Satan, nine-foot Romans and a mass execution … welcome to Tyne & Weird!

Sunderland University graduate Rob Kilburn who has written a new book called Tyne and Weird.
Picture: David Wood


COVID-weary folk wanting a break from the current craziness can take a look back at past weird happenings, thanks to a University of Sunderland graduate.

Film-maker Rob Kilburn has turned his hand to writing for his latest project, examining strange tales-of-old from across the North East.

Folklore, urban legends, strange happenings and eccentric characters from history are all brought to life in Rob’s new book, Tyne and Weird.

Creating the book has been a passion project for the 26-year-old, from Seaburn, Sunderland, who was inspired after creating the popular Tyne & Weird Facebook page.

Rob, who studied Digital Film Production at UoS, said: “I knew this book was a goal I wanted to work towards.

“When I first started making films, I was hearing all these incredible and bizarre stories about subjects which were sometimes centuries old.

“It was always going to be hard to make documentaries about them, because they were folklore. That’s when I started the Facebook page, which then evolved into the book.”

Presented as a gazetteer, the book is great for dipping into but, equally, can be read from cover to cover.

It will fascinate locals who thought they knew all about the Tyne and Wear area, and also visitors wanting to find the more quirky stories that the guide books rarely include.

Such stories include:

  • An incident in the 17th Century … ‘when the devil himself visited Newcastle’
  • The nine-foot ‘Roman skeleton’ found in a Sunderland quarry
  • One of the largest mass executions of witches – which occurred in Newcastle


Rob, who is currently working on a documentary about the North East punk scene, previously made a film on the history of Sunderland’s controversial Blue Monkey and New Monkey music venues – Two Monkeys.

Rob added: “I’m planning on making more films and possibly another book. This has been a great experience and I hope people enjoy discovering Tyne and Wear’s weird and wonderful past.”

Tyne and Weird can be pre-ordered from Waterstones by clicking here.

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