Pendle Witches – scarier than Hallowe’en

While on our travels, Laurie and I met this witch, on the Lancashire moors in the shadow of Pendle Hill.

Pendle Witch Eric and Laurie
Pendle Witch Eric and Laurie

It was no coincidence, we went looking for her.  There is a shop here in Newchurch, “Witches Galore” which sells all kinds of witchcraft souvenirs, because this was the home of the Pendle Witches, who were tried and hanged for witchcraft in 1612, some 80 years before the Salem witch trials which are perhaps more famous in North America.

Hallowe‘en is a fun family event these days, but it was a serious matter back then.  This year was the 400th anniversary of the trials, so there have been a lot of events to commemorate it and although we arrived after the main celebrations there were still a lot of exhibits to see.

And of course, there has to be a pub named after it all:

The Pendle Inn sign
The Pendle Inn sign

We can recommend the Inn for good food and ale. (OK, lager for Laurie).  Albertans, please note that “Wild Rose Country” was taken a few centuries before Alberta was even named.

Newchurch is not just known for witches.  It is a beautiful village in its own right.  Here’s the proof:

Newchurch award
Newchurch best-kept village award

I would be prepared to argue the case that it’s neighbour, Downham, deserves the award more, in the long run.  It has won several times.  Here’s why:

Downham, Lancashire
Downham, Lancashire

and finally, from almost the same place, so you can see Pendle Hill itself, which dominates the landscape for miles around.  The name actually means “hill hill hill” – each invader asked the locals what it was called, and the first lot (Cumbrics) just said Pen = “The Hill” – what else would you call the only big hill for miles around, it didn’t need any other name.  So the invaders called it Penhyll (hyll being the Old English for hill – pretty close). Over the years, that got slurred together into Pendle and some newcomers added a third “hill”.

Pendle Hill from Downham
Pendle Hill from Downham

Maybe its another of those alien-spaceships-inside-a-hill, like Uluru and Benbulbin.

 

Author: Eric Lawton

Eric is a natural philosopher living in rural Ontario

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *