Clowder (1), Arncliffe, North Yorkshire

Enclosures:  OS Grid Reference – SD 9165 6968

Also Known as:

  1. Clouder

Getting Here

Looking down on Clowder-1

To the right of The Falcon Inn across from Arncliffe village green is a trackway called the Monk’s Way.  Walk up here for about 450 yards until there’s a stile on your right which is the start of the diagonal footpath SW up the hillside.  Once you hit the limestone ridge several hundred yards up, keep on the path that curves round the edge of the hill for 1.3 miles (2.1km), going over 5 walls until, at the 6th one, you should look uphill, east, at the small cliff-face 100 yards above you.  That’s where you need to be!

Archaeology & History

This is one of several clusters of large prehistoric enclosures and settlements in the expanse of land known as Clowder, on the hills 1.65 miles (2.63km) southwest of Arncliffe.  It’s in a very good state preservation and, surprisingly, almost nothing has been written about it.

Covered hut circle on NW edge
Cliffs & walls of Clowder-1

A multi-period site whose construction probably began  sometime in the Iron Age (although the old Yorkshire Dales archaeologist, Arthur Raistrick, thought the settlements up originated in the Bronze Age), we can say with some certainty that parts of this complex were definitely being used until medieval times due to the lack of growth on some of the walling.

The entire complex comprises of a series of interlinked walled enclosures running roughly north-south for a distance of more than 200 yards.  Along the 200 yards are at least eight conjoined walled sections of varying shapes and sizes.  Some of the walling, particularly along its western edges, measuring up to 10 feet across (some of this will be due to collapse) is very overgrown indeed and is probably the oldest aspect of the enclosure.  The inner walled sections, much of it leading up to the small cliff face, are rough rectangular structures, each of them averaging 30 yards from their western edge to the eastern cliff and rock faces.

Most recent walled section

Within the largest and best preserved section at the northern end, a smaller and more recent walled rectangular enclosure would seem to have been used for either cattle or storage of some form, as it’s on too much of a slope to have been viable as a living quarter.  Also on the very northern edge is a well-preserved but much overgrown hut circle, between 8-9 yards across.

Faint walling looking south

The entirity of Clowder-1 is difficult to assess without an archaeological dig.  Despite this, as half of the walled enclosures (in the northern half) are on slopes leading up to the cliffs they would seem unsuitable for people to live in.  It is more probable that these sections were used for livestock and other storage.  At the more southern end however, the land begins to level out and this would be feasible as good living quarters.  There was also once a good source of water immediately beneath the entire complex, but with deforestation the waters eventually fell back to Earth.Back to its southern end and down towards the modern-day walling, some 70 yards on we find more ancient structures of the same architectural form that we’ve just walked along.  This lower section has just one notable singular oval-shaped hut circle, 20 yards east-west by 29 yards north-south.  Other probable man-made structures seem to be just below this; and this part of the settlement then continues on the other side of the walling, into the large Dew Bottoms (5) settlement complex.

Folklore

Weather lore of the ‘Clauder’ hill tells that it “draws the skies down” – i.e., as Halliwell Sutcliffe (1929) put it:

“A deluge may be in process on each side of the Clouder when lower down the sun is hot on tired pastures.”

We encountered just such a truth when James ElkingtonChris Swales and I visited the sites up here just a week or so ago…

References:

  1. Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys through Brigantia – volume 2, Aussteiger: Barnoldswick 1990.
  2. Sutcliffe, Halliwell, The Striding Dales, Frederick Warne: London 1929.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to James Elkington and Chris Swales, without whose guidance this site profile would never have been written.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  54.122360, -2.128648 Clowder (1)

Arncliffe, Littondale, North Yorkshire

‘Carved Stone’:  OS Grid Reference – SD 93 72

Archaeology & History

The Arncliffe Carving

The Arncliffe Carving

This is a frustrating site entry.  Not only do we not know where it is, this carving is not listed in any of the modern books on British petroglyphs, yet it was described and referenced by the famous archaeologist Jacquetta Hawkes following its discovery more than 80 years ago.  After a brief mention of the carving in Frank Elgee’s (1933) Archaeology of Yorkshire, an article describing the carving was penned in the journal Man, from which I draw the only information available. It appears to have been found in the early 1930s (no date or discoverer is cited), but has a couple of peculiarities which may bring the authenticity of the stone into question.  Mrs Hawkes (1934) told that the carved stone was,

“found in the bed of a moorland beck in the village of Arncliffe, Littondale, West Riding of Yorkshire.  It is of buff-coloured limestone measuring 21 inches x 12 inches x 6 inches in thickness; the decorated surface is almost flat.  The curvilinear pattern is executed in regular incisions about 4mm wide and 3mm deep; portions of it have been obliterated by water actions and, as is illustrated in the illustration, at one end the surface has broken away altogether.  The whole stone has been much battered and may well be only a fragment of a much larger one.  The state of preservation suggested that it had been in the stream for a considerable period; it is therefore probable that it was washed down from the open moorland above Arncliffe.  In the original (carving), the design is more coherent than it here appears owing to the fact that in the water-worn portions faint lines are visible to the eye which cannot be shown on a tracing.

“Mr W.J. Hemp, who has kindly examined the Arncliffe tracing, identifies the style of the design with the ‘entrail’ pattern of the well-known Pattern Stone from the chambered cairn of Bryn Celli Ddu in Anglesey…

“The technique of the Arncliffe tracing is comparable with the simple incisions which form the oldest of the four techniques recognizable in the Irish megalithic tumuli, where its early date is indicated by the fact that some examples are demonstrably older than the construction of the tumuli in which they occur…

“Mr Frank Elgee, who has also been good enough to comment on the Arncliffe tracing, cannot suggest immediate comparisons from this neighbouring group (around Ilkley, PB), but such evidence as there is he considers to be against assigning a date earlier than the MIddle Bronze Age.”

The late great Eric Cowling also mentioned the stone in his prehistoric survey of the mid-Pennines, but added no further details of his own and seems to have just copied what we have just read.

The fact that the ‘carving’ was found in a stream-bed may mean that the markings on the stone were due to natural erosion; and the fact that the rock was limestone may give added weight to this idea.  However, the fact that Mrs Hawkes, Frank Elgee and W.J. Hemp thought the carving to be authentic cannot be overlooked.  The area is also rich in prehistoric remains (see Douky BottomDewbottoms, Yockenthwaite, Blue Scar, etc)  The design itself is an odd one and has none of the traditional hallmarks consistent with neolithic and Bronze Age cup-and-ring stones, but seems more reminiscent of much earlier mesolithic and palaeolithic images of carved animals and dancing human figures.

If anyone knows more about this site, particularly its whereabouts (perhaps in private possession or hiding in some museum box, where increasing numbers of cup-and-rings are wrongfully kept), or whether the ‘carving’ has been disregarded as little more than natural weathering, it would be good to know for certain.

References:

  1. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  2. Elgee, Frank & Harriet, The Archaeology of Yorkshire, Methuen: London 1933.
  3. Hawkes, Jacquetta, “A Prehistoric Carved Stone in Littondale,” in Man, volume 34, 1934.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Arncliffe petroglyph

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Arncliffe petroglyph 54.143783, -2.108652 Arncliffe petroglyph

Douky Bottom, Arncliffe, North Yorkshire

Settlement:  OS Grid Reference – SD 95203 69067

Getting Here

Aerial view of settlement
Aerial view of settlement

Go up the B6160 road, heading for Kilnsey Crag.  A few hundred yards past the famous crags, take the little road to Arncliffe.  About a mile up, where you reach the second building on the left-side of the road, walk up behind here, up the steep fields and towards the craggy heights above.  Keep right uphill till you see the cluster of cairns on the peak above; but before reaching them, walk over the rocky landscape to your left (southeast) and you’ll eventually see an excess of straight walling a coupla hundred yards away. That’s it!

Archaeology & History

A bittova climb to get here – but well worth it in the end.  On a spur of land amidst the outstanding limestone plateaux less than a mile south of Arncliffe village, rising near the silent ghostly cairns upon Knotts ridge above it, we come across an extensive prehistoric settlement complex.  It is one of many in this upland region.

Looking south at the settlement
Looking south at the settlement
Knott cairns above the settlement
Knott cairns above the settlement

Poorly described (if at all) by official archaeology websites, this place is big!  All that we can see today at ground level are lines of very extensive lines of enclosure walling, between one and three feet high, intersecting each other and forming very large rectangles growing further and further out from each other towards the western scree.  Much of the walled structures are in good condition if they are prehistoric, as presumed by archaeologists; but it seems obvious that the site was in continuous use by local people for domestic and agricultural purposes all through medieval and later periods.

One of the settlement hut circles
One of the settlement hut circles
Raised lines of ancient walling
Raised lines of ancient walling

The longest stretch of visible walling runs from northeast to southwest and measures 175 yards long (160m), with several stretches of parallel walling splitting the settlement into different sections of large enclosures all attached to each other.  These parallel walls measure a maximum of 54 yards (49.5m) and run northwest to southeast.  The aerial image of the site shows the structures very clearly in some parts.  Others are more vague and some are difficult to see at ground level.  But the settlement as a whole cannot be missed.  Several hut circles have been built inside the main rectangular enclosures, with two others faintly visible on the outer edges.

As far as I’m aware, no excavations have taken place here, so we are still grasping at periodic straws when it comes to dating the place.  When Arthur Raistrick (1929) wrote his article about the associated enclosures like that at Blue Scar, a short distance to the east, he thought them to be Iron Age in origin.  He may well right.  A singular enclosure circle can be found a few hundred yards to the south.

References:

  1. Elgee, Frank & Harriet, The Archaeology of Yorkshire, Methuen: London 1933.
  2. Raistrick, Arthur & Chapman, S.E., ‘The Lynchet Groups of Upper Wharfedale, Yorkshire,’ in Antiquity, volume 3, 1929.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  54.117448, -2.074880 Douky Bottom settlement

Douky Bottom Ring, Arncliffe, North Yorkshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – SD 95126 68887

Also Known as

  1. Dowkerbottom

Getting Here

Douky Bottom Ring
Douky Bottom Ring

Go up the B6160 road, heading for Kilnsey Crag.  A few hundred yards past here, take the road to Arncliffe and, several hundred yards along, keep yer eyes peeled for the (usually) decent craggy dry stream bed on your left (west). Follow this upstream till you hit the large cave, continuing uphill above the crags, following the steep walling upwards to the next set of crags.  Above these, another long straight line of walling continues in the same direction you’ve been walking. Follow this along until it meets up with another large line of walling, heading NE.  Walk along here till this wall changes direction NE, but here you need to walk across the grasses westwards, past the large cave for another 100 yards.  You’ll find it!

Archaeology & History

This is a simple but well-preserved circular monument, probably constructed in the Iron Age, just 100 yards past the incredible Douky Bottom cave (in which various prehistoric remains have been found).  No excavations appear to have been made here, yet the near-perfect ring is in very good condition indeed.  The monument consists of thousands of small stones – taken from the huge scree immediately behind the structure – whose uppermost visible mass overlays a much older and larger pile of stones, all of roughly the same size.

Douky Bottom ring, looking NE
Douky Bottom ring, looking NE

The ring is less than 10 yards across and gives the impression of it being a large hut circle—which it may or may not be.  Without an excavation we cannot know its function with any certainty.  Other, much larger prehistoric enclosures and settlements are close by, mainly to the northeast; and you have the truly bizarre rock piles on the ghostly horizon crags, whose histories are quiet indeed….  For any antiquarians amongst you who’d like a good day out, give this region a try!  It’s a truly intriguing arena with much much more hiding away than any of the archaeology records can tell you about.

