Roseberry Topping – ‘The Matterhorn of the Cleveland Hills’ – has a very distinctive profile, especially when viewed from the Tees Valley. This profile owes much to an event in 1912 when part of the hill collapsed.
In 1912 a rock fall led to one face of the mountain – it is so designated as it is higher than 1,000 feet – being exposed.
The rock fall was blamed on the Roseberry Ironstone Mine workings under the summit. However, a more likely cause was heavy rain.
Prior to the rockfall, there is photographic evidence to show that a great quantity of earth was piled up against the rock face. A period of heavy rain immediately prior to the incident would have greatly increased the weight of earth piled up against the rock face and lubricated its slippage. Once the earth had washed away, some of the exposed face, now without the support of the earth pile, broke away, giving the mountain its distinctive profile.
There had been a similar slippage at Clay Bank in 1872 after prolonged rainfall – though not with such dramatic consequences.
The name Roseberry Topping derives from Othenesberg, Old Norse for the hill of Odin, and Toppinn, Old Norse for hill. It was named by the Scandinavian invaders. Roseberry Topping is the only location in Britain to be overtly named after Odin, and was clearly held in high regards by the Scandinavians.
Roseberry Topping has gradually lost height over the centuries due to erosion and quarrying of its sandstone cap. There are also numerous collapsed jet workings on the hillside facing Guisborough, and large pits on the northern slope which were 1870’s exploratory excavations for the Roseberry Ironstone Mine.
The distinctive shape of Roseberry Topping following the collapse of 1912 made it more attractive.
Tourists, keen to see the mountain, began arriving in the area soon after the collapse and have continued to visit ever since. This boosted the local economy in Newton under Roseberry and Great Ayton.
The image of Roseberry Topping has also been used extensively, and not just by local outlets, and has provided an image that serves to define the area to people locally, nationally and internationally.
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