|Hen Pit Hole lies between Langtoft and Kilham. In Langtoft you can see a stone slab embedded in a house wall, which tells of the huge flood in 1892 when the waters rose to 7 1/2 ft above street level. The local well, 'Toon Well' filled with debris - quite impressive since it was 126ft deep (it's now covered over). When there's been very wet weather and the well rises like this, water starts gushing out of Hen Pit Hole with enormous force.
It was said that a man could ride a horse under the spectacular arch of water without getting wet. John Nicholson reported on his website (http://www.helperthorpe.freeserve.co.uk)
that his own father had been able to pass under the water 'in a crouching attitude'.
The traditional explanation for the name 'Hen Pit Hole' is that a gypsey* put a hen into the well at Langtoft, and it reappeared at the site. The dell is supposed to be haunted by a ghostly hen and her 9 chicks!!
However, it's been suggested that because the intermittent phenomenon at the site is/ would have been so impressive, it would have been a natural focus for 'nature worship' - or what you will. Perhaps the name Hen comes from Hen Wen, reputedly a "Celtic" goddess connected with water. Or perhaps the Norse water goddess Ran, who had 9 daughers.
*Is this just confusion with the gypsey of the 'Gypsey Race' - the intermittent springs of the Wolds?
(I'm not sure if this is the same gypsey as the one going past Wold Newton)
Posted by Rhiannon
8th May 2002ce
Edited 13th May 2007ce