Natural England - Stiperstones: history

Stiperstones: history

Four cairns and an Iron Age hill fort are all evidence of human activity going back 3,000 years.

Folklore and fable

The Devil, witches and ghosts are all prominent in local legends and it is said that if the Devil can flatten The Stiperstones, then all of England will perish. To that end, the Devil is said to fling himself down in his chair in the hope that his weight will sink it!

Fortunately sightings of other local characters, Wild Edric, a Saxon nobleman, and his fairy wife Godda, who charge across the hill on horseback are rare; they warn of war.

‘Once upon a hill’: discovering the lost communities of The Stiperstones

In the nineteenth century, when mining activity was at its height, a series of small ‘squatter’ settlements were established on the fringes of the hill, notably in Perkins Beach and at Blakemoorgate. These were occupied by miners and their families who created small-holdings for their livestock and crops, and grazed the surrounding heathland.

By the twentieth century mining was on the wane and bit by bit these settlements were abandoned, the last cottage being deserted in the 1960s.

The Once Upon a Hill Project seeks to record, conserve and interpret former mining settlements and their wildlife. Its centrepiece has been the restoration of two historically important cottages at Blakemoorgate. These former ‘squatter cottages’ have been restored by Natural England with support from English Heritage, the Heritage Lottery Fund and the European Commission.

Blakemoorgate cottages

These cottages are now open to visitors on the second Sunday of each month from April – October. Further information, including a location map, is available in a downloadable leaflet: (2.56mb)pdf document.

The dates for this year's open days are listed on the events pages.

Other elements of this project include habitat restoration, a booklet of self-guided walks called ‘From Mineshaft to Fireside’ and the publication of an oral reminiscence book, ‘Once upon a hill’, which captures the memories of those who lived in these settlements some 80 years ago. These books are available from The Stiperstones shop, local visitor centres and Post Offices. The walks are also available to download from the Viewranger Website.