Setting out for the day I had written down points of interest and had an idea where i was going, and to make things a little easier, foolishly forgot to pick up all my grid reference details from the kitchen table!
I hadn't on this occasion read around the subject as fully as i could have done, and only when I returned home did i realise the whole area is Roulston Scar (I have always known it as Sutton Bank). We parked at the top, near the gliding club and headed roughly NEE to the fortification as marked on the OS map. Crossing a small valley we scrabbled up the sides and headed into the woods. I all honesty, an easier way would have been to park at the top of High Town Bank Road and walk down.
In any case the length and size of the fortification was quite impressive, and surrounded by woodland. Its termination point seems a little odd and I wonder if it maybe ran at some point to the top of Hell Hole SE523816. It certainly seems like this now wooded stretch is all that remains of the fortification. Walking along it's ditch West to East with it's Southerly side being easily 5 feet high in places, it wasn't difficult to imagine what it once looked like, and when you look out over the flat land that Roulston Scar rises from, it isn't difficult to imagine why fortifications where built there.
The thing that is a little tricky though, is that information about the Hillfort suggests that it's perimeter terminates before the small valley we crossed. Maybe this was an additional fortification. The OS map shows a tumulus in the fields near by, although all signs of this are now gone.
The village oracles relate that this awful abyss was produced by a tremendous earthquake, which ingulphed a populous town and its secure inhabitants, in a moment of unexpected calamity, leaving behind it a body of waters unfathomable and bottomless.
From the same [r]espectable authority, it is asserted, that the tops of the house, and the desolate chimneys are sometimes visible to the astonished eyes of the stranger, when embarked on its mysterious surface. [..]
.. the natural beauties of this lake are amply sufficient to repay the visitor for any labour he may have in approaching its rocky margin.
Roulston Scar, Hambleton Hills. In some parts the rock is perpendicular, and has the appearance of an irregularly built castle. The foreground of this for fifty or one hundred yards is covered with massive blocks of stone, evidently thrown off by some convulsion of nature. On the side of the rocky wall is a fissure opening into a small, narrow cavern, called the Devil's parlour, from the common disposition to attribute what is at once gloomy and marvellous to infernal agency, especially when in any way connected with heathen worship, of which there are not wanting traditions in the immediate vicinity.
For instance, the vale below dividing Roulston Crag from Hood Hill is called ' The Happy Valley' but the intermediate distance is less auspiciously named ' The Devil's Leap! for which this reason is given by the village oracles. The Happy Valley was a famous retreat of the ancient Druids, who without molestation or disturbance had for centuries practised their incantations upon the poor deluded inhabitants.
When the first Christian missionaries visited Yorkshire, they sought out the hidden retreats of Druidism, and one of them had penetrated the Happy Valley to the no small dismay of the Druidical priest The ancient Britons listened patiently to the statements of the Christian missionary, weighed the evidences in their own minds, and were perplexed as to their future procedure. In this dilemma a conference was appointed, in which the advocates of Druidism and Christianity were to meet in public contest in order to decide which of the two systems had the best claim to their worship and submission. The meeting, as usual, was appointed in the open air, at the foot of Roulston Crag. The intellectual assailants met, and the devil, in the garb of a Druidical priest, came with the worshippers of Baal. The Evil One placed his foot on one of those mountain rocks, and being foiled in his arguments by the powerful reasoning of the missionary, flapped his brazen wings and fled across the valley with the stone adhering to his foot, the heat of which (they say) melted a hole in the top, until he came to the ridge of Hood Hill, where he dropped the massive block, leaving the missionary the undisputed master of the field. This account will of course be received as a legend, but it is a matter of fact that a large stone weighing from sixteen to twenty tons of the same rock as Roulston Scar, is deposited on the ridge of Hood Hill, bearing a mark on the top not unlike a large footprint.
Vallis Eboracensis : comprising the History and Antiquities of Easingwold and its Neighbourhood.
By Thomas Gill.
Publications of the Folk-lore Society
It's a bit confusing up here - there's a lot going on.
[Kilburn lies] immediately below the precipitous south-west corner of the Hambleton Hills, and not far from the supposedly bottomless lake called Gormire. The hill-end bears the figure of a White Horse, 300 feet long and 200 feet high. It was cut in 1857, and it is said to commemorate a legendary individual mounted on a white horse who fell off the cliff, possibly into Gormire. Since that date, it has been scoured about once in seven years.
The name White Mare Crag or White Stone Cliff is older than the figure*. There is a racecourse, now used only for training, on the flat hill-top, 800 feet above the plain. A collection of medieval Latin ghost-tales compiled by a monk of the nearby Byland Abbey contains a story about a white horse.
[..] the Village Feast begins on the Saturday after 6 July, and may therefore be associated with Old Midsummer Day [..]
*This might be true, but the name actually refers to somewhere further along Sutton Bank, above the Gormire lake. There are various 'tumuli' and cairns in the vicinity, and a cave called the 'Fairies Parlour'.
The above is from
Kilburn Feast and Lord Mayor
N. A. Hudleston
Folklore, Vol. 69, No. 4. (Dec., 1958), pp. 263-265.
More horsish stuff. Surely why the creator of the white horse was inspired to create it?
"When Gormire riggs shall be covered with hay,
The white mare of Whitestone Cliff will bear it away." Richmondshire p240.
This white mare was a beast more or less mythical, which sprang over a cliff with a young lady rider, whose body was never found.
Additions to "Yorkshire Local Rhymes and Sayings"
The Folk-Lore Record, Vol. 3, No. 2. (1880), pp. 174-177.
You will notice the 'Devil's Parlour' cave at Roulston Scar - as Paulus mentions, the Devil leapt from here to Hood Hill, carrying a stone.