Sacred Hill: OS Grid Reference – SE 0788 5981
Tons of ways here. To those who drive, take the Grassington-Pateley Bridge (B6265) road and a couple of miles past the village of Hebden, you’ll see the high rocks climbing on your southern horizon, with another group of rocks a few hundred yards along the same ridge. That’s it!
Archaeology & History
This is an awesome site, full of raw power. It commands a brilliant view all round, but it is the north which truly draws the eye’s attention. Beneath the great drop of this huge outcrop is the haunted and legendary Troller’s Ghyll. The scent of as yet undisclosed neolithic and Bronze Age sites purrs from the moors all round you and there can be little doubt that this was a place of important magick in ancient days.
What seems to be several cup-markings on one of the topmost rocks are, to me, authentic. Harry Speight mentioned them in his 1892 work on the Craven and Northwest Yorkshire Highlands – but there are a number of other rocks in this giant outcrop with “possibles” on them.
The name of this great rock outcrop has long been a puzzle to historians and place-name experts. One tale that was told of Simon’s Seat to the travelling pen of one Frederic Montagu in 1838, told that,
“It was upon the top of this mountain that an infant was found by a shepherd, who took it to his home, and after feeding and clothing it, he had the child named Simon; being himself but a poor man, he was unable to maintain the foundling, when it was ultimately agreed to by the shepherds, that the child should be kept “amang ’em.” The child was called Simon Amangham and the descendants of this child are now living in Wharfedale.”
The usually sober pen of Mr Speight thinks this to have been one the high places of druidic worship, named after the legendary Simon Druid. “It is however, hardly likely,” he wrote, “that he ever sat there himself, but was probably represented by some druidical soothsayer on whom his mystic gifts descended.”
I’ve gotta say, I think there’s something distinctly true about those lines. Visit this place a few times, alone, during the week, or at night – when there’s no tourists about – and tell me it isn’t…
- Bogg, Edmund, Higher Wharfeland, James Miles: Leeds 1904.
- Montagu, Frederic, Gleanings in Craven, Simpkin Marshall: London 1838.
- Speight, Harry, The Craven and Northwest Yorkshire Highlands, Elliott Stock: London 1892.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian