Pendle Hill August 15th 2011.

Walked from Clitheroe up Pendle Hill to the summit overlooking Nelson & Colne on one side, looking like a toy town below. On the other side I could see Northwards past Clitheroe towards the Trough of Bowland. Completed the circle of the hill in bright sunshine. From the top of Pendle hill, looking West, I could see Blackpool Tower and the Ribble flowing into the sea. Eastwards I could see the Pennines, one account  said that on the shortest night, at dawn, the sun could be seen rising behind York Minster.

.A Stone circle on the way up to Pendle hill summit, 6ft plus in height,with a narrow V-shaped entrance. A stone seat on the inside made it a comfortable stop. Worth noting as a shelter, from the wind if not the rain, although a tarpaulin pulled over the top would make it nice and cosy.  Possibly an “art installation” or perhaps a form of bothy, minus the roof. A grass trim lined the top. Perhaps the v-shaped entrance, facing East  would catch the rising sun at Midsummer? I may try it next year?

 

A darker side to Pendle, by coincidence, was illustrated that week in BBC4’s “Pendle Witch Child” presented by the poet Simon Armitage. Many people were imprisoned and hung during the early 17th Century  from this area as a result of the witchcraft panic. Armitage makes the point that many of the accusations were based on petty jealousy between neighbours. He says that this panic died out after the early 1600s, but during the 1640s during the chaos of the Civil war, Mathew Hopkins, wreaked havoc in the Lavenham area of East Anglia. He is known to moviegoers as “The Witchfinder general” played by the master of Hammer type horror, Vincent Price. Filmed in the Lavenham area it sits alongside “The WickerMan” as a classic British horror film. “Night of the Demon” might also be added to that list of films set in seemingly comfortable British surroundings. No bleak slaughterhouse in an Australian desert, or Texas scrapyard or even a Romanian Castle.

The witchcraft hysteria crossed the Atlantic and in 1692 in Salem,Mass. the same madness was enacted, hangings and in one case crushing to death under stones[!] before brave common sense prevailed twenty years later. It was only in the late 20th Century that the descendants of the Salem victims gained pardon for their ancestors.  The last prosecution for witchcraft in the UK was during the Second World war. No chance of such hysteria today eh?

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