Untouched for 200 Years: The Curse of “The Dirty Bottles” at Ye Olde Cross, Alnwick

dirty-bottles-alnwick (All images by Barry Chaplin, Schoolcroft.com, reproduced with permission)

Ye Olde Cross public house in the Northumbrian town of Alnwick is known locally as “The Dirty Bottles” – for somewhat foreboding reasons. Located on Narrowgate near the mighty Alnwick Castle (which stood in for Hogwarts in the first Harry Potter film) the front window of the pub boasts a curious scene – a collection of dirty bottles from a bygone era.


Legend has it that, two centuries ago, the innkeeper dropped dead while interfering with the bottles in the window. His widow declared that anyone who did likewise would suffer the same fate. As a result, the “Dirty Bottles” were sealed between two windows and have lain untouched ever since.



The pub’s official name likely references a cross of the de Vescis, Norman Lords of Alnwick, probably looted from the castle and now to be found on the front wall of the inn. Meanwhile, two other local curiosities include the White Swan Hotel, whose bar is fitted with the ballroom of the scrapped liner Olympic (sister ship of RMS Titanic), and the Poison Garden.

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