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Episode 34: Derbyshire



Where is Derbyshire?

In our thirty-fourth episode we talked about lots of interesting places and things in Derbyhire, so here are some pictures and links if you're interested in finding out more!


Peak District National Park


At more than 550 squares miles and the UK’s original national park, the Peak District provides a taste of the outdoors to millions.


Considered by many as the spiritual home of the free access to the countryside we all enjoy today, the Peak District continues to provide a warm welcome to those seeking some of their first inspirational connections with nature.


The Hopton Axe


It was on farmland close to Hopton in 1953 that the oldest ‘made’ object to have been found in Derbyshire was discovered – subsequently named The Hopton Hand Axe.


Comparing this hand axe to similar ‘ovate’ hand axes (ovate referring the ovoid, or egg-like shape), the most recent advice is that this tool could be up to 350,000 years old.


Creswell Crags

Creswell Crags is a spectacular magnesian limestone gorge that straddles the border between Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.


It is dotted with a large number of caves, fissures and rock shelters, many of which harboured secrets from our Prehistoric past. Archaeologists have been excavating these caves since the 19th Century, when the Victorians first discovered the artefacts that lay beneath the cave floors.

So much material was excavated early on that many of today’s archaeologists now excavate the spoil heaps (rubbish dumps) of previous excavations to find any artefacts which were missed!


The Pinhole Cave Man and Other Discoveries


The above bone, carved with a horse's head, known as the Robin Hood Cave Horse (previously known as the Ochre Horse) was found in Robin Hood's Cave at Cresswell Crags. It is now housed in the British Museum. A replica of the artifact is displayed at the Creswell Crags Visitor Centre.


The tooth of a Machairodus or sabre-toothed cat was found at the same time.


An engraving of a human figure on a woolly rhinoceros rib bone, known as the Pinhole Cave Man, was discovered the Pin Hole Cave in 1928 by the archaeologist A. L. Armstrong. This carving dates to the Upper Palaeolithic and is about 12,000 years old, it is now also kept at the British Museum.

The carving is 5 cm tall, the whole bone measures 20.8 cm long. The man may be wearing a mask, or he is just depicted with a protruding nose and jaw. He has legs that appear incomplete, a crooked back, and a long engraved line across his upper body.


Other worked bone items along with the remains of a wide variety of prehistoric animals, including mammoth, lynx, bear, deer and hyena, have been found at the caves in excavations from 1876 to the present day.


Stones Circles, Nine Ladies, and Robin Hood's Stride


Stone Circles are often associated with Druids and pagan ceremonies like sacrifices. The Peak District stone circles date back to the Bronze Age and earlier. That means Druids were not the builders, however, it is possible they used the stone circles of the Peak.


Many of the Peak District circles have been vandalised over the years, for example the fire set round the Kings Stone on Stanton Moor which cracked it. Some of the circles may not actually be stone circles, and could be the remains of the kerbs of barrows.


Peveril Castle


The ruins of Peveril Castle stand isolated on a rocky hilltop in the Derbyshire Peaks, one of the most dramatically sited castles in England.


Throughout its history, from the 11th to the 16th century, Peveril Castle served as a base for the government of the local area, the ‘Forest of the Peak’.


The town of Castleton, at the foot of castle hill, was founded 100 years after the castle.


Bolsover Castle


Perched on a ridge high above the Vale of Scarsdale, on the site of a medieval fortress, Bolsover Castle is an extraordinary 17th-century aristocratic retreat.


The exquisite ‘Little Castle’ has remarkable wall paintings and interiors, and the Riding House is the earliest such building in England to survive complete.


The castle was founded in the late 11th century by William Peveril, one of William the Conqueror's knights, but it was neglected from the mid-14th century.


Its ruins provided the setting for the Little Castle begun in 1612 by Sir Charles Cavendish as a retreat from his principal seat at Welbeck, a few miles away.


Hardwick Hall


Hardwick’s history is closely associated with the lady who built it, born Elizabeth Hardwick, who became Countess of Shrewsbury, known to many simply as ‘Bess of Hardwick’.


Born on the site of Hardwick Old Hall, Bess rose to a position of great power within Elizabethan society.


The very fact that Hardwick was built is a sure sign of Bess' wealth, power and ambition.


The audacious architectural design and materials used, alongside the lavish interior, were chosen by Bess to impress and they continue to do so today.


Chatsworth House


Chatsworth comprises a Grade I listed house and stables, a 105-acre garden, a 1,822-acre park, a farmyard and adventure playground, and one of Europe’s most significant private art collections.


It has been home to sixteen generations of the Devonshire family for nearly five centuries. Each has contributed to its careful evolution and preservation, creating the house, garden, estate, and collections we enjoy today. 


Haddon Hall


Haddon Hall, the private residence of Lord and Lady Edward Manners, is set in the Peak District in the valley of the River Wye. With nine hundred years of history, it is one of the oldest houses in the country and moreover one of the only houses in England to have remained in one family’s ownership for its entire existence.


Haddon is unique as it remained empty for nearly two hundred years. This extraordinary period, when time stood still in the Hall, allowed it to remain unaltered during the modernising period of the Georgians and Victorians. So venturing into Haddon is like stepping back in time, since from the 1700s the Dukes of Rutland preferred to live at their main seat, Belvoir Castle in Leicestershire.

The Medieval Banqueting Hall remains furnished with its original Dais table, behind which hangs a tapestry gifted to the family by visiting Henry VIII. The Parlour boasts its glorious Tudor painted ceiling of Tudor roses and marvellous heraldic paneling.


Exquisite and very rare 15th century fresco seccos adorn the walls of the Medieval Chapel.

In contrast to the Tudor and Medieval Rooms below, the light and airy first floor Elizabethan rooms culminate in the spectacular 110ft Robert Smythson designed Long Gallery; reputed to be one of the most beautiful rooms in England.


Eyam


The plague came to Eyam in the summer of 1665, possibly in a bale of cloth brought up from London. The people in the house where it came to caught the disease and died in a short space of time. Before long, others had caught the disease and also died, after a short and very painful illness. It spread rapidly.

The local rector, The Rev. William Mompesson, and his predecessor, led a campaign to prevent the disease spreading outside the village to the surrounding area. This involved the people of the village remaining in the village and being supplied with necessary provisions by people outside.

There is still on the outskirts of the village a location called the Boundary stone, where traditionally, money was placed in small holes for the provisions which those from the local area brought for the villagers. As a result of this action, the disease did not spread but almost a third of the villagers died.

Interestingly some of the villagers who were in contact with those who caught the plague, did not catch it. This was because they had a chromosome which gave them protection. This same chromosome has been shown to still exist in those who are direct descendants of those who survived the plague, and who are still living in the village at the present time.


The action of the villagers in staying in the village is almost unique and makes the village the place of significance that it is.


Derwent Valley Mills


The Derwent Valley Mills are the birthplace of the factory system. It was for this reason that they were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2001.


It was in the Derwent Valley that – thanks to pioneering work by Richard Arkwright, Jedidiah Strutt, the Lombe brothers and others – the essential ingredients of factory production were successfully combined.


Water Power was applied and successfully used for the first time on a relatively large scale. Not only was silk throwing and cotton spinning revolutionised with dramatic consequences for the British economy, the Arkwright model system also informed and inspired developments in other countries and industries.


The fact that the further development of urban-based cotton mill technology happened in Lancashire rather than Derbyshire meant the early mills in the Derwent Valley were not redeveloped, so visitors can enjoy visiting remarkable early industrial buildings and their communities in an unspoilt landscape setting.


The Longdendale Lights


The Longdendale Valley stretches through the Peak District for 15 miles with two peaks either side known as Shining Clough and Bleaklow. The area is seriously isolated and despite a few major roads, requires mostly scrambling through on foot.


The area has been a hotspot for ghostly encounters and haunting happenings for many, many years with the two most prominent and recurring stories revolving around both the Longdendale Lights and Longdendale Ghost Bomber.


Old Tup


'Tup’ is a dialect word meaning an uncastrated male sheep. The origins of The Derby Tup are, like much folklore, shrouded in mystery. It made an appearance in a folk song published in 1867 in Llewellyn Jewitt’s The Ballads of Derbyshire; a song of considerable black comedy and hyperbole.


At some unknown point the ballad expanded into a short guising play revolving around the killing of the Tup.


The play features recurring characters: the Man, Our Owd Lass (the Man’s wife), the Butcher and the Tup itself, sometimes accommodating extra characters depending on the size of the team.


This would be performed around Christmas and New Year’s Eve, usually by adolescent boys, in local pubs and clubs, in the streets and house visiting door to door, and a collection taken after the performance.


Hobs


In England, the hob is a good-natured goblin who helps house maids with their early morning chores (in other words, he’s a relative of the brownie); he is, in addition, a nocturnal sprite and he’s associated with boggles in the north of England and, more widely, with Robin Goodfellow.

Typically, hobs or hobthrusts are associated with houses and farms, but the burial mound called Hob Hurst’s House on Baslow Moor in Derbyshire demonstrates that long-standing faery link with ancient sites and dead ancestors.


Boggarts


A Boggart is a type of a hobgoblin or ghost; a supernatural being of English folklore, very mischievous, sly, and annoying: often invoked to frighten children. Threats of being thrown into some black “boggart-hole” are usually enough to silence the expression of any childish woe!


The boggart is full of tricks and devilment but seldom works serious harm. Sometimes he walks through the rooms at night, twitches the covers off sleeping people, or raps loudly on the door and never comes in or answers.


Sometimes he rearranges the furniture so that people who have to get up in the dark bump into it; or sometimes he lays the baby gently on the floor, just to astonish its parents who find it safely sleeping there in the morning.


The boggart of Staining Hall (near Blackford) was the uneasy ghost of a murdered Scotchman; the boggart of Hackensall Hall lived in the shape of a horse who was a willing worker as long as he was catered to. The people even built him a fire to lie by on cold nights, and if he did not get it he complained loudly, or refused to work.


Arbor Low and Gib Hill Barrow


Arbor Low is a well-known and impressive prehistoric monument, sometimes referred to as ‘the Stonehenge of the North’, owing to its henge bank and ditch, stone circle and cove.


It bears more of a passing resemblance (though on a smaller scale) to that other great Neolithic monument, Avebury, in Wiltshire.


Arbor Low and Gib Hill form one of the most impressive complexes of prehistoric monuments in the Peak District. Nevertheless, there have been no excavations on either site for more than 100 years, and our understanding of their date, function and sequence of building is far from complete.


By comparing them with better-studied sites elsewhere, however, it is possible that the Neolithic barrow at Gib Hill was the first element, perhaps followed by the bank and ditch of Arbor Low.

The barrow over the henge ditch and the round barrow at Gib Hill are undoubtedly later features, as may be the stone circle and cove within the henge monument. It is important to remember that these monuments are the cumulative result of episodes of use that may have continued for more than 1,000 years, perhaps from about 2500 to 1500 BC.


All the earthworks are substantial and they would have taken a considerable time to build. Perhaps the co-operative acts of construction were as socially important as the monuments themselves.


High on the false crest of a limestone ridge, Arbor Low would have been visible for many miles around – although the view of whatever took place inside it would have been restricted to those standing by the bank.






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Aaaaaahhhhh! That's such a scary story! But I love Mr. Strine and his Area of Expertise.


Every one of these episodes has me thinking, "But I must visit that county and see X!" Thank you for your delightful podcast; I never miss a chapter.

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Really glad you enjoyed it - and we're so happy that the podcast is bringing you pleasure! Fingers crossed you never need Mr Strines' services, and thank you so much for your lovely comment! ♥️

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