From Great Mitton village centre, take the B6246 road NW turning right up the B6243 road a quarter-mile past Great Mitton Hall. Same distance again, and just after where the road bends left, on the same side of the road you’ll see a wooden bus-stop. The site is just on the grass next to it.
Archaeology & History
In a region with many old crosses hiding away in the landscape, we have very little history about this particular wayside cross and its stony base, found below the western edge of Toot Hill. It will no doubt have had something to do with the monks of the once-prestigious Whalley Abbey a few miles away, but we know not what! The great Lancastrian historian John Dixon would, no doubt, have known something of this place, but he is sadly no longer with us… The only thing I can presently find is a passing mention in Fred Ackerley’s (1947) local history work, who told:
“Continuing along the high road past Mitton Green one sees the base of a roadside cross and directly opposite this cross-base is Toot Hill, where in ancient times it is probable that village meetings were held.”
Toot not being a just “a look-out hill” (Smith 1954), but in some cases places where ancient temples were built, “upon high totes” — though we have no record of such a temple, christian or heathen, upon this hill. So the reason for the stone cross at the bottom remains a mystery. Although, atop of the hill, we see marks very reminiscent of something much more archaic and heathen in nature, still visible in the crop-marks…
Ackerley, Frederick George, A History of the Parish of Mitton in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Aberdeen University Press 1947.
Smith, A.H., English Place-Name Elements – volume 2, Cambridge University Press 1956.
This carving is one in a cluster of at least 17 previously unrecorded petroglyphs, uncovered nearly two years ago on a Northern Antiquarian bimble on the northern edge of Rombald’s Moor. The carvings were found as a bi-product of uncovering a previously undiscovered cairn circle, close to the Twelve Apostles stone circle. In assessing and exploring the newly-found circle, it was noticed that a small opening in the near horizon highlighted a rise in the landscape barely a mile away. This ‘opening’ in the land was not visible if you walked 25 yards either side of the cairn circle – but was very notable at the circle itself.
“We need to have a look at that site,” I said. “It’s position looks to have been relevant to this circle.” (or words to that effect) And a couple of weeks later we met up and walked to the place in question.
Within five minutes we came across a couple of previously unrecorded cup-marked stones, of simple design, right in line with the cairn circle. As we walked around this spot, then headed back in the direction of the circle, a cluster of small stones were noticed on the slope. One had what looked like a single cup-marking near its edge, but the rest of the rock was completely covered in vegetation. Paul Hornby and Michala Potts had, by now, already found several other previously unrecorded cup-marked stones close by; but as I carefully rolled back the vegetation at the edge of this particular rock, cups-and-rings and carved lines seemed to be covering most of its surface. It was a good one!
We called it the Fraggle Rock after noticing that when you look at the stone from one end, the two main cup-and-rings are likes two large eyes carved above a large natural down-turning ‘mouth’ feature, similar to some of the creatures’ faces on the muppets or the similar kid’s TV show, Fraggle Rock! (sad aren’t we!?) The photo here shows you what we mean.
The primary design consists of at least 3 cup-and-rings, 2 partial cup-and-rings, 28 cups and several carved lines along which some cup-markings are linked to others. The most notable of the carved lines is the longest (barely visible in the photos), running from a single cup-mark at the southernmost rounded end of the stone, almost straight and parallel with a natural ridge or dip along the rock, until it meets the largest of the cup-and-rings (one of the eyes on the Fraggle’s face!). Don’t ask me why, but for some reason this long faint line seemed the most perplexing element of the carving.
Most of the design is carved on the upper face of the stone, but a small part of the rock dips into the ground on its eastern side and a small group of cups and a single carved line, in a very good state of preservation, are etched right at the edge of the stone. Unusual. Another faint cup-and-ring is 10 yards south; and a fascinating cup-and-lines stone, with at least four long carved ridges running like hair from the top of the stone into the Earth, is 20 yards west of this.
Follow the same directions as if you’re going to the Corrycharmaig East 3 carving. Walk off the rocky outcrop here, below the tree, and head diagonally across the boggy grasses back towards the River Lochay. After about 50 yards you’ll see a rocky promontory ahead of you that overlooks the very edge of the river, with trees around it. That’s the spot – right on the edge above the river!
Archaeology & History
For me, this was the most intriguing of the newly-found Corrycharmaig East carvings. Intriguing because this is on the same geological ridge as that on which the brilliant Stag Cottage carvings are found, right across on the other side of the river. That singular rise of rock emerging from the field, heading to the river, continues on this side — though is much less conspicuous here, and is much smaller and covered with olde trees and Nature’s marshy greenery. It was this fact which led me to look at these rocks in the first place…wondering if our neolithic ancestors had continued etching their mythographies on the other side of the living waters. And so it turned out.
But don’t expect anything like as impressive as the Stag Cottage carvings. Here instead, as the photos show, are just five distinct cup-markings: three running along one line near the SE side of the stone, with another two on its NW side. The cups are all roughly the same size, being a couple of inches across; one is an inch deep. There may be more beneath the excess of mosses along this and the adjacent rocks, but I didn’t look.
Follow the directions as if you’re visiting the other Corrycharmaig carvings, but as you cross the bridge over the River Lochay, turn immediately left and follow the edge of the river down the field till you reach the fence. Go over here, but then head up the slope away from the river, over another fence up the small grassy hill ahead of you. As you near the very top of the hill, you’ll find the stone in question.
Archaeology & History
Found near to the famous Stag Cottage and Duncroisk carvings, this previously unknown example is found on a small rounded female stone, barely 2 feet by 2 feet across. The most notable feature is the large cup-marking, 2-3 inches wide and half-and-inch deep. When I first found the stone, twas a cloudy grey day and I wasn’t sure whether a small carved arc along one edge of the cup continued into a semi-circle — but as the photo here shows, the cup-mark seems to have a large faint ring going about three-quarters of the way round it. Hopefully I’ll get some better images of the stone when I visit again in the coming weeks.
The stone gave the impression that it belonged in a cairn of sorts, but a brief rummage in the grasses immediately around the rock showed nothing. However, barely 10 yards down the grassy slope there was a small overgrown cairn — though it didn’t seem to have that prehistoric pedigree about it. This carving is one in a group of at least four others—including Corrycharmaig East 3—not previously catalogued. It’s likely that more remain undiscovered on the many other rocks nearby.
Follow the directions from Killin, down Glen Lochay, as if you’re going to the other Corrycharmaig carvings; but as you cross the bridge over the River Lochay, turn immediately left and follow the edge of the river along the field, crossing the first fence, keeping close to the riverside and over and over another fence. Head across the boggy grassland and you’ll see a small green outcrop of rocks just above the tree-line above the river. That’s the spot!
Archaeology & History
Another carving that’s a short distance from the famous Stag Cottage carvings on the opposite side of the river. This lovely moss-covered rocky mass has two sections of cup-markings on it – both of which have proved difficult to photograph because of the vivid green primal cover. It’s found less than 100 yards from the CE04 carving and below the hillock of the CE02 cup-and-ring (as you can see in the photo above).
The rock itself has two carved sections: an upper and lower section, with at least three cup-markings on the lower section and three on the upper portion as well. Some natural geological marks on the lower part of the rock may have been added to, but this is by no means clear. There may well be other elements to this ancient carving, but I wasn’t about to strip all the lovely moss from the stone just to find out. It’s a truly beautiful stone in a gorgeous setting and, despite the day being grey and overcast, I wasn’t about to defile the greenery here. It’s one of a group of at least four carvings east of Corrycharmaig that have not previously been catalogued. Other carvings likely remain to be found close by.
Follow the directions to reach the Little Skirtful of Stones giant prehistoric cairn. Once here, look for the singular rocks out of the many thousands which make up the giant cairn, mainly from the middle to the northern-half of the cairn, and you’ll find them amidst the mass!
Archaeology & History
Despite the task sounding difficult, it’s not too hard locating the cup-marked rocks within this giant cairn. As I recall there should be five of them, though the Boughey & Vickerman (2003) survey only list four and I only have photos of four of them as well…so I reckon age is probably getting to me at last! There could very well be more of them amidst this massive tomb. But we certainly can’t rely on the Boughey & Vickerman (2003) survey for the carvings at this site as they give the wrong grid references for each of the cup-markings listed, with them all being a kilometre east from the site of the tomb itself! Awesome! God knows what their cartographer was on when he did the profiles for these carvings! (there are plenty of spliff-butts scattered over this moor…..) Not only that, but the position they cite of the relative cup-markings within the cairn are also wrong.
But for those of you who like to know the archaeological data, here’s what was said: Carving 391a is a “small rock towards SW edge of cairn, with single worn cup”; but this stone is actually closer to the northern section of the cairn. Carving 391b was told to be a “small dome-shaped rock at extreme S edge of cairn with single, small clear cup at top of dome.” This again is more on the northern section of the cairn, away from the centre. Carving 391c was described as a “small oval, rounded rock at N edge of cairn, with single, broad, shallow worn cup.” Whilst carving 391d which was told to be a “small rock at SSE edge of cairn, with single small worn cup.” However, we have to take into account that any errors about their position may simply be down to the fact that the small rocks have been moved.
As you’ll see in the photos here, one of them is actually near the very centre of the cairn, with the cup-marking etched into the edge of the small rock itself. I’m not quite sure if this is the additional fifth carving in the cairn, or whether it’s one of those wrongly ascribed as being in another position. It’s hard to tell, as the local Ilkley Archaeology team don’t publish their findings and information on-line as they should do and unless you’re in their little club they’re hard to get info out of. So this will have to do for the time being I’m afraid. Also note how one of the cup-marked stones is of a rock-type different to the local millstone grit.
The creation myth of the Little Skirtful itself tells that the giant Rombald (who gives his name to the moor) was in trouble with his wife and when he stepped over to Almscliffe Crags from here, his giant wife – who is never named – dropped a small bundle of stones she was carrying in her apron. Harry Speight (1900) tells us of a variation of the tale,
“which tradition says was let fall by the aforementioned giant Rumbalds, while hastening to build a bridge over the Wharfe.”
Variations on this story have said it was the devil who made the site, but this is a denigrated christian variant on the earlier, and probably healthier, creation tale. Similar tales are told of the Great Skirtful of Stones, 500 yards south.
The cluster of portable small stones with single cup-marks on them relates to traditions found in other cultures in the world where, usually, women would carry such items in their aprons and deposit them at or on the tomb, in honour of the ancestor or spirit known to be resident at the sacred site. The folklore found at the Little Skirtful (and Great Skirtful too) of Rombald’s wife dropping the rocks here and forming the giant tomb, probably derive from variants of this same honorary practice.
Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Chieveley 2001.
Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAA 2003.
Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
Whether you’re coming here from either Baildon, or Shipley, head for the Cricketer’s Arms on Green Road (ask a local). About 50 yards uphill from the pub, on the other side of the road, notice the small pool on the green surrounded by large rocks. That’s y’ spot!
Archaeology & History
First illustrated on the 1851 6-inch to the mile Ordnance Survey map of the region, this little known medicinal spring of water appears to get its name from the northern dialect word, crutch, meaning a plough, a plough-handle, a spade and variants thereof. (Wright 1898) There is another possibility of it deriving from “an ash or hazel pole” that were given as payment to workers each day in bygone times—a curious custom in itself! But we actually don’t know for sure and could even assume that people came here on crutches to be cured, or something along those lines.
The place has clear running water and had a chapel built near it in the early 19th century. The old public house across the road (Cricketer’s Arms) has spring water from this well running underneath it, which was said to never run dry and also keeps the drinks forever cool in warm weather! A few yards above the source of the spring, on the grass to the north is a small cup-marked stone. Another cupmarked rock listed by archaeologists as a prehistoric carved stone nearby on the same grass verge is probably of more recent industrial origin.
Baildon, W. Paley, Baildon and the Baildons – parts 1-15, Adelphi: London 1913-1926.
Wright, Joseph, English Dialect Dictionary – volume 1, Henry Frowde: Oxford 1898.
Whether you’re coming here from either Baildon, or Shipley, head for the Cricketer’s Arms pub on Green Road (ask a local). About 50 yards uphill from the pub, on the other side of the road, notice the small pool on the green surrounded by large rocks: it’s the small stone about 15 yards behind the source of the spring. The goats living there usually give the game away!
Archaeology & History
This small stone, found amidst a cluster of others surrounding the medicinal Crutch Well, has its name from the friendly goats who live hereby and, when I came here for the first time in a while the other day, had trouble getting one of the little fellas to shift from his stone! We first found this when we did a lotta venturing around the area when we lived nearby as kids. This particular stone was noted during one of our many exploratory rambles round here, albeit briefly, when I wrote:
“Before going up the slope to Robin Hood’s House we looked at the stones around Crutch Well and found one with some cup-marks on it, on the grass behind the waters.”
I can’t say for sure, but think this carving was later added in the Boughey & Vickerman (2003) survey as stone no.193. They described the stone as:
“Creamish coloured rock about 1m N-S and less than 0.5m high carries two possible shallow cups to centre of surface and a possible third cup (doubtful) to N.”
This would seem to be the stone, though there is another faded fourth cup, between the ‘doubtful’ cup and the two distinct ones, with a faded carved line running from it. Their grid-reference isn’t accurate for this and a companion single cup-marked rock (which I’d say was dodgy!), so I’m not 100% sure that we’re dealing with the same carving. There are a lot of small rocks here and in the fields opposite, many with industrial marks on them which, over the years, have faded and give the appearance of cup-markings — which most are not!
Bennett, Paul, Of Cups and Rings and Things, unpublished: Shipley 1981.
Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
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.”
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…
Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
Bennett, Paul, The Prehistoric Sites of Counter Hill, Addingham, forthcoming 2013.
Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
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.
Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys through Brigantia – volume 1: Walks in Craven, Airedale and Wharfedale, Aussteiger Publications: Barnoldswick 1990.
Eliade, Mircea, A History of Religious Ideas – volume 1, Collins: London 1979.
Howson, William, An Illustrated Guide to the Curiosities of Craven, Whittaker: Settle 1850.
Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.
Whitaker, Thomas Dunham, The History and Antiquities of the Deanery of Craven in the County of York, (3rd edition) Joseph Dodgson: Leeds 1878.
Follow the same directions to reach the Little Skirtful of Stones giant cairn. From here, walk 200 yards straight north until you hit the footpath at the top of the Woofa Bank crags. Walk left along the footpath and where it begins to slope downhill, note the large boulder right by the path and another 30 yards further on. Between these large rocks, turn left into the heather some 20 yards. You’re damn close!
Archaeology & History
Rediscovered on March 17, 2012, this small untouched prehistoric stone cairn, measuring 3½ yards by 2½ yards across and about 1 yard tall, was found thanks to the moorland heather being burnt, which has stripped the covering vegetation from the monument. It rests just a couple of yards away from a small, almost dried-up stream, seemingly in isolation. There are scattered remains of medieval workings nearby, between here and the Little Skirtful—some of which have intruded upon and destroyed earlier sites—but this particular cairn has a prehistoric pedigree. An excavation here would be worthwhile sometime in the future; but the problem is, there’s so much neolithic and Bronze Age material all over this area, it’s hard to know where to start!