Alderman and Alphin

This is adapted from “Saddleworth Superstitions and Folk Customs” by Ammon Wrigley, so around the borders of Yorkshire and Lancashire, but historically it was West Yorkshire!

In Greenfield, on either sides of the valley, lived two giants called Alderman and Alphin. Nearby in a hollow of the moors, near Holme Moss, there lived a beautiful shepherdess called Rimmon. She was fair, tall, and most lovable. She had no extravagent tastes and cared little for fine clothes, often even going about quite naked, with nothing but a bit of heather in her hair.

In Rimmon Clough, which runs down to Sail Bark, there is a pool where she used to bathe on summer mornings, before walking through the long grass and bracken while she dried before getting dressed once more.

The sight of her shapely figure walking naked across the moor drove Alphin and Alderman to fall madly in love with her.

Rimmon flirted with both, enjoying the attention, before making her mind up to smile and blow kisses at Alphin, giving Alderman the cold shoulder. The two giants at once fell out with each other over the shepherdess, arguing and insulting one another.

One morning, through the mist, he caught Alphin embracing and kissing the lady Rimmon. Alderman flew into a jealous rage, damning them both in the ripest language, but the lovers laughed at him and embraced again.

Alderman stormed off to his hill side, rolled up his sleeves, and hurled a great mass of rock at Alphin. These were returned with interest, with Rimmon encouraging her lover, from a safe distance, to fling several tons of stone back at him. Huge rocks and boulder were flung back and forth, until one huge rock knocked the life out of poor Alphin.

Alderman came straight to woo Rimmon, despite just killing her lover. He called her nice names, praising her beauty, her eyes, her waist, her ankles, and more… He promised her all manners of gifts and asked her to sit on his knee.

Rimmon was understandably furious and not at all open to his advances. She spat in his face, called him “too ill to brun”, and all the names under the sun. As her initial anger was spent, her grief took over and she began to weep and wail over her dead Alphin. In despair and grief, she threw herself down a precipice, ending her life.

Alderman returned to his his hillside and to this day glowers at his dead rival on the other side of the valley, as they both slowly petrified to stone over the passing years.