Sunday 13 February 2011

The Hobgoblin of Hobthrush Hall

Yorkshire folklore tells of a cave in the scarrs above Over Silton on the edge of the North York Moors called Hobthrush Hall which was said to be the home of a local Hobgoblin. I checked the small scale Ordnance Survey maps around Over Silton but could find no indication of a cave, so all I had to go on was the following piece of local folklore:

"Over Silton. In the precipitous cliffs, a short distance north-west of the village, called 'the Scarrs,' is a cave in the rock, known by the name of Hobthrush Hall, which was formerly the abode of a goblin of somewhat remarkable character, who appears by the stories yet current relating to him, to have been possessed of great agility, as he was in the habit of jumping from the hills above his dwelling to the top of Carlhow Hill, about half a mile distant. He was not of the malignant kind. . . . On the contrary he was one of those friendly to man. . . . The Silton goblin was a true and faithful servant to a person named Weighall, who kept the village inn, and rented the land on which his hall was situate. It was Hob's invariable practice to churn the cream during the night, which was prepared for him the evening before, for which his reward was a large slice of bread and butter, always placed ready for him when the family retired to bed, and always gone in the morning. One night, the cream was put into the churn as usual, but no bread and butter placed beside it. Hob was so dis- gusted with this piece of base ingratitude, that he never came to churn more, and appears to have entirely left the neighbourhood. His dwelling yet remains, a rugged cave among the rocks, dark, wet, and uncomfortable, but extending a considerable distance underground."

Carlow Hill was just to the West of Over Silton and there appeared to be 'scarrs' or cliffs just to the north of the village, so that seemed like a good place to start looking.

Parking was incredibly difficult as the lanes around there were very narrow but I did manage to find a small layby just to the north of the village that was on the other side of some fields that sat above the scarrs. I didn't fancy climbing over the barbed wire fences and upsetting the local farmers so I opted to skirt around the fields and enter the woods to the north of the scarrs.

I plunged into the trees, heading down a slope, and soon found myself at the base of the cliffs at their northern end. It was then just a matter of tracing the edge of the cliffs southwards until I came across a cave! The cliffs stood at the top of a long steep slope but were clearly visible through the open woodland of spruce plantation.

I had no idea what the cave looked like though, how big it was, and even if it really existed! So imagine my surprise when I suddenly spotted two very obvious looking caves in the cliff face!

I scrambled up to the entrance and old graffiti carved all around confirmed that this must be a significant place. A place once often visited, but now forgotten.

I stepped through the small entrance and entered a much larger area inside. This was definitely the right place! Hobthrush Hall home of the Hob!

I searched around the inside of the cave and then followed a small passageway at the back which became smaller and smaller until only a hob could have fitted down it! Tantalisingly a tiny tunnel about a foot high seemed to lead deep into an underground realm but unfortunately I was too large to explore any further myself, so I left an offering there to the spirits and the hob.

But I wasn't done yet, as I crouched down in the tiny tunnel I noticed a cavity above my head which might just be large enough for me to squeeze my head and shoulders into if I stood upright. Slowly and gingerly I forced my head up into the tiny cavity, past spiders webs and cocoons until my head torch shone into the small cavity above. There were big shiny black spiders living in every crack and crevice in the rock, as well as other insects which were hibernating from the winter cold.

I didn't fancy poking around in there so I dropped back down into the tunnel and returned to the main cave. I had been feeling rather drained for days so I decided not to do any spiritual investigations today, the energies here seemed particularly heavy in any case. I had a slight headache and so I decided to content myself with my discoveries so far.

I left the cave and started heading back towards Over Silton through the woods. I hadn't got more than a hundred yards when I found my way blocked by a fallen oak tree which I had to duck under. For some reason I removed my wooly hat to do this and was astonished to see a large moth clinging to it! It was one of the largest and most beautiful moths I had ever seen, with a marbled pattern its back and long feathery feelers sprouting from its head.

I stared at it for a while and then tried to make it fly off by giving it a gentle nudge, but the moth clung firmly to my hat. I nudged it a couple more times but it just wouldn't budge. I was feeling tired but I knew he must have a message for me.

"Ok, what do you want?" I said with a sigh.

"Go back to Hobthrush Hall!" said the moth.

"No I'm tired, I'll go back later" I replied.

"Now!" he said.

"Sorry I'm feeling too tired", I said.

The moth's feathery antennae twitched and they both pointed in the direction of the cave. This was a message I just couldn't ignore! Resigned to my duty I decided to climb back through the undergrowth to the cave. I tried to get the moth to leave my hat by transferring him to the branch of a tree, but he held firm. I would have to hold my hat in my hand and take the moth with me!

I re-entered the cave, placed my hat at the far end by the small tunnel, planted my wand in the centre of the floor to draw in energy there and then sat down by the cave entrance to meditate. Soon after I sat down the moth flew up into the cavity and disappeared into the darkness! I took this as a sign to explore the cavity further which I'd been unwilling to explore earlier.

I returned to the small tunnel and noticed what looked like a hand print of white powder on the wall below the overhead cavity. I then climbed up and poked my head through the cavity, bolder this time and less afraid of all the spiders that lay hidden around I climbed up as high as I could and shone my torch into every little crevice.

This time I spotted curious formations in the rock, pieces of fossilised wood and strange 'egg stones' like the ones I had seen on Roulston Scar, except these ones still had their filling inside, a strange red clay-like material. I just couldn't imagine what these curious eggstones could be, they must be millions of years old!

My interest piqued I decided to explore more of the cracks and crevices in this cave to look for similar eggstones and indeed I did find more, just to the left of the cave entrance, while overhead I noticed what looked like a large fossilised beam of wood! Thoughts of ancient civilizations lost in mists of time came to mind, strange worlds millions of years old which today we can have no concept of.

I noticed that the end of this particular crevice was blocked by a couple of boulders, each almost a foot across. It almost seemed like they had been placed there deliberately and so I decided to remove them to see what lay behind. As I removed the last boulder I got a shock!

"Oh my God!" I said, because the boulders were hiding a tiny little doorway, only a couple of inches high! At that moment I knew I had found it at last, everything had been guiding me to this very place, the entrance to Hobthrush Hall!

The passageway was very narrow and even with my arm fully extended I could not reach the tiny doorway. As I shone my torch down and took photos of the doorway I felt a sudden rush of energy shoot out from it and was overcome with dizziness! I quickly fell back into the main cave before I passed out completely!

"I don't like all those lights!" shouted the hob from behind the tiny doorway.

"I'm sorry, I'll switch them off and I'll put the rocks back to hide your home again, I promise!"

I was nervous now, I had felt his power! So I replaced the rocks and left an offering of honey there for him.

"I thought you sent the moth to fetch me?" I said.

"I did, but I don't like all those lights!" He was a grumpy sod.

"Will others come?" he asked.

"Yes, but they'll treat you with respect, I promise!"

"Will they bring honey too?"

"Yes", I replied.

"Very well then", he said.

The hob was a powerful spirit. In the past he would have been treated with respect but nowadays so many of the hobs' haunts are overrun by tourists and so the hobs retreat underground, far from the eyes of mankind. This place was still relatively untouched and so the power of the hob was still strong. I hope that anyone who decides to visit this place will treat the hob with the respect he deserves and leave a small offering for him in the cave.

I picked up my things and left, but then I remembered that I had left my hat lying there. I popped back in to grab it and I heard the voice of the hob one last time.

"Thank you", he said simply.


Rob Wildwood (Aurvandil) has now released a book containing hundreds of his own stunning full colour photos of many of the magical places he has visited in his travels. The images capture the magic and mystery of each place and are enhanced by extracts of local folklore that reveal the magical lore of each place and tempt deeper investigation. Every site listed has full directions and map grid references that can be checked online, so join Rob Wildwood as you discover Britain's magical places at

Sunday 6 February 2011

Aberfoyle - Doon Hill and the Fairies

My next trip was to one of the most well known and magical fairy locations in the British Isles. Doon Hill in Aberfoyle, Scotland is where the Reverend Robert Kirk had many encounters with the Fae back in the 17th century. He wrote a book about his experiences entitled "The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies" which is now famous amongst fairy folklorists. But his obsession was to be his undoing, because one day he was abducted by the fairies and was never seen again. People say that there is an entrance to the Otherworld on Doon Hill through which the reverend passed and some say that he dwells up there still in the Land of the Fae.

Doon Hill lies just south of Aberfoyle on the other side of the River Forth on the edge of an area of extensive woodland. The hill itself is shrouded in forest giving it a mysterious appearance from the start.

I walked down the lane from Kirkton and approached the hill from the west. As soon as I entered the woodland at the base of the hill a magical atmosphere pervaded all. The trees looked spindly and twisted, and dewy moss shone bright and green on the boughs. 

Strange rock formations sprang up all around covered in gnarly trees, looking like little fairy mounds themselves. I spotted a forked tree on top of one these small mounds which looked invitingly like an entrance to the fairy realm, so I climbed up and stepped through it, dropping down into a magical land on the other side.

I had stepped through a portal and from now on the edge between reality and fantasy would be blurred for me and all the events that happened subsequently happened for me in a kind of half trance.

I continued walking through the open woodland towards the summit of the hill. It was quite visible ahead of me and stood tall and proud like a fortress. 

I could sense figures up there like soldiers standing on battlements and then I could see multi-coloured banners flying, I was surely approaching a fairy fort! I stopped and stared cautiously, and then I saw of couple of the elven soldiers descending from the fort to greet me, but they didn't look particularly friendly. They wanted me to relinquish all my weapons and amulets and then accompany them unarmed into the fortress, but fearing a trap I declined and they retreated.

Summoning my energy and will power I stepped forward but immediately I sensed missiles like arrows being fired at me. They struck me like bolts of light energy but seemed to bounce off harmlessly. Perhaps I was protected? I asked to be allowed entrance to the fortress but again they refused and launched more missiles, so I decided to back off under the onslaught and try a different approach.

I retreated out of range and left an offering of honey by a tree, and then covered myself in the pleasant scent of lavender oil to make myself more agreeable to the fairy folk. I headed northward, skirting around the western edge of the fortress and unexpectedly came upon another path! Instinctively I knew that I was now on the correct path to approach the fortress, the path just seemed more natural and had a gentler approach. Clearly I had been trying to enter the wrong way before! I followed this path until I stood at the foot of the fortress on the northern side.

I then gazed up at the battlements and this time a beautiful blonde elf-maiden came down to greet me. She took me by the hand and led me happily and eagerly up the slope, almost giggling to herself.

At the top of the hill lay a magical clearing where people had left all kinds of offerings both around and in the trees there. Everything from clootie rags to crystals to fairy statues to wind chimes, the clearing was full of the stuff! 

At the centre of the woodland clearing stood a lone tree, on the very spot where the reverend Robert Kirk disappeared into fairyland and was never seen again! 

I was guided by the elf maiden directly to this tree and I knelt down before it. 

Beneath the roots of the tree was a small hole like the entrance to a animal burrow that led deep underground, and beside this hole several offerings had been placed around, candles, statues and ribbons. I found a green glass half filled with rainwater and dirt and decided to clean it out and leave another offering of honey there for the fairies.

The maiden took me by the hand again and this time led me straight down into the hole. Now I felt like I really was entering the Otherworld! We went down and down and down through the darkness and then suddenly emerged into a grassy meadow by an old-fashioned farmhouse. The sun was shining and the elf maiden was still holding my hand, except she was no longer an elf maiden she was a little girl, and I was a little boy! She giggled playfully and memories came rolling back to me. I was in a past life! The little girl was my true love, we grew up together all our lives from being little children. I never knew this before, but it explained so much! It explained why she had meant so much to me and why her eventual loss was so unbearable, even after many lifetimes. She was my soulmate, happy, playful, mischievous and completely without malice, she meant everything to me. 

The scene passed and I was back with the elf maiden again, and now the tears were filling my eyes.

"Show me more," I said to her.

She led me once more down through the roots of the tree, this time down a pink spiral staircase like the inside of a giant conch shell, through pink-walled chambers and past a gruff ogre-like guard. We then emerged into a paradise world of lush greenery that was full of tame animals going about their daily business. Or at least they seemed tame because they were totally unafraid of us. The elf maiden and I had shrunk to a small size and were now flying through this world on butterfly wings. We flew through clouds of more multi-coloured butterflies, over the tree tops and then across vast plains teeming with wildlife. I had surely now entered the Otherworld realm of the Fae! A completely unspoilt land of beauty, perfection and unceasing natural harmony.

Ahead I could now see a castle, a fairy castle standing alone in the plain. We were heading directly towards it and I started to get fearful. I could sense dungeons within, darkness, dampness and solitude. I feared a trap, of being stuck in faeryland with no means of escape like Robert Kirk. I refused to continue and the elf maiden grew angry and ugly, she hissed at me! 

Suddenly I was back in my body, back in the clearing on top of Doon Hill. What was that castle? Was she showing me my fears or was it another scene from a past life?

I was standing facing the tree again with its entrance to the Otherworld, but when I turned around to face the clearing I had another vision.

I saw standing there a gathering of noble elf lords in long shining silvery silken robes. Their long straight silken hair hung down past their shoulders and they wore circlets upon their brows. They stood in a semi-circle around me and stared towards me with arms hanging by their sides, fingers interlocked before them, looking rather solemn.

"What have you brought us?" one of them said.

I remembered the green flourite eggs in my bag, so I took them out and started to lay them out on the ground before me in a the formation of a 12 pointed star.

"Too small!" said the elf lord.

I instinctively knew what he meant. The star should cover the entire clearing, with the otherworld tree at the centre. I looked around the clearing and could see that six trees formed a circle around it. These would be the six points of the outer star, and I would place the other six crystals slightly nearer the central tree to form the inner star.

So I walked around the clearing planting an egg just before the foot of each of the six trees. Curiously these six trees all had offerings placed around them and ribbons tied to them, just as much as the central tree had. I then placed the six inner crystals at a point midway between each of the outer crystals and returned to the central tree to see what would happen. 

The elf lords stepped forward, one of them standing over each of the crystals, there were 12 elf lords in total! I took out my wand and stood with one hand touching the central tree while my other hand held the wand aloft. I called in white light from the sky, that endless source of power and energy. The white light collected in the crystal at the tip of my wand and passed through me into the tree. It then spread out underground as if following the tree roots and emerged beneath each of the elf lords.

The elf lords started to glow a pale luminescent green which slowly increased in intensity becoming brighter and brighter until they were engulfed bright glowing columns of intense green light. These columns then became trees and at their tops they grew branches which started to spread out over the clearing, while underground the roots of the trees grew outwards, interconnecting with each other until the twelve trees were linked into one living network. This network spread outwards and outwards until it covered the entire land in a dense canopy of trees, a single, breathing, interconnected web. It was like a vision of the future, and the past, the land as it once was, and will one day be again, a land fit for the Fae to dwell in.

The vision slowly faded and I took a walk around the clearing but was soon disturbed by visitors, this time of the more mundane human kind! We exchanged a few stories and the guy told me that I should visit a famous Neolithic ritual landscape called Kilmartin. I hung around until they left and then decided that I should do the fairies a favour by clearing up some of the rubbish that had been left around and some of the less appealing items of junk that had been tied to the trees. I stuffed a whole carrier bag full of rubbish and just as I was about to give up for the day I turned around and there dangling right in front of my eyes was a blue teardrop-shaped crystal!

It was exactly like the one I had seen myself wearing in the vision I had on Lindsaylands Fairy Mound, the very first time I had seen myself as Aurvandil! The Fae had told me then that I should find myself one exactly like it and I had spent a whole day searching through one of the largest gemstone warehouses in the country but could find nothing to match it. Yet here it was, on Doon Hill, dangling right before my eyes! I knew instantly that this was a gift from the Fae and that I was meant to take it. So I snatched it up and pocketed it gratefully, giving thanks to the Fae for their gift.

Now I had surely done everything that I had come here for, so I decided it was time to head back down the hill. Before I lost sight of the clearing I stopped and turned around for one last look. The place looked magical in the late afternoon light. The outer trees seemed to glow with a green luminous light while the central tree stood there pale and grey. Movements flickered on the edge of my vision. I was sure that the Fae were hidden there in trees all around.


Rob Wildwood (Aurvandil) has now released a book containing hundreds of his own stunning full colour photos of many of the magical places he has visited in his travels. The images capture the magic and mystery of each place and are enhanced by extracts of local folklore that reveal the magical lore of each place and tempt deeper investigation. Every site listed has full directions and map grid references that can be checked online, so join Rob Wildwood as you discover Britain's magical places at

Thursday 3 February 2011

Obtrush Roque - The Hobgoblin's Cairn

Long ago a farmer in Farndale on the North York Moors was being much disturbed by a malicious hobgoblin or hobman. Not able to bear the malicious pranks of the hobman anymore the farmer eventually decided to quit his farm. He packed all his belongings into a cart and set off on his way, but before he got far one of his neighbours asked him where he was going.

"We're flitting!" the farmer said.

At which point the butter churn suddenly opened up and hobman's head popped out.

"Aye, we're flitting!" said the hobman!

Realising the hopelessness of his situation the despondant farmer returned home to his farm.

This short tale has parallels in other parts of the country and in Scandinavia too, but this particular hob, the Farndale hob, was associated with a myserious mound of stones up on the moors called Obtrush Rook, or the Hobgoblin's Cairn, which is made up of the remains of an ancient burial cist.

Intrigued by the story I decided to try and visit this almost completely forgotten location and see what power, if any, the place still held.

I drove to Farndale and parked in a narrow country lane by a nearby farm called Kneysbeck. The start of the climb followed a public footpath past an ancient spring that flowed into a stone trough. 

It then continued up the hillside through some woods before emerging into an old overgrown country lane that ran along the back of the cultivated valley.

Here I left the public footpath and followed the old lane for a while before it too became little more than a track, heading up the hillside onto the high moors. The trackway passed through hidden gulleys tucked away into the hillside and provided magnificent views over Farndale, now far below.

Using my compass and various landmarks I determined when the path had reached its nearest point to the fabled cairn and then set off on foot over the heather, leaving the trackway behind. It didn't take long struggling uphill before I could see the top of the ridge far ahead of me, and there, almost directly to my front, sat the cairn! There were some other piles of stones further over to the right, but I was sure from my calculations that I had the right place, and the closer I got the more certain I became, this structure stood alone near the very summit of the ridge.

As I got closer the stones took on a rather forbidding aspect, I did not feel invited or welcome, so I decided to start by walking around the stones sunwise. Not only could this be taken as a sign of respect but it also gave me chance to familiarise myself with the location. There seemed to be an outer circle of stones surrounding an inner pile, as well as one section on the outside that seemed to have been formed up into wall or shelter of some sort. 

As I'd read about previously, I noticed that many of the stones were cup-marked, but whether this was natural or carved by the ancient hand of man was hard to tell.

After processing around the stones three times I stood by what I took to be the entrance and asked permission to enter.

As I closed my eyes I could see a vision of the hobgoblin standing in the centre of the stone circle. He was larger than me and demonic-looking with an unfriendly aspect, he did not want to be disturbed!

As a further sign of respect I placed a scallop shell by the entrance to the mound and filled it with honey.

This got him more interested. He realised now that I wasn't just some hiker come to disturb him, I was here for a purpose!

"What do you bring?" he said.

I produced a large quartz crystal from my bag. He told me to leave all else behind and enter with my crystal, so I dropped my bag and stepped forward.

I was apprehensive and didn't really trust him, but he let me walk right into the centre of the cairn. I stood on the mound of rocks in the centre and placed my crystal there, down amongst the rocks.

As soon as I did so a huge and powerful column of white light shot down from the sky! It filled the cairn with its energy and caused the whole cairn to glow, before slowly issuing forth from the cairn in all directions down snakelike pathways down across the moors. I was filled with the light and energy and could see these glowing pathways all around, slithering away like white-hot molten glass in all directions, being carried far away across the moors.

In my mind's eye I followed these trails and saw them emerging as the light of sparkling stars in bubbling springs. Springs all over the moors were filled with this energy! The energy poured forth from the edges of the moors into the rivers to be carried by them across the plains. Lake Gormire too I saw sparkling with this new energy. The springs had been energised! A new magic was issuing from them to be carried far out across the land.

Finally the column of light subsided but now I too was transformed. I stood there as Aurvandil, the luminous wanderer, in white silken clothing with crystal pendants and silken hair of yellow gold. A fairy maiden appeared before me with a long flowing green dress and flowing hair of reddish blonde. Who was she? Was this Queen Mab my fairy guide? She told me that I had done well and that the first stage of my quest was now complete. She told me that I was on my way to receiving my prize and then she stroked me seductively.

I opened my eyes and the vision was gone. I am done here.

I returned to the bottom of the hill and passed by the spring again. I noticed now that the water in the spring was no longer flowing. Odd, I thought.

Back at my car I took out a pair of newly acquired dowsing rods and thought that I would give them a go as I'd never tried dowsing before. I walked back up to the woods and found a suitable clearing and stood there with the rods pointing directly forward.

The results astonished me! Whenever I asked for a positive response the rods crossed over strongly into an X as if guided by unseen hands. The nearest thing I can equate it to is a Ouija board where the glass seems to move itself. I tried dowsing for underground water and almost immediately found a vein of water, and then when I found an underground spring the rods crossed over violently.

"Was that the wind!" I said to myself.

The rods immediately swung outwards in a violent negative response! OK, now I was convinced... This was the nearest thing to magic I'd ever experienced.

I asked the rods if there was anything else to discover here, but the rods fell silent.

I later realised that the location I had discovered, the hobgoblin's cairn, was the omphalos, the very spiritual centre, or navel, of the North York Moors. By energising it's centre I had effectively energised the whole of the moors and carried that energy outwards and beyond, into all the land around.


Rob Wildwood (Aurvandil) has now released a book containing hundreds of his own stunning full colour photos of many of the magical places he has visited in his travels. The images capture the magic and mystery of each place and are enhanced by extracts of local folklore that reveal the magical lore of each place and tempt deeper investigation. Every site listed has full directions and map grid references that can be checked online, so join Rob Wildwood as you discover Britain's magical places at