St Ellen’s Well, Harrisend Fell, Scorton, Lancashire

Holy Well: OS Reference – SD 53683 50975

Also Known as:

  1. St Ellin’s Well

Getting Here

The Well on the 1846 Map

Approaching the site from the north, walk along the Lane Head track, and along the path south-eastwards, then turn right onto the main footpath until coming to the stream. Follow the stream up the fell to the large clump of reeds, then follow your ears until you locate the spring! Or you can approach it along the main footpath from the Oakenclough – Galgate road. The well and the path to it
are on access land.

Archaeology & History

Fortunately recorded by the Ordnance Survey on their 1846 6″ map Lancashire XL, the story of St Ellen’s Well was taken up sixty years later by local holy wells historian Henry Taylor (1906):

Listen for the spring in the reeds

“The site of this holy well is marked on the ordnance map at a lonely spot on Harris Fell, five hundred feet above the sea-level, four and a half miles in a north-easterly direction from the town of Garstang.

“Mr. A. King has kindly examined the site.  He writes, 4th August, 1902: “We had no difficulty in locating the spot…. There is no outward indication of the place being used for curative means, and there is no stonework at all. It is a beautifully cold spring which is at the side of ‘Bonny Pad’, a pathway leading across the moor from Harris End, and it was grown around with rushes….  All I can glean about it is that one of the oldest inhabitants, when asked if he knew of it, replied, ‘It will be th’ holy well, you mean.'”

The original dedication of this remote holy well was clearly to St. Helen, and its presence next to the Bonny Pad or path may indicate a pre-Christian dedication to a local cognate of the Celtic Elen Luyddog, Elen of the hosts or ways.  The Bonny Pad is shown but not not named on the 1846 map, and follows a broadly southwest to northeast direction from Harris End (again not named on the 1846 map) up to Grizedale Head on the southern edge of the Catshaw Vaccary.  It was perhaps an ancient route used by farmers to take their animals up onto the fell for the summer, and return them to the lowlands in the autumn.

Bubbling away at source

The western portion of Bonny Pad is not shown on the modern map and St Ellen’s Well is not marked, and both have it seems passed out of local memory.  An elderly farmer I encountered on my way up to the fell had never heard of the Well.

It is certainly worth the walk if only for the delightful sound of this powerfully flowing spring, the water is pure and cold, and it commands a fine view over the Lancashire plain to the coast.

References:

  1. Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Sherratt & Hughes: Manchester 1906.
  2. Wise, Caroline, “Elen of the Roads of Country and Town”, in Finding Elen – The Quest for Elen of the Ways, edited by Caroline Wise, Eala Press: London 2015.

© Paul T. Hornby, 2020

 

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  53.952785, -2.707269 St Ellen\'s Well

Weary Hill Stone, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 10617 46586

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no. 75 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no. 244 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  3. I/1 carving (Davis)
  4. Silverwell Stone

Getting Here

Weary Hill Stone (photo by Dave Whittaker)

From Ilkley town centre take the road up to White Wells (ask any local if y’ can’t find it), but instead of heading up the track to the wells, keep on the road and, after just over 200 yards, turn left up the Keighley Road.  Half-a-mile up there’s a dirt-track on your right which leads to Silver Well Farm.  Walk along here for about 150 yards, keeping your eyes peeled for a large rock in the heather about 50 yards up onto the moor.  You’ll find it.

Archaeology & History

Located just 100 yards west of the old Roman road that effectively runs north-south through the middle of Rombalds Moor and which, when this carving was executed, was a prehistoric trackway, this is an impressive carving, all but unknown by many.  On my last visit to this stone—maybe 10 years ago or more—it was a cloudy day.  I know this from the fact that the design on the stone was difficult to see in its entirety.  But not anymore!  When the northern antiquarian Dave Whittaker came a-wandering this way a few years back,  the stone so overgrown in vegetation that the design was very difficult to appreciate and, like any healthy curious antiquarian, he wanted to know what the full carving would look like.  He enquired whether or not it was OK to uncover the stone from beneath its mass of heather to see the full image and, as far as we were concerned the idea was a good one.  And so, following in the footsteps of Beckensall, Currie, Chappell, me and a few others, he got stuck in!

