Noon Hill is an outlying summit of Winter Hill that is often gloomy looking even on sunny days, perhaps it is it’s steep sided, seemingly featureless, wedge-like shape and its position on the bleaker side of Winter Hill. Or how it often seems to be raining or misty when one passes along the Rivington to Belmont road. Noon Hill is visited by far fewer numbers than the pike or the top of Winter Hill but is popular with fell-runners and hikers.
The paths between Noon Hill and Winter Hill summit are notoriously boggy for most of the year with at least a couple of large mud patches to negotiate even in the middle of summer for the route passes near the Winter Hill Springs, and although they are over the ridge there is quite a bit of water running off both sides. The other hazards being patches of moorland moss that create pools of water beneath them when well established. Best not to step on the bright green Sphagnum moss when you see some.
One feature that can be found around here are quite large patches of ground that have water beneath, so that the surface of the ground sways and moves like a waterbed as one walks over. I don’t know if it’s widespread but as kids we called these “dead bodies”. I believe it happens when the top soil surface is sufficiently meshed together with plants and their roots that it forms a mat that water seeps under. They’re fun to mess about on but be careful, you can puncture the surface and the water below is bog water, stinking and black. It’s not particular to Noon Hill, it happens all over the moorland and I’ve seen the same on playing fields once or twice.
Noon Hill might look menacing on the way up, but once on top, assuming it’s not shrouded in mist, there are some amazing views. To the west, out to the Ribble Estuary, over the sand the sea often shines on the horizon. Turning towards the northwards, on clear days the Lake District mountains can be seen, including the high peaks and before them, the ugly box of Heysham power station. Further north can be seen several of the Yorkshire fells can be seen including Ingleborough with it’s ancient hillfort, Pen-y-Ghent and fountains fell. To the East, a view that is often photographed looking towards the summit of Winter Hill and the masts. From this angle there’s mostly just moorland and the sharp end of Winter Hill, it looks best under glowering cloud. To the east we can just make out the top of Two Lads with its large stone cairns, and a bit further round The Pike, from a quite disturbing angle.
High on the summit of the often foreboding Noon Hill is a Bronze Age round cairn topped by a more recent cairn of uncertain age. The round cairn was excavated in the 1950’s/60’s and yielded several cremations and funery ornaments now in the possession of Bolton Museum. The general shape of the hollow mound can still be seen with a small section of stone kerb around one side. There is also a large stone boulder close nearby, I assume it is natural and the nearest small quarry is downslope, I don’t think anyone would have carried it up.
Although probably shunned by earlier Christians, it is said that during times of religious persecution Christians gathered here in secret, along with at least one of the old farms nearby that is now in ruins.
From the Noon Hill cairn it’s possible to see Winter Hill cairn, Two Lads cairn, Round Loaf and a few other possibly “ancient” sites. Note however, that they might be separated by many years as well as miles. They might have been built and used by completely different peoples, living hundreds or thousands of years apart.
National Monument Number: 23708 “The monument includes a round cairn located on the northern edge of the summit of Noon Hill. It includes a slightly oval mound of earth and stones up to 1.3m high with maximum dimensions of 21m north-south by 19m east-west. On the monument’s southern edge there are three partially exposed gritstone boulders which form part of the cairn’s kerb. Limited excavation of the cairn in 1958 and again in 1963/4 located the primary burial at the monument’s centre. This comprised three cremations interpreted by the excavator as an adult male, adult female, and a child, located beneath a collapsed enlarged food vessel and inserted into a central stone cist. Three or four secondary cremations and a number of flint tools including barbed and tanged arrowheads, scrapers and a knife were also found during these excavations.” “Despite two limited excavations of the monument during the 1950s and 1960s, the round cairn on Noon Hill survives reasonably well. These excavations located human remains, flint tools and pottery, and further evidence of interments and associated grave goods will exist within the cairn and upon the old landsurface beneath.” English Heritage NMR
Bronze Age kerbed round cairn surviving as a structure. Excavation in 1958 and 1963/4 located the primary central cist with three cremations and a food vessel, as well as secondary cremations with barbed and tanged arrowheads.
(SD 6469 1499) Tumulus (NR) (1)
A round cairn at Noon Hill. Partial excavation in 1958, and again in 1963-64 (report pending) yielded six to seven cremations. The primary, a multiple of three (man, woman and child) was under a collapsed enlarged food vessel, inverted in a central cist, accompanied by a calcined barbed and tanged flint arrowhead. Flints associated with other burials also included barbed and tanged arrowheads, a flint knife, and scrapers. Finds are in the Bolton Museum. (2-3)
The cairn is about 18.0m in diameter, with a maximum height of 1.3m and mutilated by a central excavation. Three exposed boulders in the SSE of the skirt are the remains of the kerb. Surveyed at 1:2500. (4)
SD 6469 1498. Round cairn on Noon Hill. Scheduled RSM No 23708.A slightly oval mound of earth and stones up to 1.3m high with maxdimensions of 21m N-S x 19m E-W. Three partially exposed gritstoneboulders on the S edge form part of the cairn’s kerb. Limitedexcavation of the cairn in 1958 and again in 1963/4 located theprimary cist burial of three individuals beneath a collapsed FoodVessel. Three or four secondary cremations and a number of flintsincluding barbed and tanged arrowheads, scrapers and a knife werealso found. (5)
Marker type: Ancientsite
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The highest point for miles and just short of a mountain, Winter Hill is a key part of the West Pennine Moors and a habitat for a huge range of wildlife. With evidence of occupation going back literally thousands of years there is plenty of history on and under the hill. Winter Hill was also the site of a historic mass trespass that gave us open access to much of the moorland today.
The site of a small hamlet and fireclay works high on Winter Hill, once housing families employed in the local quarrying, mining and fireclay industries. Often passed by walkers on their way up the hill, there are a number of interesting industrial remains hidden in the moorland grass.