Legendary Rocks: OS Grid Reference – SE 01008 05072
Also Known as:
- Druid Stone
Dead easy! From the townships of Grasscroft, Uppermill, or Greenfield, take the legendary moorland road up to Saddleworth tops (A635), keeping your eye on the modern obelisk on the hilltop to your left and you’ll see a large rock outcrop almost next to it. That’s where you’re heading. Once you reach near the moorland level, walk in whatever way you see fit towards the obelisk and large stones. Enjoy…! I s’ppose though, it’d be better for you if you started from the valley bottom at Uppermill and walked up the hill.
Seemingly a ritual place of the sun, this fine site was known by the local folk-name of the Druid Stones, according to Jessica Lofthouse. (1976) But more importantly in legend, this great rocky outcrop was the abode of an old giant called Alphin, who had a rival called Alder who also wandered the moors here. Both these giants vied for the hand of a lady called Rimmon, who preferred Alphin to Alder. In good old fashioned ways they contested for her hand, throwing giant rocks across the moors at each other, but “Alphin was hit and killed, with Rimmon looking on.” His grave lies on these moors somewhere, seemingly unfound. …And intriguingly it seems that we’ve actually located a prehistoric tomb which may account for the legend of Alphin’s death! (Watch this space!)
A slight variation on the tale describes the Lady Rimmon to be of fairy stock, named ‘Raura Peena’ (a phonetic spelling of a local dialect name), who in one account from the Notes & Queries journal, 1850, tried luring a local man into her magickal recess of the Fairy Holes, on the slopes beneath the Pots and Pans Stone.
Local tradition also tells that the naturally-worn ‘bowls’ atop of the rocks held magical properties — water being collected from them was said to be good to cure eye problems. This is a curative theme we find at some bullauns, cup-marked stones and old cross-bases and would strongly indicates that pre-christian practices did once take place here.
- Lofthouse, Jessica, North Country Folklore, Robert Hale: London 1976.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian