Rising barely fifty feet above the surrounding terrain, Round Hill can scarcely be called a hill in any meaningful sense. Nonetheless, its satisfyingly conical profile and topographic prominence make it a well-known Rastrick landmark and whilst its relative height may not be significant, its summit still stands at six hundred feet above sea-level and affords extensive panoramic views across the surrounding Pennine landscape.
Its remarkable contour has generated much speculation over the years as to whether it is a natural feature or a human construction. In his 1868 work, Huddersfield: Its History and Natural History, Charles Hopkirk confidently asserts that it is certainly artificial, yet only twenty-five years later in A History of Brighouse, Rastrick and Hipperholme, J. Horsfall Turner just as assuredly opines that it is “perfectly natural”.
Local feeling tended towards the former hypothesis, with suggestions as to its origin ranging from a medieval motte to a prehistoric tumulus, perhaps the burial site of some ancient king. Some flints were allegedly once found on its slopes but there has never been any archaeological excavation to determine the site’s true provenance. Modern orthodoxy is that it’s a natural phenomenon, caused by an outlying band of Greenmoor Rock, a Carboniferous sandstone, atop older sedimentary layers.
Writing in 1943, Philip Ahier thought it natural and attributed the local belief otherwise to confusion with a definite earthwork of established antiquity nearby known as Castle Hill, which had yielded some cremation urns and Roman coins. This formerly stood near the area of Rastrick known as Top o’ the Town. The site was first recorded in 1669 but by the time John Watson wrote The History and Antiquities of the Parish of Halifax in 1775, it had been entirely plundered for stone.
Whatever its origin, over the centuries Round Hill has remained a focal point for the local community. Summer fairs often used to take place in the surrounding fields, whilst it was tradition to gather wood for Bonfire Night blazes from the birch trees which once lined its flanks. Beacons have even been lit on its summit on several occasions, whilst both a cross and a flagstaff stood there as late as the mid-Twentieth Century.
Today, Round Hill rises behind Rastrick Cricket and Athletic Club, who set up there in 1868, and its slopes often prove very useful as an unofficial stand for the spectators. A ring of rhododendron bushes encloses the summit, planted there in 1912 by a local schoolmaster to prevent erosion. However, the top remains devoid even of grass despite many attempts to turf it over the years, presenting a classically bald summit to emphasise its lofty aspect.