|The name 'Ailey Hill' was previously "Elueshou" (or -howe) - that is, Elf Barrow.* It doesn't sound like a very Christian place to be burying people. Perhaps that's why the church took it over.
Other stories are connected with the site:
There remains.. a monument of some dreadful carnage that occurred here awhile after [the Danes]. This is a large conical tumulus at the east side of the town, about a bow shot from the cathedral, composed throughout of sand, gravel, and human bones, mingled in that indiscriminate manner that would occur when the victims of the battle-field were hastily collected in one vast mound, that served alike as their memorial and their tomb. The teeth and bones of horses, too, have been found in quantities within a short distance around its base.(Walbran immediately denies any belief in this ridiculous idea.)
This singular and mysterious object, which was called in Leland's time Ilshow, but now Ailey Hill, measures about three hundred yards in circumference at its base, and about seventy in sloping height.
Etymologists have connected its name with a presumption that Ella, the Northumbrian king, fought, or was subsequently slain here in 867, and that he, or those who fell with him, were deposited in a "how" or hill that was designated by his name.
From p 6 of Walbran's book, and p112 of Semple's article.
*disappointingly, Alaric Hall's comprehensive Elf essay denies this.
Posted by Rhiannon
27th October 2007ce
Edited 24th November 2007ce