Black Hill Long Cairn, Low Bradley, Skipton, North Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0092 4756

Also Known as:

  1. Black Hill Long Barrow
  2. Bradley Moor Long Barrow
  3. Bradley Moor Long Cairn
  4. King’s Cairn

Getting Here

Follow the same directions for getting to the Black Hill Round Cairn.  It’s less than 100 yards away – you can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

This is a superb archaeological site — and it’s bloody huge! It’s big and it’s long and it sticks out a bit – which is pretty unique in this part of the Pennines, as most other giant cairns tend to be of the large round variety.  Although the site was originally defined by Arthur Raistrick (1931) as a long barrow, J.J. Keighley (1981) told how, “it was found to be a round cairn imposed on a long cairn.”  And it’s an old one aswell…

Near the SE end of the giant cairn
Close-up of the main cist

More than 220 feet long and 80 feet in diameter at its widest southeastern end, as we walk along the length of the cairn to its northwestern edge, its main body averages (only!) 45 feet in diameter.  Made up of tens of thousands of rocks and reported by Butterfield (1939) to have had an upright stone along its major axis, the “height varies from 4-8ft, but the cairn has been much despoiled and disturbed,” said Cowling in 1946. He also told how,

“Excavation revealed that almost in the centre of the mound were the remains of a cist made of roughly dressed stone flags and dry walling, covered by a large stone. Under a stone slab, laid on the floor of the cist, were fragments of (burnt and unburnt) bone and a small flint chipping.”

This is a very impressive site and deserving of more modern analysis. The alignment of the tomb, SE-NW, was of obvious importance to the builders, believed to be late-neolithic in character.  The tomb aligns to two large hills in the far distance in the Forest of Bowland which we were unable to identity for certain.  If anyone knows their names, please let us know!

Folklore

The older folk of Bradley village below here, tell of the danger of disturbing this old tomb. In a tale well-known to folklorists, it was said that when the first people went up to open this tomb for the very first time, it was a lovely day. But despite being warned, as the archaeologists began their dig, a great storm of thunder, lightning and hailstones erupted from a previously peaceful sky and disturbed them that much that they took off and left the old tomb alone. (I must check this up in the archaeo-records to see if owt’s mentioned about it.)

References:

  1. Ashbee, Paul, The Earthen Long Barrow in Britain, Geo Books: Norwick 1984.
  2. Butterfield, A., ‘Structural Details of a Long Barrow on Black Hill, Bradley Moor,’ in YAJ 34, 1939.
  3. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  4. Keighley, J.J., ‘The Prehistoric Period,’ in Faull & Moorhouse’s West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey, I, WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.
  5. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘Prehistoric Burials at Waddington and Bradley,’ in YAJ 30, 1931.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

King's Cairn

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King\'s Cairn 53.924175, -1.987477 King\'s Cairn

Black Hill Round Cairn, Low Bradley Moor, Skipton, North Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0087 4753

Also Known as:

  1. Black Hill Cairn
  2. Bradley Moor Round Cairn
  3. Queen’s Cairn
The Black Hill Round Cairn, Bradley Moor - looking north
The Black Hill Round Cairn, Bradley Moor – looking north

Getting Here

Various ways here.  Best is probably taking the footpath onto Farnhill Moor a few hundred yards east of Kildwick Hall.  Head for the cross-bearing Jubilee Tower (supposedly built upon an ancient cairn), NW, keep going past it uphill until you reach the walling 350 yards north, where a seat let’s you have a rest.  Climb over the wall! Alternatively, walk eastwards and up through the steep but gorgeous birch-wooded slopes of Farnhill Wood; and as the moortop opens up before you, the great pile of rocks surmounts the skyline ahead. You can’t miss it! (NB: the spot cited on the OS-map as the cairn is in fact another site, 100 yards NW)

Archaeology & History

Its an awesome place in an awesome setting. You can see 360-degrees all round from this giant mass of rocks — something which was of obvious importance to the people who built it. If it had been placed 20-30 yards either side of here, that characteristic would not occur. Indeed, this is the only place anywhere on these moors where such a great view was possible. Important geomancy, as they say (or whatever modern term they give it these days).

Bradley Moor Cairn - looking down to the Long Cairn
Bradley Moor Cairn – looking down to the Long Cairn
Small section of the old cairn

Although the tomb is still of considerable size (at least 100 feet across) and made up of thousands of stones, it has been severely robbed of stone in years passed, for walling and other building materials.  A number of other small cairns scatter the heathlands a few hundred yards roundabout this central giant (though are hard to find in the deep heather); and there is a distinct cairn circle about 100 yards to the northwest, which has yet to be excavated.  This cairn circle can be made out quite easily if you stand on the ridge about 30 yards west of here, looking down the slope.  An then of course we have the equally huge  Black Hill Long Cairn, less than 100 away, aligned northwest-southeast, which obviously had an important archaeological relationship with this giant round cairn.  Also around this and the adjacent long cairn, numerous flints and scrapers have been found, showing humans have been here since at least the early neolithic period.

This site in particular gives me the distinct impression that it was the most important of the various sites upon these moors. It’s got a distinctly female flavour to it – and it’s old name of the Queen’s Cairn seems just right.  Maybe it’s the fact that when I first visited the place, a great thunderstorm broke through the previously perfect skies, scattering lightning bolts all round for perhaps thirty minutes — so I stripped down and held my arms outwards, screaming to the skies in the pouring rain!  Thereafter, no clouds appeared in the skies for the rest of the day.  It was a brilliant welcome to the place!

References:

  1. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  2. Keighley, J.J., ‘The Prehistoric Period,’ in Faull & Moorhouse’s West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey, I, WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.
  3. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘Prehistoric Burials at Waddington and Bradley,’ in YAJ 119, 1936.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Queen's cairn

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Queen\'s cairn 53.923905, -1.988239 Queen\'s cairn

Hamblethorpe, Low Bradley, Skipton, North Yorkshire

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference – SE 00303 47622

Getting Here

Hamblethorpe Stones, Low Bradley
Hamblethorpe Stones, Low Bradley

Take the single-track country lane between Farnhill and Low Bradley until you reach Hamblethorpe farmhouse.  Where the birch woodland is on the slope going uphill, the field on the other side of the road, protected by walling, is where the stones are, just south of the farmhouse.  There’s nowhere to park any car hereabouts, so it’s best walking here.

Archaeology & History

It seems that nothing has previously been written of this place.  Hidden away at the top of the field we find two curious-looking standing stones: one nearly six-feet tall, and its companion about four-feet.  They’re near the bottom of the slope from the giant Round Cairn and Long Cairn tombs of Low Bradley Moor, several hundred yards to the east— and were it not for the fact that they have a distinctive Castlerigg-like appearance about them, perhaps I wouldn’t have given them a second chance.  Curious earthworks are in the same field, to which written records also appear silent.  Tis a lovely little spot…

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Hamblethorpe stones

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Hamblethorpe stones 53.924732, -1.996873 Hamblethorpe stones