Apronful of Stones, Bradfield, South Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SK 2448 9459

Archaeology & History

Apronful of Stones on 1855 map

This was another example of the many giant cairns that scatter the upland moors on the Pennines, but much of it has been destroyed, with some halfwits in recent years cutting a track right through whatever remains there might have been!  It was first described in John Watson’s (1776) essay on the local antiquities of Bradfield and district where, in relative conjunction with the curious Bar Dike, he told that “this is not the only curiosity on this common.”  He continued: “there is on one part of it a large carnedde, called by the country people the Apron-full of Stones”, where he conjectured there laid a British tribal chief after he’d been slaughtered by the Romans.  This might have been the folklore of the place, but we know such places were thousands of years earlier than the Romans.

It was later described in Joseph Hunter’s Hallamshire (1819) as a giant barrow, or ‘vast carnedde’, even then in the past tense; but some recent investigation here found “a few small stones and some lumpy turf which looked to be covering a few clumped stones.”  The site requires further investigation by local people to assess the state of damage inflicted on this once great tomb.


Said to have been the site of a local battle in ancient times; this is also another site which, as A.H. Smith (1961) tells, “is explained in folklore by tales of the devil undertaking some major building project and tripping up, only to deposit his apronful of stones” here.  Does anyone out there have any more info on this place?


  1. Hunter, Joseph, Hallamshire: The History and Topography of the Parish of Sheffield in the County of York, Lackington: London 1819.
  2. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire, Cambridge University Press 1961-63.
  3. Watson, John, “An Account of some Hitherto Undescribed Remains of Antiquity”, in Archaeologia, volume 5, 1776.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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