Craven Hall Hill (2), Hawksworth Moor, West Yorkshire

Ring Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SE 14574 44098

Getting Here

Site shown on 1851 map

Unless the heather’s been burnt back, this takes a bitta finding.  Direction-wise, the easiest is from the moorland road above Menston.  Go up Moor Lane and then turn right along Hillings Lane. 350 yards on is a dirt-track on your right marked as Public Footpath.  Walk up here for two-thirds of a mile—going past where the track goes left to the Shooting Range—to where the track splits.  Bear left and after 250 yards you reach a fence on your left where the moorland proper begins.  Follow this fence SW for 300 yards until it does a right angle turn.  Just before this, you’ll see a large worn overgrown trackway or path running north into the moorland.  Walk up here for nearly 100 yards and look around.  Best o’ luck!

Archaeology & History

Western arc of earth & stone

Shown on the 1851 OS-map adjacent to the long prehistoric trackway that runs past Roms Law, the Great Skirtful and other prehistoric sites, the antiquarian wanderings of Forrest & Grainge (1868) came past here and, although didn’t mention the Craven Hall cairns directly, they did write of “a group of barrows” hereabouts, and this may have been one of them.  James Wardell (1869)  gave an even more fleeting skip, only mentioning “pit dwellings” hereby.  A little closer to certainty was the literary attention Collyer & Turner’s (1885) pen gave, where they described, “near the adjoining old trackway, which runs from East to West, will be seen a small barrow”—but this could be either of the Craven Hill sites.  And the usually brilliant Harry Speight (1900) gave the place only more brevity….

Structurally similar to Roms Law nearly ¾-mile northwest of here, this little-known and much denuded prehistoric tomb has seen better days.  It is barely visible even when the heather’s low—and when we visited recently, the heather was indeed low but, as the photos here indicate, it’s troublesome to see.  It’s better, of course, with the naked eye.

Highlighted ring cairn, looking NE
Highlighted ring cairn, looking SE

It’s the most easterly cairn in the large Bronze Age necropolis (burial ground) on Hawksworth Moor.  Measuring some 12 yards across and roughly circular in form, the ring is comprised mainly of many small stones compacted with peat, creating a raised embankment barely two feet high above the heath and about a yard across on average.  A number of larger stones can be seen when you walk around the ring, but they don’t appear to have any uniformity in layout such as found at the more traditional stone circles.  However, only an excavation will tell us if there was ever any deliberate positioning of these larger stones.  It would also tell us if there was ever a burial or cremation here, but the interior of the ring has been dug out, seemingly a century or two ago…

References:

  1. Collyer, Robert & Turner, J.H., Ilkley: Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
  2. Faull, M.L. & Moorhouse, S.A. (eds.), West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Guide to AD 1500 – volume 1, WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.
  3. Forrest, C. & Grainge, William, A Ramble on Rumbald’s Moor, among the Rocks, Idols and Altars of the Ancient Druids in the Spring of 1869, H. Kelly: Wakefield 1868.
  4. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.
  5. Wardell, James, Historical Notes of Ilkley, Rombald’s Moor, Baildon Common, and other Matters of the British and Roman Periods, Joseph Dodgson: Leeds 1869.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Torrnacloch, Dalbog, Edzell, Angus

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NO 5871 7189

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 35190

Archaeology & History

‘Site of’ stone circle, 1865

When the Ordnance Survey lads visited this area in 1860, they stood upon this small knoll that was known as Torrnacloch – or the Knoll of the Stone.  They were informed that a ring of stones had stood here, but had been destroyed about 1840, apparently by a local farmer.  The stones were described as being about 3 feet high.  They subsequently added it on the earliest OS-map of the area, but also made note that a cist was found within the site.  The circle was included and classed as a stone circle in Aubrey Burl’s (2000) magnum opus, but had previously been classed as a cairn with “a kerb of large boulders” by the Royal Commission doods. (1983)  They based their assessment on the appearance of some of the stones found on a gravel mound behind the farm which had apparently been removed from the circle when it was destroyed.  Andrew Jervise (1853) gave us the following account:

“The Chapelry of Dalbog was on the east side of the parish, due west of Neudos.  The time of its suppression is unknown; and though no vestige of any house remains, the site of the place of worship is still called the “chapel kirk shed” by old people, and, in the memory of an aged informant, a fine well and hamlet of houses graced the spot.  This field adjoins the hillock of Turnacloch, or “the knoll of stones,” which was probably so named, from being topped in old times by a so-called Druidical circle, the last of the boulders of which were only removed in 1840.  Some of them decorate a gravel mound behind the farm house; and, on levelling the knoll on which they stood, a small sepulchral chamber was discovered, about four feet below the surface. The sides, ends, and bottom, were built of round ordinary sized whinstones, cemented with clay, and the top composed of large rude flags.  It was situate on the sunny side of the knoll, within the range of the circle; but was so filled with gravel, that although carefully searched, no relics were found.”

The emphasis on this place being where a stone circle stood, as opposed a cairn, is highlighted in the place-name Torrnacloch, or the hillock of stones/boulders.  Both Dorwood (2001) and Will (1963), each telling it to be where a stone circle stood; with Will adding that parts of the circle “may yet be seen in rear of the steading of Dalbog.”  If this had been where a cairn existed, some variant on the word carn would have been here.

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  2. Dorwood, David, The Glens of Angus, Pinkfoot: Balgavies 2001.
  3. Jervise, Anrew, The History and Traditions of the Land of the Lindsays in Angus and Mearns, Sutherland & Knox: Edinburgh 1853.
  4. MacLaren, A. et al, The Archaeological Sites and Monuments of Central Angus, RCAHMS: Edinburgh 1983.
  5. Will, C.P., Place Names of Northeast Angus, Herald: Arbroath 1963.

Acknowledgements:  Big thanks for use of the 1st edition OS-map in this site profile, Reproduced with the kind permission of the National Library of Scotland

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Simon Howe Stone Row, Goathland, North Yorkshire

Stone Row:  OS Grid Reference – SE 83016 98119 (SSW) to SE 83031 98142 (NNE)

Getting Here

Simon Howe stone row (photo by James Elkington)

From Pickering take the moor road towards Whitby (A169) for approx. 12 miles.  After passing the Fylingdales Early Warning radar on the right (you can’t miss it), the road dips down to cross Eller Beck as a dog leg. After a half mile turn off left (west) towards Goathland (signposted). Follow the road under the North Yorks Moor railway bridge and after a third-of-a-mile the road turns slightly left.  Park in the little layby and follow the track onto the moors. Cross the small stream and walk along the narrow track through gorgeous heather for a mile and a half. Ahead you will see Simon Howe prominent on a ridge, with a stone row leading to it.

Archaeology & History

Not included in either of the giant megalithic alignments surveys of Burl or Thom, it seems that the first archaeological reference to this site was made by Raymond Hayes (1988).   He visited the site in 1947, shortly after a moorland fire had cleared away all the vegetation, allowing for a clearer view of the stones and, after his brief description of the adjacent Simon Howe tomb, he told that,

“The ridge is also the site of what is an unusual feature for the moors: a stone alignment consisting of three, formerly five upright stones that lead to a low eroded cairn c.65m to the south(west).  A moor fire in 1947 revealed the fourth, fallen stone, and I was able to locate the socket of a fifth.”

Raymond Hayes 1947 photo
Stone row on GoogleEarth

From hereon, Hayes seemed to more interested in seeking out and describing a large number of flints that he found scattered on the ground around Simon Howe and its associated monoliths than the stones themselves.  Very sad…  The exact position of the missing fifth stone seems to be shown on Hayes’ plan as being closest to the cairn, about 10-15 yards away, but no trace of this remains.  However, of the remaining monoliths, they are all clearly visible from the air on Google Earth!

Looking SW (Photo by James Elkington)
Looking NE (photo by James Elkington)

The most southerly of the four stones (SE 83016 98119) stands just over 3 feet tall and the second upright, leaning at an angle, is just slightly taller, with the tallest of the three uprights at the northeastern end, being some 6 feet tall.   The fourth fallen stone (SE 83031 98142) lies just beyond this in the heather and which, if resurrected, would stand some 4 feet in height.  The length of the row, stone-to-stone, is just over 29 yards (26.6m).  I’m not aware if this site has ever been assessed as having an astronomical function, but its angle to the northeast might suggest a lunar rising.  Perhaps more pertinent would be another prehistoric cairn that can be seen less than 100 yards away past the northern end of stone row…

References:

  1. Hayes, Raymond H., North-East Yorkshire Studies: Archaeological Papers, YAS: Leeds 1988.
  2. White, Stanhope, Standing Stones and Earthworks on the North Yorkshire Moors, privately printed: Scarborough 1987.
  3. Windle, Bertram C.A., Remains of the Prehistoric Age in England, Methuen: London 1909.

Links: 

  1. Simon Howe Stone Row on Stone Rows of Great Britain

Acknowledgements:  A huge thanks to James Elkington for use of his excellent photos in this site profile, as well as telling us about Getting Here. 🙂

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Simon Howe, Goathland, North Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SE 83007 98096

Getting Here

Simon Howe on 1854 map

From Pickering take the moor road towards Whitby (A169) for approx. 12 miles.  After passing the huge Fylingdales Early Warning radar on the right (you can’t miss it), the road dips down to cross Eller Beck as a dog leg. After a half mile turn off left (west) towards Goathland (signposted). There’s a free car park on the left where you can sit for awhile and enjoy the views.  Follow the road under the North Yorks Moor railway bridge, and after a third-of-a-mile the road turns slightly left.  Park in the little layby and follow the track onto the moors. Cross the small stream and walk along the narrow track through gorgeous heather for a mile and a half. Ahead you will see Simon Howe prominent on a ridge, with a stone row leading to it.

Archaeology & History

This impressive prehistoric tomb was first described in deeds as early as 1335 as Simondshou, which A.H. Smith (1928) translates to mean ‘Sigemund’s mound’ – alluding it to have been either the burial of someone with that name, or a name given to it by the incoming Vikings, oh so many centuries ago.  The latter is the more probable of the two…

Simon Howe (photo by James Elkington)
Hayes’ 1947 photo of Simon Howe

With excellent views in all directions, this monument is found high up in the landscape at the meeting of four paths that are closely aligned to the cardinal directions.  It was highlighted as a tumulus on the 1854 OS-map of the region and subsequently included in Windle’s (1909) listings as a “round barrow”, found in association with “three upright stones” running to the northeast. There are in fact four stones.

Not much has been written of it in archaeological circles.  Thankfully a brief survey of it was undertaken in 1947 by Raymond Hayes (1988) after a moorland blaze had cleared the heather that enabled good conditions to see the site clearly.  When he came here he told that,

“Simon Howe…is very mutilated, what survives indicates that it was 11.50m in diameter and it is clear that it incorporated a stone kerb.”

This “stone kerb”, or surrounding ring of stones, is a feature found at other tombs on these hills—Flat Howe (1) being just one example.  However, in contrast to Flat Howe (1), Simon Howe has had most of its central mound totally stripped by peoples unknown a few centuries ago.  The remains we see today look more like a small ruined stone circle with internal rubble and a new walker’s cairn emerging from its centre.  Outside the cairn, just a few yards northeast, a fascinating megalithic stone row emerges.  Whether these were erected at the same time (in the early to mid-Bronze age, in my opinion) only an excavation would show.

References:

  1. Hayes, Raymond H., North-East Yorkshire Studies: Archaeological Papers, YAS: Leeds 1988.
  2. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the North Riding of Yorkshire, Cambridge University Press 1928.
  3. White, Stanhope, Standing Stones and Earthworks on the North Yorkshire Moors, privately printed: Scarborough 1987.
  4. Windle, Bertram C.A., Remains of the Prehistoric Age in England, Methuen: London 1909.

Links

  1. Simon Howe on The Megalithic Portal
  2. Simon Howe on Stone Rows of Great Britain

Acknowledgements:  A huge thanks to James Elkington for use of the photograph in this site profile, as well as telling us about Getting Here.  And the map accompanying this site profile is Reproduced with the kind permission of the National Library of Scotland

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Glen Cochill Circle (01), Little Dunkeld, Perthshire

Hut Circle:  OS Grid Reference – NN 90324 41487

Getting Here

Glen Cochill Circle - No.1

Glen Cochill Circle – No.1

Take the same directions to reach the impressive Carn Ban prehistoric tomb.  From here, walk along the winding track past the giant cairn onto the moors for about 350 yards, until the track goes dead straight and heads NNW uphill.  Walk up here for another 350 yards keeping your eyes peeled on the rounded pyramidal hill with the large rock on top.  The circle is 20 yards off the track as you head up to the pyramidal hill stone.

Archaeology & History

Although this site is mentioned in notes by the Scottish Royal Commission and highlighted by Ordnance Survey, information thereafter is pretty scarce.  Which is surprising when you check this place out first-hand.  It’s bloody impressive!  David Cowley (1997) describes the area, but not in much detail.

Northern arc of walling

Northern arc of walling

Eastern arc of walling

Eastern arc of walling

The circle seems to have been rediscovered first of all by the dowser J. Scott Elliott (1964), who thought it was a cairn circle – which is understandable.  However, it has been classified by the Royal Commission lads as a “hut circle”, so we’ll stick with that for the time being.

An entrance to the circle doesn’t stand out.  There may be one on the southeastern side, but this isn’t clear; and what looked like a possible entrance on its northern edge was discounted, as a larger stone blocked this on the outside.  There was no immediate evidence of any internal structure, no hearth, no tomb – merely a small stone at its centre, deeply embedded in the peat.  This may, however, cover a central cist – which would make this a cairn circle and not a large hut circle.  But that’s guesswork on my behalf!

Arc of ring from east to south
WNW arc of walling

Never excavated, what we’ve got here is a very well-preserved, large ring of stones, more typical of Pennine and Derbyshire ring cairns than any standard hut circles.  But this is Scotland we’re talking about!  This impressive ring measures outer-edge to outer-edge 12 yards in diameter (north-south), by 11 yards (east-west), with the stone walling that defines the ring being between 3 and 4 feet across all round, and between 1-2 feet high.  And it’s in damn good nick!  More similar in structure to the likes of Roms Law, a number of notably large stones define the edges, but many hundreds of smaller packing stones build up the ring walls.  Of the larger rocks in the ring, the most notable one is a large white quartz crystal stone on its NNE side.

Quartz rock reflects the sun, looking W

Quartz rock reflects the sun, looking W

It’s an impressive site whatever it may be! – in very good condition for its age (Bronze Age by the look of it) and, whilst still visible above the heather, well worth checking out if you like your stone circles and prehistoric rings.  The small prehistoric graveyard 30-40 yards south and east, plus the extensive settlement systems all over these moors are all worth exploring if you visit this place.

References:

  1. Cowley, David C., “Archaeological Landscapes in Strathbraan,” in Tayside & Fife Archaeological Journal, volume 3, 1997.
  2. Scott-Elliot, J., “Kinloch House, Amulree,” in Discovery & Excavation in Scotland, 1964.
  3. Scott-Elliot, J., Dowsing – One Man’s Way, Neville Spearman: London 1977.

Links:

  1. Canmore notes on Glen Cochill

Acknowledgements:  Many thanks to Mr Paul Hornby for his help, as usual.  Cheers fella!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Glen Cochill Cairnfield (01), Little Dunkeld, Perthshire

Cairns:  OS Grid Reference – NN 9035 4145

Getting Here

Two of at least five cairns hereby

Two of at least five cairns hereby

Take the A826 road south out of Aberfeldy, uphill, till you reach the White Cairn or Carn Ban, then follow the dirt-track for 700 yards onto the moors until you reach the Glen Cochill Circle 1.  From here, look at the large stone atop of the very notable rounded hillock barely 50 yards east (at NN 90367 41478) and meander on the slopes immediately below it on the south and west.  If the heather’s grown back, you don’t stand a chance!

Archaeology & History

As far as I’m aware, despite there being some brief notes of cairnfields in and around the rich prehistoric arena of Glen Cochill, I can find no data indicating that the five small single cairns a short distance south and southeast of the Glen Cochill Ring (01), have been described before.

Cairn 1 - looking north

Cairn 1 – looking north

Cairn 2 - looking north

Cairn 2 – looking north

Deeply embedded into the peat, they are only visible when the heather has been burnt away, as highlighted in the accompanying photos.  Each cairn is of roughly the same size and structure: 2-3 yards across and only a couple of feet above ground-level, consisting of the traditional small rounded stones, each probably constituting a single burial or cremation.

Cairn 4, below the hilltop rock

Cairn 4, below the hilltop rock

Of at least five cairns that we found here (there may be others beneath the covering heather), it was very notable that they’re on edges of a rounded pyramidal hillock, whose top is surmounted by a large pointed stone – probably a glacial erratic.  We looked at this rock in the hope of finding some cup-markings, but there were none.  However, it seemed as if the cairns and this crowning stone were related to each other, as if rites for the dead were proclaimed here for those in the tombs.  It may sound silly, but go there and take a look at it yourselves – before the heather grows back.  Just as a priests today, and shamans throughout history, have used an altar or plinth to make commemorations to the dead, so this crowning stone may equally have been used.  It makes sense.  And, as if to add validating ingredients: if we look east, past the crowning stone and across the River Cochill, we see the great rocks in the forest known as Creag a Bhaird, or the Crag of the Bard, from whence orations and tales were known to be told… But that’s another site with its very own story…

Acknowledgements:  Once again, thanks must be given to Mr Paul Hornby for his help in finding these sites.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Glenshervie Burn, Glen Almond, Perthshire

Ring Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NN 82614 32996

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 25565
  2. River Almond

Getting Here

The ruins of Glenshervie Circle

The ruins of Glenshervie Circle

Take the dirt-track, off-road, up to the start of Glen Almond, for more than 4 miles — past the curious Conichan Ring, and past the standing stone of Clach an Tiompan, until you see the large modern walled circle in the field on your left.  Go into that field and you’ll notice a ruined pile and small standing stones 56 yards (51m) WSW.  Y’ can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

Sitting upon a flat grassland plateau close to the confluence of the Glenshervie Burn with the River Almond, the visitor here will notice an overgrown ovoid mass of old worn stones in the form of a prehistoric cairn, with two upright standing stones on the western edges of the pile.  This is the remains of what the megalithic magus Aubrey Burl (1988) called the Glenshervie “four poster” stone circle.

Glenshervie stones, looking N

Glenshervie stones, looking N

Glenshervie stones, looking W

Glenshervie stones, looking W

Structurally similar to the neighbouring four-poster of Clach an Tiompan 470 yards (427m) to the ESE, and less damaged than the remaining megaliths of Auchnafree 568 yards (520m) to the northwest, this megalithic ruin was first mentioned in passing by Audrey Henshall (1956) in her survey of the giant Clach an Tiompan tomb and its adjacent ring.  She told that,

“In meadowland beside the Almond, a small circle of standing stones, hitherto unrecorded, protrude through the water-worn material of a low cairn.  This is a similar type of monument to the ruined site at Clach na Tiompan.”

Close-up of cairn & stones

Close-up of cairn & stones

Glenshervie ruins, looking S

Glenshervie ruins, looking S

Indeed it is!  Sadly however, it remains unexcavated — so we know not what its precise nature and function may have been.  When Burl included the site in his 1988 survey, he could add nothing more than I can; but curiously described the two standing stones here as being only “about 1 ft (30cm) high.”  They’re between two and three feet tall respectively, and the remaining cairn is between 5 and 6 yards in diameter, with the central rubble rising between 1 and 2 feet above the natural ground level.

The landscape at the point where this circle was built enables you to look up and down the glens of Almond and Shervie in three different directions.  Whether or not this was deliberate, we cannot know for sure.  But the setting on the whole, in the middle of where the glen widens out and hold this and the nearby monuments, is a beautiful setting indeed…

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, Four Posters: Bronze Age Stone Circles of Western Europe, BAR 195: Oxford 1988.
  2. Henshall, Audrey & Stewart, M.E.C., “Excavations at Clach na Tiompan, Wester Glen Almond, Perthshire,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 88, 1955.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Tillicoultry House Carving, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NS 9240 9752

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 48255

Archaeology & History

Multiple-ringed carving, Tillicoultry

Multiple-ringed carving, Tillicoultry

A recent visit to try find this intricate carving—the only one of its kind in Clackmannanshire—proved unsuccessful, and so I add it here in the hope that someone might know where it is and bring it back to light.  It looked like quite an impressive petroglyph.  If the stone isn’t hiding in undergrowth at the edge of someone’s garden, it may well have been destroyed—which would be appalling.  As a unique design, this important carving should have been preserved.  Even when the Victorian explorers found it, the covering stone circle had been greatly damaged and many stones in the ring had been removed.  This carved stone remained intact however.  When Mr R. Robertson (1895) and his friend visited the site, it was covered in sand and dirt and had fallen to the side of an internal cist:

“On clearing this away a remarkable feature was brought to light.  The block was found to be elaborately ornamented on its sides and upper surface, with rings, spirals and lines.  The labour of cutting these in the hard granite with primitive tools of the period must have been very great. Several successful photos of the stone and its carvings were taken by Provost Westwood, Dollar…. This stone has now been removed to the vicinity of Tillicoultry for safety.”

In the same article, George Black told slightly more of the design:

“The covering stone of the cist…bears on the face a series of concentric circles, and spirals springing from one of the groups of circles,  Four grooves also unite the same set of circles with the left-hand edge of the stone.  On the edge shown in the photograph there is another group, consisting of two concentric circles.  The unevenness of the surface of the stone appears to have been of no moment to the sculptor of the circles, as the incisions follow the surface into its sinuosities and depressions.”

Not long after Robertson & Black’s visit, the great megalithomaniac Fred Coles (1899) came here—and he found that the “spirals” that Mr Black described were nothing of the sort.

“The huge irregularly-shaped diorite boulder which covered the cist has several cup-and-ring marks on one face and one side…. These marks are now, so I was informed when inspecting them, very much less distinct than they were when the photograph was taken (above) in 1894.  It would be difficult now to describe the incised markings with accuracy; it is difficult even to see them when wet.  But…I must take exception to the term ‘spirals’ as applied to any of these ‘rings.’  There are three groups of rings so placed as to make the outermost ring in each group touch that of the others (not an uncommon form), but there is no one true volute.

“…What is more noteworthy is the group of four long parallel, nearly perpendicular grooves issuing (probably) from the outermost ring of the group of five rings, and ending at the edge of the boulder.”

Alison Young's 1937 sketch

Alison Young’s 1937 sketch

Cole also noted that the carvings were to be found on the upper surface of the stone.  It would seem very probable that the excessive erosion which Cole described was due to the fact that the stone was, many centuries earlier, exposed to the elements within the stone circle and not buried as it later came to be.  It makes sense.

The excessive erosion was spoken of by the Royal Commission (1933) lads, aswell as the last person to describe the site, Ronald W.B. Morris (1981), who said that during his visits here between 1966-75,

“the author has only found traces of possible cups visible on the rough surface, which has flaked badly.”

Morris (1981) said that the stone measured “1½m by 1¾m by ½m (5½ft x 4½ft x 2ft)”—and was last known to be some 10 yards NW of the Tillicoultry House cottage, but we could locate no trace of the stone or its carving.  If anyone is aware of the whereabouts or fate of this important neolithic carving, please let us know.

References:

  1. Coles, Fred R., (1899b) ‘Notices of the discovery of a cist and urns at Juniper Green, and of a cist at the Cunninghar, Tillicoultry, and of some undescribed cup- marked stones’in Proceedings of the Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 33, 1899.
  2. MacWhite, Eoin, “A New View on Irish Bronze Age Rock-Scribings,” in Journal Royal Society Antiquaries, Ireland, 76:2, 1946.
  3. Morris, Ronald W.B., ‘The cup-and-ring marks and similar sculptures of Scotland: a survey of the southern Counties, part II’in Proceedings of the Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 100, 1969.
  4. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Cup-and-Ring and Similar Early Sculptures of Scotland; Part 2 – The Rest of Scotland except Kintyre,” in Transactions of the Ancient Monuments Society, volume 16, 1969.
  5. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.
  6. Robertson, R., Black, G.F. & Struthers, J., ‘Notice of the discovery of a stone cist and urns at the Cuninghar, Tillicoultryin Proceedings of the Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 29, 1895.
  7. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, HMSO: Edinburgh 1933.
  8. Young, Alison, “Cup-and-Ring Markings on Craig Ruenshin, with some Comparative Notes,” in Proceedings of the Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 72, 1937.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Culhawk Hill, Kirriemuir, Angus

Stone Circle:  OS Grid Reference – NO 3530 5620

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 32209

Getting Here

The largest stone in the ring

From Kirriemuir central, head up the Kinnordy road, going straight across the main road and continuing past the Kinnordy turn-off for just over a mile towards Mearns, stopping where a small copse of trees appears on your left.  From here, walk along the track to the west. It goes gradually uphill, cutting through a small cleft with a hillfort on the north and a cairn circle on the south until, ⅔-mile along, you reach the moorland.  Keep going on the same path for another ½-mile west where the grasslands level out.  Here, on the flat bit between the two hills, a small incomplete ring of stones lives, with one stone sticking out.  You’ll find it!

Archaeology & History

This is a curious site on several levels—not least, that its definition as a ‘stone circle’ is a fragile one; although to be honest, we do find here a large unfinished arc of stones in what looks like either an unfinished ring, or a deliberately constructed large arc.  But you won’t find it in the standard megalithic gazetteers of Burl, Barnatt or Thom as it was only relocated in the 1980s by local researchers Sherriff and MacKnight. (1985)  They didn’t have much to say about it either, simply telling that they’d found,

“A stone setting representing the remains of either a denuded cairn or a stone circle lies in the saddle between Culhawk Hill and Castle Hill. One erect and 4 prone boulders describe a portion of a roughly circular site some 10m in diameter.”

Arc of fallen stones, looking NE

Faint low ring, looking W

This is roughly the gist of it, with the largest and most prominent of the stones—barely three feet tall—standing on the western side (this is the stone which draws your attention – otherwise you’d never even notice it).  The rest of the stones seem to have been knocked down some time ago.  A barely discernible embankment constructed around the edge of the ring can be seen around the northern side.  It seems unlikely that it was a cairn, as no inner piles of stones were in evidence when we visited the site.  It may be a large hut circle.  But in truth it could do with an excavation so that we can suss out its exact nature.  Beneath the grasses we found an additional stone to those counted by Sherriff & MacKnight; but more intriguing is what Frank Mercer and I found before we even reached the small circle….

Trackway leading to the circle

More visibly distinct than the ring itself were two artificial raised embankments, running parallel with each other 3-4 yards apart.  The raised edges of these embankments were about a yard across, on both sides, with the inner area slightly lower than the outlying natural background.  These distinct linear earthworks are, quite simply, an early medieval or prehistoric trackway—and it leads directly into the circle!  It’s quite unmistakable and is clearly visible as it drops down the slope to the south and away into the fields below.  Sadly when we found it last week, darkness was falling and so we didn’t trace the trackway any further.  But the most notable thing was that it stopped at the circle and did not continue on its northern side, implying that it was constructed with the circle as its deliberate focal point.  The trackway and its embankments are roughly the same size as other recognized prehistoric routes, such as Elkington’s Track on Ilkley Moor and the other ancient causeway that runs past the prehistoric ring known as Roms Law.

Regarding the ring of stones: unless you’re a real megalith fanatic, you’ll probably be disappointed by what you see here.  It’s a bittova long wander to something that may once have been just a hut circle, but the avenue leading up to it is something else – and much more intriguing!

References:

  1. Sherriff, John R. & MacKnight, O., “Culhawk Hill (Kirriemuir p): Stone Setting,” in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1985.

Acknowledgements:  Thanks as always to Nina Harris and Frank Mercer; and to Paul Hornby for use of his photos.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Yockenthwaite Circle, Buckden, North Yorkshire

Stone Circle:  OS Grid Reference – SD 89975 79365

Also Known as:

  1. Druid’s Circle

Getting Here

Yockenthwaite circle (photo by James Elkington)

The long country road running between Aysgarth and Kettlewell is the B6160.  Whether you’re coming from the north (Aysgarth) or south (Kettlewell), when you reach either Buckden or Cray, take the minor road west to Hubberholme.  Just over 1½ miles further on, you reach the tiny hamlet of Yockenthwaite itself.  Cross the river bridge, then turn left and walk along the footpath parallel with the river.  600 yards or so along, keep your eyes peeled for the low small ring of stones in front of you.

Archaeology & History

Just above the well-trod path that runs parallel with the usually shallow River Wharfe, this small and silent ring of stones rests in the idyllic host of Langstrothdale, deep in olde Yorkshire.  Tis a wonderful spot… Classed as a ‘stone circle’ for many a decade (even by the esteemed Aubrey Burl), this small but ancient ring shouldn’t really be held in the same category as our larger megalithic circles.  In truth, it looks more like some of the larger hut circles I’ve seen and uncovered down the decades—and it may well be that.  Indeed, even the archaeo’s aren’t in agreement as to what it is, with the general idea being that it is the remains of a ring cairn of some type, despite no human remains being found here.

Raistrick’s 1929 plan
Looking northwest

Yockenthwaite itself was already know by this name in 1241 CE, when the monks of Fountains Abbey were given the land by one of the murderous invading Norman families of the period.  This ingredient may be relevant to the history of the circle, for as the great northern antiquarian Harry Speight (1900) pointed out,

“in several places in the dales there are traces of what seems like ancient sheep or cattle enclosures, which are probably vestiges of this grant to the monks of Fountains in 1241.”

And Speight thought the circle had a similar origin to these remains.  He continued:

“An enclosure of this kind, composed of a number of big stones on end, lies at the low end of the second pasture on the north side of the river between Yockenthwaite and Deepdale, and has been described as a Druid’s Circle.  It is doubtless one of these monastic folds.”

And he may have a point.  Although when Arthur Raistrick (1929) ventured here in the early 1920s, he had other ideas, pushing the date of the site way way back into the Bronze Age.  “The circle,” Raistrick told,

“is slightly raised above the surrounding ground-level, and the stones, standing edge to edge, can be seen from a considerable distance on either fell side.  The circle is 25 feet diameter, very nearly a true circle, there being only about 6 inches variation in diameter.  The stones number 20, placed on edge to edge to edge…with only two small gaps, which would accommodate three or perhaps four more stones.  These stones were probably removed some years ago to repair the stile in the neighbouring wall.  Outside this circle of 20 stones, on the northwest side, there are four others placed concentrically, and very close to the circle, but there is no evidence that the circle was ever double, or that there were ever more than these extra four stones.  There is a slight mound at the centre, and probing with a rod proved a small circle of stones, about 9 feet diameter at the centre, indicating probably a burial.  Several large boulders lie on the level ground around the circle, but these are all rolled down from the fell-side above, and not placed in any connection with the circle.  All the stones of the circle are of limestone…”

It was this designation that led to Burl (1976; 2000) to include it in his corpus of megalithic rings; although John Barnatt (1989) did question the validity of the site as a true ‘stone circle’ in his own gazetteer, saying:

“This unusual site comprises a contiguous ring of orthostats of c. 7.5m diameter, which are graded downslope to the SSW to allow for the gradient; their tops are all roughly horizontal.  They range from 0.30 to 1.05m in height, 22-3 stones survive today and 3-4 appear to be missing.  To the NNW there is a short outer arc of 4-5 stones placed immediately outside the main ring.  4 loose stones appear to have been added to the ring recently.  Raistrick’s plan does not tally with the present remains, despite the sites undisturbed nature.  The interior of the site is filled by a low horizontal platform, with virtually no height upslope to the north-east and a height of c. 0.5m to the south-west.  The ring of stones stand well proud of this round the full circumference.  This site appears to be a variant form of kerb-cairn rather than a true stone circle.”

The structure has been built onto a slight but notable platform, as has also been done with many hut circles—and the Yockenthwaite site may just be one of them.  Only an excavation will tell us for sure.  It’s isolated from other remains, but on the hills above, both north and south, denuded Iron Age and Bronze Age settlements look down on this solitary ring.  Whatever it may be, it’s olde and in a beautiful setting.  Well worth checking out if you like yer ancient sites!

References:

  1. Barnatt, John, Stone Circles of Britain (2 volumes), BAR: Oxford 1989.
  2. Burl, Aubrey, A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, New Haven & London 1995.
  3. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  4. Elgee, Frank & Harriet, The Archaeology of Yorkshire, Methuen: London 1933.
  5. Longworth, Ian H., Regional Archaeologies: Yorkshire, Cory, Adams & MacKay: London 1965.
  6. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘The Bronze Age in West Yorkshire,’ in Yorkshire Archaeology Journal, volume 29, 1929.
  7. Raistrick, Arthur, Prehistoric Yorkshire, Dalesman: Clapham 1972.
  8. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.

Links:  James Elkington Photos

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to James Elkington for use of his photos in this site profile.  Cheers mate!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian