Broad Oak, Hatfield Broad Oak, Essex

Legendary Tree:  OS Grid Reference – TL 5352 2083

Also Known as:

  1. Doodle Oak

Archaeology & History

Hatfield’s Doodle Oak, 1807

Erroneously ascribed by the reverend Winsland (1952) as being the ‘Doodle Oak’, the ancient and giant tree called the Broad Oak was, as records show, always known by this name, but was subsequently replaced by another after its demise.  It was this second tree that became known as the Doodle Oak.  Winsland described it as “an immense and famous oak tree”, under whose “spreading branches in olden days the Lord of the Manor probably held his court and dispensed justice.”

The tree was described as early as 1136 AD and was probably an early tribal meeting site, or moot spot.  In Philip Morant’s (1763) work, he described it as,

“A tree of extraordinary bigness. There has been another since…called Doodle Oak.”

The old Oak in 1890

The Doodle Oak was thought to date from around 10-11th century and its predecessor may have been upwards of a thousand years old before this one took its place.  In 1949, one patient botanist, Maynard Greville, investigated the Doodle Oak tree-rings and found it to be 850 years old.  Other estimates suggest it was a hundred years older than that!  Whichever was the correct one, a measurement of its trunk found it to be some 19 yards in circumference – one of the largest trees ever recorded in Britain!

Sketches of its dying body were thankfully made near the beginning and the end of the 19th century: one in Mr Vancouver’s (1807) Agriculture of Essex, and the other by Henry Cole of the Essex Naturalist journal.

Doodle Oak on 1896 map

Some speculate that the Broad Oak of ancient times and the subsequent Doodle Oak were at very different places in the parish, but without hard evidence this idea is  purely hypothetical.  And whilst the name ‘broad’ oak is easily explained, the name ‘doodle’ is slightly more troublesome.  However, a seemingly likely etymology is found in the Essex dialect word dool, which Edward Gepp (1920) told,

“seems to mean, (1) a landmark; (2) a path between plots in a common field.”

The former of the two would seem to be the most likely.  This is echoed to a greater degree in Wright’s (1900) magnum opus, where he found the dialect word dool all over the southeast, meaning,

“a boundary mark in an unenclosed field.”

Giant trees on ancient boundaries, like the Broad Oak of earlier times, would seem to be the most probable reason for its name.  Today, all that’s left of the site is a small plaque on a small tree-stump, telling us what once stood here…

References:

  1. Gepp, Edward, Contributions to an Essex Dialect Dictionary, George Routledge: London 1920.
  2. Morant, Philip, The History and Antiquities of the County of Essex – volume 2, 1763.
  3. Reaney, P.H., The Place-Names of Essex, Cambridge University Press 1935.
  4. Vancouver, Charles, General View of the Agriculture of the County of Essex – volume 2, Richard Phillips: Blackfriars 1807.
  5. Winsland, Charles, The Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, Hatfield Broad Oak, Anchor: Bishop Stortford 1952.
  6. Wright, Thomas, English Dialect Dictionary – volume 2, Henry Frowde: London 1900.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Broad Oak, Hatfield

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Broad Oak, Hatfield 51.865151, 0.228285 Broad Oak, Hatfield

Clochoderick Stone, Kilbarchan, Renfrewshire

Rocking Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 37363 61280

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 42329

Archaeology & History

The Clochoderick Stone

On the outer southern edge of Kilbarchan parish—right near the ancient boundary line itself—this giant stone of the druids is seems to be well-known by local folk.  Located about 40 yards away from the sacred ‘St Bride’s Burn’ (her ‘Well’ is several hundred yards to the west), it was known to have been a rocking stone in early traditions, but as Glaswegian antiquarian Frank Mercer told us, “the stone no longer moves.”  The creation myths underscoring its existence, as Robert Mackenzie (1902) told us, say

“This remarkable stone, thought by some to have been set up by the druids, and by others to have been carried hither by a glacier, is now believed to be the top of a buried lava cone rising through lavas of different kind.”

Clochoderick Stone on 1857 map

The site was highlighted on the first OS-map of the area in 1857, but the earliest mention of it seems to be as far back as 1204 CE, where it was named as Clochrodric and variants on that title several times in the 13th century.  It was suggested by the old place-name student, Sir H. Maxwell, to derive from ‘the Stone of Ryderch’, who was the ruler of Strathclyde in the 6th century.  He may be right.

Folklore

Folklore told that this stone was not only the place where the druids held office and dispensed justice, but that it was also the burial-place of the Strathclyde King, Ryderch Hael.

References

  1. Campsie, Alison, “Scotland’s Mysterious Rocking Stones,” in The Scotsman, 17 August, 2017.
  2. MacKenzie, Robert D., Kilbarchan: A Parish History, Alexander Gardner: Paisley 1902.

Acknowledgements:  Big thanks to Frank Mercer for use of his photos and catalytic inception for this site profile.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  55.817286, -4.597285 Clochoderick Stone

Reap’s Cross, Heptonstall Moor, West Yorkshire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SD 94360 30269

Also Known as:

  1. Long Stoop
  2. Ralph’s Cross

Getting Here

Reaps Cross on 1851 OS-map

Reaps Cross on 1851 OS-map

From Hebden Bridge go up the Heptonstall road, going round the village and onto and through Slack, keeping straight on the road until it goes uphill for a short distance, then levels out; then watch out for the small right-turn at Colden and the single-track road heading to a dead-end.  Go right to the end, the very end, and go through the gate and walk up the track onto the moor.  As you reach the ridge and the moorlands open up before you, note the small ‘standing stone’ on your right, about 10 yards off-path— and there, 100 yards the opposite direction to your west, the tall upright Reaps Cross is sat on the moortop.  Y’ can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

Found in the middle of a beautiful nowhere not far from the prehistoric standing stone on Standing Stone Hill, this old tall monolith was said to have stood as a marker beside the old road which ran from Halifax over the moors to Colne, until the more recent Widdop Road became the more preferred route.  Known locally as the Long Stoop, in 1900 George Tyack said of it,

“This stone, which is composed of millstone grit, lay for a long tine broken and overthrown, but has in recent years been replaced on its original site and restored.  It is a simple Latin cross standing twelve feet high amidst the heather of the Yorkshire moors.”

Longbottom's 1897 sketch

Longbottom’s 1897 sketch

Waddington's 1884 sketch

Waddington’s 1884 sketch

Shortly before Tyack’s description, the local historian John Longbottom (1897) wrote a series of articles on the old stone crosses of the region and gave us this old sketch of the site (right).  Even in his day the cross had been “wilfully thrown down” (probably by the screwy Puritans at that time), but a short time later it had been “repaired and restored to its original position.”  In Longbottom’s day there were short ‘arms’ extending outwards from near the top of the obelisk, defining it as a distinct ‘cross’, but these have subsequently been lost following further local demolition attempts. He told how,

“Reaps Cross is known locally to shepherds, gamekeepers and farmers at ‘T’ Long Stoop’, and…apart from its religious associations, it forms an important landmark, now as in ancient times, to many a poor weary traveller crossing the dreary and lonesome hills between Lancashire and Yorkshire.”

The cross keeps getting knocked over, by both lightning and idiots of various persuasions; but thankfully the old fella keeps getting resurrected and put back in its place. It’s history is a curious one.  When Clifford Byrne (1974) wrote about the site in his unpublished survey, he told how

“This cross appears to be of medieval origin and…in 1973 the monolith lay broken, one section lying in the grass, whilst the other section still stood in the pedestal.  It is seen to have been broken once before, for the remains of iron clamps are seen on both sections.  The arms have been broken off in some age… A local farmer insisted that the correct name was Ralphs Cross not Reaps Cross, and it should be noted that a section of moor at Widdop (the valley with the high cliffs) is named after a Ralph.”

Standing some 12 feet tall, this is the highest of all the crosses in West Yorkshire and obviously some considerable work went into its creation all those centuries ago.  Nobody is sure when it was first made, but the educated guess is 12th century.  Why it was erected here, way off from anywhere in the middle of the wild moors, is equally puzzling.  It may have had something to do with the nearby medicinal springs; it may have been as a guide-post to travellers—”to Rastric Greave”, according to Waddington (1884); it may have marked an ancient religious route; or it may have distracted people away from the prehistoric upright that gave its name to Standing Stone Hill, a short distance to the west  We simply don’t know.  It’s well worth visiting though, as the moorland landscape up here is truly expansive and civilization seems thankfully centuries away…

Folklore

Local tradition told that the cross marked an old corpse route, along which the dead were carried before being buried at Heptonstall.  Here at Reaps Cross, the bodies were rested by the weary travellers.  If this is true, it is probable that the ancient standing stone more than half-a-mile to the west once had something to do with such old rites and routes.

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Byrne, Clifford, A Survey of the Ancient Wayside Crosses in North-East Lancashire, unpublished MS, 1974.
  3. Longbottom, John, “Ancient Crosses in Halifax Parish – Part 2,” in Halifax Naturalist, 2:8, June 1897.
  4. Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Sherratt & Hughes: Manchester 1906.
  5. Tyack, George, The Cross in Ritual, Architecture and Art, William Andrews: London 1900.
  6. Waddington, J. Arthur, “The Crosses in and Around Burnley,” in Transactions of the Burnley Literary & Scientific Club, volume 1, 1884.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.768734, -2.087046 Reaps Cross

Tom Cross, Colne, Lancashire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SD 92102 43175

Also Known as:

  1. Copy House Cross

Getting Here

Tom Cross on 1892 map
Tom Cross on 1892 map

Follow the same directions as if you’re visiting the Dissenter’s Well.  The cross stands right next to it!

Archaeology & History

This is one of two old stone crosses with the same name within a mile of each other (the other could be found in the walling along Warley Wise Lane).  Included in Taylor’s (1906) stunning magnum opus on the wells and crosses of Lancashire, the site was mentioned in a boundary dispute in the year 1592.  He told how a local man called Mr Carr said,

“John Parkinson, ‘of the age of ffour score and thirtiene year or thereabouts’ stated that Tom Cross and the Graystone were by credible report the boundaries, as well of Lancashire and Yorkshire, as of the manors of Colne and Cowling.”

Years later when Clifford Byrne (1974) surveyed the crosses of East Lancashire, he gave us more details about the site, saying:

“Tom Cross is built into the wall hard by Copy House Farm… At the foot of the Copy House Cross is a well, carved out of a solid block of stone.  The water apparently trickles into the well from a spring at the back of the wall , and the overflow spills into the field.  The top section of the cross is missing, probably it was vandalized at the time of the Reformation or some time afterwards.  It appears that the well was used and probably laid down by the Congregational Church dissenters from the late 17th century.  At that time, a law was passed, soon to be repealed, which decreed that every man should attend his Parish Church.  This meant that those who wished freedom to practise religion in their own form had to firstly attend the Parish Church and then hold a meeting privately afterwards.  At that time, and under those circumstances, it was obviously sensible to meet far away from the Parish Church, and apparently Tom Cross was chosen to meet this need.  The children of the Dissenters would be privately baptised in this well at the foot of the monolith into which, a cross was deeply incised.

Tom Cross is mentioned in a lawsuit in the year 1592 and a map exists dated slightly earlier which shows another cross in the area on Greystone Moor near Blacko…”

Tom Cross stone
Tom Cross stone

Byrne suggested that the name ‘Tom Cross’ relates to a boundary cross, but this is not substantiated in local dialect or place-name surveys (who say nothing!).  Instead, Joseph Wright (1905) gives us the possibility of Tom being simply, “a kind of rock”; although a variety of other associations relate it children’s games, customs and goblins. The word may derive from the Gaelic ‘tom’, relating to a mound, or clump, or knoll in the landscape (Watson 1926).  I’d go for one of these misself.  Makes sense.

References:

  1. Byrne, Clifford H., “A Survey of the Ancient Wayside Crosses in North East Lancashire,” unpublished manuscript, 1974.
  2. Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Sherratt & Hughes: Manchester 1906.
  3. Watson, W.J., The Celtic Placenames of Scotland, Edinburgh 1926.
  4. Wright, Joseph (ed.), English Dialect Dictionary – volume 6, Henry Frowde: Oxford 1905.

Acknowledegments:  Big thanks to Chris Swales for guiding me to the site; and to the old Teddy Man, Danny Tiernan.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Tom Cross

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Tom Cross 53.884722, -2.121638 Tom Cross

Ashlar Chair, Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Legendary Rock:  OS Grid Reference – SE 12075 44833

Ashlar Chair, looking southeast

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.111 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.115 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  3. Druid’s Chair
  4. Etching Stone

Getting Here

There are two large boulders here, one of which was deemed the Ashlar many moons back. You can approach it from the lazy way: park y’ car at the top of the road by the Whetstone Gate TV masts and walk east right along the boundary path till you get here. The better way is from Twelve Apostles: from there walk a coupla hundred yards north to the Lanshaw Lad boundary stone, where a small path heads west. Along here for another coupla hundred yards, then hit the footpath south for the roughly the same distance again. You’ve arrived!

Archaeology & History

The Ashlar Chair is ascribed in folklore, said Harry Speight (1892), “to be a relic of druidism,” as one of its titles in ages past was the Druid’s Chair.  In the nineteenth century it also became known as the Etching Stone, (Smith 1961-63) but it has retained its present title for more than two hundred years.  Shaped more like a couch than a chair, its present title—the Ashlar—is important in ritual Freemasonry, which has two aspects to it: the ‘rough’ and the ‘perfect’.  The first represents the neophyte; the latter, the illumined one.  Oaths are sworn on the ashlar, and laws are spoken from it.  In its higher aspect it is representative of the spiritual maturity  of evolved man.

Ashlar Chair on 1851 map

Although there are no public records as to who gave the site its present name, the land which lays before it, The Square, is an even greater indicator that this rock was was considerably more than just a curious place-name, for the open moorland that is overseen from Ashlar Chair—The Square — is 396,000 square yards of flat open heathlands that have never been archaeologically explored.  The Square is also one of the most important elements of Freemasonry: representing the manifest universe, its laws are spoken from the Ashlar. (Jones 1950)

Between the two of them, represented here in the landscape near the very tops of these moors, we have a form of late geomancy, although the names of our geomancers are nowhere to be found.  It is obvious though, simply from the name of the land, that dramatic ritual of some form was enacted here.  In recent times, ritual magickians from differing Orders have found the place most effective, as have wiccan folk and other pagans who have frequented it at the summer solstice.  The possibility that some members of the Grand Lodge of ALL England (a legendary Masonic Order, said by the modern London masons not to have existed until the eighteenth century) gave this place its name is not unreasonable.  Records show that in the fourteenth century at least one member of the Order, Sir Walter Hawksworth, frequented ritual circles on these moors; and another member of the same Lodge from the nearby Washburn valley was an ally to the Pendle and Washburn witches who, we know, met on these moors at Twelve Apostles stone circle and probably the Ashlar.  But it proves nothing I suppose. (I tend to believe (not a necessarily healthy viewpoint) that the Grand Lodge did use the Ashlar as one of their moot points, along with the Pendle and Washburn witches.)

Its primary geomantic attribute is as an omphalos.  Geographically the Ashlar Chair is the meeting-point of Bingley, Burley, Morton and Ilkley moors and, metaphorically speaking, when you stand here you are outside the confines of the four worlds yet still a purveyor of them.

Nature’s cups-and-grooves on the Ashlar

Upon the large rock itself it are carved the faint initials, “MM, BTP, ISP and IG, 1826.”  Several early records described cup-and-ring designs on the Ashlar: firstly in Forrest & Grainge’s (1868) archaeological tour; then in Collyer & Turner’s Ilkley (1885); and lastly by the great Yorkshire historian and topographer Harry Speight (1892, 1900), who said “it bears numerous cups and channels.”  Although we can see some of these on top of the Ashlar, they are mainly Nature’s handiwork.  It is possible that some man-made cup-and-rings once existed on the rock, but if so they have eroded over time.

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Collyer, Robert & Turner, J.H., Ilkley Ancient & Modern, William Walker: Leeds 1885.
  3. Forrest, C. & Grainge, William, A Ramble on Rumbald’s Moor, among the Dwellings, Cairns and Circles of the Ancient Britons in the Summer of 1867 – Part 1, W.T. Lamb: Wakefield 1868.
  4. Jones, Bernard E., Freemason’s Guide and Compendium, Harrap: London 1950.
  5. Speight, Harry, Chronicles & Stories of Old Bingley and District, Elliott Stock: London 1892.
  6. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Ashlar Chair

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Ashlar Chair 53.899528, -1.817721 Ashlar Chair

Tarry Stone, Cookham, Berkshire

Legendary Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SU 89745 85392

Also Known as:

  1. Cookham Stone
  2. Tarrystone

Getting Here

Old postcard of the Tarry Stone

Dead easy!  Just about in the middle of the village, by the side of the road where a seat allows the weary walker a chance to sit and rest, the Tarry Stone stands before it, with a plaque on the wall above the seat.  The old postcard here shows its situation clear enough!

Archaeology & History

The history of this large rock near the middle of Cookham village is important in the history of the old village, though there is no direct evidence to give it a prehistoric pedigree.  It was known to be an ancient boundary stone and is included in perambulation records of the area, where local people would annually walk and redefine the landscape of Cookham: a pastime known across the land, but which fell into disuse in Victorian times.  Such perambulations are thought to trace way back into the mythic lands of prehistory — so the Tarry Stone here may well have an archaic provenance.

The known history of the stone was gathered and described in Stephen Darby’s (1899) rare work on the place-name history of Cookham.  He wrote:

“A stone 3½ ft high, by 4 ft long, and 2½ ft thick. This formerly stood in Cookham village, about two feet from Dodson’s fence, where the roads parted to the church and the ferry. It is now in the Mill Garden at Cookham, where it was removed by the late George Venables when he was church-warden. This stone was formerly known as Cookham Stone.

“A.D. 1506: The tithing man presents that the Warrener ought to hold sports at Cookham Stone on the day of Assumption; and he has not done so (Cookham Manor Court Rolls).

“The stone was originally a boundary stone to the property of the Abbot of Cirencester, whose house was close by, as is shown in the will of John Luffenham, A.D. 1423.”

An old plaque that was once attached to the rock told, “The Tarry Stone at which sports were held before 1507 AD, stood formerly 50 yards NNE and was replaced here AD 1909 by order of the parish council.”  The position described “50 yards away” was next to an old pub with the fascinating legendary name of ‘Bel and the Old Dragon’!

Folklore

Dennis Curran’s 1976 drawing

One of the main reasons this site has been included here is the legendary attachments.  When the stone was moved from its original position in 1839 by a certain George Venables, to nearby Mill House Gardens, local people told how the Venable family thereafter were cursed.  It was thereafter moved back to its earlier site!

The stone has been suggested as a meteorite — a theme that was echoed in Peter Ackroyd’s Thames (2007), but the Tarry Stone is a regional sarsen rock, albeit peppered with erosion holes, giving a more ‘foreign’ look to it!

Cookham was also the village where the spirit of the god Herne “winds his horn and the music of his hounds can be heard from across the common.”  (Yarrow 1974)  The stone was also the focal point of village games in earlier centuries.

References:

  1. Ackroyd, Peter, The Thames: Sacred River, Chatto & Windus: London 2007.
  2. Darby, Stephen, Place and Field-Names of Cookham, Berkshire, privately printed: London 1899.
  3. Hallam, Elizabeth, Domesday Heritage, Arrow: London 1986.
  4. Yarrow, Ian, Berkshire, Hale: London 1974.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  51.560292, -0.706767 Tarry Stone

Greenwood Stone, Midgley Moor, West Yorkshire

Boundary Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 01652 28514

Getting Here

Greenwood Stone, Midgley Moor

Follow the directions to reach Churn Milk Joan, the head 100 yards east till reaching the crossing of footpaths, beneath Crow Hill.  Take the northern (left) route and keep walking.  Half a mile along you’ll see the tall upright stone to your left.  You can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

The Greenwood Stone is an old boundary stone and is not prehistoric.  It stands more than four feet tall.  I first visited the site in 1988 in the company of several folklore and antiquarian writers, including Andy Roberts, Edna Whelan and Graeme Chappell.  Twas a good day and coincided with a small collection of Psilocybes being gathered!

The tall upright is a boundary stone that was erected in 1775, as evidenced by the date carved on its southern face.  I must emphasize however that this was not when the stone came to acquire its name: this was defined in 1594 as evidenced by a boundary perambulation written that year where it is described as being recumbent: “thence to one lying stone, newly named Greenwood Stone.”  About 10-15 yards away is what may have been that very “lying stone,” the original Greenwood Stone, half-buried in the heather some six or seven feet long.   It is possible this may have stood upright in the distant past.

Greenwood Stone, looking south

Moving about 75 yards south we come across another small standing stone at 1360 feet (412m) above sea level. This I’ve called the ‘Greenwood B stone’.  It was marked on an old map as a boundary stone and is distinctly shaped to stand upright, marking a point separating the moors of Midgley and Wadsworth.  When stood upright it is just visible on the horizon when looking from the Miller’s Grave prehistoric tomb several hundred yards east of here and is close to being an equinox indicator.

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Greenwood Stone

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Greenwood Stone 53.752989, -1.976426 Greenwood Stone

Lippersley Pike, Denton Moor, North Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SE 14335 52478

Getting Here

Follow the directions to reach the Lippersley Pike cup-marked stone, then keep walking westwards, but go up the slope immediately on your right (north) and walk upwards along the path to the notable stone structure at the top-end of the ridge a coupla hundred yards ahead.  Once there, you’re standing on it!

Archaeology & History

Lippersley Pike & shooter’s butt

A little known site with some excellent 360° views all round, reaching as far west as Pendle Hill, north past Simon’s Seat, and east onto the far reaches of the North York Moors.  The landscape here is truly superb!  And humans have been here since, it would seem, mesolithic periods at least, if Cowling’s finds are owt to go by! For although he described the much denuded tomb that we can still see under the herbage and recently-built shelter, there was also, “on the northern slope…a small occupation immediately below the summit on the northern side.”  We found remains of it on our visit here the other day.  But of the tomb itself — which Mr Cowling thought was neolithic in age — he wrote:

“The highest point of Lippersley Pike, on Denton Moor, is crowned by a stone cairn 1083 feet above sea level, and overlooks, on the northern side, a small site which appears to have been occupied by the ‘Broad Blade’ people, for there occur several pieces of patinated flint, along with scrapers and worked blades.”

Aerial view of Lippersley Pike

Cowling then describes a number of flints and other prehistoric working utensils that he found all round here.  The remains of the cairn measure some 25 feet east-west and 23 feet north-south.  There has been no excavation here, although the fella’s who dug out much of the stone to build the shooter’s butt on its top may have found summat, but have kept it quiet!

The cairn is an ancient marker along the boundary line marking the townships of Denton and Great Timble and was visited in perambulation walks in previous centuries.  Grainge (1871) describes the extensive perambulation in his Knaresborough Forest work.  ‘Lippersley’ itself first appears in records from 1576, although A.H. Smith (1963:5) does not suggest an etymology.  The place is worth visiting as a good starting point to explore the other little-known prehistoric remains on these moors, including the Crow Well settlement, the Heligar Pike tomb, etc, etc.

References:

  1. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  2. Grainge, William, The History and Topography of Harrogate and the Forest of Knaresborough, John Russell Smith: London 1871.
  3. Grainge, William, The History and Topography of the Townships of Little Timble, Great Timble and the Hamlet of Snowden, William Walker: Otley 1895.
  4. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 5, Cambridge University Press 1963.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Lippersley Pike cairn

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Lippersley Pike cairn 53.968181, -1.782972 Lippersley Pike cairn

Snowden Carr (597), Askwith Moor, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 17965 51158

Getting Here

Find your way to the excellent Tree of Life cup-and-ring stone, then walk about 10-15 yards west.  It’s under your nose!

Archaeology & History

Single cup-marked stone

Another stone for the rock art purists amongst us: a singular cup-marking near the edge of the rock.  Although the photo here seems to show three cup-markings close to each other, only one of the three is in fact real.  The other two are simple geological creations.  But this fact seemed to go over the heads of some English Heritage archaeologists who reported to Boughey & Vickerman (2003) that this was a stone “with three cup markings” on it.  I’m not sure who trains EH rock-art enthusiasts, but they seem to have a tendency to mistake natural features with artificial cup-markings and their evaluations should be treated with considerable caution (you’ve gotta wonder who the students are that are teaching them).

The rock itself is found in close association with other prehistoric remains and may have been a part of enclosure walling.  Very close by are numerous well-preserved settlement remains, cairns and other cup-and-ring stones.

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Snowden Carr CR-597

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Snowden Carr CR-597 53.956205, -1.727715 Snowden Carr CR-597

Great Stone of Fourstones, Lowgill, North Yorkshire

Legendary Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SD 66972 66292

Also Known as:

  1. Big Stone
  2. Four Stones

Getting Here

The Great Stone of Fourstones

From near the middle of the large village (or small town!) of High Bentham, go down Station Road, over the river — where the road becomes known as Thickrash Brow! — and keep going for about a mile.  The landscape opens up into the hills and there, on the left-hand side of the road, is a car-parking spot with a footpath taking you straight up to the large boulder a 100 yards on: that’s our Great Stone!  You can’t really miss it.

Archaeology & History

Great Stone on 1847 map

A meeting place of local tribes in more ancient days, the moorland plain upon which the Great Stone sits, beckons to a vast landscape on all quarters (north, south, east and west) calling the elders from their lands for annual rites and decisions to befit the health of the land and the people.  The stone rests on the ancient boundary of Yorkshire and Lancashire, just on the Yorkshire side, and was visited annually in more later centuries during the beating of the bounds, to define the edges of the local township.

Graffiti & cup-marks on the top

First described in a Yorkshire inquisition account from 1307, this Big Stone was visited by Harry Speight (1892) who described it as measuring 30 feet round and 12 feet high.  I came here for the first time in the 1980s when I was hitch-hiking into the Scottish mountains, but a good old “local” (from the Yorkshire side) took a detour to show me the place!  Once here, I climbed up the very worn “steps” which were carved into the side of the boulder several centuries back and it didn’t surprise me to find a number of cup-markings (no discernible rings) on its top surface.  When I came here again with Michala Potts and Paul Hornby yesterday, I couldn’t believe how many people had carved their names on top of the Great Stone in the intervening years — it’s almost covered in modern graffiti and the old cup-markings were much harder to see.  Taylor (1906) mentions them briefly in his holy wells survey, saying how,

“This great boulder is ascended on its eastern side by fourteen steps, and on the top are two circular holes about two inches deep and two inches in diameter.”

There used to be three others boulders very close to this one (hence its title), making a natural stone circle, but they were “broken up for sharpening scythes” a couple of hundred years back.  A much wider archaeological survey of this region is long overdue.

Folklore

Great Stone, looking east

Harry Speight (1892) told how the (original) Four Stones were the creation of our old friend the Devil, long ago, who dropped them in one his many megalithic travels across our land. The stones were also the meeting place of ancient councils, from the tribes either side of the Yorkshire-Lancashire border. Their presence here also had mythic relationship with the Queen of the Fairies Chair, about a mile southeast, along the same boundary line.

Weird how folklore changes. Whilst old Mr Speight told how the devil created the once great four stones that were here, many years later Jessica Lofthouse (1976) told how the three missing stones – which had been here “since the world began” – were actually taken from here by Old Nick. Carrying them over the land,

“His load he dropped on Casterton Fell, where the rocks he discarded, the Devil’s Apronful, are still lying around. He selected the most suitable, dressed them and carried them in panniers down to the (River) Lune”

— and built the legendary Devil’s Bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale – which itself has strange tales to tell.  Another creation myth about the Great Stone is told on the plaque near the stone, alongside the footpath, which tells:

“Legend has it that it is a small part of the debris hurled by the giant Finn McCool across the Irish Sea in a fit of anger.”

It’s very obvious that a lotta mythic landscape material has been neglected and overlooked around this site.  Something we need to remedy, if we can, in the coming years…

References:

  1. Lofthouse, J., North Country Folklore, Hale: London 1976.
  2. Speight, Harry, The Craven and Northwest Yorkshire Highlands, Elliott Stock: London 1892.
  3. Taylor, Henry, The Ancient Crosses and Holy Wells of Lancashire, Sherratt & Hughes: Manchester 1906.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  54.091465, -2.506451 Great Stone of Fourstones