Fin Cop is going to be excavated again in July and August of 2010 by Clive Waddington of Archaeological Research Services in conjunction with the National Park Authority, Longstone Local History Group, English Heritage and Natural England and funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
Open days will be held every Saturday of the five week dig; July 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st meeting in the Monsal Head car park, overlooking the viaduct, at 11am and 1pm.
Bruvvs describes Fin cop as a fabulous place, he in my opinion was only half right, it is indeed a place, but as to it's fabulousness I can not attest.
Ive never really felt at home in the Peak district, even though its the only national park that is in my home county. (just a small bit) I get an oppressive feeling from the place, as if it doesnt really want me poking around. I know it's just me, I just can't help it.
From the 150 place car park, we headed to Hobbs cafe and took the high path way above the river wye heading directly for the highest point, this I hoped was the hillfort, my map is strangely rubbed free of detail right on the bit we need, (probably accounts for my delay in getting here), apart from being on the wrong side of the wall, it was the right path.
The entrance and defences on either side of it are still in pretty good shape, though the fenced off excavation scars are a tadd ugly, will they be back soon?
We followed the earthworks over the well made drystone wall, (though presumably not as good as Stonegloves) but in this field the defences are not very defending anymore, but recognisable all the way to the edge of the steeeeep hilside.
We then followed the hillsde round and dropped down to the river via Hobbs cave.
It's a fabulous place. The path up to the enclosure was called Pennyunk / Penyonke [Lane] back to the 1300s and likely long before[http://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/351089] as this seems to be a pre-English [i.e. Old Welsh] name [it doesn't make any sense in Old English but does in the language spoken in the Peak until the 7th/8th C]. Pennyunk would have meant something like 'headland of [the] youth' in Old Welsh [Pen = top, end, head, headland; Iouanc = youth, youngster]. It's possible that this was the pre-English, P-Celtic, name for the enclosure. After all, Penbroga [= 'land's end' = Pembroke] goes back to the Iron Age... Cf. the shape of the hill with another 'penn'; Pendle.
The fort at Fin Cop is an easy walk from the Monsal Dale Hotel, with some excellent views of Monsal Dale below on the trek out.
The fort is defended to the South and East by banks and ditches and to the North and West by the steep sides of Monsal Dale. At the Eastern side, the side you approach from, double banks and ditches are still impressive, an entrance is central to this part of the defences, which carry on over the wall in the form of a single bank.
The views from the top are unreal with Five Wells in the West, Kinder Scout just visible in the North and Beeley Moor quite close in the South-East(ish).
Monsal is one of the best places to watch a Derbyshire sunset without doubt.
An added attraction this time of the year are the banks of the fort covered in Mountain Pansies and 'Early Purple' Orchids.
Eric and me descended the steep side of Fin cop hand in hand (he's not good with heights bless him), just heading for an old tree by the river, if I managed to find Hobs cave it would have to be by chance, my map was no help, google earth wont let me play, so chance would have to be my only allie, it came up trumps too.
Away to our right I spied some interesting looking rocks and knowing Eric likes a good scramble we mozied over.
The oppresion I'd felt above in the hillfort was easing up now, and I felt this was a good place and that Hob where ever he is nowadays (some say Northumberland) he didnt mind our encroachment , and when I found the cave and the manner I found it, I felt almost welcome.
I was wandering amongst the rock stacks stumbling as I gauped around, there are some thin passageways through the rocks reminding me of the Wadi that leads to the treasury at Petra, well we came out of the rock stacks and there right in front of us was this cave mouth, I looked down at Eric and said "this way Indy"
Upon reaching the tall thin cave I turned around to survey the vista, and over to our left was this obvious man shape looking skyward, even the lad pointed it out, this must surely be the demigod himself,I silently said hello and entered his mansion.
The cave is no more than three feet wide but as much as thirty feet high, was the rock man recognised as Hob before the cave became his house ?because its not very roomy exept upward.
Just inside the entrance some large boulders have fallen almost blocking egress to the rear of the fissure, Eric could get under but I opted for over then drop down, we then scuttled as far as we could, all this by camera flashlight only, eventually eric called for a return to sunlight, but strangely I liked it in the cave more than up on the hillfort.
We laughed and joked about poo dodging mostly all the way down to the river, where we sat by the weir and watched a Dipper going about his wintery tasks, then oppresive feelings forgotten we made our tired way back up to the carpark.
On the steep side of Great Finn, an insulated rock that is split and rent into parts rises like the ruins of a castle from out the thick underwood with which the hill is covered: this shapeless mass is called Hob's House, and tradition states, that it was inhabited by a being of a gigantic stature, who was possessed of great and mysterious powers, and who was known by the name of Hob. This extraordinary personage never appeared by day; but when the inhabitants were asleep in their beds, he traversed the vales, entered their houses, thrashed their corn, and in one single night did the work of ten day-labourers, unseen and unheard, for which service he was recompensed with a bowl of cream, that was duly placed upon the hearth, to be quaffed on the completion of the task he had voluntarily imposed upon himself. This is a tradition by no means confined to the neighbourhood of Monsal-Dale; a similar one prevails in many parts of the kingdom, and particularly in the northern districts...
From 'Peak Scenery, or the Derbyshire Tourist' by Eberneezer Rhodes (1824).