You should now be standing in the village of Ilam, near the site where a Roman copper-alloy pan was found by metal detectorists in 2003. The Staffordshire Moorlands Pan (sometimes known as the Ilam Pan) was bought jointly in 2005 by The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, in Stoke-on-Trent, the Tullie House Museum, in Carlisle, and The British Museum.
You should be standing on the Manifold Way, in front of Thor’s Cave. Above you, the cave entrance is visible from its commanding location around 80 metres above the valley floor. The cave is a natural cavern formed from the dissolution of the soluble limestone that makes up the White Peak. The cave is a popular attraction and was served by a station on the Leek Manifold Light Railway between 1904 and 1934. The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery’s Local History collection includes postcards of the cave from 1910 to 1920.
The name of the cave is somewhat of an enigma. Although it evokes links with the Norse god Thor or his Anglo-Saxon equivalent, Thunor, there is no evidence to support this etymology. Nevertheless, the cave was in use in Anglo-Saxon times with Early Medieval artefacts uncovered there. The origin of the name possibly lies in the word ‘tor’ from the Old Welsh word for a high rock or tower (ultimately from the Latin turris).
In 2012 a hoard of 43 medieval silver pennies was discovered by a metal detectorist near to Kirk Ireton. The coins were in circulation during the 1260s and were found all together, suggesting they had been in a purse together. Were they hidden for safe keeping or simply dropped? If the latter, it would have been disasterous to have lost such a large amount of money!
All of the pennies were ‘voided, long-cross’ pennies from the reign of Henry III. At least one of the coins seems to have been counterfeit.
You are standing on a small area of upland known as Stanton Moor. The area is known for its prehistoric archaeology and contains four stone circles (most famously the Nine Ladies) and more than 70 barrows. In fact, the moor is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument.
Many early archaeologists came digging at Stanton Moor, opening up barrows to see what they could find. Objects travelled all over the country to be studied, including many fine examples of bronze age pottery. Some of these pots were placed with the dead, such as small ‘incense’ cups. Others, such as large cinerary urns, held the cremated remains of the dead themselves.
A riverside walk in the Peak District
Dovedale is a glorious medley of soaring limestone pinnacles, secret caves and natural arches, making it one of the most popular destinations in the Peak District.
Through its heart burbles the crystal-clear waters of the River Dove, dubbed “the princess of rivers.”
On this walk we’ll find out what makes the river so regal, how this rocky wonderland was created, and how it became an inspiration for Romantic poets and painters.
From the car park, turn right and walk up the road past the water company’s flow meter. Stop by the first bridge and look up at the hills on either side.
Please note, this walk has two options for its return route:
1. the flatter option is to retrace your steps back down Dovedale (total distance = 6 miles)
2. the higher level option is a circular route back around Ilam Tops and Bunster Hill
See Stop 6 for full details. (Total distance = 6.5 miles)
A short watery walk in Derbyshire’s White Peak
Lathkill Dale has its beginnings behind Monyash village, around three hundred metres above sea level. The name Monyash is thought to come from the Anglo-Saxon many and the Celtic word aesc meaning waters.
There is only one big mere (shallow lake) left in the village today, but there were five until they were filled in quite recently to provide the village with local amenities.
The five ponds must have been vital during the sixth century AD, when the Angles were starting to arrive, settle and learn about the area from the native British.
But why were these natural ponds so important? A walk down the upper half of Lathkill Dale reveals the full story of a landscape shaped and governed by the presence, or absence of water.
From the car park, cross the road and through the gate, following the public footpath sign. Head towards the dew pond in the field before you.