Pen Hill

Blue skies over the flatlands of the Vale of Mowbray. I am standing on the Bronze Age bowl barrow on Gallow Hill above Cowesby in the Hambleton Hills. Below me is Pen Hill with its pre-historic enclosures. Pen Hill is not really a hill, more of a ridge. The highest point does not even warrant its own ring contour, yet from the quiet village of Kepwick, nestling at its foot, it does indeed look like a hill, attainable only by a climb up a steep narrow gulley enclosed entirely by Rhododendrons.

The name Pen Hill is interesting. The Pen bit is an old Celtic word meaning hill and is found throughout Northern England, Wales and Scotland. Thus we find Pen-y-ghent in the Pennines, Pen y Fan in Wales, Pendle Hill in Lancashire. And nearer home: Pen Hill in Wensleydale, Penny Hill near Stokesley and Pen Howe near Goathland. So Pen Hill actually means ‘hill hill’. If you find this beguiling then consider Pendle Hill. The dle element comes from the Old English hyll so Pendle Hill means ‘hill hill hill’. One up for the Lancastrians I think.

 

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