This hill had intrigued me since driving past it as a wee bairn in the back of the car on route to Cleveland from Yorkshire for regular visits to family in the 70s. Now as an adult I see that it can be seen when standing on Danby Rigg and is lined up with another smaller mound of similar shape in Fryup Dale called Round Hill, and a monument of some sort on the next Rigg. What is very strange is the perspective because the hill seems to get bigger and rounder as you get further away, and when you get up close it seems smaller. Looking at it from Danby Rigg it shows up through a gap between the valleys.
Described in the 18th century as "the Silbury of the North". This beautiful mother hill sits in the middle of Moorsholm moor a few hundred yards away from the busy A171. As its name suggests the hill was dedicated to Freya and was a focal point for ancient man. The hill is surrounded by groups of barrows and assorted earthworks. The summit bears the scars of two hundred years of treasure hunters seeking freyas hoard.
I can remember a few years ago when a unknown goup erected a number of brightly coloured flags on the summit, i'm sure the mother would approve.
I only leave the first bit in because it might be funny if you know someone from Whitby.
The People of Gisburgh are civil, cleanly, and well-bred, contrary to the Temper of the Inhabitants of Whitby, who, to us, seemed rude in Behaviour, and sluttish.
In the Way from Whitby to Gisburgh, we passed by Freeburgh Hill,, which they told us was cast up by the Devil, at the Entreaty of an old Witch, who desired it, that from thence she might espy her Cow in the Moor.
From p177 of 'Select Remains of the Learned John Ray, with his Life' by William Derham. Published 1760.
Online at Google Books. I think John Ray's journey was made in 1661.
The Sleeping Knights of Freeborough
One legend suggests there is a deep pit shaft running directly from the summit into the depths of the earth, and that this was used to bury hundreds of dead soldiers and horses after bygone battles.
Some say it contains the bodies of those who died during the black death: indeed a grave was found on the side of the hill during the last century. This was made of whinstone blocks, which had been carried three or four miles to this site, thus indicating a grave of some importance.
The is the legend of Edward Trotter who lived in a small holding in Dimmington.
When chasing a lost lamb he found a large hole the size of a badger sett. On crawling inside the hole he found a tunnel running deep into the hill. The tunnel grew larger as he passed through it. He then came across a huge chamber with a heavy oak door studded with iron with a large iron handle.
On entering the door, Edward encountered a man in chain mail with a long spear in one hand and a sword in the other.
The man awoke and stopped Edward from running away.
The man commanded Edward to be quiet. Edward notice that there were more men in similar dress all asleep and seated at a round table.
The guard informed Edward that "we are King Arthur and his Knights of the round table, we are sleeping until our services are again required.
He then swore Edward to secrecy and told him to leave.
An alternative explanaition for the name freebrough is from the Old English Frithborh meaning a pledge or guarantee or Freeborh meaning a free or frank pledge in relation to this conspicuous hill being a meeting place or court.
There may also be some confusion between borh meaning pledge and beorh meaning hill
"About a mile south from the village of Great Moorsham, stands FREEBURG-HILL,a detached mountain of a conical form, called by Pennant "a vast artificial mound or tumulus;" but it is evident, he oberserved it only at a distance; as there is a naturalrock on it's top now wrought as a quarry,which is a decisive proof thatit was not constructed merely by the hand of art . It is conjectured by some to have been a druidical work, onthe same model as Silbury-Hill in Wiltshire: but considering its altitude,situation and stupendous dimensions has a much greater solemity attached to it."
The History of Cleveland by Robert Graves published 1808