE HETHERINGTONS, an ancient border family sometimes known as the ‘Hoddrings’, are believed to be originally Norse or Viking.  According to celebrated historian and author George MacDonald Fraser’s scholarly book “The Steel Bonnets – The Story of the Anglo-Scottish Border Reivers”, Hetherington is a Norse name (Hetherings, Hoderings). Their family seat was historically at Walton, more specifically Hethersgill, and the family was a notorious Border Reiver family of the West English Marches frontier (North Cumberland), with a probable bastle [fortified farmhouse] at High Gate. A document of 1600 refers to an old house with thick walls of the Hetherington family at High Gate, a sensible insurance policy for when rival Reivers came to call with their “lang spears” akimbo. There are no visible remains today. In the reign of Henry VIII (1509-47), George Hetherington, king’s bailiff, “kept watch and ward” in the parish of Kirklinton, on the west marches, and Ambrose Hetherington was vicar of Kendal in the reign of Elizabeth (1558-1603).

Thomas “the merchant” Hetherington reaches out to grasp the farmer’s payment, while a well-armed William Hare looks on. Note the sturdy construction of the bastle house, the small windows and the ladder that allowed access to the doorway, which is situated well above ground level. Illustration by G & S Embleton in Keith Durham’s book – Border Reiver 1513-1603.