Hardwick Maypole, Whitchurch, Oxfordshire

Maypole (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SU 655 781

Archaeology & History

“g” marks the spot!

Very little is known about the history surrounding Whitchurch’s maypole that once stood more than a mile east of the village, somewhere in the woods immediately south of the present-day cannabis-growing Hempem Organics. (damn those hippies!)  Mentioned in the Enclosure Acts of 1806 and 1813 as the “May Pole Ground”, the monument was mentioned in the Rev. John Slatter’s (1895) local history work and its approximate location was shown on a hand-drawn map he did of the area, in the grounds north of Hardwick House.  He told us that it stood on “an elevated site” and conjectured that it might once have been a place of druidical worship!

“In the centre of the Hardwick property is a plot of ground called the Maypole Piece…. It is an open space, with a tree standing alone, where we may suppose the maypole formerly stood. There is a memorandum made by the last Mrs. Lybbe (nee Isabella Twysden) to this effect:

1713: A maypole set up on ye hill in ye straight way to Collinsend.”

In the event that you manage to discover anything else about the history of this maypole, let us know on our Facebook group.

References:

  1. Gelling, Margaret, The Place-Names of Oxfordshire – volume 1, Cambridge University Press 1953.
  2. Slattter, John, Notes on the History of the Parish of Whitchurch, Elliot Stock: London 1895.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Footsteps Stone, Ilkley, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 10382 47027

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.61 (Hedges 1986)
  2. Carving no.233 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Ilkley’s Footsteps Stone

Take the Wells Road from Ilkley centre up towards White Wells, bending to the right as you hit the edge of the moor. Keep along the road, past the old college building with its lake and turn right up Westwood Drive.  Keep going all the way up (it becomes Panorama Drive) till you hit the small woodland on your right. Where the woodland ends – stop!  Walk into the trees about 10-15 yards and you’ll see the large rocks ahead of you.  Brush back the vegetation and you’ll find it.

Archaeology & History

This large flat rock surface has a scattering of archetypal deep cup-markings, with other fainter marks scattered over most of its surface.  It sits right next to carving no.232, with its own equally large, naturally worn basins.

Faint cup&ring just visible

It was visited in the 1870s (along with the other Panorama Stones) and subsequently illustrated in the personal sketch-pad of Mr Thorton Dale (we’re hoping to have them scanned in due course for open Creative Commons use) who showed the basic cup-marks and shaped “lines” or footsteps that give this petroglyph its name.  Little more was said of it until Hedges (1986) described it in his survey, whose notes were subsequently repeated in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) work as being a “medium-sized flat-topped, upstanding rectangular rock.  Eight cups, six deep ovals, faint circles and lines on SW end.”  One of the most notable cup-and-rings can just be made out near the middle of the stone, on the left-side of one the footprints.

The depth of these incisions in this design strongly suggests that the carving was worked and reworked over many centuries, suggesting utilitarian usage of some kind, be it ceremonial or otherwise.  It’s also very unusual inasmuch as elongated footstep-like cuttings are scarcities, not just in Yorkshire petroglyphs, but in prehistoric carvings across Britain.  Check it out when you’re next walking up to the Swastika Stone.

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Panorama Stones, Ilkley, TNA: Yorkshire 2012.
  2. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  3. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Allt Thorrisdail (2), Torrisdale, Sutherland

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NC 66579 61817

Getting Here

Torrisdale (2) carving

Simply follow the same directions as if you’re going to the Allt Thorrisdail (1) petroglyph, and the large, roughly oval-shaped boulder just a few yards away is the one you’re after.  You can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

This large, earthfast, ovoid ball of rock has a series of cup-marks on three of its curvaceous faces, some of which seem to be natural, with a number of them “enhanced” by human hands at some time in the long long ago….

Torrisdale (2) looking E
Oval “face” barely visible

The main cluster of these cups can be found on its near-vertical western-face: an unusual feature in itself!  There are several cups on its southern curve and, further round, low down on the east side of the rock we see a few more of them hiding away.  These, too, seem to have been Nature’s handiwork, then enhanced by the hands of wo/men.  The carving was described in Hew Morrison’s (1883) work as possessing two groups of cup-marks,

“similar to that on the neighbouring stone, one of eighteen small and one large cup, and another of eleven small marks.  There is a solitary mark on the summit of this stone, and its southern face is marked by lines crossing each other, but without any apparent order or design.”

On its northern face we see a large oval hollow, an inch or so deep throughout, that has all the hallmarks of being a primitive face.  There is a tradition of such a rock “face” carving somewhere close by, which seems to be lost—and this would seem to be culprit!  If you visit the place, let us know what you think!

One feature that stands out at this site is the nearby pyramidal hill whch, I think, had some mythic relationship with the carvings.  Impossible to prove, obviously, but the pyramid is such a dominant feature in this landscape that a relationship seems inevitable.  I can only echo what I’ve said in the site profile for the adjacent carving here: tis a ritual place indeed – without any shadow of doubt.  And I don’t say such things lightly!  This place is truly superb!

References:

  1. Mercer, R.J., Archaeological Field Survey in Northern Scotland 1976-1979, University of Edinburgh 1980.
  2. Morrison, Hew, A Tourist’s Guide to Sutherland and Caithness, D.H. Edwards: Brechin 1883.
  3. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Second Report and Inventory of Monuments and Constructions in the County of Sutherland. HMSO: Edinburgh 1911.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to Sarah MacLean for her company and landscape knowledge in visiting this and other nearby antiquarian sites. And to Aisha Domleo, for getting me into this neck o’ the woods in the first place….where’er She may be….

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Addingham Crag (02), Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 07905 47268

Getting Here

Addingham Crag (2) stone

For those who like a walk: take the route to reach the Swastika Stone and keep walking west along the Millenium Way footpath, past the Piper’s Stone carving and over the next two walls.  Then, stagger down the steep hill and head for the large upright near-cuboid block of stone and, once here, walk 30 yards to your east!  Alternatively, from the Silsden-side, go along Brown Bank Lane up and past Brown Bank caravan park, and at the second crossroads turn right and travel for exactly 1¼ miles (2km) along Straight Lane (from hereon there’s nowhere to park!) which runs naturally into Moorside Lane, and notice the raised gate entrance into the field on your right. Walk to the top of this field, go through the next gate and, less than 100 yards uphill (south) you’ll find the stone in question.

Archaeology & History

Cup, incomplete ring & line

Rediscovered by Paul Bowers in 2011, this is another one of those petroglyphs that’s difficult to make out unless the light is falling just right across the surface of the stone.  Two distinct cup-marks can be seen near the more southern-edge of the stone, one of which has a near-complete, albeit unfinished ring around it, and from this a seemingly carved line runs roughly parallel with the edge of the stone, down towards another equally distinct cup close to the southwestern edge of the rock. Most of the stone is nicely covered in a decent lichen cover, so the design’s a bit difficult to see when the light’s not right.  But, if you’ve made it this far, the petroglyph 30 yards to the west will make up for any disappointment may have!

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding Supplement, 2018.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Piper’s Crag (4), Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 08675 47067 

Getting Here

Pipers Crag (4) cup-&-ring

Get up to the Swastika Stone, then head west along the footpath towards the Piper Stone.  Shortly before there, you’ll see the small cup-marked Piper’s Crag (3) carving, just by the walling.  From this carving, just step a few yards down the slope and on the smooth sloping rock face is this faded carving. You’ll see it.

Archaeology & History

A larger than normal single cup-mark near the bottom slope of this rock has an incomplete ring around its east and southern edges, possibly with another broken element of it on its northern edge.  It’s difficult to work out whether or not this is one of Nature’s curious markings and so needs looking at in different lights to work it out, one way or the other.  It’s included in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2018) updated rock art survey, but there are a number quite natural cup-marks in that tome, so we need to exercise a little bit of caution here.  However, it does seem to have a greater degree of authenticity than some of the other dubious single cup-marked stones in their book.  Check it out on your way to the Piper’s Stone.

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding Supplement, 2018.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Piper’s Crag (3), Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 08673 47062

Getting Here

“X” marks the spot!

Heading up from Ilkley, follow the directions to reach the Swastika Stone, then keep walking (west) along the footpath to the small clump of trees, and keep walking past them too and keep going along the same path as if you’re heading toward the Piper’s Stone.   About 200 yards before reaching it, just where the gate and boundary stone is in the old walling, there’s a small line of crags to the right of your feet and there, at the edge of the path, is the stone in question.  You’ll see it (unless it’s a cloudy gray day, in which case you might struggle).

Archaeology & History

The two cup-marks

This is one of a number of cup-marked stones that you’ll find scattering this part of the moor, almost all of which are Nature’s handiwork (a few of these natural carvings have somehow found their way into Keith Boughey’s [2018] updated West Riding rock art book).  I’m not 110% certain that this doesn’t have Nature’s name on it either, but it’s got a greater degree of probability to it than some of the others.  It’s a simple little thing, as y’ can see, consisting of just the two cup-marks, smaller than usual, living next to each other.  If it’s the real deal, we can surmise that it may have been carved by a young person back-in-the-days.  In the walling just above this stone you can see the medieval boundary stone, which might—just might—have a prehistoric pedigree to it….

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding Supplement, 2018.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Ninewells, Caputh, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NO 07566 43598

Getting Here

The stone on the right!

Take the directions to reach the Ninewells ring cairn on the hills east of Dunkeld.  Once here, if you can work your way through the dense mass of prickly vegetation in and around the circle, on its western side you’ll find three elongated monoliths (if you stood them upright they’d be taller than all the rest) laid next to each other.  On the smallest of these three, next to an upright, almost pyramidal stone, you’ll find what you’re looking for.  Persevere! (someone needs to clean up this impressive site and keep it in good condition)

Archaeology & History

Cluster of 4 or 5 cups

This minor-looking petroglyph can be found on the upper surface of the westernmost stone in the cairn circle.  It’s nowt much to look at and will only be of interest to the hardcore rock art freaks among you.  Carved onto the flattened edge of the stone are at least four shallow cup markings, close to each other.  When we visited here, the light wasn’t good, but it seemed that a fifth cupmark was sat amidst the small cluster.  You can make them all out (just!) in the photo.  Another visit on a better day would tell us one way or the other…

References:

  1. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, South-East Perth: An Archaeological Landscape, HMSO: Edinburgh 1994.

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

Connachan, Crieff, Perthshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NN 88098 27498

Getting Here

The stones mark the cairn

A couple of miles east of Crieff, take the A822 road from the Gilmerton junction and head up towards the Sma’ Glen.  After literally 1¾ miles (2.8km), on the right-side of the road, you can park-up right opposite the dirt-track that leads up to Connachan Farm a half-mile away.  Walking up and then past the farm, go past the Connachan (2) petroglyph, keeping on the same track uphill and just past the (Connachan 4) carving the land levels out where the track curves.  From here, walk to your right, into the grasses, and about 90 yards along you’ll see a small rise in the ground with two or three fallen stones in the middle.

Archaeology & History

The cairn, looking N

There’s nothing truly notable about this much-overgrown cairn and you could very easily walk past it without noticing it was even there!  Much of its original mass has been removed and, no doubt, its stones reused in the old walling a few yards to the north (a long section of that walling appears to have a prehistoric provenance). It measures roughly 10 yards across and its outer edges are clearly visible as a raised grass-covered mound all round, just one or two feet high at the most.  Obviously it was much larger when first built, but all that we see now are its final ruins, four or five thousand years after its birth…  The one thing of great note here is the view: you’re looking from east to south to west across an awesome landscape for many many miles.  Check it out!

References:

  1. Stewart, Margaret E.C., “Connachan, Crieff – Cup Marks and Hut Circle,” in Discovery & Excavation, Scotland, 1967.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Barry Hill, Alyth, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NO 262 503

Archaeology & History

In an excursion to the Iron Age Hillfort on Barry Hill in the early 1960s by some members of the Perthshire Society of Natural Science, near the very top on its southwestern side they discovered “a small cup marked stone.” (Longworth 1962)  It hasn’t been seen since.  And whether it was in the walling of the fort, or was a carved earthfast rock, they neglected to tell.  When I visited here several years ago I couldn’t find the damn thing and presume that it’s simply been overgrown by the vegetation.  In the event that you manage to rediscover the carving, see if you can catch us a good photo or two and stick ’em on our Facebook group.

References:

  1. Longworth, Ian, “Dundee, Angus,” in Discovery & Excavation, Scotland, 1962.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Connachan (4), Crieff, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 88028 27394

Getting Here

Connachan (4) looking NW

A couple of miles east of Crieff, take the A822 road from the Gilmerton junction and head up towards the Sma’ Glen.  After literally 1¾ miles (2.8km), on the right-side of the road, you can park-up right opposite the dirt-track that leads up to Connachan Farm a half-mile away.  Keep walking up past the farm to the Connachan (2) petroglyph, and keep to the track uphill for another 600 yards keeping your eyes peeled for a notable singular rock on your left, about 10 yards into the heather.  It’s pretty easy to see.  If the track’s levelled out, you’ve gone too far!

Archaeology & History

Perhaps the most attractive of the Connachan petroglyphs is this curvaceous stone with its archetypal double-ringed motif.  It seems to have been described firstly by Margaret Stewart (1967), whose description (to me at least) doesn’t quite do it justice; but then, they are somewhat troublesome abstract creations most of the time.  She told it to it be,

“a boulder 4’10” x 3’10 x 2′ in height with 6 cups and a grooved circle, which incorporates two more cup marks on its outline.  The grooved circle encloses a gapped circle with another cup mark at its centre.”

Connachan (4), looking N
Main face of the carving

So, nine cups in all: one with the double-ring around it, and two of the cups touching the outer ring.  The cup-marks are ostensibly as Stewart described them, but there are another two or three which I was unable to capture in the photos, as the daylight wasn’t good when we came here.  They’re shallow but very distinct when you see and feel them in the flesh, so to speak, and are closer to the top- and bottom-centre of the stone in the photos here.  Well worth checking out if you’re in the area!

References:

  1. Stewart, Margaret E.C., “Connachan, Crieff – Cup Marks and Hut Circle,” in Discovery & Excavation, Scotland, 1967.

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