A promontory fort is an Iron Age hillfort that is located on a promontory of land so that the steep scarp slopes form the natural defences of the fort. They are quite rare with only about one hundred recorded frequently on coastal headlands. They are thought to be high status permanent settlements sited for display as well as defence. Knolls End Promontory Fort is at the west end of Live Moor and the most obvious feature is the rampart and ditch across the neck of the spur including a gap for an entrance. The earthworks are accentuated at this time of the year by the lush growth of bilberries. Knolls End was first identified from aerial photographs in the 1970s and to date is unexcavated. The long distance footpath The Cleveland Way cuts through the site but few walkers are aware of its existence.
In 1979 I had a battle here with one of the greats of fell running, Joss Naylor. The Cumbrian sheep farmer was at the height of his career, a career with too many accolades to mention. He held the Lake District mountain record climbing 72 peaks in less than 24 hours, a feat covering over 100 miles with about 38,000 feet of ascent and was appointed an MBE for his services to sport and charity. On that July day of 1979 however he had his sights on the Lyke Wake Race, a race across the moors from Ravenscar to Osmotherley, a mere sprint at 39 miles.
In those days the fell running calendar was much leaner than today and the Lyke Wake Race had a much higher profile. The race was run on a handicap basis with the slowest runners setting off first and the fastest last such that, in theory, all competitors would finish at the same time in Osmotherley when the Summer Games were being held. A carnival atmosphere.
Joss and I were both off scratch and I felt good showing him the way across the moors. However in my naivety I didn’t appreciate the amount of drafting I was providing running into the westerly winds. It was about here, coming down from Urra Moor that Joss took the lead. I was spent but did manage to regain contact later at Huthwaite by the judicious use of local knowledge. Joss soon pulled ahead again to take three minutes out of me and win in a new record time of 4 hours 53 minutes. Two years later I did manage to shave 2 minutes of Joss’s time. Vindication of a sort in spite of Joss’s absence.
But enough reminiscing. Today is Joss Naylor’s birthday. He’s 81 and still active on the hills using a pair of walking poles fashioned from hazel rods. Happy Birthday, Joss.
I have mentioned before my discovery on the 1853 Ordnance Survey map that the hill on the right is shown covered in trees and named Mount Vittoria Plantation. It’s modern name being Cold Moor. The boundary stone is inscribed with an ‘E’ and is on the east flank of Cringle Moor which according to the same 1853 O.S. map was named as Cringley Moor.
An overcast morning, with the tops just a few metres below the cloud base. Both moors are on popular walking routes, traversed by the Cleveland Way, but I saw only one person today. Far left, across the vale of Cleveland, is Roseberry Topping.
A low bank of cloud prevents the rays of the early morning sun reaching the Vale of Cleveland. Overnight mists persists and fog from Bilsdale spills over Clay Bank and Garfit Gap. Soon the sun will rise above the cloud into clear blue skies and providing enough warmth to disperse the mists.
Boundary stones are a safe bet as a subject, so prolific, there must be scores of them on the moors, with many inscribed, providing a tantalising glimpse of their history. This stone is on the boundary of Hutton and Newton Moors and is inscribed ‘RY 1752’.
RY stands for Ralph Yoward. There are several other of his boundary stones on the moors all with this date of 1752 which is a bit of a mystery. The Yowards were a Stokesley family who were the lesses of Crown Land in Hutton and of the Lordship of Hutton Manor. Ralph succeeded on the death of his father, Richard, in 1751 and almost immediately surrendered the lease. So the mystery which is baffling local historians is why the inscription is a year after Ralph gave up the lease.
Hutton became Crown Land following the dissolution of the Hospital of the Savoy in 1702 although the Yowards are recorded as being in receipt of tithes in 1691 so it is likely the lessor at that time was the hospital. The hospital itself has an interesting history. It was founded in 1512 in London by Henry VII for “poor and needy people”. Edward VI dissolved it in 1553 only for it to be refounded three years later by Queen Mary. It seems that Hutton was one of many estates that the Hospital acquired. The Hospital was sited on what is now occupied by the Savoy Hotel and Savoy Theatre in London; close by the only part of the original buildings to survive is the chapel.
I parked at Bank Foot, below Turkey Nab, said to derive from the local name for the grouse: wild turkeys. Or else it may come from Thurkilsti, the name of the ancient drovers’ road from Kildale to Kirbymoorside. From Bank Foot the track winds up Ingleby Bank, circling past the nab. The last time I actually climbed to the nab there was no cairn. Since them someone has gone to a lot of effort to re-build it. A rather precarious construction, on a sloping overhanging ledge.
I thought about William Parkinson, hung and gibbeted on this spot in 1729 for the murder of a Scottish drover at Great Broughton. He was tried at York assizes and brought back for the sentence to be carried out. All within fifteen days. Swift justice.
Later on my route I visited various sandstone outcrops and stones on Ingleby Moor and came across some verses on a piece of paper secreted away. These strangely resonated with my earlier thoughts of William Parkinson:
They hauled him to the crossroads
As day was at its close;
They hung him to the gallows
And left him for the crows.
His hands in life were bloody,
His ghost will not be still
He haunts the naked moorlands
About the gibbet hill.
And oft a lonely traveler
Is found upon the fen
Whose dead eyes hold a horror
Beyond the world of men.
The villagers then whisper,
With accents grim and dour:
“This man has met at midnight
The phantom of the moor.”
No title, no author. But back home Google came up trumps. They’re from The Moor Ghost by Robert E. Howard, an American poet who as far as I can tell never visited England yet alone the North York Moors. Still, a weird coincidence. I wonder if whoever left the paper knew about William Parkinson.
A slight temperature inversion. Fog enveloped Middlesbrough and the Tees Valley and crept up to Great Ayton. Eston Hills on the far left stood clear, as did Roseberry. Great Broughton on the line of sight to Roseberry basked in the morning sun.