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

Round Dikes, Addingham, West Yorkshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0552 5013

Also Known as:

  1. Round Dykes
  2. The Camp

Getting Here

Round Dikes on 1850 map

First highlighted on the 1850 Ordnance Survey map of western Addingham in the same year William Howson described it, this large oval embankment sits on the eastern side of Counter Hill, amidst its gigantic earthworks, with attending tumuli, cup-and-rings, buried standing stones and other enclosures, like one huge prehistoric family of ancient sites!  The earthworks here are in slightly better condition than the nearby ones at Marchup, as we can still make out the ditch marking the site.

There have been many literary visitors to the Round Dikes and its cluster of sites.  One of the early ones was by the renowned historians and antiquarians, Forrest & Grainge (1868) who, in the second part of their ‘rambles’ exploring the prehistoric sites on and around Rombald’s Moor in the 1860s, told us:

“The Camp—known locally as Round Dykes—is of an irregular oval shape, the longest axis measuring over all 300 feet, and the shorter 250 feet.  The trench outside the vallum is about 15 feet wide, and 4 or 5 feet in depth.  The area is level, showing no indications of buildings or works of any kind.  A feeble spring of water rises at one corner.  The trench is regular and even, and does not appear to have ever been used as a series of pit dwellings.  This work commands a large and splendid view of Wharfedale…”

Although suggested by Thomas Whitaker (1878) in his magnum opus on the history of Craven, to have been constructed by the Romans—who laid a road nearby on top of another earlier trackway—the site is obviously prehistoric.  But when the late great Harry Speight (1900) ventured over for a gander at the end of the 1890s, he too thought it might be Roman.  Finding the place to be “thickly overgrown with ling,” it was still in very good condition he said, telling “how its outline is almost as perfect as when made seventeen or eighteen centuries ago.” He continued:

“The form bespeaks a rather late date, having the characteristic angles, which makes the ordinary streight-sided rectangle into an octogan, giving it the appearance superficially of a round or oval.  Its dimensions are based on the most approved form of castramentation, the length being one-third greater than the breadth, namely sixty yards wide and eighty yards long.  A watch-mound has been thrown up within the southwest angle, and the whole camp defended with a double rampart having an intervening ditch.  There is an old and excellent spring of water on the east sie of the camp; the site having been well chosen, commanding as it does, a splendid view of the valley and Street as it runs towards Olicana.”

By the time Eric Cowling (1946) came and looked at these earthworks, the opinion had truly swayed to seeing Round Dikes as a prehistoric site and not Roman.  Cowling placed it firmly in the Iron Age!  His profile of the site told:

“On the Western slope of Counter Hill and with a wide view of Wharfedale to the east is a second enclosure with five sides.  Three of these form the three sides of a square and the remaining two bend outwards to enclose a spring on the lower eastern side.  This enclosure is one hundred feet across from east to west and in the opposite direction the greatest measurement is seventy-three feet.  The ditch is fifteen feet wide and varies in depth from three to five feet and there appears to have been an entrance in the eastern angle.  There is an unfinished look about the earthwork; the inner and outer banks vary in height and are not continuous.  The position is badly sited for defence, being overlooked from the higher ground to the west.  The site would be very suitable for excavation, for it has been untouched by cultivation and is undisturbed.”

E.T. Cowling’s plan

And as far as I’m aware, no such excavation has yet been done here; and as we all know the local archaeologist is pretty poor when it comes doing such things round here, so god only knows when the real explorers and scientists will ever get their teeth into the place!  However, the writers and archaeology consultants John and Phillip Dixon told that “a limited survey of parts of Round Dykes defined nine hut circles or parts of circles and possible hearth sites” in the 1980s.  And although they ascribe the large earthwork as being Iron Age, the tumulus which sits near the southern edge of the enclosure is ascribed as Bronze Age.

It’s likely that the internal tumulus (a separate profile of it is forthcoming) was of communal and religious importance at Round Dykes.  There was probably ritual function here within the enclosure, though only at certain times, when and where the ancestral spirits in the tomb awoke or were required to help the living.  The spring of water on the eastern side of the enclosure, above the tumulus, was obviously not just the main drinking supply for the people who stayed here, but would also have had ritual importance (water, forget not, is tantamount to blood in ancestral cosmologies, and not a ‘commodity’ as the half-witted retards in modern culture have profaned it in their shallow beliefs).  In the Lands of the Dead, water is vital for gods, spirits and the sustenance of the underworlds. (Eliade 1979)  You might not think that; judæochristians might not think that — but the worlds of experience are much wider and deeper than the failing beliefs of atheists and monotheists…

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Bennett, Paul, The Prehistoric Sites of Counter Hill, Addingham, forthcoming 2013.
  3. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  4. Forrest, C. & Grainge, William, A Ramble on Rumbald’s Moor, among the Dwellings, Cairns and Circles of the Ancient Britons in the Spring of 1868: Part 2 – Counterhill and Castleberg, W.T. Lamb: Wakefield 1868.
  5. Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys through Brigantia – volume 1: Walks in Craven, Airedale and Wharfedale, Aussteiger Publications: Barnoldswick 1990.
  6. Eliade, Mircea, A History of Religious Ideas – volume 1, Collins: London 1979.
  7. Howson, William, An Illustrated Guide to the Curiosities of Craven, Whittaker: Settle 1850.
  8. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.
  9. Whitaker, Thomas Dunham, The History and Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven in the County of York, (3rd edition) Joseph Dodgson: Leeds 1878.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.947245, -1.917385 Round Dikes

Marchup, Addingham, West Yorkshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0478 4987

Getting Here

Aerial view of Marchup

Take the A6034 road between Addingham and Silsden and, at the very top of the hill between the two towns, at Cringles, take the small road of Cringles Lane north towards Draughton.  Less than a mile on, veer to left and go along Bank Lane until you reach the track and footpath on your right that takes you to Moorock Hall.  On the other side of the Hall, take the track on your left, along the wallside; and where the track turns left again, look into the field on the other side of the wall.  You can see some of the ditch and embankment running across the field.

Archaeology & History

Found within the southwestern segment of the gigantic Counter Hill enclosure, near Woofa Bank, Eric Cowling (1946) described “an almost obliterated fortification” which has certainly seen better days — though you can make out the ditched earthwork pretty easily at ground level.  When T.D. Whitaker visited this place sometime before 1812, he described it as a camp that “was found to contain numbers of rude (?!?) fireplaces constructed of stone and filled with ashes.”  He also thought the enclosure was Roman in nature.

Western line of embankment

It’s a large site.  Running around the outer edge of the embankment, this enclosure measures roughly 378 yards (345m) in circumference.  It has diameters measuring, roughly east-west, 132 yards (121m); and north-south is 95 yards (87m).  The ditch that defines the edges of the enclosure averages 6-7 yards across and is give or take a yard deep throughout — but this is not an accurate reflection of the real depth, as centuries of earth have collected and filled the ditch.  An excavation is necessary to reveal the true depth of this.  There also seems to have been additional features constructed inside the enclosure, but without an excavation we’ll never know what they are.  Examples of cup-marked stones can be found nearby.

The Marchup Hill enclosure was described by the early antiquarian James Wardell (1869), who visited this and the other earthworks around Counter Hill.  He told that this was,

“of oblong form, but broadest at the west end, and rather larger than the other.  When the area of this camp was broken up, there were found some numbers of rude fireplaces constructed of stone and filled with ashes, and also a large perforated bead of jet.”

E.T. Cowling’s plan

Modern opinion places the construction of this enclosure within the Iron Age to Romano-British period, between 1000 BC to 300 AD.  E.T. Cowling (1946) thought the Iron Age to be most likely, but it may indeed be earlier.  His description of the site was as follows:

“At the foot of the southern slope of Counter Hill and close to the head waters of Marchup Beck is an almost obliterated fortification.  These remains are roughly rectangular, but one side is bent to meet the other; the enclosure has rounded corners and has a ditch with the upcast at each side.  The inner area is naturally above the level of the surrounding ground.  In spite of heavy ploughing, the ditch on the western side still has a span of fifteen feet and a depth of five feet between the tops of the banks.  Whitaker states that the camp “was found to contain numbers of rude fireplaces constructed of stone and filled with ashes.” These hearths appear to be the remains of cooking-holes such as are often found on Iron Age sites… Cup and ring markings are close at hand, but no flints have been found or trace of Mid-Bronze Age habitation.  The enclosure is badly planned, the upcast on the western side would aid an attack rather than the defence.”

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  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).
  3. Whitaker, Thomas Dunham, The History and Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven in the County of York, (3rd edition) Joseph Dodgson: Leeds 1878.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Marchup enclosure

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Marchup enclosure 53.944916, -1.928664 Marchup enclosure

Black Pots Stone, Silsden, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0782 4623

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.36 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.77 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

From Silsden, take the moorland road up to Brunthwaite (ask a local if you’re in doubt).  As you get near the top of the moorland road, take the right turn (east) on the track past the Doubler Stones, until you reach the last cottage before the woodland called Black Pots.  Go onto the moorland behind the cottage, walking north, crossing the stream and you’ll see a large boulder stuck on its own close by.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

Stuart Feather’s 1964 image

On another wander on these moors t’other day, we ventured to the Doubler Stones and whilst there I had a vague recollection of another decent-looking carving west of them, just above the hidden house at Black Pots, when I was a teenager. When I got home I rummaged through some of my old notebooks and found the drawing I made of it all those years ago.  Tis a decent carving consisting of 3 distinct cups encircled, though not completely, in an elongated arc. A cup-and-ring is just above this, and Boughey & Vickerman (2003) highlight another couple of cups which I didn’t manage to see when I was there as a kid. Nor for that matter did Stuart Feather, who was the first person to write about it in the Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin in 1964.  Itis a good carving in a good spot, with excellent views to the south and west.

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  2. Feather, Stuart, “Mid-Wharfedale Cup-and-Ring Markings: no.24 – Black Pots, Silsden, near Keighley,” in Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 9:7, 1964.
  3. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Black Pots Stone

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Black Pots Stone 53.912164, -1.882441 Black Pots Stone

Counter Hill, Addingham, West Yorkshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – SE 051 501

Getting Here

Counter Hill, looking north

You can come from various angles to approach this site, but I reckon the best is from along the old trackway of Parson’s Lane, between Addingham and Marchup.  From Silsden go up the long hill (A6034) towards Addingham until the hill levels out, then turn left on Cringles Lane (keep your eyes peeled!) for about 500 yards until you reach the Millenium Way or Parson’s Lane track, to your right.  As you walk along this usually boggy old track, the rounded green hill ahead, to the left, if where you’re heading.  Less than 100 yards past the little tumulus of High Marchup there’s a stile on your left that takes you into the field.  You’ll notice the depression that runs across near the top, at an angle.  That’s part of the earthworks!

Archaeology & History

The Counter Hill earthworks just over the far western edge of Rombald’s Moor – thought to be Iron Age – are truly gigantic.   More than ¾-mile across along its longest NW-SE axis, and a half-mile from north-south at its widest point, this huge ellipse-shaped earthwork surrounds the rounded peaked hill that gives the site its name: Counter Hill.  And although Harry Speight (1900) thought the hill got its name from the old Celtic conaltradh, or Irish conaltra, as in the ‘hill of debate or conversation’ — a possibility — the place-name master Mr Smith (1961) reckoned its name comes from little other than ‘cow turd hill’!  We may never know for sure…

Earthworks south of Counter Hill
Cowling’s 1946 plan

The Lancashire historian Thomas Dunham Whitaker (1878) appears to have been one of the first people to describe the Counter Hill remains, though due to the sheer size of the encampment he thought that it was Roman in nature.  Within the huge enclosure we also find two large inner enclosures, known as the Round Dikes and the Marchup earthworks.  Whitaker’s description of Counter Hill told:

“There are two encampments, on different sides of the hill, about half a mile from each other: one in the township of Addingham, the other in the parish of Kildwick; the first commanding a direct view of Wharfedale, the second an oblique one of Airedale; but though invisible to each other, both look down aslant upon Castleburg (Nesfield) and Ilkley.  Within the camp on Addingham Moor are a tumulus and a perennial spring; but by a position very unusual in such encampments, it is commanded on the west by a higher ground, rising immediately from the foss.  The inconvenience, however, is remedied by an expedient altogether new, so far as I have observed, in Roman castramentation, which is a line of circumvallation, enclosing both camps, and surround the whole hill: an area, probably, of 200 acres.  A garrison calculated for the defence of such an outline must have been nothing less than an army.  But it would be of great use in confining the horses and other cattle necessary for the soldiers’ use, which, in the unenclosed state of the country at the time, might otherwise have wandered many miles without interruption.  The outlines of these remains is very irregular; it is well known, however, that in their summer encampments the Romans were far from confining themselves to a quadrangular figure, and when we consider their situation near the Street, and the anxious attention with which they have been placed, so as to be in view of Ilkley or Castleburg, there can be little danger of a mistake in ascribing them to that people.”

Counter Hill earthworks, looking west

And though Whitaker’s sincerity and carefully worded logic for the period is quite erudite (much moreso than the greater majority of historians in modern times), his proclamation of the Counter Hill earthworks as Roman is very probably wrong (soz Tom).  The embankments are much more probably Iron Age in nature and are very probably the result of indigenous tribal-folk than that of the incoming Romans.  Most modern archaeologists and historians tend to see the entrenchments as being from such a period and I have to concur.

Folklore

The old antiquarian Edmund Bogg (1904) wrote that the Counter Hill earthworks were built as a result “of the struggle between the Anglians and the Celt,” long ago.  The great Yorkshire historian Harry Speight (1900) narrated similar lore just a few years earlier, but told that the tradition was  “of how the Romans drove the natives from this commanding site of Counter Hill.”

References:

  1. Bogg, Edmund, Higher Wharfeland: The Dale of Romance, James Miles: Leeds 1904.
  2. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  3. Fletcher, J.S., A Pictureseque History of Yorkshire – Part IX, J.M. Dent: London 1901.
  4. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 6, Cambridge University Press 1961.
  5. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.
  6. Whitaker, T.D., The History and Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven, 3rd edition, Joseph Dodgson: Leeds 1878.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Counter Hill

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Counter Hill 53.946980, -1.923785 Counter Hill

High Marchup, Silsden, West Yorkshire

Tumulus:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0501 4949

Also Known as:

  1. Parson’s Lane Tumulus

Getting Here

High Marchup tumulus

From Silsden go up the long hill (A6034) towards Addingham until the hill levels out, then turn left on Cringles Lane (keep your eyes peeled!) for about 500 yards until you reach the Millenium Way footpath, or rather, green lane track, to your right.  Walk along this usually boggy old road for another 400 yards until you’re level with the small copse of trees below the field (about 100 yards away).  The slightly raised ditched mound on the left side of the track ahead of you is what you’re after!

Archaeology & History

Unless this old tomb was pointed out, you probably wouldn’t give the place a second glance.  It’s a seemingly isolated singular round tomb, subsided on top and surrounded by a small ditch, running into the edge of the walling.  Gorse bushes and a few rocks are around the edges of the site.  Harry Speight (1900) described this old tomb as a

“lonely isolated mound, to be seen in Parson Lane about a hundred yards west of the Celtic boundary, Black Beck, where some old dying chief has called his friends around him bidding them, “heap the stones of his renown that they may speak to other years.”  It is a tumulus 80 feet in circumference and does not seem to have been disturbed.”

In Faull and Moorhouse’s (1981) magnum opus they describe the site as “the denuded remains of a ditched round barrow,” but say little else.  It may have had some relationship with the settlement remains in and around the huge Counter Hill complex, immediately north.

References:

  1. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  2. Faull, M.L. & Moorhouse, S.A. (eds.), West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Guide to AD 1500 (4 volumes), WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.
  3. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Marchup tumulus

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Marchup tumulus 53.941498, -1.925166 Marchup tumulus

Counter Hill Carving, Silsden, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0463 4995

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.31 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Cowling’s 1946 drawing

From Silsden go up the long hill (A6034) towards Addingham until the hill levels out, then turn left on Cringles Lane (keep your eyes peeled!) for a half-mile where you need to veer right along Banks Lane and go 100 yards past Moorcock Farm Hall where the footpath takes you into the fields on your right.  Walk down the line of the wallings, thru the gate, and keep following down until you reach a cluster of large rocks.  Stop here and look over the wall where you’ll see one of the boulders poking its head out on the other side.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

First discovered by Eric Cowling in the late 1930s during one of his explorations of the immense Counter Hill earthworks (thought to be Iron Age), whose remains can still be seen encircling the peaked hill close by.  The stone is found in the edge of the walling halfway down the field towards the Marchup enclosure and is just inside the outer edge of the Counter Hill ditched enclosure surrounding the hill above you. (on the other side of the wall from the carving, you can make out the remains of the faint line of the ditch running pretty straight up towards the next wall)

Cluster of cups by walling
Counter Hill carving from above

At the top eastern edge of the stone is a clear cluster of 3 cup-markings, just as the rock meets the walling.  A much more faint group is visible to the left.  Cowling (1946) suggesting that the three-cup-cluster “shows the final form of the fylfot symbol,” i.e., the three-armed swastika.  Boughey & Vickerman (2003) meanwhile suggest that one of the two clusters are “doubtful (possibly recent?).”

When we came to this site yesterday, the day was overcast and cloudy.  But it seemed there may be more to this carving than has previously been recorded.  What may be a faint ring seemed possible near the middle of the stone, with a natural crack running through it (you can just about make it out in the photo on the right).  There also seemed to be other faint lines on the rock, but until we’ve been here again with better lighting conditions, the two groups of 3-cups is the symbolic state of play for this stone!

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  2. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  3. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Counter Hill CR

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Counter Hill CR 53.945636, -1.930948 Counter Hill CR

Doubler Stones, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stones:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0723 4652

Also Known as:

  1. Carving Nos. 41 & 42 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  2. Carving Nos. 6 & 7 (Hedges survey)
  3. Doublestones
  4. The Fire Stones

Getting Here

The great Doubler Stones (photo – James Elkington)

Various ways to get here, but the 2 most common are: (1) from Brunthwaite village, above Silsden, following the road uphill for a mile, then turning right (west) onto the moorland dirt-track to Doubler Stones Farm.  Just before here there’s a footpath uphill (north) for 200 yards to the stones.  (2) follow the Millenium Way footpath south up Addingham Moorside, onto Addingham High Moor.  Keep going on the same path another 500 yards and they’ll appear ahead of you.

Archaeology & History

First described as the ‘Doublestones’ in the local Addingham parish records of 1786, these great mushroom-shaped rocks were later brought to the attention of archaeologists by J. Romilly Allen in 1879 and they greatly intrigued numerous Victorian antiquarians, who puzzled as much about their exotic forms as the cup-marks on their tops!  Allen wrote of them:

“These rocks are by far the most remarkable freaks of Nature to be seen in the district. They occupy a prominent position, perched on the extremity of a rocky knoll which juts out into the valley; and as seen from below, with their weird forms standing out clear and sharp against the background of blue sky, they present so extraordinary an appearance that they would at once attract the attention of even the most unobservant.  In general outline they resemble gigantic toadstools; and I presume that they are called Doubler Stones from the fact of their shapes being almost identical.  They may be appropriately described as Nature’s Twins.  The upper surface of the cap of one of these stones has three large basin-shaped cavities in it.  Two of these lie along the central axis of the stone, and measure respectively 1ft 3in by 2ft 9in deep, and 1ft 9in by 1ft 3in by 9in deep.  They are united by a deep groove, a continuation of which runs out over the edge of the stone at each end.  There is another basin lying to the west side of the two central ones, with one of which it is connected by grooves.  It measures 2ft by 1ft 9in and is 9in deep.  There is no direct evidence that these basins are artificial; but it is quite possible that they may have been so originally, and have been enlarged by natural agencies.  But in addition to the basins, are twenty-six cup-markings of distinctly artificial origin.  They vary in diameter from 2 to 4 in.  One group of cups appears to be arranged in parallel rows.”

Cup-marks on the right-hand Doubler Stone
Cup-marks on one of the Doublers (after Hedges 1986)
Cowling’s 1946 drawing

Although the writer thought there were no artificial cup-markings on the other Doubler Stone (the one on the left in the photo), John Hedges (1986) and Boughey & Vickerman (2003) cite there to be at least two cup-markings on this rock.  Other writers have given different numbers for the respective cup-marks thought to be on these rocks down the years.

If you’re into prehistoric rock-art, check this place out.  If you’re a geologist and aint been here, you’ll be even more impressed!

Folklore

Approaching the Doublers (photo – James Elkington)

In Nicholas Size’s Haunted Moor (1934) he described the Doubler Stones as being the abode of ghosts and a place of sacrificial rites in ancient days. While in Guy Ragland Phillips’ Brigantia, we find that the word ‘doubler’ itself “is a large shallow dish, bowl or plate” – which we find on top of the greater one of these two well-worn-weirdoes.  As well as being haunted, there is some other little-known, though not unexpected folklore here, which told these old stones to be the meeting place of witches in previous centuries.

In addition to this, we are told that the witches of Fewston valley to the west used to meet up with the more famous Pendle witches at these stones.  One historian proclaimed that this notion was spurious, as it would be too far for the Pendle witches to walk – which says more about the historian in question than the people of previous centuries.  The distance from Pendle to the Doublers can be traversed in a day and is an ideal meeting spot, away from the prying eyes of a wrathful Church, that sought war against the animistic practices of our ancestors.

