Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Mow Cop

I've been wanting to visit Mow Cop for ages. Mainly because it's the place at the heart of one of my favourite 20th century novels- Alan Garner's Red Shift. Garner places a group of Roman soldiers on the Cop and has them carry on like they're Vietnam era grunts. They have names like Face and Buzzard and Magoo.

The Cop is an outcrop of millstone grit on the Cheshire-Staffordshire border. In the mid 18th century the local landowner built a "medieval ruin" on the summit. I used to see it against the sky as we streaked past on the London train and think, "some day, some day."

Garner wants the Cop to be a Celtic holy hill but I'm not sure how that squares with its actual history as a quarry. In the early 19th century a group of "Ranters" held a meeting there and reconfigured themselves as Primitive Methodists. These days the bungalows reach almost to the top and there's only an acre or two of wilderness. 

It was a very warm, still afternoon. I could hear a burglar alarm beeping in the village below and some guy chopping wood. The view across Staffordshire was giddy-making.

Note: The big rock with the writing on it commemorates the Primitive Methodists and their revival meeting

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