Winter Silence Pendle Hill
Pendle hill seems to brood above the Ribble valley in Lancashire, cloaked as much in myth as mist. For years it has been inseparable from the 1612 witch trial which bears its name. This is thanks to writers who have found the location and events fertile material for fiction, historical investigation, poetry and drama. These stories have sadly overshadowed the ascent of Pendle hill by George Fox in 1652. On Pendle’s summit he had a vision that compelled him to found the Society of Friends, the Quakers. It is a testament to the visual power of Pendle Hill that it remains synonymous with the witches, in spite of the fact that the hill played no direct role in any of the events of 1612.
My first encounter with the hill was as a teenager, its ominous bare outline struck me as slightly malevolent. It is a natural beacon; a highly visible landmark, a means of orientating one’s self in the surrounding landscape. Its form and visibility give the sense that it is a more significant summit than it is. Like Australia’s Ayres Rock its profile has entered the popular imagination, it presence defining the landscape around, its simple and memorable shape easy to recall and always within sight.