References:

  1. Allen, J. Romilly, ‘The Prehistoric Rock Sculptures of Ilkley,’ in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 35, 1879.
  2. Allen, J. Romilly, ‘Notice of Sculptured Rocks near Ilkley,’ ibid, volume 38, 1882.
  3. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Chieveley 2001.
  4. Boughey & Vickerman, Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, West Yorkshire Archaeology Service 2003.
  5. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  6. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  7. Jennings, Hargrave, Archaic Rock Inscriptions, A. Reader: London 1891.
  8. Phillips, Guy Ragland, Brigantia: A Mysteriography, RKP: London 1976.
  9. Size, Nicholas, The Haunted Moor, William Walker: Otley 1934.

Acknowledgements:  Massive thanks to landscape photographer, James Elkington, for use of his images in this site profile.  Thanks mate! 

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Doubler Stones CR

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Doubler Stones CR 53.914779, -1.891416 Doubler Stones CR

Castleberg, Nesfield, North Yorkshire

Hillfort:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0925 4947

Getting Here

Two main ways to get here.  Hmmmm….on second thoughts, one main way.  My preferred route would be from Addingham (east-side) where the foot-bridge crosses the Wharfe.  Walk up the path and, eventually, onto the tidgy road and bear left till you hit the trees.  On the right-hand side of the road you’ll see the trees covering the crop near the edge of the river. …Otherwise, come from Ilkley, cross the river, take the first left, on a few hundred yards and left again on Nesfield Road.  From here, keep walking about a mile and when you hit the village, you need to look into the field behind the first farmhouse on your left.

Archaeology & History

You’ll see the more visible embankments on the western edge of these old earthworks. But unless you’re a real archaeomaniac into depleted field remains, this might not tickle your neurons too much. However, it’s a gorgeous little hamlet is Nesfield – and I think that alone makes it worthy of a visit!

Cowling's 1946 plan
Cowling’s 1946 plan

Described variously over the years as an enclosure, a hillfort, a camp, a settlement – aswell as being ascribed to periods from the medieval, Roman, Iron Age and Bronze, the consensus opinion at the moment edges to it being late Bronze- to early Iron Age in origin.

The fortifications themselves seem to have been first mentioned by T.D. Whitaker in 1812, who said the following:

“Castleberg is in a commanding position, on the brink of a steep slope washed by the Wharfe, about two miles above Ilkley. This post is naturally strong, as the ground declines rapidly in every other direction. But it has been fortified on the more accessible sides by a deep trench, enclosing several acres of ground, of an irregular quadrangular form. At a small distance within the enclosure, an urn with ashes was lately found, but what seems to evince beyond a doubt, the Castleberg was a Roman work, is the discovery of a massy key of copper, nearly two feet in length, which,” he thought, “had probably been the key of the gates.”

This ‘key’ that Whitaker mentioned (if memory serves me right) has been lost and therefore its nature/function lost aswell.  E.T. Cowling (1946) thought the key “may refer to a bronze article of a size which must belong to the Late Bronze Age, when the metal became more plentiful”; thinking it perhaps to be part of a sword.  Twouldst be good to find this artifact and know for certain. Cowling also posited that the urn found here was of Bronze Age origin – an opinion echoed by later archaeologists.

The great Harry Speight (1900) meanwhile, told that the hamlet itself was locally called Castleberg and told us a bit more of the details of the finds, saying:

“I am disposed to think it was a winter-station of the old Britons of Howber, and afterwards of the Teutonic settlers.  An urn containing ashes has been found on the site, and Mr James Pickard, who has long occupied the adjoining farm, tells me he has excavated several parts of it and found human bones, but no relics.  This premises Anglo-Saxon interments and the urn late British…”

References:

  1. Cowling, E.T. Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  2. Howson, William, An Illustrated Guide to the Curiosities of Craven, Whittaker: Settle 1850.
  3. Keighley, J.J., ‘The Prehistoric Period,’ in Faull & Moorhouse’s, West Yorkshire, An Archaeological Guide, vol.1, Wakefield 1981.
  4. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.
  5. Whitaker, T.D., History and Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven, J. Nichols: London 1812.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Castleberg

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Castleberg 53.941261, -1.860575 Castleberg