This is a digression but I hope anyone interested in maps, history and myth may find it of interest. (Google ‘National Library of Scotland Maps” and you will have free access to 1st and later editions of 6″ and 25″ ordnance survey maps for the whole of England as well as Scotland–a fantastic resource).

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The 5th of May meeting was at Windy Harbour Lane above Todmorden, just south of the Blackshaw Head road, to accomplish a plant survey in the nearby fields.

Later, I looked at old maps to see how the area had changed.

The 1st edition of the ordnance survey map (6″ to a mile) was surveyed in 1848 and it shows the land area near Windy Harbour is named as “Olymphus”. But in the second edition of 1889 the name has gone, never to reappear. However, the local farmer today still refers to the field by this name.

One of the survey fields has a number of scattered trees, mainly in one half towards the clough. Back in 1848 the whole of this field was covered in trees, both conifers and broadleaf. It was named as “Black Cam”.

By 1905, half of Black Cam had been made into a meadow again and the remaining trees were known as “Black Common Plantation”. The situation today has not changed and the same trees occupy the same half of the field. Which makes some of the trees not less than 170 years old.

There is mention of the word “Olymphus” in the book “The Travels of Sir John Manderville”, which he wrote in about 1356.

“And there is a great hill, that men clepe Olymphus—And it is so high, that it passeth the clouds. And men say in these countries, that philosophers some time went upon these hills, and held to their nose a sponge moisted with water, for to have air; for the air above was so dry.  And above, in the dust and in the powder of those hills, they wrote letters and figures with their fingers.  And at the year’s end they came again, and found the same letters and figures, the which they had written the year before, without any default.  And therefore it seemeth well, that these hills pass the clouds and join to the pure air.”

(clepe is now an archaic word but means ‘give something a specified name’)

Also of interest; there is a standing stone in the middle of the Olymphus field at Windy Harbour, which is not shown on the 1848 map but first appears on the 1905 map. This stone is still there.

It makes you wonder if the land owner took the Olymphus reference at face value and decided to mark the highest point as the home of the Greek Gods.     And why not.


                                           Black Cam trees and 2 botanists




                             Sycamore that is probably over 170 years old. 

The Guardian of the Olymphus Stone