Temple Lane Ritual Routeway


The presence of Temple Lane and Temple Hill near West Witton, along with the historical Penhill Preceptory and the Temple Folly, suggests a relationship with a tradition of pilgrimage to Penhill Preceptory, within the Christian period.

The Penhill Preceptory, a site linked to the Knights Templar, stands as a testament to the area’s medieval past. It is plausible that these roads may have been part of a pilgrimage route, given the proximity to such a significant religious site.

This observation carries with it the possibility that this preceptory and other monuments known or otherwise, within its environment, may have been placed in a pre-existing place of power, in terms of not just local, but a wider community.

The tradition of pilgrimage is deeply rooted in Yorkshire’s history, with many paths criss-crossing the region, leading to sacred sites and places of worship. Over time, the focus of these journeys can shift, and it’s conceivable that the Temple Folly, an 18th-century structure, has become a modern-day landmark that continues to draw visitors, albeit for potentially different reasons than the original preceptory.

The evolution of such sites from religious to historical interest reflects the changing dynamics of cultural heritage and tourism.

It may also indicate a pilgrimage destination that is wider than a single site, which also, may be more closely equated to the truth, since those pilgrims would have other needs, once they arrived, and they may well have come for multiple reasons. For example, one would look out for sacred springs along the route and in the area of the “temple”, there may well be other graves, and also, older monuments that predate the Christian period.

While the original intent of pilgrimage may have faded, the paths remain, echoing the footsteps of countless travellers over the centuries, each with their own purpose and story. The intertwining of history and landscape in West Witton is a beautiful example of how past narratives continue to shape our present-day experiences and destinations.

Penhill Preceptory

The preserved earthworks and buried remains at Penhill Preceptory provide a tangible link to the past, offering insights into the workings of an early Templar house. The enigmatic nature of Penhill, perched on the hillside, speaks to the resilience and determination of the Templars who built it, despite the challenges of the terrain.

The exposed chapel foundations and tombs at the site add to the mystery, with the signboard revealing intriguing details about the tombs’ construction. The historical significance of Temple Lane, while not directly related to Penhill Preceptory, is rooted in the ceremonial importance of such paths, as seen in the case of Temple Bar in London, which served as a principal ceremonial entrance and had a bar or barrier across the route near The Temple precinct.

The strategic location of Penhill Preceptory, along with the historical and architectural remnants, underscores its long-term significance and the potential for further exploration and understanding of its historical context. The intricate connections between the preceptory and the surrounding estates, such as Bolton Hall and Castle Bolton, may reveal additional layers of social and political dynamics of the time. The Scrope family’s longstanding association with Bolton Castle and their influence in the region further emphasize the potential for political alliances and the importance of such sites in asserting power and presence. The historical landscape of the dales, enriched by these sites, invites a deeper examination of the interplay between religious, political, and social factors that have shaped the region’s history.

West Burton

West Burton, nestled in the Yorkshire Dales, is surrounded by a landscape rich with historical and spiritual significance, including a relationship with Temple Lane, as it is the northern destination of this routeway.

While West Burton may not be understood in the context of a pilgrimage destination, the area surrounding West Burton could well include sites that one might visit along a pilgrimage route.

For instance, high above West Burton on Burton Moor, there are relics of an extensive Iron Age settlement, featuring 18 circular huts and nine enclosures in a unique honeycomb arrangement. Such ancient sites often draw those interested in the spiritual heritage of a region.

There are also unusual earthworks, interpreted as cultivation terracing that are worthy of a second look, since some aspects of them seem to have been more for artistic, or other purposes than raising crops.

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    The presence of Temple Lane and Temple Hill near West Witton, along with the historical Penhill Preceptory and the Temple Folly, suggests a relationship with a tradition of pilgrimage to Penhill Preceptory, within the Christian period.

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