Ring Cairn: OS grid reference – SE 026 271
Best approached by taking the same direction to the unexcavated Foster Clough ‘enclosure.’ From here, walk towards the walling about 100 yards to your east. Follow it along on the moorside for another 100 yards then follow the small sheep-path up the angle of the slope onto the moor itself. Once you’re at the top and on the level, it’s right ahead of you! If the heather’s deep though, you might as well give up before y’ start! (honest – I went there a while back for a night’s sleep & couldn’t find the damn thing!) But if you’ve made the effort getting here, wander 200 yards towards Crow Hill and keep yer eye out for the large heather-clad tumulus.
Archaeology & History
This site was rediscovered in October 1995, when I was bimbling about on the southern side of Crow Hill. It was one of those good periods, when the heather had been extensively burnt back, so enabling a better examination of the moors for any potential prehistoric remains. I unknowingly walked right into the middle of this small ring of stones with a fella called John Billingsley, who seemed quite unaware of what I was getting excited about until I pointed out to him exactly what we were standing in the middle of! (he couldn’t see what was under his nose, which was a bit weird considering he edits an earth-mystery mag) But I wouldn’t have even been looking for this site, were it not for what happened just a few days earlier…
I was on one of my many ambles across the moortops, which to many people watching would seem like some seemingly aimless, lost soul – an apt description at times! – wandering across the hills (those who know me well, have long called such seemingly aimless treks, Barmy Bennett Expeditions!). It was a lovely day: a shallow snow-cover lay across the moors and as the wind brushed across the earth and up, Her wisps of breath were freezing. But I was well-wrapped and sat, upon occasion, behind the small rock outcrops I was checking for cup-and-rings for shelter when needed. But as the day fell on and the sun touched the western hills, I had to turn for home as the cold was strengthening. Being on the moors at night, in this sort of weather, is never a good idea unless you’ve got your gear with you — and this day I hadn’t. So I set off back for home in Hebden Bridge, in that dreamy sort of state which the hills elicit after a day’s ambling. The colours of Earth and Sky were crisp in the bracing air and as I headed for the footpath towards the old stone known as Churn Milk Joan, I gazed at Crow Hill a half-mile or so away…
Without warning, it came like a thunderbolt up through my dreaming mind: ‘There’s a stone circle over there!‘ came the words. And though the words were quiet and simple, their effect was anything but! I focused quickly – very quickly! My mind staggered out of the dreaming and into the ego state, trying quick to rationalise what had just emerged from my unconscious. An adrenalin rush hit me and amidst the snow-filled hills I started to bound, gazelle-like, across the wibbling moors, straight towards Crow Hill. But then I stopped!
“Wait… She’s nearly dark,” I said to myself. “You’ve no food and there’s gonna be no no light. Come back in a day or two and you’ll have all the time you need to explore.”
And so I wandered back in the dark to the warmth of fire and home and waited a few days, for the Earth to drink Her snow, and hope that the curious intuition — as it had been on numerous other occasions — proved fruitful. And so it did…
If you can find the place (almost impossible when the heather’s in full growth), you’ll see that this ‘cairn circle’ is little more than 32 feet across, with the tallest stone in the ring little more than 2 feet tall. A curious small squared circle of loose stones exists in the south side of the ring and a raised embankment surrounds the site. Scatterings of small, football-sized stones are found both in, out and at the edge of the circle. (Please note – to those of you who wanna cross-reference – that the photos alleging to show this site on The Megalithic Portal are not of the right place.)
Close by are other neolithic remains, including extensive walling, 2 or 3 other small standing stones and a large tumulus which one rather myopic hobbyist (Mike Haigh) reckoned – in a poor attempt at sarcasm – might be the burial tomb of a successful local farmer. Hmmmm…..
The site was later described in an article by the same Mike Haigh (in Billingsley’s Aspects of Calderdale) as being discovered by John Billingsley himself, which wasn’t just a mistake but a rather huge lie. John was there with me when I found it, as he knows full well. But it seems here we have an example of people who like to try give themselves credit for discovering things that they did not do.* Even sillier, Mr Billingsley then moaned when I described the site (in my Old Stones of Elmet) without mentioning his name! But in all honesty, if that’s the disreputable way in which they go about their business, what do they expect in return!? (What’s worse is that the site was first described in an article in his own Northern Earth Mysteries mag in 1995, which I co-authored, and then when I asked if he could point out the error and correct it, he ignored the request in just the same way politicians do. Pure bloody ignorance no less. But then, he is one of those incoming Southern-types – y’ know the sort…)
This aside: the entire region hereabouts requires considerable archaeological attention as we have here the remains of either a neolithic settlement, or graveyard, or both!
* see the note at the bottom of the ‘About TNA‘ page on such issues.
- Abraham, John Harris, Hidden Prehistory around the North West, Kindle 2012.
- Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
- Billingsley, J. & Bennett, P., ‘Recent Fieldwork on Midgley Moor,’ in NEM, 65, 1995.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian