The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian


Pudding Pie Hill

Round Barrow(s)

Nearest Town:Northallerton (15km NW)
OS Ref (GB):   SE437810 / Sheet: 99
Latitude:54° 13' 21.31" N
Longitude:   1° 19' 46.84" W

Added by Rhiannon

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To the south-east of the village, near the river Codbeck, is a tumulus, popularly called "pudding pye hill;" the origin of which had long been a disputed point, some affirming it to be the remains of a watchtower pertaining to the Castle of Thirsk, others maintaining its sepulchral character. This dispute was finally set at rest in August, 1855, when Lady Frankland Russell the owner, employed a number of men, under the superintendence of Mr. James Ruddock of Pickering, to excavate the hill. [...]

The popular legend is -- that this hill was raised by the Fairies, who had their residence within; and if any person should run nine times round it, and then stick a knife into the centre of the top, then place their ear to the ground, they would hear the Fairies conversing inside.
From The Vale of Mowbray by William Grainge (1859).
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
1st April 2013ce
Edited 1st April 2013ce

The site of the old fortress of Conyers, at Bishopton, called Castle Hill, is hollow, if folk-lore be true, and the abode of fairies. The same may in truth be said of almost every circular mound in the north. A most notable specimen near Thirsk, a large tumulus, possesses the euphonious cognomen of Pudding-pie-hill, inasmuch as the fairies there were positively so good as to furnish pies and puddings for their juvenile votaries, who went for the the good things of the fairies of its palaces within. Moreover, they heard the fairies' music, which thing may be believed, as they had to go so many times round the hill before they put their giddy heads to the ground to hear the strains of the little green people. The appointed day for all this condescension was Pancake or Shrove Tuesday.
Saint James's magazine, v1 (1850), p 231.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th January 2011ce

Edmund Hogg in his 'The Golden Vale of Mobray' (around 1910) thought the mound was from the 6th century - perhaps the artefacts were from a reuse of the barrow. His speculations are as romantic as thoughts about fairies:
A curious ancient Pack-horse Bridge (World's End Bridge) crosses the Codbeck (very picturesque hereabouts), and from hence the path leads to a tumulus on the east bank of the stream, known as ' Pudding Pie Hill," perhaps from its resemblance to a pie or pudding. The hill was opened about fifty years ago, and was found to be a funeral mound and contained skeletons, some in crouched postures. There were funeral urns mid other relics found, which were presented by Lady Frankland Russell to the York Museum. Until the mound was opened its origin had been a source of conjecture. Even Jefferson, the historian of Thirsk, says it was originally raised on which to build a watch tower for the Mowbray Castle of Thirsk. A most strange and foolish guess when we consider the height of the land immediately behind it. All speculation was set at rest by the excavation under the command of Lady Frankland Russell in 1855. The mound has probably been the burial place of a small band or the first Anglian settlers in this district, say about early in the 6th century. In the centre of the barrow, and 16 feet from the surface, lay the skeleton of a warrior of more than ordinary size. His legs and arms were crossed, his shield had rested on his breast, but the central boss of it only remained with the rivets which had held it to the wood. By his right side lay the handle of a sword, so that lie had probably been buried in full dress, with all his arms and accoutrements.

On the evidence, this warrior and leader of the band who had followed him hither from their homeland beyond the sea, had been first buried and then the huge mound raised over him, and afterwards the members of his clan had been laid to rest on either side and above, and further soil heaped over their bodies. The circumference of the mound at the base being upwards of 160 yards, and the height about 17 feet.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th September 2003ce
Edited 1st April 2013ce


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Biff Vernon's photo of the barrow. Unfortunately, as he explains the barrow doesn't exactly have an aura of peace and quiet: "As some crazy example of how not to build a by-pass the new dual carriageway is raised on an embankment, a stone's throw from the ancient monument of Pudding Pie Hill, in an apparently deliberate attempt to broadcast as much road noise as possible."
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th September 2003ce