Cup-and-rings from above (photo by Dave Whittaker)
Looking across the stone (photo by Dave Whittaker)

As you can see in Dave’s fine photos, the petroglyph is indeed a fine one.  It comprises mainly of four cup-and-rings, two of which are incomplete  The rings, as you can see, are very faint, whilst the cups, both in the rings and those outside of them, are notably deep; perhaps indicating that they were carved into many times over a long period.

One of the great petroglyphic pioneers, J.Romilly Allen (1882) seems to have been the earliest to record this carving.  Allen’s early sketch (below) was obviously drawn on a shady day, as it misses several of of the rings that are clear to see when the the daylight is just right.  It’s an easy mistake to make.  He wrote:

J.R. Allen’s 1882 sketch
Hedge’s 1986 sketch

“One mile south-west of Ilkley is a road leading over the top of the Moor…very appropriately as Weary Hill.  To the west of the road, and between it and the boundary-wall of Silver Well Farm, is a small boulder of gritstone with cup-markings on it.  It lies at a level of 900 ft. above the sea, and it measures 8ft by 5ft.  On its upper surface, which is nearly level, are carved ten cups, varying in diameter from 2 to 3 ins., one of them being surrounded by a single ring.”

The pseudonymous “A. Reader” (1891) also included the stone in his international overview of prehistoric carvings, but merely copied the notes of his predecessors.  Nearly a hundred years later when archaeologist John Hedges (1986) did his survey of these moors, he described this carving simply as:

“Medium seized rock…in grass, heather and crowberry with c.ten cups, four with rings, two with grooves from rings, three depressions and series of probably natural lines running down to bottom edge.”

And as with the pseudonymous A. Reader (1891), Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) also just copied Hedges’ earlier description.

Seeking numeracy in Alan Davis 1988 sketch
And from another angle (photo by Dave Whittaker)

The greatest analysis of this carving to date is by physicist and mathematician Alan Davis.  He set out in 1983 to explore the possibility of there being a universal measurement used in neolithic times that was coded into our cup-and-rings—a theory first espoused by the great archaeo-astronomer Alexander Thom. (1968)  He selected carvings from Rombalds Moor and Northumberland, including this one at Weary Hill (calling it the I/1 carving) to see if a ‘megalithic inch’ (MI) that was propounded by Thom had any foundation in fact.  As a mathematician he was ideally qualified to examine this proposition.  His 1983 paper found there to be “substantial support” for this prehistoric megalithic inch.  However, in a subsequent 30-page analysis of the same carvings Davis (1988) found that some criteria in his initial investigation needed re-examining.  In his updated report he told that “many of these deficiencies have now been remedied.”

His initial 1983 report concluded the Weary Hill carving possessed a deliberate mathematical code in accordance with Thom’s MI.  However in the subsequent 1988 report, Davis found that the measurements were based on 5MI and 3 MI, but only in the cup-and-rings and not the single cups.  Despite this, there remained an overall scepticism in terms of any deliberate universal use of the MI.  My own take on this is a simple one: there was no deliberate use of any MI at carvings.  Where we do find precise MIs, this is due simply to the average size of human hands, meaning that some obvious figurative correspondences will occur upon investigation.  The more you think about it, the more obvious it becomes.

Anyhow, all this intriguing geometry aside: to those of you who take the time to check this out, have a bimble in the heather barely 100 yards west and you’ll find a few other carvings sleeping quietly, whose site profiles I’ve yet to do…

References:

  1. Allen, J. Romilly, “Notice of Sculptured Rocks near Ilkley,” in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 38, 1882.
  2. Anonymous, Walks Around Cup and Ring Stones, ITIC: Bradford n.d. (1995)
  3. Boughey, K.J.S. & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  4. Collyer, Robert & Turner, J. Horsfall, Ilkley, Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
  5. Davis, Alan, ‘The Metrology of Cup and Ring Carvings near Ilkley in Yorkshire,’ in Science and Archaeology, 25, 1983.
  6. Davies, Alan, ‘The Metrology of Cup and Ring Carvings,’ in Ruggles, C., Records in Stone, Cambridge 1988.
  7. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks of Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  8. Reader, A., Archaic Rock Inscriptions, privately printed: London 1891.
  9. Thom, Alexander, “The Metrology and Geometry of Cup and Ring Marks,” in Systematics, volume 6, 1968.
  10. Turner, J. Horsfall, Historical Notices of Shipley, Saltaire, Idle, Windhill, Wrose, Baildon, Hawksworth, Eccleshill, Calverley, Rawdon and Horsforth, Shipley Express: Idle 1901.

