Cairns: OS Grid Reference – SE 140 443
Take the same directions as if you’re visiting the Great Skirtful of Stones giant cairn on the boundary of Burley and Hawksworth. Cross the wire fence on its southern-side and, cross the (usually overgrown) prehistoric trackway 50-60 yards away. Keep in the same direction onto the pathless moor for about the same distance again, zigzagging back and forth, keeping your eyes peeled for some small overgrown rocky rises. You’ll find ’em.
Archaeology & History
Not to be confused with the much larger Bronze Age graveyard further south on the same moorland, this little-known prehistoric cemetery has had little of any worth written about it since the 19th century and—like many sites on these moors—has received no modern archaeological attention.
On my last visit to this site with James Elkington in 2015, only four of the heather-clad cairns were visible; but if you explore here after the heather has been burned away, a half-dozen such tombs are found in relatively close attendance to each other. They are each about the same size, being roughly circular and measuring between 3-4 yards across, 10-12 yards in circumference and a yard high at the most. As you can see in the attached images, they are quiet visible even when the heather has grown on them.
This small cairnfield may stretch across and link up with the secondary cairnfield a half-mile to the southwest. More survey work is required up here.
As with the circle of Roms Law and the Great Skirtful of Stones, this relatively small cluster of cairns seems to have had a prehistoric trackway approaching it, running roughly east-west. A short distance west are the much-denuded waters of the Skirtful Spring.
- Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
- Faull, M.L. & Moorhouse, S.A. (eds.), West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Guide to AD 1500 (4 volumes), WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.
- Wardell, James, Historical Notes of Ilkley, Rombald’s Moor, Baildon Common, and other Matters of the British and Roman Periods, Joseph Dodgson: Leeds 1869. (2nd edition 1881).
Acknowledgements: Huge thanks to James Elkington for use of his photo in this site profile.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian
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