We came to Hob Hurst’s House on our second Peak District holiday, pretty much exactly 18 years ago to the day. I remember a walk through the woods above Chatsworth, then crossing a boggy and wet moor under increasingly heavy rain. We were ill-dressed for open November moorland in the rain, and our first visit to a chambered tomb left both of us soggy and underwhelmed.
Since then we’ve been to a lot more prehistoric sites, and I’ve wanted to return here for ages. Funny how your memory is both accurate in details and completely faulty in the broader picture. As soon as we get here, I instantly remember the shape, size and layout of the mound with its squared-off bank and ditch. But I don’t recall the exposed stones of the chamber at all. I also have a recollection of a fairly flat landscape, perhaps the rain and cloud condensed the world around us that day. Today the views to the south are extensive and sweeping, taking in the deep valley of Beeley Brook, with the sharp line of Harland Edge above, then onwards to rising ridges and long hillsides fading into grey. The unmistakeable feature on the skyline is Minninglow, for all that I’ve never been there. For the second time today Stubob’s presence in these hills is palpable. Eyup Stu.
We stop here for a while and have a proper look at the chamber, noticing that the mound itself appears to be built at least partly of stone, another thing missed the first time. It’s too damp to sit and my wet feet are beginning to make me cold, and in any case there’s one more reacquaintance to be made today, so we head off downhill, following the line of the wood until we reach a field boundary.
Very bitter sweet visit today. My last visit was with stubob. Good company kept my spirits up though, and searching for the weird "banana" cairn along Harland edge. That's a very strange site indeed. Glad i made the effort to push on as we debated turning back twice.
As for HHH it was looking fine today. No rubbish laying around, no offerings etc bar a couple of flowers. There is a geocache in one of the corners, not that i mind of course, suppose it gets people to the site that wouldn't normally visit. :)
Following the difficulty I experienced in finding the Wet Withens stone circle I approached the visit to Hob Hurst’s House with a little trepidation. As this is an E.H. site I did not want to fail to find this one! As it turned out there was no need to worry as this site is very much easier to find and to access.
Rather than make directly for Hob Hurst’s House I chose to go via the Park Gate stone circle. I would certainly recommend this route as the walk takes about the same time, has a clear ‘path’ to follow and of course takes in an extra site – two for the price of one!
As before, I suggested the children stay with Karen as I think they are still a bit young for open moorland type walks. In hindsight Dafydd would have been ok for this visit.
I walked along the track which skirts the edge of the cheerfully named Hell Bank Plantation (actually quite pleasant), passing the Beeley Warren Cairn on the way. Where the track turns sharply to the south-west a ‘path’ continues to the north-west. Here you will find a small wooden sign pointing to Hob Hurst’s House (north) or to Robin Hood’s House (north-west along the path). Is Robin Hood’s House another name for Park Gate stone circle?
I carried along the path and shortly came to the stone circle (see other fieldnotes).
From the stone circle there were tyre tracks leading north towards the trees next to Hob Hurst’s House. I followed the tyre tracks and re-joined a ‘path’ near a small wooden walkway over a burn. The path continued north running parallel to the trees, up an incline. When you get to the highest point you will see a tall white metal pole which is painted red on top. Walk to the pole and you will then see Hob Hurst’s House to your right – behind a protective fence. This is crossed via a stile.
Reading previous fieldnotes I wasn’t expecting too much from this site but (probably because my expectation levels were so low) I was pleasantly surprised. The site occupies a prominent position on a ridge affording decent views. Hob’s House isn’t very big but it is in pretty good condition. The bank/ditch has been thankfully kept free of the ever invasive heather. The edges of the site have been marked out with small concrete posts.
The information board states this site was one of the first monuments to be taken into state care in 1882. I was surprised that such a small and remote site would have been one of the first to be protected.
I sat inside the inner depression (out of the wind) to write my fieldnotes and contemplated for a while. I knew I couldn’t be too long as the others had already been waiting a long time for me. The outer ditch is about 1.5m deep and the inner depression about 0.5m deep. The inner depression is lined with stones.
I headed back the way I had come but once I reached the little wooden footbridge I took the path south back to the car instead of the path west to the stone circle.
It takes about 15 minutes to walk from the car to the stone circle and then another 15 minutes from the circle to Hob Hurst’s House. If you walked direct to Hob Hurst’s House it would take about the same time – 30 minutes each way.
I was very pleased to have knocked this E.H. site off the list as it is one of the most awkward to visit. I think Hob Hurst’s House is well worth the effort.
Slightly more than a half mile north east of Park gate stone circle, and a pleasant walk up a gentle hillside with the goblins wood to the left and open moor and Harland edge to the right, crossing Harland sick on the way, there are four sicks in the vicinity, looked like a stream to me.
I had seen the pictures on here a long time ago and had since forgotten what the place looked like, so I was looking for a more normal cairn, all's I knew was it was on my must see list, so given a whole afternoon to myself there was only one thing to do, go round Hob's house.
Hob must have been livid when he saw what Bateman and his mates were up to, far too angry to have been simply mischevious, he must have exploded in a green cloud of desperate anguish, he could have decapitated them all in an instant, but this was the modern world now and the pact of non interferance with the pink skins left him impotant and empty.
Ive been to a few burial chambers and cairns but this place is unique, as I said, I wasnt sure what I was looking for, but when I found it a big smile came to me and I thought no wonder it was on my to do list. It is a little wonder is Hob hursts house, a big sqaure cist made of more than a dozen stones, on a big sqaure barrow surrounded by a sqaure ditch. It looked very much to me like a teeny weeny little Arbor low.
Someone has been here with the intention of displaying the barrow all the ditch was free of ferns and most of the chamber was clear also, I pulled a few out myself and then reclined for a while listening intently for distant whispering voices but only got bridsong, damn those flying mice.
An interesting site but what a mess. It sits in it's own little enclosure on Harland Edge with an information board next to it showing a plan of the bank, ditch, central cairn and cist which you need to study to get any understanding of the monument as the whole site is covered in a layer of bracken and heather. It consists of a central raised cairn (with traces of a stone kerb) that measures about 8 metres square and is about a metre above the surrounding square ditch. Within this central area is a cist which Bateman illustrated as being edged with 13 stones and containing a layer of charcoal with a collection of bones towards the north with a further group of bones as well as fragments of lead ore contained within an arc of stones in the south-eastern corner. He noted that the bones as well as the arc of stones were all fire scorched. The 3 metre wide ditch leads to square bank that measures a further 3 metres in width and stands about a metre tall although the northern side has been lost to a packhorse track.
I got the distinct impression that Hob Hurst's House and the group of barrows that follow the northwest-southeast line of Harland Edge formed part of a boundary or division of the moors between the sites of Gibbet Moor to the north and those of Beeley Warren on lower ground to the west.
Easy to find -- it's just next to the track (around SK288693), with a fence round it and an explanatory sign. From the south, there's a decent path up the side of Bunker's Hill Wood, and the track is well defined. The fence is presumably to exclude sheep -- there's a stile at the south corner.
It's a lovely area to stomp around in: the collection of stones about 100m to the south-east is fascinating, and there's a very nice marker stone (marking three ways -- Chesterfield, Sheffield and Bakewell -- presumably medieval) a few 100m to the east.
Hob Hurst's House is clearly defined, but not very exciting -- it's hard to see how it justifies its "Tourist attraction" symbol on the map. More might become clear in winter, but I expect the ground will get pretty soggy. (At the moment, the heather has had a fairly recent haircut.) You get some nice views, though.
It's difficult to know what to make of Hob Hursts House. It's an impressive structure sure enough, the bank and ditch inform you that this is not your run-of-the-mill burial mound, but what lets the place down is the big impenetratable blanket of heather and bracken that obliterates all but the largest features of what I'm sure is an excellent site.
Surely given the importance of this site and the fact that it is already fenced-off. Replacing the heather with layer of lovely turf would be far better?
I visited this site first in about 1989, when it was in rather a delapidated (literally) condition and had only a low wire fence around it. Visiting it for a second time in August 2002 I was pleased to find a proper fence and stile around it, therefore keeping the non-seeing from walking all over it, and that the shape of the tomb was much more clearly defined. English Heritage have now also provided an interpretation board', which explains that the poor state of the site is all due to Thomas Bateman's excavations in 1853, and not because English Heritage have neglected it. Ho-hum.
It was very overgrown with ferns and heather in August though. I shall return in Winter methinks.
A curious incident; I had not met a single person all that morning, walking over Gibbet Moor from the Robin Hood pub, but at Hob Hurst's House there was a couple; a middle-aged man and a small, younger, far-Eastern looking woman. The man was in the middle of the enclosure pleading repeatedly with the woman to climb over the stile into the midst of heather and waist-high ferns and see the ancient remains (which, to be honest, aren't exactly impressive). The woman, who was dressed in a skirt and had bare-legs, was understandably not going to do it, and the man started calling in Chinese (or maybe Japanese - hey, I'm no expert) for her to please please please see the 'wonderful' Hob Hurst's House. Eventually he gave in, and he petulantly led her off back across the moors.
If you were that man - shame on you sir!
One of a number of rectangular barrows/cairns in the Harland Edge area, above the Park gate Circle. The shape of the ditch and mound are clearly defined altho' covered in heather. An oblong of perhaps 8-10 stones, the remains of a cist, sits on its top.
"An interesting experience is to visit Hob Hurst's House, the Bronze Age tumulus up on Beeley Moor, especially at dusk. This ancient tomb is said to hold supernatural powers and if you listen carefully you may hear the voices of the original inhabitants."
"There was once an old woman who lived on the Eastern moors of the Peak District who offered shelter to Hob Hurst when he was in need. Whilst Hob was with her the woman was careful not to look at him for Hobs were known to be very shy, but when she was weaving she would often catch a glimpse of him from the corner of her eye. He was little with dark skin and gleaming eyes. She would often hear his singing which sounded like the wind blowing through the cotton grass of the moors, and when he was not singing it was laughter she could hear. His laughter was like the bubbling, chuckling streams that populate the moors. One day when the woman was ill, she was collecting water from the well when Hob disappeared into the rock that was near the stream and stayed there for a while. Upon drinking the water she was made well and the water tasted especially good to the woman ever after."
(c) Ben Littler
There are many references to the fairy Hob in Derbyshire, apart from Hob Hurst's House here. For example, there is another Hob Hurst's House in Deep Dale, south of King Sterndale.
It is said that Derbyshire farmers used to put a bowl of cream out to appease Hob, who like a brownie would then help with little odd jobs around the farm. If you didn't please him though, he would make mischief.
Hob is probably from the same root as Rob, and the many Robin Hood legends in Derbyshire may actually refer to the fairy Hob instead, a 'green man' of the forest.
It should be noted that sometimes Hob is depicted as a helpful giant, not a small creature, and 'Hurst' actually means a giant.
Hob Hurst was a good-hearted fairy who used to live in the forest now part of the Chatsworth Estate. He did all he could to be helpful, but wasn't really all that good at it. For example, one day he attached himself to a local cobbler who was travelling with his wares along the pack-horse track that goes by Hob Hurst's house. Hob followed the cobbler home and all the way implored with him that he could make shoes for the cobbler. The cobbler relented, and Hob Hurst set to work.
Hob made shoes alright, but he made them so quickly and so shoddily that all the cobbler could do to keep up was to throw the shoes out of the window as fast as Hob made them.
Hence the Derbyshire expression about something made too quickly: "Its bin done faster than Hob Hurst can chuck shoes out o' t' winder"