The Ghosts of Swarkestone Bridge
Swarketsone Bridge features in my historical romance, ‘A Kiss for a Highlander’. One of the characters, Lord Jack Lindsey, is wounded in the skirmish and is close to death when he is rescued by his friend, Fraser Lachlan. Swarkestone Bridge, over the River Trent in Derbyshire, was built in the 13th century and is the longest stone bridge in England. According to legend the bridge was commissioned by two beautiful noble sisters of the Bellamont family. The sisters were betrothed to a pair of knights who, during the engagement party were called away to a meeting of the barons. During the meeting, rain swelled the river making their return to over the fording point hazardous. Both knights missed the ford when they urged their horses into the river and they died whilst the sisters looked on. Devastated by the loss of their loves the sisters decided to have the bridge built. The cost of the bridge is said to have ruined them and unable to forget their loves, they never married. The sisters are believed to haunt the bridge on stormy evenings when the water is high.
On the 4th of December 1745, the Jacobite army led by Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) reached Derby. An advance party of seventy loyal highlanders were sent to secure Swarkestone Bridge and prevent King George’s men from crossing the River Trent. The bridge, six miles south of Derby is believed to be the southern most point reached by the rebels in their advance towards London. The Jacobites held the crossing until 6th December 1745. Due to lack of support in England, the prince reluctantly followed advice and began the long retreat north, a journey which would end in bloody defeat at Culloden. There have been many reports of ghostly shouts and the sound of horses hooves across and around Swarkestone Bridge and it is believed that the ghosts of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s loyal Jacobite troops still defend the bridge to this day.