We are in England, and If you want go to visit Ilkey Moor, be sure to wear a hat. At least, that’s what an unofficial Yorkshire’s anthem will advise! This strange moor has a song written about it, Bronze Age carvings, and also an alien sighting!
The place is featured in a song about the cyclical nature of death. In the song, titled On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at, (which means: “on Ilkley Moor without a hat”), a man who spends his days courting a lover named Mary Jane is chided for his decision to forgo a hat while waiting on the moor. According to the lyrics, sung in the Yorkshire dialect, he’ll get cold and die, then get eaten by worms who get eaten by ducks who get eaten by the humans singing the song.
According to local tradition, a church choir from Halifax, England, composed this region’s unofficial anthem while an outing to the moor. Even if its lyrics were first published in the early 20th century, it seems that they existed for decades prior.
In reality, people have frequented the moor for millennia before the church choir wandered onto its greenery spaces: carved rocks bear markings created during the Bronze Age, and are scattered throughout.
Where the moor drops steeply towards the village of Ben Rhydding, there are two millstone grit rock climbing areas: Rocky Valley and Ilkley Quarry.
Ilkley Quarry is the site of the famous “Cow and Calf”, a large rock formation consisting of an outcrop and boulder. The rocks are made of millstone grit, a variety of sandstone, and are so named because one is large, with the smaller one sitting close to it, like a cow and calf.
According to the legend, there was once also a “bull”, but that was quarried for stone during the spa town boom that Ilkley was part of in the 19th century. However, none of the local historians have provided any evidence of its existence.
Legend had also that the Calf was split from the Cow when the giant Rombald was fleeing an enemy, and stamped on the rock as he leapt across the valley. The enemy, it is said, was his angry wife. She dropped the stones held in her skirt to form the local rock formation The Skirtful of Stones.
There is also ond particular rock adorned with a symbol resembling a swastika, and a Victorian replica of the image also rests nearby. According to an 1987 alien sighting, also extraterrestrials may have once made an appearance on the moor, too.
On 1 December 1987, Phillip Spencer, a retired policeman saw and photographed what he believed was an alien being on the Moor. He said he saw the strange creature rush up the hill and give a signal to him with one of its arms as if telling him not to approach. He later saw a dome-topped craft at the top of the hill after following the being which shot into the air at a blinding speed….