Cock Hill, Wadsworth Moor, West Yorkshire

Cist:  OS Grid Reference – SE 009 275

Also Known as:

  1. Mount Skip tomb

Getting Here

OK – OK – stop laughing at the title!  If you wanna check the hill out for yourselves, get to Hebden Bridge, then go up the long and very steep Birchcliffe Road.  Keep going all the way to the very top (a couple of miles uphill).  When you reach here, the building in front of you was the Mount Skip pub.  From here, walk up over the golf course and you’ll hit the disused quarries on the moor edge.

Archaeology & History

The grid reference given above is an approximation.  The tomb (long gone) was within 100 yards of the coordinate.  But don’t let that put you off having a good bimble around the moors here, cos there are several sites to see.

This long-lost burial was located in May, 1897, when quarrying operations were being undertaken behind the Mount Skip Inn, on the edge of Wadsworth Moor.  Ling Roth (1906) told that

“the first indications were the rolling down of pieces of urns which the delvers called flower pots.  Then in digging a hole to fix the leg of a crane, human bones were discovered.”

Geoffrey Watson (1952) later echoing Mr Roth’s comments wrote that,

“a grave containing a skeleton was discovered at a quarry about Mount Skip Inn.  The grave was about 6ft long, 14-18 in wide, and about 2ft deep.  The bones, which were exceedingly brittle, crumbled on handling.  Within the grave, and mainly at the ends, there appeared to be about 6 in of mixed charred wood and bones.  The larger portion of a small earthenware vessel was picked up and retained by one of the quarrymen.”

According to Mr Roth, the “earthware vessel picked up…by one of the quarrymen” was “picked up by a man named Thomas Greenwood, of Shawcroft Hill.”   What became of it, I do not know! If anyone knows, please let us know!

The description telling that “the grave was about 6ft long, 14-18 in wide, and about 2ft deep,” implies it to have been a stone cist – although this is quite long.  The nearest of any similar form would be the giant cairns at Low Bradley, 12½ miles (20km) to the north  This may have been the last remnants of a giant cairn (its landscape position would allow for this).

References:

  1. Roth, H. Ling, The Yorkshire Coiners…and Notes on Old and Prehistoric Haifax, F. King: Halifax 1906.
  2. Watson, Geoffrey G., Early Man in the Halifax District, Halifax Scientific Society 1952.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Cock Hill cist

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Cock Hill cist 53.743877, -1.987833 Cock Hill cist

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