Account of Ingleborough, a remarkable mountain

 North Craven 
 Heritage Trust 

This abbreviated account is taken from Gentleman’s Magazine , volume 31, 1761, p. 126-128. It is signed simply as Pastor. It is not easy to read the original text hence the decision to reprint.

Ingleborough is a mountain, singularly eminent, whether you regard its height, or the immense base on which it stands. It is near 20 miles in circumference, and has Clapham, a church town, to the south; Ingleton to the west; Chapel in the Dale to the north; and Selside, a small hamlet, to the east; from each of which places the rise, in some parts, is even and gradual; in others, rugged and perpendicular. In this mountain rise considerable streams, which at length fall into the Irish Sea. The land round the bottom is fine fruitful pasture, interspersed with many acres of limestone rocks. As you ascend the mountain, the land is more barren, and under the surface is peat moss, in many places two or three yards deep, which the country people cut up and dry for burning, instead of coal. As the mountain rises, it becomes more rugged and perpendicular, and is at length so steep that it cannot be ascended without great difficulty, and in some places not at all. In many parts there are fine quarries of slate, which the neighbouring inhabitants use to cover their houses; there are also many loose stones, but no limestones; yet, near the base, no stones but limestones are to be found. The loosestones near the summit the people call greet stone. The foot of the mountain abounds with fine springs on every side, and on the west side there is a very remarkable spring near the summit. The top is very level, but so dry and barren that it affords little grass, the rock being but barely covered with earth. It is said to be about a mile in circumference, and several persons now living say, that they have seen races upon it. Upon that part of the top, facing Lancaster and the Irish Sea, there are still to be seen the dimensions of an house, and the remains of what the country people call a beacon, viz. a place erected with stones, three or four yards high, ascended with stone stairs; which served in old time, as old people tell us, to alarm the country, upon the approach of an enemy, a person being always kept there upon watch, in the time of war, who was to give notice in the night, by fire, to other watchmen placed upon other mountains within view, of which there are many, particularly Whernside, Woefall, Camfell, Pennygent, and Pennlehill. There are likewise discoverable a great many other mountains in Westmoreland and Cumberland, besides the town of Lancaster, from which it is distant about 20 miles. The west and north sides are most steep and rocky; there is, one part to the south, where you may ascend on horseback; but whether the work of nature, or of art, I cannot say. A part of the said mountain juts out to the north east near a mile, but somewhat below the summit; this part is called Park-fell; another part juts out in the same manner, near a mile, towards the east, and is called Simon-fell; there is likewise another part towards the south, called Little Ingleborough; the summits of all which are much lower than the top of the mountain itself. Near the base, there are holes or chasms, called swallows, supposed to be the remains of Noah’s deluge; they are among the limestone rocks, and are open to an incredible depth. The springs towards the east all come together, and fall into one of these swallows, or holes, called Allan Pott; and after passing under the earth about a mile, they burst out again, and flow into the river Ribble, whose head, or spring, is but a little further up the valley. The depth of this swallow, or hole, could never be ascertained; it is about 20 poles in circumference, not perfectly circular, but rather oval. In wet foggy weather, it sends out a smoak, or mist, which may be seen a considerable distance. Not far from this hole, nearly north, is another hole, which may be easily descended. In some places the roof is 4 or 5 yards high, and its width is the same; in other places not above a yard;and was it not for the run of water, it is not to be known how far you might walk, by the help of a candle, or other light. There is likewise another hole, or chasm, a little west from the other two; which cannot be descended without difficulty: You are no sooner entered than you have a subterraneous passage, sometimes wide and spacious, sometimes so narrow you are obliged to make use of both hands, as well as feet, to crawl a considerable way; and as I was informed, some persons have gone several hundred yards, and might have gone much further; durst they have ventured. There are a great many more holes, or caverns, well worth the notice of a traveller: some dry, some having a continual run of water; such as Blackside Cove, Sir William’s Cove, Atkinson’s Chamber, &c. all whose curiosities are more than I can describe. There is likewise, partly south-east, a small rivulet, which falls into a place considerably deep, called Long-Kin; there is likewise another swallow, or hole, called Johnson’s Jacket-hole, a place resembling a funnel in shape, but vastly deep; a stone being thrown into it, makes a rumbling noise, and may be heard a considerable time; there is also another, called Gaper-Gill, into which a good many springs fall in one stream, and after a subterraneous passage of upwards of one mile, break out again, and wind thro’ Clapham; then, after a winding course of several miles, this stream joins the river Lon, or Lune; and, passing by the town of Lancaster, it falls into the Irish Sea. There are likewise, both on the west and north sides, a great many springs, which all fall into such cavities, and bursting out again, towards the base of the said mountain, fall likewise into the Irish Sea, by the town of Lancaster; and what seemed very remarkable to me, there was not one rivulet running from the base of the mountain that had not a considerable subterraneous passage. All the springs arose towards the summit, amongst the greet-stones and sunk or fell into some hole, as soon as they descended to the limestone rocks; where passing under ground for some way, they burst out again towards the base. There is likewise, to the west and north, a great many swallows or holes, some vastly deep and frightful, others more shallow, all astonishing, with a long range of the most beautiful rocks that ever adorned a prospect, rising in a manner perpendicularly up to an immense height.

In the valley above Horton, near the base of this mountain, I observed a large heap or pile of greet-stones all thrown promiscuously together, without any appearance of building or workmanship, which yet cannot be reasonably thought to be the work of nature; few stones are to be found near it, though ‘tis computed to contain 400 of that country cart load of stones, or upwards. There is likewise another, at the base north-east, in resemblance much the same, but scarce so large, and I was informed of several others up and down the country. Now if any of your correspondents will favour me with their thoughts how, and upon what account, they have been laid there, they will highly oblige your humble servant, and constant reader, PASTOR.

Anon (extract from following note)

A Correspondent of yours has obliged the world with a description of Ingleborough, but has forgot to give the derivation of its name, and the use of the Beacon, the ruins of which are now visible upon its flat summit.

Mr Rauthmell, in his Antiquitates Bremetonacae, or the Roman Antiquities of Overborough (p. 61.) has, from Dr Gale, given a very satisfactory and entertaining account of this whole affair, which I shall transcribe with pleasure. “Bremetonacae is a compound of three British words; Bre, Maenig, Tan; Mons, Saxeus, Ignis; which is, to express it in English, the rocky hill fire station; i.e. the station at Overborough had a fire upon a hill. And the word Ingleborough signifies the same thing in the Saxon tongue, which the word Bremetonacae signifies in the British. Hence we learn that the garrison of Overborough erected a beacon on the rocky hill of Ingleborough; and on that side of the summit which looks towards Overboro’. In confirmation of this, the word Borough signifies a fortified mount; i.e. Ingleborough, from its very name, denotes a Fortification; and so it was, when it had Roman soldiers, as centinels detached from the garrison of Overborough.” Ingleborough is about 5 miles from Overborough; but its prodigious height would have made it fit for a mons exploratorius, had the distance been almost double.