The ancient engine house of Saltom Pit is the first large-scale mine ever sunk below sea level. It sits at the base of Fairy Rock on the coast of Whitehaven, England, and Fairy Rock itself is slowly slipping toward the structure.
Probably because the soft layer of coal and shale beneath the heavy sandstone becomes slippery when rainwater seeps into its cracks, causing the sandstone to break and tumble downward.
Or, it may be an act of revenge by fairies….
There was a time when Fairy Rock was famed throughout Britain. The outcrop would attract thousands of tourists each year – not just from Whitehaven and the neighbouring towns, but also from much further afield.
However, 140 years ago a great storm sent much of the rock crashing into the sea, and with it went the legend that had entranced visitors for generations.
The curious rock formation, the legends associated with it and the bracing coastal walk meant that for a long time it was a popular Sunday evening walk for locals, and It was a favourite amusement to cut and scratch their names upon it with knives and nails, and other substitutes for the chisel and the graver.
It was the common belief that no-one could visit the Fairy Rock from any part of the world without finding the initials, or his full name, among the many hundreds that covered its surface.
Local legends say that the grottoes in Fairy Rock were once the homes of fairies. They were clothed in the robes of the purest white, but though tall almost as the ordinary race of women, their tread left no impression upon the grass, nor, as they floated gracefully through the dance.
As story goes, they danced in the moonlight, and were known to invite handsome young men not only to join in their feast, but had even been admitted into the interior of their grottoes, which was furnished with splendour and magnificence.
According to a 17th-century legend, one such man pledged everlasting devotion to a fairy, supposedly the Queen of the fairies, promising to spend half his time in her world. The fairy said he must only come when the moon was full and that she would guide him to the cove on such nights.
When he tried to visit her when there was no full moon, a deep moan came from the sea and a terrible storm arose. He was killed, and it is said that such a voice can still be heard as a storm approaches by those standing on the part of the cove where his body washed ashore, where he had made his vows to the fairy.
The last fairy seen on Fairy Rock was reportedly in the form of a calf flying across the sea. When the witness exclaimed, “G-d! weel loppen, cofe!” as the fairy reached him, it disappeared.
Despite much of Fairy Rock fell into the sea during a storm in 1872, it can still be seen, even if the fairies is most unlikely….
Images from Web – Google Research