At one time there was once a hermitage on the summit of Roseberry. It was referred to in a letter to Sir Thomas Chaloner (1559 – 1615) by a person with the initials ‘H. TR’ (who remains somewhat of a mystery). The letter was quoted in the ‘The Topographer and Genealogist Volume II’, edited by John Gough Nichols, F.S.A. in 1853:
“Towards the weste there stands a highe hill called Roseberry Toppinge, which is a marke to the seamen, and an almanacke to the vale, for they have this ould ryme common,
“When Roseberrye Toppinge weares a cappe
Let Cleveland then beware a clappe.”
For indeede yt seldome hath a cloude on yt that some yll weather shortly followes yt not, when not farre from thence on a mountayne’s syde there are cloudes almoste contynually smoakinge, and therfore called the Divell’s Kettles, which notwithstandinge prognostycate neither good nor badde.
That is for shappe, scyte, and many raryties, more excellent then any that I have seene ; yt hath somtymes had an hermitage on yt, and a small smith’s forge cut out of the rocke, together with a clefte or cut in the rocke called St. Winifryd’s Needle, whither blynde devotyon led many a syllie soule, not without hazard of a breaknecke tumblinge caste, while they attempted to put themselves to a needlesse payne creepyng through that needle’s eye.”
The weather rhyme has been mentioned many times before in these postings, but the references to a “Winifryd’s Needle” and “Divell’s Kettles” are intriguing.
This recess on the summit rocks is obviously man-made and in my imagination, this is the site of the hermitage and smith’s forge but, of course, I may be completely way off the mark as the sandstone capping of the summit has been extensively quarried and has suffered from at least two rockfalls.