Donkeys do have quite dainty feet, but even so, this first snippet perhaps supports the idea the holes are a bit big for human-created rock art. But that they require supernatural explanation is interesting in itself.
Here in Northumberland [pot holes] are the hoof-marks of a devil as at Birtley, or basins formed by Queen Mab and her train for bathing in, as tradition pleasingly narrates, at Rothley. The soul has almost gone out of such legends now, but time was when they were of earnest import to mankind.
The Rev. G. R. Hall, F.S.A., has told the Birtley legend in a former Volume of these Transactions. A wandering demon, once upon a time, was unwary enough to drink at the Holy Well. But the sacred water disagreed with him like molten lead, and dashing his hoofs upon the stone he leaped a full mile from the spot. He alighted upon the rock beside the Leap Crag Pool in the North Tyne; in which deep black hole "tradition averreth he was drowned." At the Holy Well the tracks are about the size of a small donkey's, if I dare use the comparison, and consist of several pairs as if the miserable being had waxed fidgetty; beside the pool they swell to the size of an elephant's.
But if the marks are natural, the stone doesn't sound near the water? It's all rather unclear. Oh to nip up in the Van to check, it being a fine Sunday in (almost) summer.
The Birtley Halywell, or Holy Well, a chalybeate spring, issuing from the face of the sandstone cliff, amidst the ferns, harebells, heather, and other flowers that adorn its interstices, close to the romantic waterfall of the Holywell Burn, and to the curious so-called Devil's Stone, or Rock, in the near neighbourhood also of two ancient British camps, or oppida, is worthy of special mention among the medicinal wells of North Tynedale.
Though I cannot learn that any particular reverence was formerly shown to this well, which now merely trickles down the ochreous sides of the cliff, at Midsummer, yet I find that people "from far and near" used until recently to visit it on fine Sunday afternoons in summer, and itinerant vendors of refreshments from the village, which is about a mile distant, were wont to be present on the spot. Here, in close proximity, still exists the great upright, weather-worn monolith-- apparently a detached fragment split from the adjacent rock by some natural convulsion --already spoken of as the Devil's Stone. Tradition asserts this to have been, "once upon a time," the scene of a Satanic leap, the very "hoof-marks" being yet visible on its altar-like summit in the shape of what geologists would call "pot holes" -- a leap intended to result in the demon's descent at Lee Hall, on the opposite bank of the river, about half a mile distant; but the interval not having been carefully estimated, the consequence was a fall into the deepest abyss of North Tyne, just below the Countess Park Clints -- thence called the "Leap-Crag Pool," where the Satanic personage is said to have been drowned!
From Archaeologia Aeliana volume 8 (1880), in an article called 'Notes on Modern Survivals of Ancient Well-Worship in North Tynedale.." by the Rev. G. Rome Hall.
A tradition, which I first heard during the progress of our excavations, was known to a former shepherd's wife, an aged dame, who had often spoken to her family of her desire to dig into the great mound in search of "the treasure of silver" said to be secreted in this great fairy knoll, so like the Gaelic "shian" associated with the hero Ossian. Children of the cottage have since told me they had often danced upon it and heard something "rattle and jingle" beneath their feet. Strange it is that the old dame's wish had not long ago been gratified; but, deterred by superstitious feeling, the mystery of the cairn remained unrevealed.
From the 1887 Archaeologia Aeliana article "Recent explorations in ancient British barrows, containing cup-marked stones, near Birtley, North Tynedale", by the Rev. G. Rome Hall.
Another and seemingly older interpretation of the name:
Oaks of a great size, firm and sound, have been taken out of a large moss on Bewick-Moor, called King's Moss, by the road from Chillingham to Alnwick, near a noted aperture in a freestone-rock, called Catherine's cave.
Penshaw Hill is mentioned in the Mackem dialect song "The Lambton Worm" (as "Pensher Hill"), which tells the tale of the dragon:
"One Sunday morn young Lambton went
A-fishing' in the Wear;
An' catched a fish upon he's heuk,
He thowt leuk't varry queer.
But whatt'n a kind of fish it was
Young Lambton cuddent tell.
He waddn't fash te carry'd hyem,
So he hoyed it doon a well.
cho: Whisht! Lads, haad yor gobs,
An Aa'll tell ye's aall an aaful story
Whisht! Lads, haad yor gobs,
An' Aa'll tell ye 'boot the worm.
Noo Lambton felt inclined te gan
An' fight i' foreign wars.
he joined a troop o' Knights that cared
For nowther woonds nor scars,
An' off he went te Palestine
Where queer things him befel,
An' varry seun forgat aboot
The queer worm i' the well.
But the worm got fat an' growed and' growed
An' growed an aaful size;
He'd greet big teeth, a greet big gob,
An' greet big goggle eyes.
An' when at neets he craaled aboot
Te pick up bits o' news,
If he felt dry upon the road,
He milked a dozen coos.
This feorful worm wad often feed
On caalves an' lambs an' sheep,
An' swally little barins alive
When they laid doon te sleep.
An' when he'd eaten aall he cud
An' he had had he's fill,
He craaled away an' lapped he's tail
Seven times roond Pensher Hill.
The news of this myest aaful worm
An' his queer gannins on
Seun crossed the seas, gat te the ears
Ov brave and' bowld Sor John.
So hyem he cam an' catched the beast
An' cut 'im in twe haalves,
An' that seun stopped he's eatin' bairns,
An' sheep an' lambs and caalves.
So noo ye knaa hoo aall the foaks
On byeth sides ov the Wear
Lost lots o' sheep an' lots o' sleep
An' leeved i' mortal feor.
So let's hev one te brave Sor John
That kept the bairns frae harm,
Saved coos an' caalves by myekin' haalves
O' the famis Lambton Worm.
Noo lads, Aa'll haad me gob,
That's aall Aa knaa aboot the story
Ov Sor John's clivvor job
Wi' the aaful Lambton Worm."
Fitzcoraldo's story appears pretty much word for word in 'The Monthly Chronicle of North-Country Lore and Legend' for December 1889 (p 548-550). It's followed immediately by this:
We may observe that what is commonly known as Fairy Butter is a certain fungous excrescence sometimes found about the roots of old trees. After great rains, and in a particular state of putrifaction, it is reduced to a consistency which, together with its colour, makes it not unlike butter; hence its name. When met with inside houses it is reckoned lucky. Why so, we cannot tell.