Hidden Manchester Map

Tunnels, rivers, mines & subterranean spaces of Hidden Manchester

> Woden’s Den 📍

This is the site of an old cave known as Woden’s Den. Destroyed by James Hall who bought the land in 1808 to discourage visitors, the site was variously believed to be a temple to Odin, a quarry and a Christian hermitage.

Woden's Den
Worden's or Woden's Ford is a paved causeway across the River Irwell from Hulme-field, where Medlock loses itself in the aforesaid river, to the opposite bank, but now lost to every observer since Irwell was made navigable. Woden's Den is the spot I wish to throw light upon, although obscured by darkness, perhaps of many ages. Tradition supposes it to have been the den or woody habitation of the priest or priests of Woden, the much esteemed war deity of the idol Saxons...What might be the extent, or bounds, of this supposed idol temple, or place of sacrifices, we know not; but certainly it was once of a much larger extent. What remains of its height is now about 6 feet, and the length of the whole, as it now appears is about 22 yards. At the South, and near the great tree, as may be seen by referring to the drawing, is a hole about 3 feet wide, much resembling an oven, and near the middle is another excavation, not so deep in the rock as the former, at the northern extremity. The margin of the rock, just above the surface of the Earth, is ornamented with a sort of regular Gothic tracery, and gently curves into a cavity of about double the size of the aforesaid recesses. The range of the rock is all along shaded with overhanging bushes, which much obscure the same from the notice of passengers. Admitting the above to be in a devoted place for pagan superstitions in the Saxon times, it again presents itself under the character of a place dedicated to the retirement and devotion of a professor of Christianity. On one part of the rock much labour has been distilled into ornamenting it with root characters, which have been called runic, but which plainly appear upon closer examination, to have the letters J.H.S. the Latin initials of Jesus the saviour of men in rude church text. The above letters show themselves in three or four places, and, in one part, the letters appear about 3 feet longer a-piece. Some few shields ornamented with crosses may be seen in different places wrought upon the rock. Near the south end are the faint remains of a shield with the like of a sword handle near it. At what period of time a change of worship happened here I cannot say, but many places devoted to heathen worship were afterwards dedicated to Christianity.

The site is marked on Sheet 31 of the 1850 five feet map.

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