East Wall Stone, Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13924 45493

Getting Here

East wall stone on the right

Follow the directions to reach the impressive Woofa Bank prehistoric enclosure.  You need to find the walling that constitutes the enclosure itself and walk along to its eastern side where you’ll reach an ‘opening’, as if it may once have been an entrance at that side of the enclosure.  A reasonably large sloping rock is on one side of this ‘entrance’.  You can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

Unlike many of the other petroglyphs found within the Woofa Bank enclosure, the design on this one is faint — very faint indeed (much like the recently uncovered triple-ring petroglyph by the Thimble Stones).  Comprising simply of a small cluster of cup-marks, you’ll struggle to see this one — unlike its compatriot on the western wall of the enclosure.

Looking down on the rock
Some very faint cupmarks

It consists of a single cup-mark on the northern edge of the stone, whilst on the sloping southern part of the rock are a number of very faint cups, eroded by them there millenia of Nature’s wind and weathering.  One or two of the cups are just visible in good lighting, but what are almost certainly a few more can be seen when the rock is wet and in low daylight hours.  It’s a design that’s probably only of interest to the hardcore petroglyph fanatics, but without doubt this is yet another carving within this obviously important prehistoric enclosure.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.905410, -1.789560 East Wall Stone

Lower Lanshaw Dam (02), Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 14223 44888

Getting Here

Along the moorland road between Cow & Calf and The Hermit pub, park up at the small wooded bit by the right-angle bend and cross over the Coldstone Beck.  Walk up onto the moor itself and stick to the path that runs roughly parallel with the slowly-drying stream, towards Lower Lanshaw Dam.  About 100 yards before it, walk left, into the heather, for about 50 yards.  You’re damn close!

Archaeology & History

Lower Lanshaw Dam carving
Close-up of cupmarks (by James Elkington)

This is another neolithic or Bronze Age carving I first came across during one of my weekly rambles across these hills as a child, and upon revisiting the place a few days ago with James Elkington, found it associated with nearby cairns and what looks to be the remains of prehistoric walling – none of which I noticed when I was a kid.  The petroglyph is a simple design, primarily consisting of two rows of three cup-marks: one row of three along the top or spine of the rock, and another one immediately beneath it, an inch or so below.  The topmost line of cups runs into a natural crack in the rock, which runs down the northwest edge of the stone.  A possible faint cup and partial ring emerges on the southeast side of the topmost row of cups, but this is difficult to make out.  On the sloping northwest face of the rock is another single cup-marking.

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, Of Cups and Rings and Things, unpublished: Shipley 1981.

Acknowledgements:  Many thanks to James Elkington for use of his photo to illustrate this petroglyph

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Lower Lanshaw Dam CR-2

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Lower Lanshaw Dam CR-2 53.899968, -1.785029 Lower Lanshaw Dam CR-2

Lower Lanshaw Dam (01), Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1416 4489

Getting Here

Take the same directions as if you’re visiting the Lanshaw Dam 2 petroglyph, then keep walking directly towards the Lanshaw Dam, 130 yards east.  Halfway between the two, closer to the footpath, look out for a stone of similar shape and dimensions to Lanshaw 2, just by a prehistoric cairn.  You’ll find it!

Archaeology & History

Cup-marked stone & cairn
Close-up of cup marking

As with a great number of petroglyphs in and around Yorkshire, this large single cup-marked rock is found in close association with a reasonably large prehistoric cairn (several others are close by), some 3 yards in diameter.  The cup-marking here is larger than yer average cup-mark on these moors, being four inches across. It can clearly be seen on the southern vertical face of the rock and doesn’t appear to have been recorded before.  On the whole, it’s nothing special to look at and is probably just one for the petroglyphic purists amongst you.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Lanshaw Dam CR-1

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Lanshaw Dam CR-1 53.899988, -1.785988 Lower Lanshaw Dam CR-1

Elkington’s Track, Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Prehistoric Trackway:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13169 44111 to SE 13321 44172

Getting Here

Mr Elkington's newly uncovered prehistoric track
Mr Elkington’s newly uncovered prehistoric track

Get yourself to the Roms Law circle, by hook or by crook.  Then take the long almost straight footpath south, as if you’re heading to the very damaged Horncliffe Well (thanks to Yorkshire Water).  You’ll notice the fencing that runs parallel to the path eventually.  Nearly 400 yards along the parallel fenced line you reach the first decent-sized stream.  From here, walk upstream, keeping to its northern edges for another 300 yards—then walk 10-20 yards into the heather.  You’re damn close!

Archaeology & History

The site is named after Mr James Elkington who recently rediscovered this previously unmapped prehistoric trackway, close to where Burley Moor meets the western edge of Hawksworth Moor, on the greater Rombald’s complex.  And it’s a bloody good find if I might say so myself!  But, like so many sites covering the Rombald’s complex, it begs more questions than it answers.

2014 aerial view showing outline of trackway
2014 aerial view showing outline of trackway
2002 aerial view of trackway
2002 aerial view of trackway

The trackway is consistent in architectural design and dimensions with at least six of the eight prehistoric trackways that I’m aware of on these moors — none of which have ever been adequately mapped nor investigated by regional archaeologists (thankfully, there are folk like us around!).  This ninth trackway, upon initial investigation, may be the shortest of them all up here.

Section of large stones marking the track
Section of large stones marking the track
Overgrown section of track-edge
Overgrown section of track-edge

Elkington’s Track seems to begin its route about 10-20 yards north of the once large, fast-flowing stream of the Middle Beck—which in itself seems curious.  No trace of any trackway seems evident on the other side of this stream and there are no other prehistoric remains accounting for why it should begin or end here…

Walking along the track, it heads northeast for 80 yards, with low lines of raised parallel walling 4-5 yards apart defining the avenue, before it begins to gradually bend round in a more easterly direction.  Thirty yards along this more easterly alignment, in the southern walled section, lays an eroded stone (SE 13255 44165) that seems to have stood upright in the not-too-distant past.  It seems to mark an opening or gap in the walled trackway and a large scatter of small stones, akin to the denuded remains of a cairn is evident just below the track at this point.  The raised embankment of the trackway keeps heading east, towards the line of Hawksworth Moor boundary stones.

More long line of walled edges
More long line of walled edges
Looking NE up the track
Looking NE up the track

Upon initial investigation, the trackway was visible for a minimum of 185 yards (169.4m) in length, whereafter any immediate trace of it disappeared into the ancient peat.  However, aerial views of it on GoogleEarth indicate a faint extension of the track, but these are difficult to apprehend at ground-level.  There is every possibility that this trackway eventually meets up with one of the four other prehistoric trackways near the Great Skirtful of Stones giant tomb, or even the North Road running past Roms Law—but until this can be ascertained, the trackway must be defined on its own merits.  Further heather-burning on the moors at either end would obviously enable a great examination of the remains.

In the event that the southernmost point of this trackway does begin above the Middle Beck stream, as seems apparent, we may be looking at a ceremonial trackway and not just a ‘road’ as we define them in the modern parlance of homo-profanus culture.  Think of it as a small version of The Avenue trackway that runs from Stonehenge outwards, past the Heel Stone and eventually bending down to the River Avon. (Burl 2006)  Y’ just never know…..

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, A Brief History of Stonehenge, Constable: London 2006.
  2. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  3. Raistrick, Arthur, Green Tracks on the Pennines, Dalesman: Clapham 1962.
  4. Wright, Geoffrey N., Roads and Trackways of the Yorkshire Dales, Moorland: 1985.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Elkington's Track

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Elkington\'s Track 53.893012, -1.801103 Elkington\'s Track

Roms Law, Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Ring Cairn: OS Grid Reference – SE 13648 44719

Also known as:

  1. Grubstones Circle
  2. Rumbles Law
  3. Rums Law

Getting Here

Early drawing of 'Grubstones'
Early drawing of ‘Grubstones’

Get to the Twelve Apostles stone circle, then walk just 100 yards down the main footpath south, towards Bingley, and watch out for a small footpath immediately to your left.  Walk on here and head for the rocky outcrop a half-mile ahead of you.  Once past the outcrop, take the first footpath right and walk down for another 100 yards.  Stop! – and walk into the heather.  The circle’s about 50 yards away!  You can of course come from the Menston side of the moor, following the same directions for the Great Skirtful of Stones, but keep walking on for another 200 yards, towards the rocky outcrop again, turning left down the path for 100 yards, before stopping and walking 50 yards into the heath again!

Archaeology & History

Roms Law circle
Roms Law circle

This is one of my favourite sites on these moors. I’m not 100% sure why – but there’s always been something a bit odd about the place. And I don’t quite know what I mean, exactly, when I say “odd.” There’s just something about it… But it’s probably just me.  Though I assume that me sleeping rough here numerous times in the past might have summat to do with it, playing with the lizards, and of course…the sheep… AHEM!!! Soz about that – let’s just get back to what’s known about the place!

Grubstones is an intriguing place and, I recommend, recovers its original name of Roms or Rums Law.  It was described as such in the earliest records and only seems to have acquired the title ‘Grubstones’ following the Ordnance Survey assessment in the 1850s.  The name derives from two compound words, rum, ‘room, space, an open space, a clearing’; and hlaw, a ‘tumulus, or hill’ – literally meaning here the ‘clearing or place of the dead,’ or variations thereof.  But an additional variant on the word law also needs consideration here, as it can also be used to mean a ‘moot or meeting place’; and considering that local folklore, aswell as local boundary records tell of this site being one of the gathering places, here is the distinct possibility of it possessing another meaning: literally, ‘a meeting place of the dead’, or variations on this theme.

The present title of Grubstones was a mistranslation of local dialect by the Ordnance Survey recorders, misconstruing the guttural speaking of Rum stones as ‘grub stones.’  If you wanna try it yourself, talk in old Yorkshire tone, then imagine some Oxford or London dood coming along and asking us the name of the ring of stones!  It works – believe me….

The site has little visual appeal, almost always overgrown with heather, but its history is considerable for such a small and insignificant-looking site.  First described in land records of 1273 CE, Roms Law was one of the sites listed in the local boundary perambulations records which was enacted each year on Rogation Day (movable feast day in Spring).  However in 1733 there was a local boundary dispute which, despite the evidence of written history, proclaimed the Roms Law circle to be beyond the manor of Hawksworth, in which it had always resided.  But the boundary was changed – and local people thenceforth made their way to the Great Skirtful of Stones on their annual ritual walk: a giant cairn several hundred yards east to which, archaeologically, there is some considerable relationship.  For at the northern edge of the Roms Law circle is the denuded remnants of a prehistoric trackway in parts marked out with fallen standing stones and which leads to the very edge of the great cairn.  This trackway or avenue, like that at Avebury (though not as big), consists of “male” and “female” stones and begins – as far as modern observations can tell – several hundred yards to the west, close to a peculiar morass of rocks and a seeming man-made embankment (which I can’t make head or tail of it!).  From here it goes past Roms Law and continues east towards the Great Skirtful, until it veers slightly round the southern side of the huge old tomb, then keeps going eastwards again into the remnants of a prehistoric graveyard close by.

In my opinion, it is very likely that this trackway was an avenue along which our ancestors carried their dead. Equally probable, the Roms Law Circle was where the body of the deceased was rested, or a ritual of some form occurred, before taken on its way to wherever.  It seems very probable that this avenue had a ceremonial aspect of some form attached to it. However, due to the lack of decent archaeological attention, this assertion is difficult to prove.

A previously unrecognised small single tomb is in evidence to the immediate southeast (5 yards) of the circle.  There is also another previously unrecognised prehistoric trackway that runs up along the eastern side of the circle, roughly north-south, making its way here from Hawksworth Moor to the south.  The old legend that Roms Law was a meeting place may relate to it being a site where the dead were rested, along with it being an important point along the old boundary line. Records tell us that the chant, “This is Rumbles Law” occurred here at the end of the perambulation – which, after the boundary change, was uttered at the Great Skirtful.  This continued till at least 1901.

Northern section of the Ring
Northern section of the Ring

Modern archaeological analysis of the site is undecided as regards the actual nature of Roms Law.  Ordnance Survey maps show it as an “enclosure” (which is vague); Faull & Moorhouse’s survey (1981) erroneously tell us it had no funerary nature, contrary to Eric Cowling’s (1946) report of finding bones and ashes from the small hole in near the centre of the ring, aswell as the 1880 drawing of the site in Collyer & Turner’s survey (above).  And we find the single cairn on the south-eastern edge of the ring indicating burial rites of sorts definitely occurred here.  Described variously by previous archaeologists as a stone circle, a ring cairn, cairn circle, an enclosure, aswell as “a rubble-fill wall of a circular house” (by some anonymous member of the West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, who didn’t respond to my queries about this curious assumption), the real nature of Roms Law leans more to a cairn circle site.  A fine example of a cup-and-ring stone — the Comet Stone — was found very close to the circle, somewhere along the Grubstones Ridge more than a hundred years ago, and it may have had some relevance to Roms Law.

This denuded ring of stones is a place that has to be seen quite blatantly in a much wider context, with other outlying sites having considerable relationship to it.  Simple as! (If you wanna know more about this, check out my short work, Roms Law, due out shortly!)

Describing the status and dimensions here, our great Yorkshire historian Arthur Raistrick (1929) told that:

“The larger stones still standing number about twenty, but the spaces between them are filled with stones of many intermediate sizes, so that one could with only considerable detail of size, etc, number the original peristalith.”

…Meaning that we’re unsure exactly how many stones stood in the ring when it was first built!  Although a little wider, the Roms Law is similar in form to the newly discovered ‘Hazell Circle‘ not far from here.  The site has changed little since Raistrick’s survey, though some halfwits nicked some of the stones on the southwestern edge of the site in the 1960s to build a stupid effing grouse-butt, from which to shoot the birds up here! (would the local council or local archaeologist have been consulted about such destruction by building the grouse-butt here? – anyone know?)  Thankfully, this has all but disappeared and the moorland has taken it back to Earth.

There is still a lot more to be told of Roms Law and its relationship with a number of uncatalogued sites scattered hereby.  Although it’s only a small scruffy-looking thing (a bit like misself!), its archaeology and mythic history is very rich indeed.  “Watch This Space” – as they say!

Folklore

Alleged to be haunted, this site has been used by authentic ritual magickians in bygone years. It was described by Collyer & Turner (1885) “to have been a Council or Moot Assembly place” — and we find this confirmed to a great extent via the township perambulation records.  Considerable evidence points to an early masonic group convening here in medieval times and we are certain from historical records that members of the legendary Grand Lodge of All England (said to be ordained in the tenth century by King Athelstan) met here, or at the adjacent Great Skirtful of Stones giant cairn 400 yards east.

The boundary perambulations which occurred here on Rogation Day relate to events just before or around Beltane, Mayday.  Elizabeth Wright (1913) said of this date:

“These days are marked in the popular mind by the ancient and well-known custom of beating the parish bounds, whence arose the now obsolete name of Gang-days, and the name Rammalation-day, i.e., perambulation-day, for Rogation-Monday.  The practice is also called Processioning and Possessioning… The reason why this perambulation of the parish boundaries takes place at Rogationtide seems to be that originally it was a purely religious observance, a procession of priest and people through the fields to pray for a fruitful Spring-time and harvest.  In the course of time the secular object of familiarizing the growing generation with their parish landmarks gained the upper hand, but the date remained as testimony to the primary devotional character of the custom.”

And the calling of, “This is Rumbles Law” maintained this ancient custom when it used to be uttered here.

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Bennett, Paul, The Roms Law Circle, Ilkley Moor, Heathen Earth: Keighley 2009.
  3. Bennett, Paul, The Twelve Apostles Stone Circle, TNA Publications 2017.
  4. Collyer, Robert & Turner, J. Horsfall, Ilkley: Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
  5. Colls, J.N.M., ‘Letter upon some Early Remains Discovered in Yorkshire,’ in Archaeologia 31, 1846.
  6. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  7. Devereux, Paul, Places of Power, Blandford: London 1989.
  8. Faull & Moorhouse, West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey – volume 1, WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.
  9. Gelling, Margaret, Signposts to the Past, Phillimore: Chichester 1988.
  10. Gelling, Margaret, Place-Names in the Landscape, Phoenix: London 2000.
  11. Gomme, G.L., Primitive Folk-Moots; or Open-Air Assemblies in Britain, Sampson Low: London 1880.
  12. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘The Bronze Age in West Yorkshire,’ in YAJ, 1929.
  13. Smith, A.H., English Place-Names Elements – volume 2, Cambridge University Press 1956.
  14. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 4, Cambridge University Press 1963.
  15. Speight, Harry, Chronicles and Stories of Old Bingley, Elliott Stock: London 1898.
  16. Wardell, James, Historical Notices on Ilkley, Rombald’s Moor, Baildon Common, etc., Leeds 1869.
  17. Wright, Elizabeth Mary, Rustic Speech and Folk-Lore, Oxford University Press 1913.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.898464, -1.793788 Roms Law

Great Skirtful Ring, Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1415 4452

Getting Here

Follow the directions to reach the Great Skirtful of Stones giant cairn (very worryingly being encroached upon, illegally [it’s a protected monument], by employees of Bradford Council digging tracks into its edges).  Walk less than 100 yards to the east, down the slight moorland slope (Leeds & Otley Chevin are in the distance).  You’re here!

Archaeology & History

This is a very intriguing site.  Intriguing because we don’t actually know what it is!  It’s best seen at the end of winter, shortly after the heather-burning’s been done; but if there’s been no burning here, after a year or two it’s almost impossible to find!

Great Skirtful Ring on 1851 map
Colls’ 1846 plan

Despite it being only a short distance east of the Great Skirtful giant cairn, very little has been written about it (a surprise in itself!) – but this is down the failings of archaeological professionals  in the area, who still neglect this incredible prehistoric arean.  It was first described in Mr J.N.M. Colls’ (1846) survey of sites in the region, where he thought it to be a prehistoric camp.  Several years later the Ordnance Survey lads visited here and deemed it to be prehistoric barrows, which doesn’t seem true.  Nearly a hundred years later, the great northern antiquarian Eric Cowling (1946) who saw fit to describe it as an “enclosure” — so I’m copying his idea so I don’t get into too much trouble!  Thinking it to be a Bronze Age monument, he wrote:

“On the main ridge of Rombald’s Moor and about eighty yards to the east of the Great Skirtful barrow, is a small circular enclosure with a diameter of twenty yards.  There appears to have been an entrance on the eastern side, which is protected by a short length of banking to the east.”

Aerial image, 2002
Aerial image, 2009
Aerial image, 2009

The “length of banking” he described didn’t seem apparent when we visited the site yesterday (23.3.09), but we intend a further exploration of this and the adjacent monuments in the coming weeks and hope to locate it!

Interestingly, the archaeologists Faull & Moorhouse (1981:1:103), in their otherwise fine survey, actually doubted this place as having any prehistoric status, without giving any reason why—which was a big mistake. No doubt they spent too much time in offices and board meetings instead of getting out a bit more!  Unless evidence to the contrary can be strongly presented, this site must be classed as undoubtedly prehistoric in nature (Bronze Age or Iron Age certainly) and almost certainly had something to do with rituals of the dead.

Great Skirtful Ring embankment
Great Skirtful Ring embankment
Southern edge of the ring
Southern edge of the ring

From outer edge to outer edge the ‘ring’ measures 102 feet across, N-S, and with a rough maximum 101 feet E-W, being diameter, being some 300 feet in circumference.  When you look at the site at ground level it appears to be an almost perfect ring, consisting of an embankment little more than 2 feet high at the most, with entrances both east and west. However, as the aerial images show, the perfect circle aint quite so perfect!  But at ground level, there’s a certain uniformity about it.  The embankment is in very good condition around much of the ring, with only slight damage in certain parts.  The western opening strongly implies a direct relationship with the Great Skirtful cairn — which would infer this monument to have more of a ritual nature rather than the simple domestic enclosure, inferred by Colls and Cowling.  Adding to this we find a tumulus 100 yards east and the remains of several other cairns nearby, making the site almost hemmed in by death-sites.  A prehistoric cemetery is a short distance further down the moorland slopes to the east. Add also the fact that the Burley Moor stone avenue runs immediately south and the death-motif has to be increased.

What do I think it is? Not sure! The thought that it’s a previously unrecognized henge has crossed my mind…but henge monuments aren’t things that I’m very clued-up on, so wouldn’t like to say for sure.  If there are any university archaeology students out there who are into getting their feet dirty, give this site a look-over.  It’s intriguing, in very good condition, and could do with an accurate ID!

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Chieveley 2001.
  2. Colls, J.N.M., ‘Letter upon some Early Remains Discovered in Yorkshire,’ in Archaeologia, volume 31, 1846.
  3. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  4. Faull, M.L. & Moorhouse, S.A. (eds), West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey – volume 1, WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Great Skirtful Ring

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Great Skirtful Ring 53.896662, -1.786157 Great Skirtful Ring