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


Roseberry Topping

Sacred Hill

<b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by fitzcoraldoImage © fitzcoraldo
Also known as:
  • Odin's Hill

Nearest Town:Guisborough (3km NNE)
OS Ref (GB):   NZ578126 / Sheet: 93
Latitude:54° 30' 19.35" N
Longitude:   1° 6' 26.44" W

Added by jobbo

Show map   (inline Google Map)


Add news Add news
Odin's Glow

October 2009
Over 4 days the entire hill will be illuminated in a sensational display of lighting and pyrotechnics.
Open-air artworks will be positioned around the fields below the hill and perfomers, fellrunners and hillwalkers will add to the spectacle.

Watch this space
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
17th April 2009ce

Images (click to view fullsize)

Add an image Add an image
<b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by spencer <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by jobbo <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by jobbo <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by PhilRogers <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by PhilRogers <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by jobbo <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by alirich <b>Roseberry Topping</b>Posted by jobbo


Add fieldnotes Add fieldnotes
I would say that you have to climb Roseberry Toppin to really appreciate it, but to look out your window and see the sun rise over it, is my favourite way....well in the winter when I can manage to be up in time! Mind you, it really does deserve to be climbed to experience its size and views! Posted by alirich
1st July 2002ce

I probably wouldn't be able to count how many times I've climbed this wonderful hill!

Also known as Odin's Hill, due to the theory that he was once worshipped here, it is a great place for a lovely walk with friends and family, and is often visited by the locals in the Cleveland / South Durham area.

Has gorgeous views of the Freebrough Hill, Cleveland Hills, the North Sea, Eston Nab, the Wainstones, Great Ayton and the 'Teesside' conurbation.

If you look at this site on Multimap (or just any map really!) you'll see, just to the south, Aireyholme Farm, once home to that great explorer James Cook! He has a bloody great monolith all to himself over on Easby Moor - lucky sod!

As you climb from Roseberry Lane and Newton-under-Roseberry you'll pass through Newton Woods, which a wonderful oak wood filled to the brim with bluebells in spring!

Go there, climb, sit, enjoy. And if anyone uses their mobile phones: THROW THEM OFF THE EDGE!!!!!! (the people that is!)
jobbo Posted by jobbo
7th January 2002ce


Add folklore Add folklore
Towards the weste there stands a highe hill called Roseberry Toppinge, which is a marke to the seamen, and an almanacke to the vale, for they have this ould ryme common,
"When Roseberrye Toppinge weares a cappe
Let Cleveland then beware a clappe."

For indeede yt seldome hath a cloude on yt that some yll weather shortly followes yt not, when not farre from thence on a mountayne's syde there are cloudes almoste contynually smoakinge, and therfore called the Divell's Kettles, which notwithstandinge prognostycate neither good nor badde.

That is for shappe, scyte, and many raryties, more excellent then any that I have seene; yt hath somtymes had a hermitage on yt, and a small smith's forge cut out of the rocke, together with a clefte or cut in the rocke called St. Winifryd's Needle, whither blynde devotyon led many a syllie soule, not without hazard of a breaknecke tumblinge caste, while they attempted to put themselves to a needlesse payne creepyng through that neede's eye.

Out of the toppe of a huge stone neere the toppe of the hille drops a fountaine which cureth sore eyes, receavinge that vertue from the minerall.
From a letter by 'H. Tr.' to Sir Thomas Chaloner (so possibly from around 1600?), printed in v2 of the Topographer and Genealogist, 1853.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
7th February 2014ce

Who, that has not seen, but has heard of Roseberry Topping? – The pride of northern England – familiar as household words to a wide and wealthy district – a subject of enquiry and wonder unto all who have for the first time looked upon its isolated and lonely magnificence, its gigantic cone, like some eastern pyramid, now lit up, glowing suddenly as a huge furnace, now black and bare, its narrow peak shooting abruptly into the sky, the very image of solitude and desolation. No wonder that its neighbourhood is the deposit of many of those grotesque and fearful legends, arising out of, and connected with, the most ancient of our superstitions; and that the almost universally exploded belief in supernatural agency, witches, fays, and all their subsidiary marvels, should linger in these comparatively untraveled recesses, unquestioned and undenied.

The opening lines of The Witch of Roseberry Topping or the Haunted Ring.
Blackwood's Magazine.
Available via Google Books.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
11th December 2009ce

Roseberry. Towards the weste there stands a highe hill called Roseberry Toppinge, which is a marke to the seamen and an almanacke to the vale, for they have this ould ryme common,
' When Roseberrye Toppinge weares a cappe
Let Cleveland then beware a clappe.'
For indeed yt seldome hath a cloude on yt that some yll weather shortly followes yt not, when not farre from thence on a mountayne's syde there are cloudes almoste contynually smoakinge, and therefore called the Divels Kettles, which notwithstandinge prognostycate neither good norbadde ; . . . yt hath somtymes had an hermitage on yt, and a small smith's forge cut out of the rock, together with a clefte or cut in the rocke called St. Winifryd's Needle, whither blynde devotyon led many a syllie soule, not without hazard of a breaknecke tumblinge caste, while they attempted to put themselves to a needlesse payne creepyng through that needle's eye.

A Description of Cleveland in a letter addressed by H. Tr. to Sir T. Chaloner. [From the MS. Cotton. Julius F. VI., p. 431.] Printed in the Topographer and Genea-
logist, edited by John Gough Nichols. Vol. ii., pp. 405-430. London 1853.

Lifted from
XLV/ 1899.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
29th November 2007ce
Edited 30th November 2007ce

We ascended to the Top of that noted Hill, called Roseberry, or Ounsberry Topping, the Top whereof is fastigiate, like a Sugar Loaf, and serves for a Sea-mark. It may be seen at a great Distance, viz. from Stanmore, which is in a right Line above 20 Miles off.

From hence we had a Prospect of that pleasant and fruitful Vale, Part whereof is called Cliveland, a Country noted for a good Breed of Horses. The Ways here in Winter Time are very bad, and almost impassable, according to that proverbial Rhyme,

Cliveland in the Clay,
Bring in two Soles, carry one away.

Near this Hill we went to see a Well celebrated for the Cure of sore or dim Eyes, and other Diseases. Every one that washes in it, or receives Benefit by it, ties a Lacinia, or Rag of Linnen or Woollen, &c. on a Shrub or Bush near it, as an Offering or Acknowlegement.
From p176 of 'Select Remains of the Learned John Ray, with his Life' by William Derham. Published 1760.
Online at Google Books.

I think John Ray's journey was made in 1661.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
20th March 2007ce
Edited 20th March 2007ce

BETWEEN the towns of Aten and Newton, near the foot of Rosberrye Toppinge, there is a well dedicated to St. Oswald. The neighbours have an opinion, that a shirt, or shift, taken off a sick person, and thrown into that well, will shew whether the person will recover, or die: for if it floated, it denoted the recovery of the party; if it sunk, there remained no hope of their life: and, to reward the Saint for his intelligence, they tear off a rag of the shirt, and leave it hanging on the briars thereabouts; 'where,' says the writer, 'I have seen such numbers, as might have 'made a fayre rheme in a paper myll.' These wells, called Rag-wells, were formerly not uncommon.
From p54 of A provincial glossary: with a collection of local proverbs, and popular superstitions. Francis Grose (1790). Online at Google Books.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
18th February 2007ce
Edited 20th March 2007ce

With reference to Rhiannons excellent post
"Morden carre will suffer for that."

Morden carre is probably Morten Carr which is about a mile and a half north west of Roseberry at NZ552143
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
25th September 2006ce

"When Roseberry Topping wears a cappe,
Let Cleveland then beware a clappe."

This cap refers to the mist overhanging the lofty hill bearing that name in the North Riding, previously to a thunderstorm. Camden, who notices this proverb, observes, that, "when its top begins to be darkened with clouds, rain generally follows."
There are variations of the distich -

"When Roseberry Topping wears a cap,
Let Cleveland men beware of a rap."**

And allusions to other places are made in some of the variants. Thus -
"When Roseberry Topping wears a hat
Morden carre will suffer for that."

The latter place cannot be exactly indicated, but doubtless from its name, carre, some lowland likely to be flooded in wet weather.

From the Denham Tracts, privately printed at Richmond, Durham, and Newcastle upon-Tyne, in various years since 1850, we have -
"When Eston nabbe puts on a cloake,
And Roysberrye a cappe,
Then all the folks on Cleveland's clay
Ken there will be a clappe."
From 'Yorkshire Local Rhymes and Sayings' in The Folk-Lore Record, Vol. 1. (1878), pp. 160-175. The article is a compilation of folk lore collected by Mr Reginald W Corlass and Mr Edward Hailstone FSA.

**The Denham Tracts say "The 'rap' alluded to is, in plain language, a thunder-storm. This old proverb is noticed by Camden, two hundred years ago. He observes that 'When its top begins to be darkened with clouds, rain generally follows.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
24th September 2006ce
Edited 11th January 2010ce

The son of King Osmund of Northumbria was prince Oswy.
The kings wise men told him that Oswy would drown before his third birthday.
After Oswy's second birthday, Osmund instructed his queen to take Oswy to the highest part of the land, the summit of Odinsberg (Roseberry).
He told her to make use of the hermitage.
To cut a long story short, the boy drowned in the spring that flows from the top of the hill.
The boy was buried in Tevotdale, the queen was so distraught that she died soon after. King Osmund buried his queen beside his son. Tivotdale was given a new name. it was called Oswy-by-his-mother-lay and is known today as Osmotherley.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
9th June 2002ce

"When Roseberry Topping wears a cap,

Let Cleveland then beware of a clap !"
jobbo Posted by jobbo
7th January 2002ce


Add miscellaneous Add miscellaneous
[tending to the conclusion that] these northern invaders and colonists overcame and killed or ousted the former possessors of the lands, which they then proceeded to rename [..]
A like change took place in respect of one of the most marked natural features of the entire Cleveland district, namely, what is now called Roseberry Topping. Between the dates 1119 and 1540, I find the name of this conspicuous hill written Otneberch, Ohtnebereg, Othenbruche, Othenesbergh, Ornbach, Ounsbery, Onesbergh, and, more corruptly, Hensberg (1119), Hogtenberg, Thuerbrugh, Thuerbrught, all (except the two last) manifest corruptions of an original Odinberg (a name which could only have been imposed by Danes), but never written Roseberry.
p360 in
On the Danish Element in the Population of Cleveland, Yorkshire
J. C. Atkinson
The Journal of the Ethnological Society of London (1869-1870), Vol. 2, No. 3. (1870), pp. 351-366.
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
9th December 2006ce
Edited 9th December 2006ce

"I've sat on Rosebury with many a bard
Whose harp-strings, once so musical, are mute
On earth for ever : we full well did suit
Each other, in congenial regard
For the loved landscape here unfurled to view.
Yonder towers Guisboro's fine old ruined Arch,
Memento of the Past - our onward march
Mark'd by yon blast furnaces ; churches not a few,
Towns, farmsteads, rivers, fields of every hue -
As grass and corn, and fallow - and o'er all
The watchet ocean ; prospects that ne'er shall pall
Upon one's taste : the picture is ever new.
We may roam far and wide before we see
A finer sight than here from Rosebury."

George Tweddle
published 1870
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
1st December 2006ce

"Ounsbery or Rosebery Topping mounteth up in a mighty height and maketh a goodly shew afarre of, serving unto sailers for a marke of direction, and to the neighbour inhabitants for a prognostication. For so often as the head thereof hath his cloudy cap on, lightly [often] there followeth raine, whereupon they have a Proverbiall Rhime, when Rosebery topping weares a cap, let Cliveland then beware a clap. Neere unto the top of it out of an huge rocke there floweth a spring of water medicinable for diseased eies, and from hence there is a most goodly and pleasant prospect downe into the vallies below lying a great away about, to the hils full of grasse, greene meddowes, delightsome pastures, fruitfull corne fields, riverets stored with fish, the river Tees mouth full of rodes and harbours, the ground plaine and open without danger of inundation, and into the sea with ships therein under saile."

William Camden
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
31st July 2006ce

"Of Atlas mount let poets antique sing,
Whose summit bare supports the bending sky.
Of Roseberry's rude rock I deign to write..."
Thomas Pearson 1780

Quoted in Stephen J Sherlocks excellent paper, The Archaeology of Roseberry Topping
Moorland Monuments
Studies in the archaeology of North-East Yorkshire in honour of Raymond Hayes and Don Spratt
CBA Research Report 101
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
25th February 2006ce

In a paper for Archaeologica Scotia (Volume 4 1857) entitled "An Account of certain Bronze Instruments, supposed to be Druidical Remains, found beneath a large Rock on the South Side of the Top of Roseberry in Cleveland" G. S. Faber the Rector of Long-Newton wrote a description of Roseberry Topping and the bronze hoard found there. His paper is a lovely piece of antiquarian writing and very much of its time. Below is his description of the origins of the name Roseberry and its association with the nearby River Leven.

"A favourite line of Antiquarian study, which I once pursued with no small measure of deep interest, has long induced me to believe that Roseberry was in old times a high place of the Celtic Druids, whose theology, originally brought out of Asia, was the same in substance as that, of the Hindoos, the Persians, the Indo-Scythians, the Babylonians, and the Egyptians; or indeed, as I may rather say, the same as primeval paganism in every part of the world. Agreeably to such an origination, the name of Roseberry, or Rhos-Barit is the very same as that of the mountain in Armenia, where the ark, astronomically
venerated by the pagan world as the lunar ship or the navicular crescent, was thought to have come to land : for, according to Nicholas, of Damascus, it still, in his days, bore the name of Mount Saris, or the Mount of the Ship; a name which is precisely equivalent to that of our Celtic :Rhos-Bari The ship Baris, when personified, was sidereally the goddess of the Moon; which, under the character of the Universal Mother, and the Mother,of the World, was thought to have once floated over a boundless expanse, of water, having received into her womb Osiris, or Bacchus, or Siva, or Hu, or by what-ever name might be designated the Universal Father analogically venerated as the god of the Sun; and accordingly, under this identical name of Baris, the lunar ship-goddess, as we learn from Strabo, had atemple in Armenia, at Mount Abus, near the road which led to Ecbatana
I take it that the name of Rhos-Bari or Mount Baris, or the Hill of the Lunar Ship, was brought originally by the Celts out of Asia: and, as in all their local imitations or appropriations of the primeval Ararat, the Pagans ordinarily associated a sacred river or lake of the Moon with the sacred mountain of the Moon, we have, near our Yorkshire Rhos-Bari, the river Leven, or the river of the Moon; a name equally borne by a once consecrated lake and river in Scotland.
The Deities, worshipped on Rhos-Bari and on the banks of the holy Leven, were Hu, and Ceridwen, and Crierwy: the first described as the Sun, and yet represented as having escaped in a wonderful ship from an universal deluge; the second adored as the Moon, and yet mysteriously celebrated as a ship which conveyed the god Hu in safety over the waters, when beneath them a prior world was inundated; the third viewed as the daughter or the allegorical re-appearance of the second, and thus identical with the lunar ship of the dead in the river of the fabled Hades".
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
5th November 2004ce
Edited 5th November 2004ce

"On the top of the hill, there used to be a hermitage called Wilfreds Needle. This was hewn out of solid rock, but quarrying work and mining for iron ore have led to it's disappearance". fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
9th June 2002ce

Roseberry Topping

Oh, how indelible a lovely view
Imprints itself upon our memory:
For, who can climb thy summit and from thence
Behold that prospect, so enchanting; spread
Before his wonderous gaze; nor feel it's power
To cheer the mind, and elevate the soul?
Around, and over us, the clouds are borne
with gentle motion, glittering in the sun:
Like those huge icebergs which in Arctic Seas
Contrast with dazzling white the blue beneath.
Whilst others fleecy float with crimson tints,
Emblems, at once of purity and peace.
And far beneath us blooms the lovely dale
Of Cleveland, with it's smiling fields of corn;
It's meadows, with their peaceful flocks and herds,
It's rural villages, those happy seats
Of busy, prosperous industry, and all
The little farms which doth the landscape bound,
And give an animated gaiety,
Adding fresh pleasure....................................."

There's at least another 100 lines of this!
It was written in the 1850's by a geezer called Mr. J.R. Robinson of Drewsbury.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
3rd April 2002ce
Edited 19th June 2003ce

Anyone planning a visit to Roseberry Topping is advised to either undergo a circuit training program, or strap themselves to a passing mule train, due to the near vertical slope of the hill --- a true challenge for the dedicated Odinistic explorer. Highly recommended. I last climbed RT about 15 years ago, at the start of the White Rose walk, 30 miles down to the Kilburn White Horse (and now the site of a rediscovered hillfort) - the sheer scale of the hill struck terror into our adolescent hearts, a never to be forgotten experience ...

Posted by RiotGibbon
7th January 2002ce

Quote from

"Roseberry Topping was connected with the Vikings, as the word 'Topping', from 'Toppen', is one of a number of old Viking words for a hill, but the original Viking name for Roseberry Topping was Odins-Beorge meaning Odin's Hill. Roseberry may have been a centre for the worship of the Viking god Odin in Pagan times. Over the years, the name changed to Othensberg, Ohenseberg, Ounsberry and Ouesberry. Association with the village then called Newton-under-Ouseberry at the foot of the hill led to the modern name Roseberry when the final 'R' of 'under' produced the initial letter of the modern name. Newton under Ouseberry is now called Newton under Roseberry."
jobbo Posted by jobbo
7th January 2002ce


Add a link Add a link

Roseberry Topping 360s

A BBC website with a number of 360 degree views from Roseberry.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
26th September 2006ce


Some druidical musings about Bronze age articles found on Roseberry.

Archaeologica Scotica: transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland
Volume 4 (1857)
Rhiannon Posted by Rhiannon
5th April 2006ce

Holy Wells

Another Greame C site , this one explores the myths around Roseberry and it's well
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
27th August 2002ce
Edited 10th December 2006ce

National Trust

Useful travel info buses, trains etc.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
12th April 2002ce