Links:

  1. Weary Hill Stone on The Megalithic Portal

Acknowledgments:  Huge thanks to Dave Whittaker for his work at this stone, plus allowing us use of his photos in this site profile.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.915315, -1.839855 Weary Hill Stone

Bradshaw Cross, Long Lane, Nether Wyresdale, Lancashire.

Wayside cross: OS Reference – SD 52474 51414

Also Known as :

  1. Historic England Grade II Listed Building No. 1163927 

Getting Here

Cross shown on 1846 map

Follow Long Lane northwards from Scorton, over the crossroads at Crosshill Four Lane Ends, and the cross base will be found at the road edge immediately to the right of the driveway of ‘Sandalwood’ on the left hand side of the road.

Archaeology & History

Described in the Historic Buildings listing citation as:

“Cross base, probably mediaeval. A sandstone boulder, roughly rectangular, with rectangular socket.”

Cross base at the roadside
‘A sandstone boulder, roughly rectangular’

The base of one of the numerous mediaeval wayside crosses that once adorned this part of Lancashire. So what happened to the cross? It’s possible that it was wilfully destroyed in the early nineteenth century as we have a likely culprit in the person of the Reverend Richard ‘Cross Smasher’ Wilkinson (c.1791 – 1823), Curate of Whitechapel, who took it upon himself to destroy the symbol of his religion wheresoever he could find it.

Immediately to the north west of the Cross is Cross Hill.  The cross itself was probably a waymarker on the road over Harrisend Fell from Oakenclough, and Bradshaw may be the name of the locality, there being a Bradshaw Bridge just outside Street to the north west, while the 1846 6-inch OS map records a ‘Bradshaw Smithy’ on the same road.

Note: More has been recorded about Wilkinson in the profile of Stump Cross, near Goosnargh.

Reference:

  1. Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Sherratt and Hughes, Manchester, 1906

© Paul T Hornby, The Northern Antiquarian, 2020

 

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  53.956620, -2.725759 Bradshaw Cross

Redman’s Spa, Bingley Moor, West Yorkshire

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1159 4343

Also Known as:

  1. Redmire Spa
  2. Redmond’s Spa
  3. Richmond’s Spa

Getting Here

Redman’s Spa on 1851 map

From East Morton village, take the moorland road, east, and up the steep hill.  Where the road just about levels out there’s a right turn, plus (more importantly!) a trackway on your left which leads onto the moor.  Walk up this track for ⅔-mile until you get to the point where the moorland footpath splits, with one bending downhill to an old building, whilst the other smaller footpath continues on the flat to the north.  Go up here for 400 yards then walk off-path, right, for about about 150 yards.  But beware – it’s boggy as fuck!

Archaeology & History

On this featureless southern-side of Rombalds Moor, all but lost and hidden in the scraggle of rashies, a very boggy spring emerges somewhere hereabouts.  I say hereabouts, as the ground beneath you (if you can call it that!) is but a shallow swamp and its actual source is almost impossible to locate.  If you want to find the exact spot yourself, be prepared to put up with that familiar stench of bog-water that assaults our senses when we walk through this sort of terrain.  Few are those who do, I have found… But somewhere here, amidst this bog—and still shown on the OS-maps—is the opening of what is alternatively called Redman’s or Richmond’s Spa.  We don’t know exactly when it acquired its status as a spa-well, but the 18th century Halifax doctor, Thomas Garnett—who wrote the early work on the Horley Green Spa—appears to be the first person to describe it.  Garnett (1790) said how the place:

“was first mentioned to me by Mr W. Maud, surgeon, in Bradford, who went with me to see it.  It is situated on Romalds-moor, about two or three miles from Bingley, and goes by the name of Redmire-spaw.  The access to it is by no means good; the ground about it being very spongy and soft.  On the bottom and sides of the channel is deposited an ochrey matter, of a very fine, bright, yellow colour; and which I believe is used, by the country people in the neighbourhood, to paint their houses.  It sparkles when poured into a glass and has a taste very like the Tewit-well at High-Harrogate; which water it very much resembles in all its properties, and seems to be about the same strength… This water seems to hold a quantity of iron dissolved by means of fixed air.  Its taste is very pleasant; it is said to act very powerfully as a diuretic, when drank in considerable quantity, and may prove a useful remedy, in cases where good effects may be expected from chalybeates in very small doses; the fixed air, and even the pure water itself may be useful in some cases.  It is, however, necessary to drink it at the well, for it seems to lose its iron and fixed air very soon.”

