Daniel Defoe 1720s

Daniel Defoe's visit to Wirksworth and the Hill in the 1720s was recorded in his book, A tour thro' the whole island of Great Britain.

Besides a brief description of Wirksworth and its mining customs, Defoe describes the hill of our project:

A little on the other side of Wirksworth, begins a long plain called Brassington Moor, which reaches full twelve miles in length another way, (viz.) from Brassington to Buxton. At the beginning of it on this side from Wirksworth, it is not quite so much. The Peak people, who are mighty fond of having strangers shewed every thing they can, and of calling everything a wonder, told us here of another high mountain, where a giant was buried, and which they called the Giant's Tomb.

He goes on to give us an unusual level of insight into the lives of ordinary people in the area at the time. At Harborough Rocks, he meets a woman who lives in a cave, and describes his conversations with miners at a mine that can only be Golconda, where the mining images on the home page were taken.

Immediately we rode closer up to the place, where we see the poor wretch working and heaving himself up gradually, as we thought, with difficulty; but when he shewed us that it was by setting his feet upon pieces of wood fixt cross the angles of the groove like a ladder, we found that the difficulty was not much; and if the groove had been larger they could not either go up or down so easily, or with so much safety, for that now their elbows resting on those pieces as well as their feet, they went up and down with great ease and safety.

Those who would have a more perfect idea of those grooves, need do no more than go to the church of St. Paul's, and desire to see the square wells which they have there to go down from the top of the church into the very vaults under it, to place the leaden pipes which carry the rain water from the flat of the roof to the common-shore, which wells are square, and have small iron bars placed cross the angles for the workmen to set their feet on, to go up and down to repair the pipes; the manner of the steps are thus describ'd:

Read the full extract here

The cave is still there, though it is no longer a dwelling. This picture of Kate's son's shadow was taken on 25th November 2016

Shadows in the cave at Harborough Rocks