Ilkley Moor – Ilkley, England - Atlas Obscura

Ilkley Moor

Ilkley, England

This strange moor has a song written about it, Bronze Age carvings, and an alien sighting.  


If you’re a pining for a lover on Ilkley Moor, be sure to wear a hat. At least, that’s what Yorkshire’s unofficial anthem will advise.

Ilkley Moor is featured in its own Circle of Life-esque song about the cyclical nature of death. In the song, titled On Ilkla Moor Baht ‘at, a man who spends his days courting a lover named Mary Jane is chided for his decision to forgo a hat while waiting on the moor. According to the lyrics (which are sung in the Yorkshire dialect), he’ll get cold and die, then get eaten by worms who get eaten by ducks who get eaten by the humans singing the song.

Local lore says a church choir from Halifax, England, composed the region’s unofficial anthem while on an outing to the moor. Though its lyrics were first published in the early 20th century, it’s believed to have existed for decades prior.

People have frequented the moor for millennia before the musically inclined church group ventured onto its sweeping greenery. Carved rocks bearing markings created during the Bronze Age are scattered throughout. One particular rock is adorned with a symbol resembling a swastika. A Victorian replica of the image also rests nearby. According to an 1987 alien sighting, extraterrestrials may have once made an appearance on the moor, too.

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