Mini-Skirtful of Stones, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1346 4606

Getting Here

Follow directions to get to the Pancake Stone.  From here walk SE on the footpath that runs on the edge of the moor.  After about 200 yards you’ll hit a small footpath which heads into the moor (south).  Walk on here for about 200 yards and notice the small rise in the land to your right (if you cross the small stream where the land dips into a very small valley, you’ve gone past).  That’s it!  The Little Haystack Rock is less than 100 yards away down the slope from here.

Mini-Skirtful of Stones, looking north

Archaeology & History

Of approximately eighty prehistoric cairns that have been alleged to exist along the Green Crag Slack ridge on Ilkley Moor, this site in particular is worthy of note, due mainly to its size. As independent archaeological researcher Paul Bowers said of it when he first saw this cairn-spoil, “it seemed too big to have not been discovered in the past.”  Too right!

Mini-Skirtful, looking west
Mini-Skirtful, looking west

When we tracked across Green Crag Plain a few days ago, it was Michala Potts that called our attention to it.  Half-covered in full heather growth, only the eastern edge was exposed.  At first it seemed that it was loose prehistoric walling, but then I realised it was on the edge of small knoll and the stone work was deeper and wider than walling.  As we explored through the heather atop of the knoll, it was obvious that there was a more extensive gathering of stones scattered all over the top of this small rise, and it seemed that we were looking at the remains of a reasonable sized cairn. Its extent carries about ten yards down the slope from the small hillock, but only a few yards either side of it.  It seems likely that the extended loose stones have, over the centuries, simply slipped further down the slope.  However, not until a decent excavation occurs will we know anything certain.  It is possibile that this is simply the scattered remains of damaged neolithic or Bronze Age walling, but only a more detailed exploration of the site will tell us for sure.

Cowling (1946) mentioned the numerous cairns and scattered walling reaching across this part of Ilkley Moor, but gave no specific information relating to this mini-skirt full of stones! (blame Mikki for the title!)


  1. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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