High Sleets, Hawkswick, North Yorkshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – SD 95415 69019

Getting Here

Enclosure walls beneath the long crags

Going along the B6160 road from Grassington to Kettlewell and taking the little road to Arncliffe on your left just a few hundred yards past Kilnsey Crags, 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 this steep slope, following the same directions to reach the Sleets Gill Top enclosure. From here you’ll notice a large gap in the rocky crags about 200 yards WSW that you can walk through. On the other side of this gap, along a small footpath about another 200 yards along you’ll reach a large ovoid rock.  Just before this, on your right, is a long rocky rise with distinct drystone walling below it.  That’s the spot!

Archaeology & History

Walled section, looking S

Encircling a slightly sloping area of ground that stretches out beneath a long line of limestone crags is this notable walled enclosure running almost the full length of the rocky ridge.  Measuring 40 yards (36m) in length by 10 yards (9m) across at its greatest width, this elongated rectangular enclosure has all attributes of being Iron Age in origin, much like many others in this area.  However, in comparison with the others close by, this is a pretty small construction and—if used for human habitation, as is likely—would have housed only two or three families.

Western end of enclosure

Within the enclosure itself, near its  western end, we find an internal line of walling that creates a single room: enough for a single family, or perhaps even where animals were kept.  Only an excavation would tell us for sure.

Curious stone ‘cupboard’

One notable interesting feature exists roughly halfway along the enclosure, up against the crag itself: here is small man-made stone “cupboard” of sorts, akin to some modern pantry.  You’ll get an idea of it in the photo.  At first I wondered if this would have been a sleeping space, but, unless it was where a shaman liked to encase him/herself inside a domestic household cave (highly improbable), it would have served a simple pragmatic function. Make up your own mind.

I liked this place. It’s surrounded by crags on almost all sides with some ancient spirit-infested rocky hills very close by, giving it a beautiful ambience.  Immediately below the enclosure is what looks to be a large dried-up pool, which was probably well stocked with fish.  A perfect living environment.  Check it out!

References:

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

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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

Blarnaboard (3), Gartmore, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 51084 97979

Getting Here

Blarnaboard (3) carving

On the A81 road from Aberfoyle to Strathblane, about a mile south of Aberfoyle take the tiny right turn (keep your eyes peeled!) to Gartmore.  Along the tiny curving road for exactly 1km (0.61 miles), where the road has straightened out there’s a small dirt-track with a parking spot along it. A few hundred yards along there’s a crossroads of dirt-tracks: walk to your left (SW) for nearly a mile (or exactly 1.5km) keeping your eyes peeled for a small distinct footpath leading down-slope on your left. Walk along this undulating path for just over 200 yards till you go through the gate, then walk immediately to your right down the side of the fence in the field for about 20 yards.  Y’ can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

Blarnaboard (3), NE-SW

Located on the land of the early bards of Gartmore, we could speculate that those early orators told tales of, and from this old stone—but that’s all it would be: dreamy speculation.  Instead, passing that aside, the petroglyph itself brings us a feast to drool over!

Made up of four distinct carved sections of almost interconnecting rock, this flat thin line of stone is covered with an impressive array of cups and multiple rings.  Running downhill in a northeast to southwest line, it would appear to have been rediscovered by Lorna Main (1988) who subsequently described it in the usual archaeological shorthand, simply telling that,

“There are at last 28 cups, 3 cup and one ring, 4 cup and two rings, 2 cup and three rings, 1 cup and five rings and 1 cup and seven rings.”

Multiple ringed element
Section 1 overview

…But, as usual, there’s much more to be said of it than that.  Of the four sections, we’ll start at the uppermost northeastern section and work down the sloping ridge, looking at the respective symbols as we go.  Section 1 has the largest surface area, but isn’t the most decorated of the bunch.  Nonetheless, what we find here is impressive. About a dozen single cup-marks of various ages are scattered over the surface in what initially seems to be no recognizable order; these are accompanied by two single cup-and-rings: one of which could be said to be of standard size and form, whilst the other has a much larger and broken ring, near the middle of the rock, about 12 inches across.  This larger ring has two or three of the cup-marks incorporated into its outer edges.  The most impressive element of Section 1 is the large multiple-ringed design, five in all, radiating outwards or funneling inwards (depending on what was intended) around a central cup.  The outer ring of this is incomplete.

Impressive cup & 7 rings
Scatter of cups & rings

Section 2 is the most visually impressive of all the Blarnaboard (3) carvings: almost an evolutionary development of what we see on the first part.  A 2-dimensional panorama shows off a distinct cup-and-ring close to the edge of the soil, and there’s a somewhat wonky incomplete cup with double-ring below it.  A very clear cup-mark to the right of this has another faint incomplete double-ring round it—but this is hard to see. The same cannot be said of the cup with seven concentric rings surrounding it! (the outer two of these are incomplete)  As I walked round and round this section, drooling somewhat, it became obvious that a number of well-defined cup-marks had been carved around the outer edges of the rings, deliberately creating an eighth ring comprised purely of cup-marks.  It gave me the impression of it representing heavenly bodies revolving around the central Pole Star; but also of it defining the movement of the Moon through the heavens during a calendar year. (the astronomy of my youth still comes through at times!)

Section 3 carving
Faint double cup-and-ring

By comparison, the third and smallest section of Blarnaboard (3) almost pales into insignificance, possessing a mere cup-and-double-ring—and a  very faint one at that.  From a certain angle it looked like it possessed a third ring, but this was probably more to do with me wanting to see more than there is!  Just below this double-ring, a single cup has what might have once been another incomplete ring round it—but we’d need the computer graphic students among you to suss that bit out!  You can’t make it out on the photos here, sadly…

Section 4 carving
Faint double-arc, lower cup

The fourth section is the most visually unimpressive of the entire cluster and was probably carved much later than the rest.  The poor little fella has just five single cup-marks, with a sixth at the top-corner or northeastern part with what seems to be a small carved double-arc, or partial lozenge, that was started and never finished.

A couple of other exposed sections of stone running a few more yards further down the same line have no carvings on them—but there may well be more to this petroglyph hiding beneath the turf, which covers quite a large area.  I have no doubt that other unrecorded carvings exist in close by, but due to excessive forestry plantations all around here, they’ll either be covered over or will have been destroyed.  Don’t let this put you off looking for others though!

Cup-and-five-rings
Cup-and-seven rings

An interesting feature of this long line of stone is its potential alignment.  When we were photographing the site, a local man came over and got chatting with us.  He knew of the carving and had been here many times and told us that his wife had looked at this one and found it aligned with another cup-and-ring on the south-side of Blarnaboard farm and another one (officially unrecorded) even further along.  I checked this when I got home and found that this long line of petroglyphs did indeed line up with the Blarnaboard farm carving, perfectly.  Whether this was intentional and/or possesses an astronomical function, we might never know.  The third carving along the line has yet to be located.  I must emphasize however, that the relationship between earthfast petroglyphs and alignments is very rare and, where found, is little more than fortuitous.  But when we find cup-markings on alignments of standing stones and other prehistoric monuments, the relationship seems to be much more intentional and would have had a specific mythic function.

If y’ follow the fence-line from this carving down to the small burn, on the other side is the much less impressive Blarnaboard (2) cup-marked stone.

References:

  1. Main, L., “Blarnaboard (Aberfoyle parish), Cup and Ring Marked Outcrop,” in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1988.

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

Blarnaboard (2), Gartmore, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 50977 97972

Getting Here

Blarnaboard (2) site

Anyone who’s going to visit this carving will be doing so as a result of visiting the impressive Blarnaboard (3) cup-and-ring stone, 115 yards (105m) away.  From Blarnaboard (3), walk down the slope on your right (west), cross the tiny burn and go round to the other side of the small rocky hawthorn-topped hillock just a few yards in front of you.  Fumble about and you’ll find what you’re looking for!

Archaeology & History

It’s possible that there’s more to this carving than meets the eye.  On the west-side of this small rocky rise, along a thin elongated raised section in the stone, a gently meandering line of nine deep cups runs roughly northeast to southwest.  You can’t really miss them as they average some 2 inches across and 1 inch deep, strongly suggesting that they were cut and reworked over and over for a long period of time.

Line of cups, from above
Rough NE-SW alignment

It was first described in distinct brevity by L. Main (1988) who told that, “over a length of 60cm on a north-east facing outcrop are 9 cup marks.”  And, whilst all of the cups are clearly visible, one of them at the edge of the stone has been cut or worked into a natural curved hollow.  You’ll see what I mean when you visit the site (it’s pretty clear in the photos).

Beneath the roots and soil there may well be other cup-markings that are still hiding away on this rocky dome.  I have no doubt that other unrecorded carvings exist in this area, but due to the excessive forestry plantations all around here, they will be covered over or have been destroyed.

References:

  1. Main, L., “Blarnaboard (Drymen parish), Cup Marked Rock,” in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1988.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

West Cowden Farm, Comrie, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 77451 20648

Getting Here

Cowden Farm cup-marks

From Comrie take the B827 road (towards Braco) out of town and where the fields open up on both sides of you, 400 yards along the straight road you’ll see a large bulky stone right by the roadside (it’s the standing stone known as the Roman Stone). Stop here and look on the ground just a couple of yards past the monolith where, amidst the grasses and mosses, you’ll see this small smooth stone (you might have to roll some of the mosses back to see it properly).

Archaeology & History

More than a hundred years ago when John MacPherson (1896) wrote his essay on the history of this area, he described there being “three large stones, supposed to be the remains of a Druidical temple.”  He was talking about the Roman Stone here, with its two companions—although only the Roman Stone remains upright today. He noted that one of them, on the ground was “a round, flat boulder” which “bears upon its surface cup-marks arranged in irregular concentric circles.”

This seems to have been the first mention of the carving.  Fifteen years later when the great Fred Coles (1911) looked at the same standing stones, he found the adjacent petroglyph to still be in situ, stating that,

“The surface is covered with a group of twenty-two neatly made cups … the majority being about 2 inches in diameter, with a few much smaller. Two cups measure only 1 inch in diameter.”

R.M. Pullar’s 1914 photo
Fred Coles’ 1911 sketch

A few years after this, members of the Perthshire Natural History Society on an excursion to Glen Artney in May 1914, stopped here to have a look at the same standing stones and they also pointed out that one of the stones “lying on the ground…is remarkable for the numerous cup-marks on its surface.”  In truth, it’s not that remarkable compared to some of the other carvings, but it’s still worth checking out when visiting the other sites in the area. Many of the cups that were visible a hundred years back are difficult to make out unless the light is good; and it seems as if some of them have been chipped away, perhaps due to farming activity.

References:

  1. Barclay, W., “Winter Session, 1914-1915,” in Transactions & Proceedings Perthshire Society Natural Science, volume 6, 1919.
  2. Coles, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  3. Hunter, John, Chronicles of Strathearn, David Philips: Crieff 1896.
  4. Mac Pherson, John, “At the Head of Strathearn,” in Hunter’s Chronicles of Strathearn (David Philips: Crieff 1896).

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

West Lamberkine (2), Aberdalgie, Perth, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NO 0654 2296

Archaeology & History

All trace of this carving seems to have gone.  It was first recorded by the great Fred Coles (1903) who found it within a small group of stones, but no one has seen it since.  Unless it’s been shifted into one of the nearby walls, it may have been destroyed.  Coles told us it could be found,

Cole’s 1903 sketch of the carving
Stone ‘A’ is the culprit

“at a point 333 yards east of the farm-steadings, where two hedges meet at right angles.  Four stones…lie close together.  They appear to be all of bastard whinstone.  The middle stone, B, has its longer axis ESE and WNW.  It is only 3in inches thick.  The stones D and C are each 6 inches thick.  No marks are to be seen on any of these.  But on A is the very distinct sculpturing shown in the illustration…unfortunately not complete, owing to the flaking off of large strips of the weathered lower portion of the slab.  There is a strong suggestion of a cist-cover in the shape and size of this stone, which the close proximity of the two other squarer and thinner stones helps to enforce. Though these  stones have been known to the tenant for over thirty years, this is, I believe, the first record made of their position and features.”

The records at Canmore have suggested that this lost carving and the missing petroglyph of West Lamberkine (1) nearby are one and the same.  This is unlikely.  West Lamberkine (1) was described simply as a cup-marked stone, whereas this stone possessed clear identifiable cups and rings.  It would be difficult to make such an elementary mistake.

References:

  1. Coles, Fred,  “Notices of…Some Hitherto Undescribed Cup-and-ring-marked Stones…” in Proceedings Society Antiquaries Scotland, volume 37, 1903.

© 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