Bellman Castle, West Nab, Meltham

The name Bellman Castle appears to have originally been associated with a natural rock formation on the flanks of West Nab, situated to the north east of the summit.

By the early 20th century, the name was being applied to a ruined dry-stone walled structure situated nearer to the summit and around 180 yards to the south of the location marked as Bellman Castle on the first O.S. map. This is believed to have originally been erected as shelter, possibly for use by shooting parties on the moor following the Enclosures which took place in the early 1830s.

The etymology of the place name in unknown, although a fanciful letter published in the Yorkshire Post (26/Oct/1920) attempted to link it to the demon Baal and to a supposed Sun Temple situated on West Nab. Local historian Philip Ahier discussed the structure in volume 5 of The Legends and Traditions of Huddersfield and Its District (1942):

I examined this so-called Temple of the Sun on Whit-Monday, 1939, and must confess that I was very sceptical as to the observations and conclusions made by this writer [...] I am inclined to think that this structure was built for a variety of purposes, perhaps as a sheep-collecting centre or even as a sheep dip, perhaps as a place of shelter during heavy rains for gamekeepers, beaters, shepherds, &c., perhaps as a cover for shooting game.

The Rev. H.G. Wilks of Upperthong — who was dubbed the "Panto Vicar" for his love of amateur dramatics — wrote a fictional description of a sacrifice on West Nab which was published in the Yorkshire Evening Post (27/Apr/1932):

On the ordnance map it is marked "Bellman's Cave". [sic] Note the survival. It really means Bale-man's cave — Baal, if you like. In this cave dwelt the chief priest. By tradition his name was Hael (the Saviour). Within comparatively short distance dwelt Strien (the Converter), a rival priest of the sun.


The approximate location of the rock formation (not the shelter) is shown below: