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Whitley Church


<b>Whitley Church</b>Posted by FicklefingerImage © L.H. Butcher
Also known as:
  • Wharncliffe Crags

Nearest Town:Barnsley (10km NNE)
OS Ref (GB):   SK305966 / Sheets: 110, 111
Latitude:53° 27' 53.7" N
Longitude:   1° 32' 25.9" W

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<b>Whitley Church</b>Posted by Ficklefinger


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Situated on the top of Wharncliffe Crags. A series of enclosures formed by stone and turf banks surveyed and later excavated by the late L.H. Butcher and members of Hunter Archaeology Soc. 1958-1960.
The excavation revealed a cobbled floor and entrance plus post holes. The finds were mostly of roman pottery including some Samian ware. It was concluded therefore as a Romano-British settlement
There is a long standing legend that this was once a church of Whitley village (now lost). It is also in the area associated with the Dragon Of Wantley. There is no such place as "Wantley" and I wonder if it could be a corruption of the place name Whitley.
See above plan for results of the excavation.
Posted by Ficklefinger
1st October 2004ce
Edited 2nd October 2004ce


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A description of the supposed scene of the ballad, which was communicated to the Editor in 1767, is here given in the words of the relater:

"In Yorkshire, six miles from Rotherham, is a village called Wortley, the seat of the late Wortley Montague, Esq. About a mile from this village is a lodge, named Warncliff-lodge, but vulgarly called Wantley: here lies the scene of the song. I was there above forty years ago; and it being a woody rocky place, my friend made me clamber over rocks and stones, not telling me to what end, till I came to a sort of a cave; then asked my opinion of the place, and pointing to one end says, Here lay the dragon killed by Moor of Moor-hall; here lay his hea; here lay his tail; and the stones we came over on the hill, are those he could not crack; and yon white house you see half a mile off, is Moor-hall. I had dined at the lodge, and knew the man's name was Matthew, who was a keeper to Mr. Wortley, and, as he endeavoured to persuade me, was the same Matthew mentioned in the song: in the house is the picture of the dragon and Moor of Moor-hall; and near it a well, which, says he, is the well described in the ballad."
The ballad is here in Percy's Reliques of Ancient English Poetry. It's a humorous take on old ballads of chivalry, and the dragon tries to put off Moor of Moor-hall (in his Sheffield steel armour) by firing dung* at him. But Moor is not deterred and kills him with a kick up the behind, or Arse, as it actually says in the poem (*and worse). The first edition of 'Reliques' was published in 1765.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
8th May 2014ce
Edited 8th May 2014ce


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Stocksbridge and District History Society

This page has photos of Wharncliffe Crags, a recent sculpture of the dragon, and the dark gap in the looming crags that was the dragon's den.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
8th May 2014ce
Edited 8th May 2014ce