Tumulus: OS Grid Reference – SD 981 375
Go through the village of Stanbury, past the last of the two reservoirs until you’re on the western edge of Ponden. Stop and look up the slopes to your south. This spot was recently found and photographed by Richard Stroud: a curious-looking mound with all the hallmarks of being a forgotten tumulus. We’ve gotta check it out properly though!
Although not in the archaeological records (not too unusual in Yorkshire it seems), the site does have some literary references and some all-too-common folklore motifs. Perusing my library for info about another nearby site (the Cuckoo Stones), I found the following said of this place in a rare book by James Whalley called The Wild Moor (1869, pp.103):
“It appears that some hills, as well as dales…have silvery names. There is a hill which is on the right hand on the way from Ponden House to Crow Hill Moor, which is distinguished by the beautiful designation of ‘Silver Hill.’ The hill is surrounded by a wall (I suppose to guard the treasure) and its surface is adorned with trees. Grey-headed men living on the borders of Crow Hill and Lancashire Moors affirm that during the Scotch rebellion here was deposited a large chest of silver, which was hid in the hill. It would appear as if the chest of silver is still there!”
This tradition was echoed a decade later by J. Horsfall Turner, and then again by Halliwell Sutcliffe in 1899, who reckoned the “vast treasure was said to have been buried during the ’45 rebellion,” adding how “the fields which climb this hill were well tilled aforetime through being constantly turned over in search of the treasure” – but nowt was ever found.
An additional bit of folklore tells of two spirits nearby: one of a man; another of a fiery barrel — either a remnant of earlier solar folk traditions hereby, or perhaps just an earthlight. One of these (the fiery barrel) rolled down the hill nearby; whereby the ghost of the man walked by the hillock along the track from Ponden House a little further east.
Horsfall-Turner, J., Haworth Past and Present, J.S. Jowett: Brighouse 1879.
Sutcliffe, Halliwell, By Moor and Fell in West Yorkshire, T. Fisher Unwin: London 1899
Whalley, James, The Wild Moor, Todmorden 1869.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian