Out & About …

… on the North York Moors, or wherever I happen to be.

From beacons to buried treasure—Tales of Drake Howe

At the highest point of Cringle Moor’s flat summit is a Bronze Age round barrow named Drake Howe1NYM HER No: 2081.. A cairn overlooks the hollow left by Victorian antiquarians in this ancient monument. “Howe,” a term with a Scandinavian etymology, means a mound. But “Drake,” is that a name that carries a folk memory recalling the age-old vigil of a beacon warning of the impending approach of the Spanish Armada?

In the year 1855, a notification was published in the Yorkshire Gazette of the intention to carry out a “Perambulation,” around the boundaries of the land belonging to James Emerson, Lord of the Manor of Kirby-in-Cleveland2‘Notice of Perambulation | Yorkshire Gazette | Saturday 29 September 1855 | British Newspaper Archive’. 2023. Britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk <https://www.britishnewspaperarchive.co.uk/viewer/bl/0000266/18550929/088/0006> [accessed 7 August 2023]. This announcement described the route to be taken and stated that one of the key landmarks lies “in a South-Westerly direction … to a Mound or large Heap of Stones, called Beacon Stone, otherwise Drake How, on the summit of Kirby Bank.” The notification continues, “and from thence North-Westwards, in a straight line, to the Site of an old Beacon.

This old beacon is a reference to Cringle End, which is marked on the 1857 OS Six-inch map as “Beacon Stoep,” although the second word is an enigma—I may have misread it. Tom Scott Burns, referring to the same spot, writes of a “Beacon Post.3Burns, Tom Scott. “The Walker’s Guide to the Cleveland Hills”. Page 93. Smith Settle. 1993.

Beyond Cringle Moor, other peaks hosted beacons of their own — Roseberry Topping and Danby Beacon, each a point in a thread of communication. And on a day when the skies are clear, it is supposedly possible to see Penn Hill in the distance, another beacon site rising above Wensleydale in the Yorkshire Dales.

Scott Burns also tells of a legend of Drake Howe — a tale of a chest hidden within its depths, a chest glimmering with the promise of gold. Tradition whispered of an unusual caveat — no words must be spoken during the excavation, as if the very sound could obstruct the treasure’s retrieval. The story goes of two men tempted by the allure of these riches. With hearts pounding, they embarked on their quest, steadfast in their resolve to uphold the silence. But suspense is a heavy burden, and in a moment of unguarded anticipation, an exclamation of excitement — “Wa hev it noo!” The chest, once raised from its slumber, seemed to recoil from the intrusion, vanishing into the earth’s embrace once more, leaving nothing but the echo of an unrealised dream.







2 responses to “From beacons to buried treasure—Tales of Drake Howe”

  1. John avatar

    Stoep – I always thought that the word on the 6″ map was ‘stoop’ as in stone post. I think the apparent cross stroke on the second ‘o’ is actually a dot on the contour line that runs through it.

    1. Fhithich avatar

      That makes sense. Thanks.

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