Lady of the Hills

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The Lady of the Hills is a name given by the media to the body of an unknown female discovered in 2004 on the mountain Pen-y-ghent in Yorkshire, England.[1] The woman was found to have originally come from somewhere in South-East Asia[2] and despite an international police investigation, the identity of the woman, how she arrived at the location and the cause of her death remain a mystery.[3]


On Monday 20 September 2004 at 11:30 am, a man walking in the vicinity of Pen-y-ghent alerted the police to the discovery of the body of a dead woman.[4] The man had discovered the body in a well-trafficked location on the Pennine Way between Pen-y-ghent and Horton in Ribblesdale[5] in a stream called Sell Gill Beck[1] which flows into a cave called Sell Gill Hole.[6] It was thought that the body had been in the stream for some time[4] and that the woman could have died up to three weeks prior to the discovery.[7] The cause of death was not initially apparent and no signs of violence were reported.[4]


The woman was thought to be of South-East Asian origin,[8] had dark, shoulder-length hair [4] and was about 1.5 metres tall (4ft 11ins)[2]. She was believed to be aged between 25 and 35.[2] The woman had healthy teeth which had a noticeable gap at the front.[7] She was found wearing green jeans, a green and white striped T-shirt[9] and was wearing a wedding ring.[2] The ring was found to be 22 carat and to have been made in Bangkok, Thailand.[10] The woman had pierced ears but no earrings were found.[10] No shoes, warm outer clothing, personal bags of other effects were found at the scene of the discovery.[10] The woman weighed 10 stone (64 kg)[1] but appeared to have gained weight in the years prior to her death and wore a size 12 dress.[2]

Initial investigation[edit]

Immediately after the discovery, North Yorkshire Police commenced an extensive investigation. Police questioned walkers using the Pennine Way, conducted house-to-house enquires in the locality and issued letters to local holiday accommodations that appealed for witnesses in multiple languages.[5] Police investigated every sighting in the Yorkshire Dales of women matching the description of the unidentified body dating back to 1 August 2004.[5]

A postmortem was undertaken which suggested the woman died between 31 August and 13 September but it did not provide enough information to enable investigators to establish the cause of death.[5] The postmortem indicated that the woman had probably been pregnant at some point during her life.[2]

Detective Chief Inspector Pete Martin who was working on the investigation stated that the death was unexplained rather than suspicious.[1] A search of missing persons databases did not produce any matches.[1]

A number of countries were identified as the potential origin of the woman. These countries included: Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.[2] Analysis of the body indicated that the woman had been in the UK for at least two years prior to her death and that she had probably lived in Cumbria, Lancashire, or the west Yorkshire Dales.[2]

Subsequent investigations[edit]

In December 2004 the Police produced an e-fit photograph of the woman which was issued to the embassies of a number of Asian countries.[11] At this time time it was believed that the woman could have originated from the Philippines, China or Korea.[11] No meaningful response was received from this appeal.[6]

In February 2005 an appeal was made on the BBC programme Crimewatch.[9]

In May 2007 the inquest heard that the investigation found no evidence of trauma, assault or drowning and it recorded an open verdict.[12]

In 2011 the police announced that they were reopening the investigation of eight unsolved deaths. The 'Lady of the Hills' was one of these cases along with the Sutton Bank Body.[13]

In 2018 an appeal was made by the North Yorkshire Police.[14] The appeal was made on Facebook in the Filipino, Thai, and English languages so that the messages could be shared internationally.[8]


  1. ^ a b c d e Moore, Lindsey (19 September 2014). "No new leads in 'Lady of the Hills' mystery". Craven Herald. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Pidd, Helen (23 July 2018). "Police seek to identify woman found dead in Yorkshire Dales in 2004". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  3. ^ Brooke-Battersby, Jack (20 July 2018). "Police cold case review team turn to social media to identify woman whose body was found in Dales". The Westmorland Gazette. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  4. ^ a b c d Staff (21 September 2004). "Woman's body discovered in stream". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  5. ^ a b c d Staff (19 September 2005). "Mystery of Dales body unresolved". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  6. ^ a b Staff (2 October 2004). "Villagers quizzed over moors body". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  7. ^ a b Staff (21 September 2011). "Riddle of Dales body unsolved seven years on". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 2018-09-03.
  8. ^ a b Staff (13 July 2018). "Facebook appeal over body found in Dales". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-07-14.
  9. ^ a b Staff (23 February 2005). "National appeal over Dales body". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-07-13.
  10. ^ a b c Smith, Bob (12 July 2018). "Police launch international social media campaign to solve Pennine Way body mystery". Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  11. ^ a b Staff (16 December 2004). "Embassies help in Dales mystery". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  12. ^ Staff (18 September 2007). "Woman's identity still a mystery". BBC News. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  13. ^ Henderson, Vicki (18 November 2011). "Police reopen inquiries into eight unsolved deaths". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 2018-09-05.
  14. ^ Lavery, Mark (12 July 2018). "Woman found dead on Pennine Way 14 years ago still unidentified: Cold case review team launch Facebook appeal". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 2018-07-13.

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