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Benebalcrag, May 7th 794 — by Robert Westall

The links above are to a previously unpublished story by the North Shields novelist, Robert Westall (1929-1993). It takes place in Tynemouth during a Viking raid in the 8th century and is written in a style alluding to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.

So many of us grew up captivated by the stories of Robert Westall, such as The Machine Gunners and The Watch House. As a boy from Tynemouth, these stories carried extra significance and wonder for me and my friends. For children like us, playing around Tynemouth’s idyllic and endlessly curious Priory, beaches and village, his stories directly fed our imaginations and quests for adventure.

Given that this site is dedicated to the history of Tynemouth and shares the same esoteric name of the story, it’s a privilege to be able to share it and to provide readers with the work of such a celebrated novelist, while preserving publicly this hitherto unknown story for future generations.

Robert Westall’s works are held by the Seven Stories National Centre for Children’s Books, based at the Ouseburn in Newcastle. Many thanks go to the contributors and curators of this fantastic resource for children, including Lindy McKinnel, Michael Geary and Georgia Glover of David Higham Associates. Thanks also goes to the Westall estate for granting me permission to publish this on

Luan Hanratty


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