Roulston Scar, Hambleton Hills. In some parts the rock is perpendicular, and has the appearance of an irregularly built castle. The foreground of this for fifty or one hundred yards is covered with massive blocks of stone, evidently thrown off by some convulsion of nature. On the side of the rocky wall is a fissure opening into a small, narrow cavern, called the Devil's parlour, from the common disposition to attribute what is at once gloomy and marvellous to infernal agency, especially when in any way connected with heathen worship, of which there are not wanting traditions in the immediate vicinity.
For instance, the vale below dividing Roulston Crag from Hood Hill is called ' The Happy Valley' but the intermediate distance is less auspiciously named ' The Devil's Leap! for which this reason is given by the village oracles. The Happy Valley was a famous retreat of the ancient Druids, who without molestation or disturbance had for centuries practised their incantations upon the poor deluded inhabitants.
When the first Christian missionaries visited Yorkshire, they sought out the hidden retreats of Druidism, and one of them had penetrated the Happy Valley to the no small dismay of the Druidical priest The ancient Britons listened patiently to the statements of the Christian missionary, weighed the evidences in their own minds, and were perplexed as to their future procedure. In this dilemma a conference was appointed, in which the advocates of Druidism and Christianity were to meet in public contest in order to decide which of the two systems had the best claim to their worship and submission. The meeting, as usual, was appointed in the open air, at the foot of Roulston Crag. The intellectual assailants met, and the devil, in the garb of a Druidical priest, came with the worshippers of Baal. The Evil One placed his foot on one of those mountain rocks, and being foiled in his arguments by the powerful reasoning of the missionary, flapped his brazen wings and fled across the valley with the stone adhering to his foot, the heat of which (they say) melted a hole in the top, until he came to the ridge of Hood Hill, where he dropped the massive block, leaving the missionary the undisputed master of the field. This account will of course be received as a legend, but it is a matter of fact that a large stone weighing from sixteen to twenty tons of the same rock as Roulston Scar, is deposited on the ridge of Hood Hill, bearing a mark on the top not unlike a large footprint.
Vallis Eboracensis : comprising the History and Antiquities of Easingwold and its Neighbourhood.
By Thomas Gill.
Publications of the Folk-lore Society
Posted by fitzcoraldo
7th December 2007ce
Edited 7th December 2007ce