I’ve drank this water, and believe me!—it doesn’t quite taste as pleasant as Mr Garnett espouses!  Its alright I s’ppose—but drinking water from a bog isn’t necessarily a good idea.  That aside, I find it intriguing to hear so much lore about such a little-known spring; and it is obvious that the reputation Garnett describes about this spa came almost entirely from the local people, who would have been visiting this site for countless centuries and who would know well its repute. Below the source of the well the land is known as Spa Flat, and slightly further away Spa Foot, where annual gatherings were once held at certain times of the year to celebrate the flowing of the waters.  Such social annual gatherings suggests that the waters here were known about before it acquired its status as a spa—which would make sense.  The remoteness of this water source to attract wealthy visitors (a prime function of Spa Wells) wouldn’t succeed and even when Garnett visited the place, he said how he had to travel a long distance to get here.

The origin of its name was pondered by the great Harry Speight (1898) who wondered if it derived from the ancient and knightly Redman family of Harewood, whose lands reached over here.  But he was unsure and it was merely a thought.  As an iron-bearing spring (a chalybeate) you’d think it might derive from being simply a red mire or bog (much like the Red Mire Well at Hebden Bridge), but its variant titles of apparent surnames casts doubt on this simple solution.

No one visits the place anymore.  Of the countless times I’ve wandered the moors, rare have been the times when I’ve seen folk anywhere near this old spring.  It is still coloured with the same virtues that Garnett described in the 18th century: the yellowish deposits, the boggy ground, much of which reaches to the truly dodgy Yellow Bog a short distance north and which should be completed avoided by ramblers after heavy rains (try it if y’ don’t believe me—but you’ve been warned!).

References:

  1. Garnett, Thomas, Experiments and Observations on the Horley-Green Spaw, near Halifax, George Nicholson: Bradford 1790.
  2. Short, Thomas, The Natural, Experimental and Medicinal History of the Mineral Waters of Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, privately printed: London 1724.
  3. Speight, Harry, Chronicles and Stories of Old Bingley, Elliott Stock: London 1898.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.886929, -1.825155 Redman\'s Spa

The Old Pike, Beamsley, North Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SE 10226 52648

Also Known as:

  1. Howber Pike

Getting Here

T’ Old Pike on t’ 1853 map

I prefer the much longer walk to this site, from Askwith Moor carpark some 5 miles to the west, but this wouldn’t be most folks cuppa tea.  So for the lazy buggers amongst you: whether you’re coming via Ilkley (cross the bridge to Middleton and turn left, following the long winding road for several miles) or Bolton Bridge (hit Beamsley village and turn left up Lanshaw Bank), you need to get up to Langbar village. On the north side of the village is a distinct small rough carpark. From here, cross the road where the footpath sign is and walk straight up the steep hill to Beamsley Beacon at the top.  Keep walking for exactly ¼-mile where you’ll find a large heap with boulders round its edge. You’re there.

Archaeology & History

Skyline peak of T’ Old Pike (photo by James Elkington)

At the highest point of these hills where the moorlands of Langbar and Beamsley meet, is this prominent rocky pile on the same skyline as Beamsley Beacon.  The two are ancient cairns, both robbed of most of their stones, but still a good site to sit and behold the vast landscape which reaches out for miles in all directions.  And, from this highest point, looking south to the highest point across the Wharfe valley on Ilkley Moor, the remnants of another giant prehistoric cairn is visible: looking across at each other, eye to eye.

Of the two great cairns on Beamsley moor, The Old Pike is the more peculiar of the two because—unlike its partner along the ridge—several large boulders near its top give the impression of being Nature’s handiwork.  This may be the case, but Nature isn’t the lass who laid down the mass of smaller rounded stones that are mainly visible on the west and southern sides.  These have been placed there by people.  But it’s not until you step back 40 or 50 yards that you get a more distinct impression of the place.  The Old Pike rises up like a rocky nipple out of the heath, showing a very embedded overgrown man-made heap, typical of the overgrown prehistoric cairns that scatter our northern uplands.

Looking north (photo by James Elkington)
The piled heap (photo by James Elkington)

The site is included on the archaeologist’s Pastscape website, albeit citing it as a ‘possible’ cairn.  But the more we look at it, the greater the impression becomes that this old heap is man-made – certainly on its eastern and southern sides.  The rise of boulders on its west may be natural, and then ancient man placed the cairn material up and around them.  Only an excavation would tell us for sure.  But its old name of Howber Pike tells a tale before we even visit the place.  When the great Yorkshire historian Harry Speight (1900) came here he picked up on this element, telling us,

“Howber literally is the ‘Hill of Tombs’, from the Teutonic haugr and Anglian how, a burial mound, and berg also her, a hill, often fortified.”

The great place-name authority A.H. Smith (1956) not only echoes this but goes into greater etymological detail, noting that as well as haugr or how being “an artificial mound, a burial mound,” it’s a word that is particularly used in the northern counties.  He does note however, that this may not always be the case and can sometime just relate to a “a hill or hilltop resembling an artificial mound.”  However, we also find in Smith’s tome on place-name elements that the latter part of ‘Howber’ deriving from beorg, can also mean a tumulus or burial mound.  But there are cases where this has been corrupted and means, as Speight states, a fortified hill.  So at Howber Pike we seem to have the ancient name of some probable burial site.  As for its neighbour a quarter-mile west, the giant cairn of Beamsley Beacon is also known as the Howber Hill….

References:

  1. Smith, A.H., English Place-Name Elements – volume 1, Cambridge University Press 1956.
  2. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshirevolume 5, Cambridge University Press 1963.
  3. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to James Elkington for use of his fine photos on this site.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.969806, -1.845602 The Old Pike

Cowpasture Road, Ilkley, West Yorkshire

Cist (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 1192 4759

Archaeology & History

Urn found below Cowpasture Rd in 1874

In a lecture given by Frank Hall at the Ilkley Library in February, 1910, he described a number of prehistoric remains found in the area—including the remnants of a “cinerary urn, containing calcined human remains” and more, as illustrated in the old photo here.  He contextualized the findings as being typical of the remains found “under a large heap of earth and stones which we now call a ‘barrow’, ‘cairn’ or ‘tumulus'” and believed that one must have existed here in bygone times.  The urn, he told us,

“was found within a few yards of these premises, for it was dug up when the excavations were being carried out for the erection of Messrs Robinson and Sons’ buildings on the opposite side of Cowpasture Road, in March 1874.”

Although we list this site as a cist, we don’t know for sure; but due to the lack of descriptive and historical data about a mound of any form in this area, it is most likely to have been a cist burial and not a tumulus or barrow which Mr Hall inferred.  Its location near the valley bottom is unusual when we consider the huge number of cairns on the moors above here; but a cist was found in a similar low-lying geographical position on the south side of the moors near Bingley, 5.8 miles due south, when construction of local sewage works were being done.

References:

  1. Hall, Frank, The Contents of Ilkley Museum, William Walker: Otley 1910.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.924310, -1.819974 Cowpasture cist

Backstone Beck West (282), Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 12719 46272

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.124 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.282 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Cup-and-Ring Stone 282

Various ways to get here, but probably the easiest is to start from Cow & Calf Rocks, walking up the steep slope onto the moor-edge. Paths veer left and right once you’re on the level, but you wanna head straight forward, west(-ish), for about 350 yards till you reach the stream. Cross over and then take the path that runs parallel with the stream, uphill.  Nearly 200 yards up, where the moor begins to level out, you cross a path running east-west; keep going past this for about another 50 yards (as if you’re heading to the Backstone Circle) and you’ll notice some small sheep-paths leading you into the heather to your right and, some  40-50 yards into the heath you’ll see this large flat stone!

Archaeology & History

This carving seems to have been rediscovered in the 1950s by Michael Walker and Stuart Feather.  They were amongst a small group of people who visited this and some other carvings in June 1956, when the first (known) sketch of the carving was done by Mr Walker.  His sketch of the stone is somewhat more elaborate than the one in John Hedges’ (1986) later archaeological survey.  Indeed, in some ways the two drawings seem to show little resemblance to each other. (not uncommon with these things!)

Walker’s 1956 sketch
Hedges’ 1986 sketch

Walker shows nine cup-and-rings in various states of completion, with several clusters of singular cups at different places on the rock—more than forty in all, some of which are connected to each other by short lines.  This is in contrast with the later archaeological description, which saw far fewer of the primary symbols.  When John Hedges (1986) described the carving in his inventory, he informed the reader:

“Fairly smooth, medium sized grit rock standing up in heather, crowberry and grass, sloping SW to NE with the hill, its almost triangular flat top covered with carvings, some very clear, interesting patterns.  About thirty-five cups, seven surrounding a small ring with cups on the circumference and at centre.  Two long grooves with a cup at one end, running down to the edge of the rock. ‘Peck’ marks noticeable in one groove and in one ring round a cup.  Three other grooves going half round cups, or leading from a cup.  Slice of rock apparently removed.”

Boughey & Vickerman (2003) added nothing new in their later survey.

Although we have an uninterrupted open view of the landscape to the north and west from here, it might not have been like this when the carving was done 4-5000 years ago.  The scattered woodland covering these heaths may have impeded the views.  However, immediately west of this carving are the broken remains of a small Bronze Age settlement, some of whose walling is traceable some 100-150 yards away and any tree cover that may have been here may have been cut back.  We may never know for sure…

References:

  1. Boughey, K.J.S. & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  2. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks of Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  3. Jackson, S. & Walker, Michael J., “Ilkley Boulders Tour,” in Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 2:1, 1956.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  53.912445, -1.807855 Backstone Beck (282)

All Saints Church, Almondbury, West Yorkshire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 1676 1504

Archaeology & History

The only thing we know of this long lost site comes from a tradition narrated by the Canon Hulbert (1882) in his definitive history of Almondbury parish.  High up the hill near the very top of the village where All Saints Church was built, he told how tradition said,

“that a tumulus or mound existed at the west end where now the Clerk’s house stands; which may have been an ancient British site and led to the erection of the church.”

Sadly, there seems to be no further information about the site.

References:

  1. Hulbert, Charles A., Annals of the Church and Parish of Almondbury, Longmans: London 1882.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.631711, -1.748029 All Saints Church

Alexander’s Hill, Follifoot, North Yorkshire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 3222 5211

Archaeology & History

Site of tomb on 1894 map

We are thankful that the antiquarian James Wardell (1881) gave us some details of this long lost site in his survey of prehistoric remains, otherwise information about it would certainly have been lost.  Prehistoric burial mounds are rare in this part of Yorkshire, but on the rise of land behind Follifoot Ridge house could once be seen “a large barrow measuring 50 feet in diameter.”  Believed by Challis and Harding (1975) to have been a late Bronze Age structure, the story of its demise was told by Wardell as follows:

“This monument of a former age…exists no longer, owing to the ignorance and cupidity of the surveyors of the highways of the township in which it was situate; by whose orders the stones, of which it was partially composed, were carted away at intervals, during a period of some five or six years, to keep in repair a neighbouring road.  At the base were several very large stones, probably a kistvaen, and at the same time were found fragments of urns, bones and ‘pieces of brass’, which immediately became dispersed.  Some of the latter articles came into the possession of the village smith, from whom this information was obtained, and were disposed of by him to a brass-founder as old metal, and in due time, doubtless, found their way to the foundry.  From the description given of them by this person, there seems to have been amongst them some spear-heads and a palstave, but after a most diligent inquiry, there could not, as might be expected, anything whatever be recovered.  I should say that from weapons of bronze being found in this huge sepulchral mound, it was not one of the most ancient kind, but has perhaps covered the remains of British warriors slain in conflict with the Roman invaders… I am indebted to Mr John Dixon of Leeds for the information relating to the demolition of this barrow, which was only obtained by him after a lengthy enquiry; and he states that on his visit to the site, it could distinctly be traced by the grass there being of a darker hue than in other parts of the field.”

A mile to the northwest, one would have been able to see the Stone Rings of Pannal, also destroyed, and the two sites may have served some geomantic relationship with each other.

References:

  1. Challis, A.J. & Harding, D.W., Later Prehistory from the Trent to the Tyne, BAR: Oxford 1975.
  2. 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:  Big thanks for being able to use the 1st edition OS-map for this site profile, Reproduced with the kind permission of the National Library of Scotland

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.964073, -1.510387 Alexander\'s Hill

Piper’s Crag Stone, Addingham Moorside, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 08497 47097

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.44 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.212 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  3. Piper’s Stone

Getting Here

Piper Stone (photo by James Elkington)

Follow the directions to reach our superb Swastika Stone from Ilkley, visible due to the iron railing that surround and protect the carving on the cliff edge.  From here, keep walking west along the Millenium Way footpath, over the stile of the first wall, then the second wall—six in all—for ⅔-mile (1km), where you’ll see another small crag of rocks on your right, just yards from the footpath.  You’re damn close!

Archaeology & History

When the great J. Romilly Allen (1882) visited the Ilkley petroglyphs in 1878, the Piper Stone was one that he wandered over to see—and he had this to say of it:

“At the edge of Piper’s Crag is a horizontal rock-surface, and on a portion of it, measuring 5ft by 7ft, are carved a series of fifteen cups varying in diameter from 2 to 3 ins.  Of these, one is surrounded by a single ring, four by a double ring, and one by a triple ring.”

Hedges 1986 sketch
Cowling’s 1940 sketch

This type of description, whilst accurate on the whole, rarely does justice to the carving.  It was echoed more than 100 years later in John Hedges’ (1986) survey, when he described the large rock jutting out to possess merely, “a complicated design of cups, rings and grooves.”  When Boughey & Vickerman (2003) did their follow-up survey, they added nothing more.

In an attempt to give some sort of meaning to the carving (and many others), the late great Eric Cowling (1940; 1946) placed it within Henri Breuil’s (1934) classification system, which assigns all carvings different degrees of complexity and form, from Classes 1-4.  The Piper Stone entered Breuil’s Class 3A, being one “with deeply cut and smoothed down grooves.” Whilst this may sound good on the surface, in truth such classifications are utterly meaningless outside of the tables and graphs of statisticians and the boring.  They give the appearance of quantitative research, but they have as much bearing on the nature of the carvings as a energy dowser healing the place with crystals.

Piper Stone (photo by Josh Millgate)

In the flesh, in the real world—so to speak—from the Piper Stone we are looking, not just at the carving, but its place in the landscape: an ingredient that more and more emerging archaeologists are recognizing has a synergistic relationship with some petroglyphs.  And here we have an impressive landscape that reaches out ahead of us for many miles.  We look primarily to the north: the Land of the Dead in many traditional northern cultures.  But our panorama here is 180º, with east and west horizons having the potential for measuring equinoctial periods in the cycle of the year.  But in truth this is sheer speculation.

It’s a worthwhile carving to see, both for its views and its excess of non-linearity.  In its form, Rorscharch impressions of early humans emerge; the usual solar and lunar symbols can be seen; star systems seem apparent; maps or settlement ground-plans could be there.  We know that somewhere within it is the animistic ‘spirit’ of the rock itself, but the forms it exalts are, once again, all but lost on us modern folk…

References:

  1. Allen, J. Romilly, “Notice of Sculptured Rocks near Ilkley,” in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 38, 1882.
  2. Allen, J. Romilly, “Cup and Ring Sculptures on Ilkley Moor,” in The Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist, volume 2, 1896.
  3. Anonymous, Walks around Cup and Ring Stones, TIC: Ilkley n.d. (c.1990).
  4. Baildon, W. Paley, “Cup and Ring Carvings: Some Remarks on their Classification and a New Suggestion as to their Origin and Meaning,” in Archaeologia, volume 61, 1909.
  5. Bennett, Paul, “Cup-and-Ring Art”, in Towards 2012, volume 4, 1998.
  6. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  7. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  8. Breuil, Henri, “Presidential Address for 1934,” in Proceedings Prehistoric Society East Anglia, 7:3, 1934.
  9. Collyer, Robert & Turner, J.H., Ilkley: Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
  10. Cowling, E.T., ‘A Classification of West Yorkshire Cup and Ring Stones,’ in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 1940.
  11. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  12. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to Josh Millgate and James Elkington for use of their photos in this site profile.  Cheers guys. 🙂

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.919947, -1.872107 Piper Stone