Sleets Gill Top, Hawkswick, North Yorkshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – SD 95735 69145

Getting Here

Sleets Gill enclosure hillock

Go up the B6160 road from Grassington to Kettlewell and just a few hundred yards past the famous Kilnsey Crags, take the little road to Arncliffe on your left.  After ¾ of a mile, keep your eyes peeled for the small parking spot on the left-side of the road, with the steep rocky stream that leads up to the Sleet Gill Cave. Walk up to the cave, then keep going up the same steep slope to the wall/fence above. You can get over the wooden fence and keep following the wall until it just about levels out nearly 200 yards up.  From here, walk 100 yards to your right where the land rises up and you’re at the edge of the walled enclosure.  Look around.

Archaeology & History

Walled section, looking W

On top of a small rise in the land is this large, roughly rectangular walled enclosure measuring about 55 yards across at its longest axis (roughly WNW to ESE) and averaging 24 yards wide.  The walling is pretty low down and, in some areas (mainly on its eastern edges) almost disappears beneath the vegetation—but you can still make it out – just!  The southernmost edge of the enclosure is built upon a the edge of a natural rocky outcrop (typical of many enclosure and settlement sites in this neck o’ the woods) and when you stand on this section you see a very distinct rectangular enclosure, sloping down from here.  This would likely have been where animals were kept as it makes no sense as a human living quarter due it being on a slope.  But below this, where the land levels out, another low line of ancient walling reaches towards the high modern walls.  This is one of three lines of ancient walling running, roughly parallel to the more modern walls (which themselves may have an Iron Age origin) from the main enclosure.

Aerial view of site

The entire structure is Iron Age in origin, but the site would have been in continual use throughout the Romano-British period and possibly even into early medieval centuries (though only an excavation would confirm that).  Its basic architecture is replicated in the many other prehistoric settlements that still exist on the hills all round here (there are dozens of them).  You’ll see this clearly when you visit the High Sleets enclosure less than 400 yards southwest from here.

References:

  1. Raistrick, Arthur, Prehistoric Yorkshire, Dalesman: Clapham 1964.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Rivock Nose (1), Keighley, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 07355 44628

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.12 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.45 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Rivock Nose (1) stone

Follow the directions as if you’re visiting the fascinating Wondjina Stone and its companion. From here look at the large rocks on the edge of the drop a few yards away (west) and you’re looking for the flattest rectangular rock jutting out over the edge of the slope, about 15 yards from the walling.  The carvings of Rivock (2) and (3) are on the adjacent rocks.

Archaeology & History

The southernmost of (at least) three cup-marked rocks on the edge of this outcrop, it isn’t a carving I’d necessarily include in my own surveys nowadays.  It’s a dubious one to say the least.  Nonetheless, earlier surveyors added it in their catalogues.

Lichen-covered “cups”

First mentioned in John Hedges’ (1986) survey, this large and roughly flat rectangular boulder possesses three or four questionable cups close to the edge of the stone. Boughey & Vickerman (2003) subsequently included it in their own work—copying Hedges’ notes—and told it to be a “large rock. About three cups on NW side.”  Have a look at it when you visit the other more impressive Rivock carvings nearby and see what you think…

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
  2. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  3. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Prehistoric Rock Art of Great Britain: A Survey of All Sites Bearing Motifs more Complex than Simple Cup-marks,” in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, volume 55, 1989.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Rivock Nose (3), Keighley, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 07359 44636

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.13 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.47 (Boughey & Vickerman)
Rivock Nose (3) stone

Getting Here

Take the same directions as if you’re visiting the fascinating Wondjina Stone and its companion.  From here, just a few yards to the west, are the large rocks overhanging the steep hill, several of which have cup-markings on them (including the carvings Rivock Nose [1] and [2]).  This particular carving is the one closest to the wall.  You can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

Line of 3 cups

A simplistic design that’ll only be of interest to the real geeks amongst you; but you might as well give it your attention when you’re looking at the adjacent Wondjina Stone.   On its large surface, the most notable ingredients are the three large cups that run (roughly) in a straight line from the middle of the stone to its outer pointy edge.  You can see them pretty clearly in the photo.  Several other cup-marks can be seen on the more northwesterly side of the stone.

It was first described in John Hedges (1986) survey, whose notes were simply copied in the subsequent survey of Boughey & Vickerman (2003) where, in their traditional way, gave a very basic description, saying, “Large gritstone outcrop: 3m x 2m. Five cups towards NW edge.”

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
  2. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  3. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Prehistoric Rock Art of Great Britain: A Survey of All Sites Bearing Motifs more Complex than Simple Cup-marks,” in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, volume 55, 1989.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Snake Stone, Hawksworth, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 15078 43546

Getting Here

Snake Stone carving

On the moorland road from Dick Hudson’s pub, head east along the Otley Road for more than 1½ miles, past the T-junction right-turn at Intake Gate (to Hawksworth) and just a quarter-mile further on park-up at the roadside (opposite Reva Reservoir). Walk (north) thru the gate into the field and after 300 yards through another gate into the next field.  From this gate, walk straight north to the Fraggle Rock cup-and-ring stone, then go down the slope NNW for nearly 50 yards and just above the old track you’ll see the edge of this stone peeking out!

Archaeology & History

One of a number of previously unrecorded carvings in these fields, this is a pretty simplistic but unique design. The first thing you’ll notice is at the top-corner of the stone where, like many rocks on these moors, a nicely-worn cup stands out.  Erosion obviously…. or so it first seems. This cup-mark has another two by its side, along the top edge of the stone which, again, initially suggested them to be little more than natural.  But in rolling back the turf this assumption turns out to be wrong; for, along the west-side of the rock you’ll see a notable pecked groove running down to another cup-mark about twelve inches below, kinking slightly just before it reaches that cup. You can see this in the photo. Now, if we return to the prominent cup-mark at the top corner of the stone, in certain light there seems to be a very faint incomplete ring around it – but we can’t say for certain and it needs to be looked at again in better light.

Cups & line clearly visible
Main carved section

The name given to this carving (thanks to Collette Walsh) comes from the wavy lines that go into the middle of the stone from the long pecked line.  These wavy lines are natural, although one portion of them might have been artificially enhanced.  It’s difficult to tell one way or the other and we’ll have to wait for the computer boys to assess this particular ingredient.  Just above these “waves” is a single eroded cup-mark nearly 2-inch across.  And that’s that!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

St. Helen’s Well, Gosforth, Cumbria

Holy Well (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NY 0562 0303

Archaeology & History

Described as being “lost” in John Musther’s (2015) relatively recent survey, very little has been written about this site but, by the look of things, it may still exist—albeit in a boggy state of affairs!  It was mentioned in Parker’s (1926) classic history book of the area:

“Near to Newton is a very plentiful spring which is known to have been moved further from the house than it was.  Adam de Newton, son of Richard, mentions in one of his grants, “St. Helen’s Well, which is at the corner of my garden, the outfall going into Grucokesgile beck.”

Possible site of the Well

Parker found it to have been described in a local property charter in St Bee’s Register (Wilson 1915) as far back as 1220 CE.  On the earliest OS-map of the area, a “Spring” is shown just above Newton, which may mark the very spot!  Not far from the holy well was also a cross-marked stone called the Grey Stone (grey stones are usually boundary stones, but can also be standing stones—of which there were a lot in this neck o’ the woods).

Folklore

St. Helen’s Day was celebrated on August 18, but there seem to be no accounts of traditional customs recorded here.

References:

  1. Harte, Jeremy, English Holy Wells – volume 2, Heart of Albion press: Wymeswold 2008.
  2. Musther, John, Springs of Living Waters, privately printed: Keswick 2015.
  3. Page, Jim Taylor, Cumbrian Holy Wells, North West Catholic History Society: Ormskirk 1990.
  4. Parker, C.A. The Gosforth District: Its Antiquities and Places of Interest, Thomas Wilson: Kendal 1926.
  5. Wilson, James, The Register of the Priory of St. Bees, Surtees Society: Durham & London 1915.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Cat Nab, Brotton, North Yorkshire

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NZ 6692 2154

Archaeology & History

Location on 1930 OS-map

This long lost burial mound was first located by the local antiquarian William Hornsby in the early 20th century.  It had been constructed close to the summit of the prominent rise  of Cat Nab, immediately east above Saltburn.  Its position was shown on the 1930 OS-map of the area.  Destroyed by quarrying, it was thankfully excavated by Hornsby in 1913; and although his finds were never published, he left notes which told us that,

“there were two cremations and the sherds of at least three vessels: a collared urn, a pygmy cup and a vessel with an everted rim.” (Crawford 1980)

Crawford (1980) told that these finds could been seen in the Middlesborough Collection.

References:

  1. Crawford, G.M., Bronze Age Burial Mounds in Cleveland, Cleveland County Council 1980.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks for use of the Ordnance Survey map in this site profile, reproduced with the kind permission of the National Library of Scotland

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Balk Well, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – SE 19616 23695

Getting Here

The Ferner at the Balk Well

Along Halifax Road (A649), get to the Shears Inn and then take the footpath at the back of the pub that runs down the side of the fields and alongside the allotments.  Less than 150 yards down, just through the stile into the edge of the field on your left, you’ll see the side-edge of a large flat stone in the grasses.  Check it out!

Archaeology & History

Along with the Attack Well and Tree Root Well, this was one of three springs close to each other that gave local villagers their water supply in bygone times.  When we visited here at the height of a long warm spell in the summer of 2023, there was still was a small amount of clear water trickling beneath the long flat slab of stone — although it was somewhat clogged-up with vegetation.  It wouldn’t take much work to completely clean this out and use the fresh drinking water once again.

The well gained its name from its position in the land, with balk, being “a portion of a field left unploughed”, or “a strip of ground left untilled” and variants thereof.

References:

  1. Wright, Joseph, The English Dialect Dictionary – volume 1, Henry Frowde: London 1898.

Acknowledgements: Huge thanks to the great Gary Ferner, for use of his photo and the day’s venture!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Attack Well, Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – SE 19569 23698

Archaeology & History

Attack Well on 1908 map

Located down the slope behind Shears Inn on Halifax Road (A649), past the stone-lined Balk Well, then round the other side of the allotments up where the footpath cuts to your right, the waters from this site can barely be found in the now large mass of brambles that make it virtually inaccessible to reach.  When Gary Ferner and I visited here, it seemed that a very small pool of water existed in the hollow beneath the prickly vegetative covering—but even I didn’t struggle to get through it all and so we don’t know if the waters are still running as once they were.  It was obviously one of the wells that fed local people in earlier times, but I can find no historical references to the site apart from its showing on the 1908 Ordnance Survey map.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Holy Well, Allerton, Bradford, West Yorkshire

Holy Well (lost):  OS Grid Reference – SE 134 331 (approximation)

Archaeology & History

This site is both interesting and frustrating at the same time.  Interesting inasmuch that as early as 1258 CE, “the Knights Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem in England, had in Allerton a manor called the manor of Crosley.”  The Hospitallers, as some will know, were the immediate successors of the more famous Knights Templars.  As their name suggests, their patron saint was St John, whose festival date was summer solstice and had his name given to many holy wells.  But this one has left us with no name and its location has long since been lost.  In J.H. Bell’s (1888) essay on the early medical history of the area he told that local people with certain afflictions, “were wont to resort to them to drink their waters for their supposed medicinal virtues: there was one between Cemetery Bridge and Crossley Hall”.  But he doesn’t give its exact position.  In John James’ (1841) classic History of Bradford he thinks that near the place where the local stream known as the Hebble, “there was undoubtedly in former times a Holy well,” but is unable to cite a location.  No well is shown on the early maps between the old Hall and the cemetery and the only definitive reference to wells close by are in the early boundary perambulation record, which describe a Brock Well and a Cold Well.  Perhaps the the most probable contender and location is cited in Harry Speight’s (aka Johnnie Gray) Pleasant Walks (1890) where, taking a route between Great Horton and Allerton, he told us to,

“go through fields on to Necropolis Road, opposite Scholemoor cemetery, turn down lane left outside cemetery, ½ mile, descending steps, cross beck (here used to be the Spa Beck public gardens, now removed higher up) and ascend, at second field, leaving the forward path and turn left, following beck with Crosley Hall and trees to right.”

The location of the said Spa Beck gardens is very close to where Mr Bell described the medicinal spring and is/was the most likely position of what James (1841) thought to be a long lost holy well.  If we could get more information about the history of the Spa Well, we may be able to make more definitive statements about the place.

References:

  1. Bell, J.H., “Some Fragments of Local Medical History,” in Bradford Antiquary, volume 1, 1888.
  2. Gray, Johnnie, Where to Spend a Half-Holiday: One Hundred and Eighty Pleasant Walks around Bradford, Thomas Brear: Bradford 1890.
  3. James, John, History and Topography of Bradford, Charles Stanfield: Bradford 1841.
  4. Shepherd, Val, Historic Wells in and Around Bradford, HOAP: Wymeswold 1994.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Brass Castle (1), West Morton, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 08119 44111

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no. 40 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no. 81 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Brass Castle (1) Cup&Ring

From East Morton, head up the winding Street Lane for just over a mile until, on your right-hand side, you hit the long straight Roman Road, or Ilkley Road as it’s known.  Literally 690 yards (0.63km) up, on your left a footpath is signposted.  Take the path alongside the wall, through the first gate (note the pile of stones at this gate, which are the remains of the destroyed Bradup stone circle) then keeping on for ⅓-mile till you reach another gate, then 200 yards to the next one where you reach the moorland proper.  From here you need to walk through the heather, just over 300 yards southwest where you’ll reach this large rock. Y’ can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

Looking down at the CnR

Considering the size of this stone, visitors might expect there to be more on it than there actually is; although a large section of it has been quarried off and there might have been more to it in earlier times.  A basic cup-and-ring with one or two single cup-marks elsewhere on its surface, the carving was first described by Stuart Feather (1964) following one of his many rambles hereby, when he was checking out the Rivock carvings a short distance to the west (calling it the Rivock 18 stone).  He wrote:

S. Feather’s 1964 sketch

“On the eastern edge of the Rivock plateau, about half-a-mile west of the stone circle at Bradup Bridge, is a cup-and-ring marked rock of a pronounced triangular shape.  This at present measures 10ft by 8ft and is 3ft high at its western side… At some time in the past it has been quarried, probably to build part of the adjacent gritstone walls.  The 8ft side of the rock has quite distinct drill marks visible…

Close-up of the CnR

The rock has…on its sloping surface a very fine cup-and-ring mark, the ring 6in in diameter around a cup 2in deep, all finely executed and well preserved.  Running south from this cup-and-ring mark is a level area 3ft long and 5in wide, which ends alongside the ring at one end and at the quarried edge of the rock at the other.  This is probably the former position of a fossil which has weathered out and its alignment onto the cup-and-ring may be due to the carving having been deliberately sited in juxtaposition to this very distinct natural feature.  Only one other 2in deep cup remains on the surviving original portion of the rock; others may have been quarried away.”

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  2. Feather, Stuart, “Mid-Wharfedale Cup-and-Ring Markings – no.18, Rivock”,  in Bradford Cartwright Hall Archaeology Bulletin, 9:2, 1964.
  3. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian