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Eldon Hole, one of the Seven Wonders of the Peak

3 min read


Eldon Hill is a hill in the Peak District National Park in the county of Derbyshire, England, 4 kilometres southwest of the village of Castleton.

350 metres south of the summit lies Eldon Hole.
It was always believed to be a genuine bottomless pit and was included as such in the philosopher Thomas Hobbe’s 1636 book “The Wonders of the Peaks”, a list of marvellous and magical places in the Peak District.
This was followed in 1681 by “The Wonders of the Peake”, a satirical poem by Charles Cotton – who named Eldon Hole literally as the ‘fourth wonder of Derbyshire’.
Both authors dwell on a gothic description of Eldon Hole. In his poem, Hobbes describes casting a stone into the hole (something that shouldn’t be done today).

This laid the stone
We drop, which circled in thick mist is thrown
Against a Rock, the Cavern groans the while,
Loud sighs are vented from the Shaken Pile.
From Rock to Rock, the sound goes download still,
Less head by us but the more heard by Hell.

Cotton, in a more joking tone, suggests that the onlooker is prone to lose their hat through their hair standing on end in terror.
Unless, of course, they are bald.
So what became of any brave soul who dared enter the pothole?
Hobbes recalls a story about such a Lord Dudley who lowered a peasant into the hole as far as the rope would allow, only to return raving mad and to die eight days later!

In any case, It was said that this was the home of the Devil, of goblins, and that highwaymen would shove their victims in to their doom.
Folklore tells us that a goose was chased into Eldon Hole that reappeared days later – flying out of Peak Cavern in Castleton. It is said that its feathers were blackened and charred from the flames of hell.
And it seems that really a man was lowered into the hole by rope around 1620 but was pulled up screaming snd ranting, apparently driven insane.
It was only surveyed in 1780 by a group of antiquarians who discovered layer upon layer of bones including a few human remains, finally declaring an around 75 meters depth but with a further cavern and hole yet to be explored.
A project began some years ago to dig this out and remove the thousands of rocks thrown in by curious visitors, with an impressive array of stalactites noted but work was halted in 2017 when four skeletons were discovered.

The dig was dismantled and nothing further has happened since then, so Eldon Hole has returned to its usual lonely and slightly sinister atmosphere.
But be careful, as more recently a woman was killed when she fell in accidentally while trying to grab her errant dog.
So little wonder then that the Hole still retains its grim reputation….

Images from web – Google Research

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