The Cork Seller's Grave

North York Moors

History passes on to us few details about the lonely soul interred alongside Bluewath Beck high on the North York Moors between Rosedale Abbey and Glaisdale. Searches of old documents and books have failed to yield any details at all. Who he was, where he came from or how he died are all a mystery, the following details were given to me by the Head Ranger, Dick Bell, who also pointed out the grave to me a number of years ago. He recalled having been shown the grave by his own father, who again was shown it by his father, both as little boys.

Itinerant peddlers were an important part of the scene in years past as they made their way between isolated habitations. Unlike their modern counterparts, the door to door salesmen, the peddler was a welcome visitor, for as well as plying his trade he acted as the local newspaper, messenger, entertainer and confidante.

Even when the householder had no particular use for his services he was always willing to offer a genuine peddler hospitality for an evening. One such person appears to have travelled the North York Moors selling corks to farms and houses in the remoter areas of high moorland. Like other peddlers he would have been well known to the remote farmsteads, and his arrival would have no doubt been welcomed.

His body was found one spring alongside the Hamer to Glaisdale road still clutching his meagre belongings. It is fair to assume that he had been caught out on the moors in severe weather, and, unable to reach shelter perished where he was found. The farmer, realising that no one would come forward to claim the body, that transporting it would be out of the question and announcing it to others could possibly result in his incurring unwelcome expense, buried him at the point where he found him.

Again, it is fair to assume that the interment was kept more or less as a family secret, the site being handed down by word of mouth over the ensuing generations. Unfortunately, the ranger who knew they story died himself recently so it is unlikely that further details will be discovered.

Location

The isolated grave lies just south of the road junction one mile north of Hamer House, at a point where the road crosses the beck. Park on the bridge and follow the stream east for about 20 yards.

Many years ago the grave was marked with a simple cross of stones, but unfortunately these were grubbed up during the fires of 1976 when a bulldozer blitzed a firebreak across the area. This has now been replaced and is kept heather free by National Park voluntary rangers