Settlement / Enclosure: OS Grid Reference – SD 9517 6488
Follow the same directions to reach the Bordley ‘circle’ (it’s actually a much denuded burial site). Look up the hill (south) at the limestone escarpments above you, walk past the Hammond Close Stones and head up the slopes in front of you. If you get to the top of the hill without noticing the extensive prehistoric walled structures you’ve passed, then start to slowly amble here and around the tops and the slopes you’ve just walked up. They’re everywhere!
Archaeology & History
The grid reference here has to be considered as a general one. The site we’re looking at, upon the tops of this wonderful limestone-enriched hill, is quite extensive and covers much more than the simple eight-figure grid ref I’m using to direct you here. On the way up the slope from the Bordley ‘circle’ site, you’ll notice how the natural lines of limestone have been used to define lines of walling. The remains of many smaller stones have been laid into the natural rock outcrops, and others set into the earth and sectioned off smaller enclosures within the greater whole. It was obviously a huge and time-consuming exercise to create these large rocky sections, some of which appear to have actually been cut into the rock. The aerial image here shows clearly the lines as they were laid out, intruding the extensive natural bedrock covering the landscape, not just here but much further afield. Indeed, the large set of enclosures here at Hammond Field typifies dozens and dozens of other such sites in the hills north and west of here.
The trouble with this and other sites in the Upper Wharfedale region is dating them. Although we typically ascribe an Iron Age date to many of these settlements, we know that many of them were added to and maintained by peasants and farmers well into medieval times. And why not!? They’re excellent, solid and need little maintainance! The sections we’re looking at here in this particular site may have had their origins in the Bronze Age. It seems a reasonable assumption considering the existence of the Bordley circle site and several other denuded burials along the same ridge at the bottom of the slope. But the majority of the ‘enclosed’ sections running up and around this hill seem to have Iron Age and Romano-British stamps on them. It’s likely that some of the ‘enclosed’ sections would have been constructed to keep cattle in, aswell as being living quarters for people. At least one well-defined hut circle can be seen along the north-facing edge of the hill and, perhaps, even the fallen remains of a once upright standing stone.
The topmost part of the Hammond Close hill is all but surrounded by Nature’s limestone, with a large oval grassy region in the middle of it all; but on the eastern side of the hill, the natural limestone walls are lacking and so were supplemented by the work of people who built an additional protective line of walling, running north for some 45 yards from the small craggy ridge at the top, along the level, until it meets up with more natural limestone. The man-made walling is built into this aswell. Halfway along this length of north-south walling is another section, running to the east for nearly 40 yards before bending slightly for another 25 yards into yet more natural outcrop.
I could spend the next few paragraphs describing all the walled sections visible on this hill and down its edges, but don’t wanna bore you with the small detail of it all! Aswell as that, if you climb over the eastern walls and walk a short distance across the rocky hill, you’ll start seeing other prehistoric settlement remains beneath your feet. And on the hill across directly to your north, we find more extensive remains at the very large Lantern Holes settlement, dating again from the Iron Age, if not earlier.
The ancient remains are all over the place round here! So those of you who love good outdoor wanderings, prehistoric archaeological sites and excellent views, give this place your attention! It’s well worth it!
- Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys through Brigantia – volume 2: Walks in Ribblesdale, Malhamdale and Central Wharfedale, Aussteiger: Barnoldswick 1990.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian