Ring Cairn: OS Grid Reference – SE 14574 44098
Unless the heather’s been burnt back, this takes a bitta finding. Direction-wise, the easiest is from the moorland road above Menston. Go up Moor Lane and then turn right along Hillings Lane. 350 yards on is a dirt-track on your right marked as Public Footpath. Walk up here for two-thirds of a mile—going past where the track goes left to the Shooting Range—to where the track splits. Bear left and after 250 yards you reach a fence on your left where the moorland proper begins. Follow this fence SW for 300 yards until it does a right angle turn. Just before this, you’ll see a large worn overgrown trackway or path running north into the moorland. Walk up here for nearly 100 yards and look around. Best o’ luck!
Archaeology & History
Shown on the 1851 OS-map adjacent to the long prehistoric trackway that runs past Roms Law, the Great Skirtful and other prehistoric sites, the antiquarian wanderings of Forrest & Grainge (1868) came past here and, although didn’t mention the Craven Hall cairns directly, they did write of “a group of barrows” hereabouts, and this may have been one of them. James Wardell (1869) gave an even more fleeting skip, only mentioning “pit dwellings” hereby. A little closer to certainty was the literary attention Collyer & Turner’s (1885) pen gave, where they described, “near the adjoining old trackway, which runs from East to West, will be seen a small barrow”—but this could be either of the Craven Hill sites. And the usually brilliant Harry Speight (1900) gave the place only more brevity….
Structurally similar to Roms Law nearly ¾-mile northwest of here, this little-known and much denuded prehistoric tomb has seen better days. It is barely visible even when the heather’s low—and when we visited recently, the heather was indeed low but, as the photos here indicate, it’s troublesome to see. It’s better, of course, with the naked eye.
It’s the most easterly cairn in the large Bronze Age necropolis (burial ground) on Hawksworth Moor. Measuring some 12 yards across and roughly circular in form, the ring is comprised mainly of many small stones compacted with peat, creating a raised embankment barely two feet high above the heath and about a yard across on average. A number of larger stones can be seen when you walk around the ring, but they don’t appear to have any uniformity in layout such as found at the more traditional stone circles. However, only an excavation will tell us if there was ever any deliberate positioning of these larger stones. It would also tell us if there was ever a burial or cremation here, but the interior of the ring has been dug out, seemingly a century or two ago…
- Collyer, Robert & Turner, J.H., Ilkley: Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
- Faull, M.L. & Moorhouse, S.A. (eds.), West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Guide to AD 1500 – volume 1, WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.
- Forrest, C. & Grainge, William, A Ramble on Rumbald’s Moor, among the Rocks, Idols and Altars of the Ancient Druids in the Spring of 1869, H. Kelly: Wakefield 1868.
- Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.
- Wardell, James, Historical Notes of Ilkley, Rombald’s Moor, Baildon Common, and other Matters of the British and Roman Periods, Joseph Dodgson: Leeds 1869.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian