Beacon Guards were a group of hurriedly enlisted men enrolled to tend the hilltop beacons set up as part of the national system designed to provide a warning at a time when an invasion by Napoleon was thought to be imminent.
It is thought that Robert Wilson was the chief beacon guard at Pinhaw in 1805. He and his two helpers had a small hut about 30m from the beacon, the footings of which can still (2004) be traced. During the winter of 1804-05 there was severe weather that trapped the men in their huts for a lengthy period. Provisions were running low and Robert volunteered to try and reach Moor Side Farm to replenish them. Despite pleas from his helpers to wait until the weather broke he set off with his bag and his milk can never to be seen alive again. His body was discovered a short time later some 150m from the shelter. A stone was erected on the spot where he was found but whether this is his actual burial site is a mystery. The inscription, faded but still legible, reads
Here was found dead the
Body of Robert Wilson, one
of the beacon Guards, who
Died Jan 29th, 1805, aged
Although remote, the site is quite easy to find. About 200m east of the beacon along the Pennine Way a distinct track leads off northeastwards between two small mounds. About 200m along this track look for a small stone lying in the bracken about 20m to the right.