Villagers in the shadow of one of Yorkshire’s Three Peaks are fundraising to raise cash for a headstone for a mystery woman found dead on the fell.
The identity of the woman, whose body was discovered next to Sell Gill Hole on the Pennine Way almost eight years ago, has never been ascertained.
She was found by walkers in a beck on the flanks of Pen-y-ghent, but extensive enquiries by North Yorkshire Police failed to ascertain who she was and just how she died.
An open verdict was recorded by coroner Geoff Fell on the woman, who was of oriental appearance.
She was buried in the churchyard of St Oswald’s Church in Horton in Ribblesdale, overlooked by Pen-y-ghent, the fell on whose slopes she was found.
The parish council donated the plot and now villagers want to pay for a headstone for the woman’s grave.
Parish council chairman Wilf Fenten told the Craven Herald newspaper: “This was such a sad story and we felt it was important to mark it in case her family was eventually found.”
The fundraising starts this weekend with a coffee and cake event in the village hall at 2pm on Saturday for the ‘Lady of the Hills’.
The discovery of the woman’s body led to extensive police investigations. Walkers on the Pennine Way, which passes the site, were quizzed.
Samples of her DNA were taken for analysis and an artist’s impression of the woman circulated.
Police released a wealth of information about the dead woman. Experts who examined the body said she was probably from an area that includes China, Korea, Thailand and the Philippines. She was between 20 and 40, 4ft 11in and about ten stones. Her hair was dark brown and shoulder-length.
She was wearing green Marks and Spencer jeans, size 12, light-coloured socks, a white bra and black pants size 10-12. A turquoise and white horizontally striped t-shirt, size 10-12, was found nearby.
She wore a gold ring on the third finger of her left hand. The ring was 22 carat or above and was manufactured in Thailand. Both ears were pierced, but she wore no earrings. There was no sign of any footwear, jacket or baggage.
Police said they believed she was a non-smoker. She had a gap at the front of her lower teeth which would have been noticeable when she smiled.
From evidence of toothbrush use she was probably right-handed, they said. The woman had a coil fitted, but had had a pregnancy in the past.
They even said there was an indication that when she was young her growth was arrested because of a childhood disease such as measles.
As part of the investigation, the Sell Gill Pot cave system was searched four times, including sections only accessible by skilled cave divers.
Walkers using the Pennine Way and tackling the Three Peaks were traced and contacted via hostels, hotels and cafes. Posters were put up throughout the area and house-to-house inquiries were made in all the villages nearby.
Witness-appeal letters, in a variety of languages, were sent to holidaymakers staying at hotels and B&Bs in the Dales, all to no avail.
Detective Inspector Pete Martin said at the time: “This investigation has gone from the Yorkshire Dales to half-way round the world and we have learned so much about this lady; and yet we still cannot tell how she came to be up on the hill-side, how she met her end and, most poignant of all, just who she was.”
The woman was buried in a non-denominational service led by the Rev Roger Wood in September 2007.