Roseberry Topping is one of the most dramatic sights in the North York Moors, a steep sided hill, cut off from the nearby moors, and with a shapely rocky summit. In fact the distinctive outline of the hill is a relatively recent feature. Until 1914 Roseberry Topping has the same rounded grassy summit as other similar isolated hills in the area, but in that year the sides of the quarry on the western side of the hill collapsed, producing the famous peak.
The name Roseberry is believed to have developed from the original Othenesberg, or Odin's Hill, suggesting that the hill was the site or subject of religious veneration. Topping is also of Viking origins, and means 'Peak', suggesting that this part of the name was added later, after the original name had begun to change - by the seventeenth century the hill was known as Osbury Toppyne.
Part of the reason for Roseberry Topping's prominence is its position at the northern end of a large indentation cut into the high ground by the River Leven, which rises in the hills to the south. This indentation is lined by some of highest ground in the National Park, and as a result Roseberry Topping can be seen from as far away as the top of Beacon Hill near Osmotherley, ten miles to the south-west, and from the summits of all of the Cleveland Hills. This prominent position means that the hill was used as one of a line of beacon hills used to carry important messages around the country (most famously the arrival of Spanish Armada in English waters).
The summit of Roseberry Topping would always have been a lofty perch, but the same collapsing quarry that gave the hill its distinctive outline has also greatly improved the drama of the summit, which now comes to a sudden rocky end overlooking Newton under Roseberry.
Roseberry Topping is still closely connected to Newton Moor. The drop down to the ridge connecting the hill to the rest of the moors is only 200ft, only a third of the 600ft drop down to the village. Fortunately for the quality of the view, this ridge is only really visible when approaching from the east.