Acknowledgements:  Many many thanks to James Elkington for guiding us to the sites in this region.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  54.115830, -2.076055 Douky Bottom ring

Dewbottoms, Arncliffe, North Yorkshire

Settlement:  OS Grid Reference – SD 9132 6950

Getting Here

From Grassington go north up the B6160, turning left to Arncliffe, and parking up by the pub.  Take the footpath past it and onto the rocky ridge to your SW for a mile-and-half.  Dew Bottoms settlement is on the wide ridge between the two decent streams dropping back into the valley road below.  Look round!

Archaeology & History

The remains of this prehistoric settlement first seem to have been described by Arthur Raistrick and Paul Holmes. (1961)  They told that:

“the principal field is approximately 120 feet square, enclosed by a massive boulder and gravel bank, probably the foundation of a substantial stockade.  The field is now mostly bare limestone pavement.  Four smaller fields adjoin it on the north and west.  Circular huts with drystone walls still about 3 freet 6 inches high before excavation, covered by collapsed material suggesting an original height of 5 feet, are placed, two of them in the course of the field wall and two in the junction of three field walls.  The huts are about 10 feet internal diameter, the walls about 3 feet thick.  A very fine quartzite hone was the only find in the huts.  There are two rectangular stone-built enclosures, 20ft by 10ft, and 15ft by 8ft, and several small rectangular enclosures, probably buildings, with walls of boulders and turf, using one wall of a field as a common back wall.  The whole site suggests a compact family farm.”

A few years later the site was visited and later described by Miss D. Charlesworth at the annual meeting of the Archaeological Society in July 1968, and is one of several found on the hills 2-3 miles southwest of Arncliffe village. Miss Charlesworth told:

“This site also faces north and covers an area of about 330 by 280ft, much of it now bare limestone. There are eight rectangular buildings and four circular huts associated with a large enclosure about 120ft square, with five smaller enclosures adjoining it.”

References:

  1. Charlesworth, D., ‘Iron Age Settlements and Field Systems,’ in Proceedings of the Archaeological Journal, 125, 1968.
  2. Raistrick, Arthur & Holmes, Paul F., Archaeology of Malham Moor, Headley Brothers: London 1961.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  54.121288, -2.134296 Dewbottoms settlement

Blue Scar Settlement, Arncliffe, North Yorkshire

Settlement:  OS Grid Reference – SD 9319 7102

Getting Here

Pretty easy really.  From Arncliffe village, walk up the Monk’s Road footpath, heading for the rocky mass immediately south.  Once you get onto the moor edge, veer straight up to your right and keep walking till you hit the rocks.  Look around!

Archaeology & History

Drawing of main part of the settlement (Raistrick 1929)
Drawing of main part of the settlement (Raistrick 1929)

Described by Miss D. Charlesworth at one of the annual meetings of the Archaeological Society in July 1968, this ‘settlement’ is found immediately south of Arncliffe village, literally 1000 feet up on the hillside and has a field system attached to it.  When Charlesworth described this place, it had not been excavated, though her description of the place very much echoed those of Raistrick & Chapman (1929) nearly forty years earlier.  She wrote:

“It faces north and east over the Skirfare valley, sheltered by the bulk of Parson’s Pulpit. The most interesting feature is the rectangular enclosure west of the sunken road. The walls are built of limestone some 5ft wide at the base and standing 2-3ft (tall). The huts are grouped round a courtyard at the south-eastern end and have a large stockyard attached to them. Of the 14 huts, only two are circular (those in the northwest corner), and one on the east side is approximately a circle. The remainder are rectangular, approximately 30 by 12ft.”

Although the sites is generally ascribed as Iron Age to Romano-British in date, it seems evident that these buildings were used in much later centuries — perhaps until late medieval periods.  Other remains of similar size and stature can be found scattered on the hills near here (I’ll add them on TNA at sometime in the future).

References:

  1. Charlesworth, D., ‘Iron Age Settlements and Field Systems,’ in Proceedings of the Archaeological Journal, 125: 1968.
  2. Raistrick, Arthur & Chapman, S.E., ‘The Lynchet Groups of Upper Wharfedale, Yorkshire,’ in Antiquity, volume 3, 1929.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Blue Scar settlement

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Blue Scar settlement 54.134978, -2.105721 Blue Scar settlement