I moved up to the Cleveland area in the Autumn of 1973 and I’ve been climbing Roseberry on a regular basis every since. It’s my patch. And I thought I knew every nook and cranny.
I knew about Roseberry Well, where the young Prince Oswy is said to have drowned having been taken to the highest hill in the kingdom of Northumbria by his mother to escape a prophecy that he would drown on his second birthday.
In fact I posted about it in 2019 in which I erroneously assumed that the well was a dampish niche just below the summit ridge. How wrong I was.
Last night it clicked to me that the O.S. map has actually pointed to a location just below the 300m contour all this time. Doh!
And sure enough, the “well’ is there although young Prince must have been terribly unlucky to drown in it.
The well is supposed to have medicinal properties such that “in the middle ages people resorted to it from all over the district“. In the 16th-century, William Camden wrote1“Cleveland Re-Visited Great Ayton. | Cleveland Standard | Saturday 26 November 1932 | British Newspaper Archive.” Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk, 2022, www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0003490/19321126/128/0008.:
“we nexte visited Ounesberrye Toppinge whyche is a lande-mark for sailors and neare ye toppe is a fountaine or welle, whych is considered a goode cure fore soare eyes, flux, and chronic coughe.”
In the 1930s, the well is reported as being “railed off” “for safety’s sake“, although I could find no trace of any fencing today2Ibid.. (Not as silly as it sounds as bits of the Victorian railings that once protected the summit can still be found hidden in the bilberries).
- 1“Cleveland Re-Visited Great Ayton. | Cleveland Standard | Saturday 26 November 1932 | British Newspaper Archive.” Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk, 2022, www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0003490/19321126/128/0008.