Simon’s Seat, Skyreholme, North Yorkshire

Sacred Hill:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0788 5981

Getting Here

Simon’s Seat in the centre & the Lord’s Seat immediately east

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.

Folklore

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…

References:

  1. Bogg, Edmund, Higher Wharfeland, James Miles: Leeds 1904.
  2. Montagu, Frederic, Gleanings in Craven, Simpkin Marshall: London 1838.
  3. Speight, Harry, The Craven and Northwest Yorkshire Highlands, Elliott Stock: London 1892.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Simons Seat

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Simons Seat 54.034216, -1.881182 Simons Seat

Nursery Knot, Appletreewick Moor, North Yorkshire

Sacred Hill:  OS Grid Reference – SE 081 636

Also known as:

  1. Nursa Knott
  2. Nursery Hill

Getting Here

Dead easy.  Follow the Grassington-Pateley Bridge road (B6265) east and about 2 miles past Hebden village, the craggy hill rises to the left-hand side of the road, as you can see in the photo below.  Simple!

Archaeology & History

Nursery Knott hill
Nursery Knott hill

When fellow rock-art freaks Graeme Chappell, Richard Stroud and I were exploring the cup-and-ring stones in the area just south of here a few years back, this hill kept calling out with some repeated awe. “There’s summat about that place,” were the remarks we kept saying – but we could never put our finger on it. (still haven’t if truth be had!).  Between here and the awesome Simon’s Seat to the south, a whole panoply of neolithic and Bronze Age remains scatter the land — and if ritual landscape has any validity, this hill is undoubtedly enmeshed in the mythic framework of such a paradigm. But without any folklore I didn’t feel right to include it here…

At the northern or rear-end of this great outcrop (SE 082 640) is a scattering of many boulders, one of which in particular at Knot Head was explored by a Mr Gill in 1955 and found to have a number of Mesolithic worked flints all round it. Seems as if folk have been up to things round here for even longer than we first thought.  Microlith or flint-hunters would probably do well on the moors up here!

Folklore

It’s the old pen of our Yorkshire topographer Edmund Bogg which brings the lost folktale of this place back to life – and it’s typical of aboriginal creation myths from elsewhere in the world. In his Higher Wharfeland he had this to say of old ‘Nursa Knott’, as it was locally known:

“The old legend is that the devil, for some reason anxious to fill up Dibb Gill,* was carrying these ponderous crags in his apron when, stumbling over Nursa Knott, the strings broke and the crags fell. Legend also says, should the crags be removed they will be carried by some invisible power back to their original position.”

He then reminds us of links with old Wade, plus the settlement of old Grim, a short distance to the north.

Across the road down the track running south to Skyreholme, Jessica Lofthouse ( 1976) told the tale of a ghostly horseman, seen by her great-grandfather no less! Suggesting he may have been ‘market merry’ (i.e., pissed!), she told how he “struck out at a spectral white horse at the Skyreholme three-land ends near Appletreewick – and his stick passed through it!”

References:

  1. Bogg, E., Higher Wharfeland: The Dale of Romance, James Miles: Leeds 1904.
  2. Lofthouse, Jessica, North Country Folklore, Hale: London 1976.
  3. Walker, D., ‘A Site at Stump Cross, near Grassington, Yorkshire, and the Age of the Pennine Microlithic Industry,’ in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, 1956.

* Dibb Gill is nearly a mile due west of here – and Dibble’s Bridge which crosses the beck was also known as the Devil’s Bridge, with a few typical creation myths of its own attached.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Nursery Knott

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Nursery Knott 54.068275, -1.877723 Nursery Knott