And now we may make a brief reference to an old belief which has died out with a bye-gone generation. Half a century ago the fairies were supposed to have local habitations in our district [..] Brinkburn and Harehope Hill too they frequented. Old Nannie Alnwick, the widow of the last of the ancient race of Alnwick, the tanners, had faith in the good folk, and set aside for them "a loake of meal and a pat of butter," receiving, as she said, a double return from them; and often had she seen them enter into Harehope Hill, and heard their pipe music die away as the green hill closed over them.
p 439 in volume 1 of George Tate's 'History of the borough, castle and barony of Alnwick' (1866).
Harehope Hill has a couple of cairns on it on the current OS map. The Keys to the Past website suggests there would have been many other Bronze Age cairns up here too. Some swords were found here in the 19th century, which have been taken to mean that the hilltop was reused for burials in the Anglo Saxon period. The map also shows some shakeholes. And they're a bit weird.
Mr S. Holmes (treas. and a vice-pres.) read the following notes:-
"On a recent visit to Eglingham I was shown a tank cut out of a mass of sandstone rock projecting in a curved form from the peaty surface. The rock is situated on the moor a short distance above the farm buildings of Harehope, and the trough or tank cut into it occupies a considerable proportion of the exposed rock. It is 7 ft. long and 5 ft. wide at the higher end, 4 ft. 6 in. wide at the lower, with depths ranging from 2 ft. to 2 ft. 3 in., and the floor rises from the outlet about 9 in. to the high end, thus giving a gradient of about 1 in 10. The sides and bottom are cut with the skill of a quarryman. And at the lower end the rock has been cut away on the outside so as to leave only a thin plate like the end of an ordinary trough which has a drainage hole cut through it, and there is no provision for inflow or of overflow.
Altogether the excavation has a modern appearance, but there are on each side of it what appears to be work of pre-historic date, viz.:- two small circular cup markings having roughly chased channels from them. The western one ending in a cross marking like a shark's tail, but owing to the overgrowth of turf I was unable to follow the eastern one to its termination.
There is also a neatly cut bevelled hole on the west side of the trough, about two inches square. It is difficult to imagine what might have been the original purpose of the tank. Local tradition assigns it to the preparation of wine from the juniper berries, but seeing that the cubic contents, after allowing for the rise of floor, would have been about 500 gallons, it is difficult to think that 'schnaps' upon so large a scale would have been manufactured there.
Other theories about the tank incorporate the medieval hospital for lepers that was nearby. The pastscape record for the hospital says "the cistern is situated between the 500' and 600' contour on the E side of Harehope Hill and 1/4 mile NW of the farmhouse." It sounds interesting but I wonder what Knowledgeable Opinion has to say on the rock art. Maybe the carvings aren't exciting enough for the Beckensall archive as I couldn't find them on there, or maybe they've been discounted?
From the Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, vol 9, 1899.