By Tim Price – The Price Report (Great Britain)
Mother Shipton’s Cave, in the Royal Forest of Knaresborough in Yorkshire, is probably the oldest tourist attraction in the country. Part of it forms a petrifying well that, while it sounds terrifying, has the slightly more mundane characteristic, being rich in minerals, of slowly turning anything left there to stone. Visitors tend to leave teddy bears at the site.
Mother Shipton herself, Ursula Sontheil, was widely regarded as a witch. It is said that at her birth, in 1488, there was a smell of sulphur and a great crack of thunder. A contemporary of Nostradamus, she appears to have been somewhat deformed.
She was most famous for her prophecies. It was believed that she could predict the future. She would become known as Knaresborough’s Prophetess. She died in 1561 at the age of 73.
Mother Shipton predicted the dissolution of the Catholic Church under Henry VIII. She predicted the fall of Cardinal Wolsey, and the ascent of Queen Elizabeth. She forecast television and radio, ships made of iron, and arguably the California gold rush.
But probably her most notorious prediction was that “The world to an end shall come, in eighteen hundred and eighty one.” She was clearly off a bit on that one.
Given the self-evident inaccuracy of forecasts of the end of days, their popularity does seem somewhat bewildering. Wikipedia lists literally dozens of them.
Up until now, of course, they have all been the equivalent of the boy who cried wolf.
For as long as I’ve been working in the capital markets, there have also been sceptics warning of the demise of the biggest bond bubble in history. Like the boy who cried wolf, they have all been discounted and (rightly) ignored.
This time, however, they could finally be justified.
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