© Copyright Walter Baxter and licensed for
Lying a few yards to the east of the Pennine Way about four miles west of Otterburn lies a large, neat stone cairn, or currick, known as Padon Hill Monument. It is a sizeable affair at around five metres high, which at first sight seems out of all proportion to the modest altitude of the peak it marks (379m).
On closer inspection you will see that it is more than just another hilltop cairn as is evidenced by the almost illegible plaque set into the stonework. And the strange thing about this landmark is that though it is a recent construction no one seems to know the full and proper story behind it.
The plaque bears the date 1903 or 1913 – though the latter is the more likely as it is supposed to have been erected in celebration of the 50th wedding anniversary of Sir Charles and Lady Morrison-Bell of Otterburn Hall (who were married in 1863). However, the cairn, meant ostensibly as a wedding anniversary marker stone for a couple of local notables, was also intended to honour the work of a prominent Presbyterian preacher called Alexander Padon. But, again, the history is all very sketchy, and we can only assume that this is the Alexander Peden who was active way back in the time of King Charles II. This seems to make sense as this chap was a very well-known Scottish covenanting minister at the time, and was so famous for his al fresco preaching in these parts that they named the hill after him (it was of course necessary to do this sort of thing in out-of-the-way places due to the laws of the day). Some sources say that there was once a chapel on the spot, which you can believe looking at the amount of loose stone lying around.
Peden (1626-1686) was an interesting chap who led an extraordinary life. Such was his infamy that he took to wearing a disguise to hide his identity from the authorities when on his preaching travels. It consisted of a cloth mask and wig, which you can check out at his Wikipedia entry.