Hades Hill, Whitworth, Lancashire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SD 909 202

Getting Here

The Hades hill cairn/barrow is located high on the moors some 3 miles north-east of Whitworth and the smaller village of Facit, near Rochdale. Its exact location is close to a footpath halfway between Hades hill and Rough hill, though it is not mentioned on modern OS maps. It is quite difficult to get to so be ready for a long hard walk.

Archaeology & History

This small, low barrow or cairn — a couple of miles north of the little-known Man Stone — measures 15 metres north to south, 13 metres east to west and is 0.9 metres high (about 3 feet in height). But not a great deal can be seen today.

It was excavated in 1898 when a number of artefacts were discovered near the centre of the barrow. The most famous of these ancient artefacts was a Celtic two-tiered urn (of the Pennine type) which had rope imprints and chevrons; inside this urn were the burnt bones of a female, flints, a scraper and a fine pointed borer. Other stuff that came out of the barrow included animal bones, charcoal, flint implements and an arrow head. The urn was placed in the hands of The March Collection at The Rochdale Free Library (now known as Touchstones). A more recent excavation was carried out in 1982 but nothing was recorded at this time. In Dr Whitaker’s History of Whalley, he described there being “the remains of a large beacon, with the foundations of a large circular enclosure” on Hades Hill.


  1. Abraham, John Harris, Hidden Prehistory around the North West, Kindle 2012.
  2. Barrowclough, David, Prehistoric Lancashire, Oxbow: Oxford 2008.
  3. Whitaker, Thomas Dunham, An History of the Original Parish of Whalley – volume 2, George Routledge: London 1876.

© Ray Spencer, 2011

Man Stone, Whitworth, Lancashire

Legendary Rock:  OS Grid Reference – SD 893 171

Also Known as:

  1. Monstone

Getting Here

Man Stone on 1851 map
Man Stone on 1851 map

In terms of getting here, follow the directions given by H.C. Collins (1946), who reached here from Healey, north of Rochdale.  “Once past Lousy Hillock the track continues in front of Brown House Reservoir… The track climbs Faffelty Brow under the lea of Man Stone Edge on the left”, above the Rossendale Way footpath. You can of course come straight up from Whitworth, heading up the eastern hill over Lobden golf course.  The site’s to the northeast edge of the course.


I first read of this a couple of decades back, in Jessica Lofthouse’s (1976) folklore book, but her pronunciation of the site — which I sought and sought, without success — made finding the place really troublesome.  Thankfully, the local guidebook of Harold Collins (1946) has brought this site into focus once more and, it would seem, the probable site of prehistoric archaeological remains.  But until we get over here and have a good look round, that aspect of the Man Stone will have to await assessment.

Collins (1946) described the “huge stone on the moortop on the left of the track” he’d been walking along, telling how “according to legend it bears the imprint of a human hand and was thrown (here) from Blackstone Edge by Robin Hood.”

Lofthouse (1976) told similarly when she was describing the folklore of Robin Hood’s Bed, about six miles east of here, by the Yorkshire-Lancashire border, saying,

“Robin was a mighty hurler as well as a bowman without peer.  To while away waiting time in the Bed he took a large boulder from the giant’s overspill at hand, threw it and watched its course.  Six miles away on Monstone Edge that boulder dropped, a feat amazing , and has been called Robin Hood’s Quoit ever after!”

But the “quoit”, said Lofthouse, was there centuries before any legendary Robin Hood — as it would have been.  As far as I can find though, no such prehistoric relic ‘officially’ exists upon this hill.  But as those of us who’ve been into seeking these old sites know, that doesn’t necessarily mean a thing.  Henry Fishwick’s (1889) notes about the markings on the rock — “and certain impressions on its surface are said to be the marks of the fingers and thumb of the thrower” —may also prove fruitful.

Adding fuel to an authentic animistic history is the existence, once, of the Old Man’s consort: his Old Woman, or Cailleach, whose well and other landscape features existed to the north.  Much of our peasant history is clearly just beneath the surface in this unexplored archaeomythic region…


  1. Collins, H.C., Rambles round Rochdale, Thomas Yates: Rochdale 1946.
  2. Fishwick, Henry, History of the Parish of Rochdale, James Clegg: London 1889.
  3. Lofthouse, Jessica, North Country Folklore, Robert Hale: London 1976.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian