Of the High Peak are seven wonders writ. Two fonts, two caves. One pallace, mount and pit.
Eldon Hole is identified as one of the ‘seven wonders of Derbyshire’ in Thomas Hobbes’ Latin poem De Mirabilibus Pecci (Wonders of the Peak), published in 1636.
This was followed in 1681 by The Wonders of the Peake, a satirical poem by Charles Cotton – who named Eldon Hole as the ‘fourth wonder of Derbyshire’.
Both authors dwell on a gothic description of Eldon Hole. In his poem, Hobbes describes casting a stone into the hole – something that shouldn’t be done today.
This laid the stone
We drop, which circled in thick mist is thrown
Against a Rock, the Cavern groans the while,
Loud sighs are vented from the Shaken Pile.
From Rock to Rock, the sound goes download still,
Less head by us but the more heard by Hell.
Cotton, in a more joking tone, suggests that the onlooker is prone to lose their hat through their hair standing on end in terror. Unless of course they are bald.
Steep, Black and full of Horror, that who dare
Looks down into the Chasme, and keeps his Hair
From lifting off this Hat, either has none,
Or for more Modish Curl casheers his own.
So what became of any brave soul who dared enter the pothole? Hobbes recalls a story about the Lord Dudley who lowered a ‘peasant’ into the hole as far as the rope would allow, only to return raving mad and to die eight days later!
After a hundred yards he had below
I’th’ earth been drown’d, far as the Rope would do
And long enough hung by’t within the Cave,
To th’ Earl (who now impatient was to have
His answer) He’s drawn up…
…For certain ’twas he rav;d, this his wild eyes,
His paleness, trembling, all things verifies.
Where venting something none could understand,
Enthusiastick hints ne’re to be feand,
He ceasing dies after eight daies were gones.
Eldon Hole is still popular today, and used for potholing. This natural “wonder” had a profound impact on both Hobbes and Cotton, and today it still has dramatic visual effect on tourists and locals alike.
Read De Mirabilibus Pecci, by Thomas Hobbes
Read The Wonders of the Peake, by Charles Cotton