Enclosure: OS Grid Reference – SE 1305 3908
Also Known as:
- Brackenhall Ring
- Catstones Ring
- Soldier’s Trench
To get here, ask all and sundry where Shipley Glen is and, once there, head to the Brackenhall Countryside Centre. It’s less than 100 yards past it, right on the roadside (a coupla nice birches sit in its edge).
Archaeology & History
Described by many local writers over the years and marked on modern OS-maps as ‘The Soldier’s Trench,’ this curious double-ring of stones has long been somewhat of an archaeological anomaly. The archaeologist John Barnatt thought it to be “almost certainly an enclosure, of indeterminate age”; and similarly so by Faull and Moorhouse (1981), who described it as a settlement or enclosure. It has previously been classified as a ‘stone circle’ by archaeologists, and although I’ve added it to the listing of such sites here on TNA, I do so as a historical tradition, as the site aint a true megalithic ring. Although we don’t know exactly what it was used for, we’re better using the term ‘enclosure’ for it.
The first description of the place was by J.N.M. Colls (1846). When the pseudonymous Johnnie Gray (a.k.a. Harry Speight) got here he wrote:
“It comprises portion of an earthwork (which was perfect a few years ago), raised between two concentric circles, whose grater circumference is 137 yards, and diameter 57 yards north to south, and 39 yards east to west… There are unmistakable evidences about it of immense fires.”
At least two of the stones in this double-ringed complex have cup-markings etched on them; though Boughey and Vickerman (2003) report a third such carving, but doubt its authenticity. They may be right.
The other name for this site, the Soldier’s Trench, comes from an old tale which relates to the place being used as a camp by a group of soldier’s the night before they went into battle.
The site stands right next to a prominent geological fault (as any visitor clearly sees!). It’s likely that this cleft in the Earth is one of the causative factors in the creation of numerous UFO phenomena that have been reported hereabouts through the years. One large spherical object with a very slight ‘tail’ to the rear, travelled slowly over this site in the 1980s and was watched for several minutes slowly following the geological ridge up and round Baildon Hill to the north, fading back to Earth and eventually out of sight.
- Baildon, W. Paley, Baildon and the Baildons – parts 1-15, Adelphi Press: London 1913-1926.
- Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
- Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
- Colls, J.N.M., ‘Letter upon some Early Remains Discovered in Yorkshire,’ in Archaeologia 31, 1846.
- Faull, M.L. & Moorhouse, S.A. (eds.), West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey to AD 1500 – 4 volumes, WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.
- Glossop, William, ‘Ancient British Remains on Baildon Moor,’ in Bradford Antiquary, 1882.
- Gray, Johnnie, Through Airedale from Goole to Malham, Elliott Stock: London 1891.
- Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
- la Page, John, The Story of Baildon, Byles: Bradford 1951.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian