Fancarl Top, Appletreewick, North Yorkshire

Stone Circle:  OS Grid Reference – SE 06432 63048

Also Known as:

  1. Appletreewick Stone Circle

Getting Here

1st edition OS-map - the unmarked circle's near the middle
1st edition OS-map – the unmarked circle’s near the middle

Along the B6265 road between Grassington and Pateley bridge, heading east, past the hamlet of Hebden, a mile or so on where the road goes uphill, stop where it levels out a bit (before it goes further uphill to Stump Cross), a half-mile before the rocky outcrop of Nursery Knott on the left (north) side of the road.  A gate into the field on the same side is what yer after, with a small disused quarry therein.  Go up here to the quarry-top and then walk uphill for literally 100 yards and the curious small ring is right there.

Archaeology & History

Appletreewick stone circle (courtesy Paul Daw)
Appletreewick stone circle (courtesy Paul Daw)

This small stone circle sitting on the grassy ridge overlooking the ritual rocks of Simon’s Seat and central Wharfedale to the south and the Yorkshire heathlands east and west, is probably not what it once was.  Overcome by the excess of industrial workings in the fields and moors all round here, it is probable that its present condition is far from its original state.  Indeed, if we move back to the 18th century, we find that place-name and map evidences tell us the site was a tomb.  The 1771 Greenwood map names the site as the Fancairn — an etymological curiosity in itself, possibly deriving from the ‘Windy Cairn’, which makes sense.  The place-name fell into its present title of ‘Fancarl’ after the great Ordnance Survey chaps came, heard dialect and went on their way…

The largest rock in the ring (courtesy Paul Daw)
The largest rock in the ring (courtesy Paul Daw)

The circle doesn’t appear to have been noted by the great Yorkshire historians Harry Speight and Edmund Bogg in their literary rambles here (rather odd), but was brought to our attention first of all (in a literary sense anyway) by Arthur Raistrick. (1965) He first “surveyed” the site in 1950, but said little until a short remark was printed in the Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, where the notes told it to be one of “two stone circles, one with clear standing stones, 30ft in diameter, and the other a double circle of small recumbent stones, 12ft in diameter.”

Ground-plan & missing stones (by Paul Daw)
Ground-plan & missing stones (by Paul Daw)

The second, smaller double circle he mentions is probably a hut circle or cairn, faint traces of which are seen in the adjacent field.  Remains of a prehistoric enclosure were also once evident in the same field; and thankfully to the south (across the road) we can still find many examples of cup-and-rings at Skyreholme.

John Barnatt (1989) and Aubrey Burl (2000) include the site in their relative major surveys, with both of them citing the circle, of six small stones, to measure 8.5m by 7.5m.  The survey shown of this small stone ring was done by Paul Daw following his visit to the site on Monday 10th September 2012.


Although we can only see six stones in this ring today, when the surveyor Paul Daw (2012) did a ground-plan of the place, he also did a dowsing survey of the site and found there were originally two extra stones on the eastern side of the circle. An archaeological dig would be interesting to see if post-holes or the remains of these two additional stones are under the turf.  He wrote:

My dowsing survey revealed that the stone circle measured 7.7 metres diameter (N-S) and 7.0 metres (E-W).  A reaction was received over the centres of stones 1, 3, 6, 7 and 8 indicating that they are still standing in their original positions, but stone number 5 to the south-south-east of the circle had a reaction at its northern end, which indicates that it was once standing but had fallen outwards. It is not therefore an earthfast stone, as speculated by A. Raistrick, when he visited the site.  The stone measures 1.65 m x 1.65 m x 800 mm and fans out like a shell from bottom to top. It would have been an impressive stone when standing, but was top heavy, and the most likely stone to fall.

Stones 1, 3, 6, and 8 are all of a similar size, are much more stable, and stand at about 500 mm high.  Stone 7 in the western sector is 800 mm high, and measures 950 mm x 850 mm, and looks like a rectangular block, with slightly rounded edges.

I also obtained a reaction at positions 2 and 4, indicating that there were once stones standing in these positions. To the north of the stone circle there are a number of stones lying on the surface.  A. Raistrick suggested that there may have been another small stone circle in this area, but my dowsing rods did not detect anything, and it is probable that these are random stones lying on the surface.

This entire region is bedevilled with faerie, goblin and giant lore, plus creation myths of our peasant ancestors (Sutcliffe 1929) — some still living if you’re lucky enough to talk with the old folk, who might tell you a thing or two, or might not, depending on how you smell.


  1. Barnatt, John, The Stone Circles of Britain – 2 volumes, BAR: Oxford 1989.
  2. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  3. Daw, Paul M., “Appletreewick Stone Circle, Yorkshire Dales,” unpublished survey report 2012.
  4. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘Yorkshire Archaeological Register 1964: Appletreewick, W.R.,’ in Yorkshire Archaeology Journal, volume 41, 1965.
  5. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 6, Cambridge University Press 1963.
  6. Sutcliffe, Halliwell, The Striding Dales, Frederick Warne: London 1929.

AcknowledgementsHuge thanks to Paul Daw for his photos and survey of the site, and for sharing details of his dowsing results here.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Hammond Close Stone, Threshfield, North Yorkshire

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference – SD 95161 65209

Getting Here

Standing stones near Bordley with human for scale

From Threshfield, go up Skirethorns Lane for about 1/2 mile, where the lane takes a sharp right. Continue uphill for nearly 2 miles to a metal gate. Go through the gate into the fields on your left where you’ll see this pair of curious standing stones ahead of you (if you keep walking uphill in the same direction, you’ll reach the impressive Hammond Close enclosure above you).

Archaeology & History

There seem to be no references in either archaeology or geology texts about this site which, when you approach it and consider the prevalence of other prehistoric sites all round you, strongly suggests that they are either archetypal standing stones, or the remains of a collapsed cairn, with the surrounding mound removed.  This is certainly the case at the Druid’s Altar or Bordley Circle visible a few hundred yards west of here, on the same grassland plain.

The stones alone, looking north

As you can see in the photos, the stones here are 4 feet tall and stand in isolation from the excess of neighbouring settlements and enclosures.  A scatter of small stones—perhaps packing stones, perhaps the remains of cairn-spoil—is evident at the foot of the stones.  It was initially thought that the uprights here could have been the remains of enclosure or settlement walling, as we find an excess of such remains on the hills here, but this isn’t the case.  Other unrecorded prehistoric remains scatter this part of the countryside.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Nussey Green (404), Appletreewick, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0739 6254

Getting Here

Nussey Green CR404 (after ‘QDanT’)

Park at Stump Cross Caverns on the B6265 road, then walk down the road for 200 yards till you reach the track on your left running over the fields in the direction towards Simon’s Seat.  Walk on the track for about 600 yards until there’s a change of direction in the adjacent walling and then watch out for the dirt-track on your right, curving towards the small valley (if you hit the Skyreholme Wall carving (413), you’ve gone 100 yards past the turn-off). Go on here until you see the overgrown track on your left into a small disused quarry, and head right, down the grassy slope, checking out the few stones ion front of you 20 yards down.  You’re damn close!

Archaeology & History

Carving no.404 (after Boughey & Vickerman)

A simplistic carving that was first described by fellow antiquarian Stuart Feather (1964), this is one of at least four cup-marked stones in a small group here, above the valley of Skyreholme Beck — better known at this part of the valley as the Troller’s Ghyll, haunt of various heathen lore.  Although some of the carving has now been covered by the growing Earth, you can still see the majority of the design.

It is a flat, roughly triangular stone described by rock art students Boughey & Vickerman (2003) and having 13 cup-markings on it.  To get a full look at the entire carving, you may have to roll a bit of the turf away from one side of the rock.


Although we have no lore relating to this specific carving, the small valley over which this carving looks was long known as the abode of the legendary bharguests, or black dogs: underworld creatures of earlier heathen myths.  Faerie lore can also be found a short distance further up the same stream.


  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  2. Feather, Stuart, “Yorkshire Archaeological Register 1963: Appletreewick, W.R.,” in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, volume 41, 1964.


  1. Nussey Green Rock Art – more notes & images

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Burhill Kiln Allotment (415), Appletreewick, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 07792 61829

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.415 (Boughey & Vickerman)
Burhill’s cup-and-ring stone (image courtesy ‘QDanT’)

Getting Here

Probably the easiest way is to park up at Stump Cross Caverns on the B6265 road, then walk down the road for 200 yards till you reach the track on your left running over the fields in the direction towards Simon’s Seat.  Walk along the track past the Skyreholme Wall carving, where it starts going downhill and, 100 yards before you reach the fork in the tracks, look in the field on your left.  The other route is to go east through Appletreewick village up to and through Skyreholme as far as you can drive, where the dirt-track begins.  Keep going up till you hit the fork in the tracks.  Go left, then thru the first gate you come to and walk up into the second field up where the notable rock stands out.  If you can’t see it at first, look around!

Archaeology & History

Boughey & Vickerman’s plan of the carving

This carving was rediscovered by Stuart Feather (1964) in one of his ambles in the area — and he would have been pretty pleased when he found this one!  It is the most complex and ornate of all the prehistoric carvings in and around this large open field.  With at least nine cup-and-rings and more than fifty other cups etched onto its rounded upper surface, there are various other lines and grooves linking up some elements of this mythic design. The best ones are on the upright and sloping east-face of the rock, into the rising sun.  In animistic terms the rock is distinctly female in nature.

Illustrated in one of Stan Beckensall’s (1999) works, the rock art students Boughey & Vickerman (2003) also include it in their survey, but give an inaccurate grid reference for the site.  They nevertheless describe it as:

“Large upstanding rock with slightly domed top surface. Most of top surface decorated but weathering makes detail uncertain: over sixty cups, eight or more with rings, many grooves.”

Many other carvings can be found in the area.


  1. Beckensall, Stan, British Prehistoric Rock Art, Tempus: Stroud 1999.
  2. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  3. Feather, Stuart, “Appletreewick, W.R.” in ‘The Yorkshire Archaeological Register, 1963’, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, 41 (part 162), 1964.
  4. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Prehistoric Rock Art of Great Britain: A Survey of All Sites Bearing Motifs more Complex than Simple Cup-marks,” in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, volume 55, 1989.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to the pseudonymous ‘QDanT‘ for use of the photo in this profile.  Cheers Danny!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Burnett’s Ridge (421), Appletreewick, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 08103 61500

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.421 (Boughey & Vickerman)
The beautiful stone… (courtesy ‘QDanT’)

Getting Here

One way is to go east through Appletreewick village up to and through Skyreholme (making sure you bear right at the turn and not go up the left turn, which takes you uphill and elsewhere!) as far as you can drive, where the dirt-track begins.  Keep going up till you hit the fork in the tracks, and here, look into the field on your right.   The other way is to park up at Stump Cross Caverns on the B6265 road, then walk down the road for 200 yards till you reach the track on your left running towards Simon’s Seat.  Walk all the way down this till you reach the fork in the tracks.  There’s a gate into the field just yards below the split in the tracks.  Go thru it and walk into the middle of the field where the stone unmistakably calls out for you to go sit with it for a while!

Archaeology & History

Boughey & Vickerman’s plan of the cup-marks

Sat near a ridge due north of the magnificent Simon’s Seat, this faded carved stone gets its name from the field in which it lives — and as Danny’s photo here shows, it’s a fine stone indeed in a very fine setting.  The cup-marks on its top were first described by Stuart Feather (1964), who found there to be around 20 cup-markings on the top, with some grooves — possibly natural, possibly man-made — linking them together.

However, in the fields north of here are a number of other cup-and-ring carvings, but much of the landscape has been damaged by industrial workings.  It makes you wonder how many there used to be here before the industrialists started digging the land up…


  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  2. Feather, Stuart, “Appletreewick, WR,” in Archaeological Register, Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, volume 41, 1964.
  3. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Prehistoric Rock Art of Great Britain: A Survey of All Sites Bearing Motifs more Complex than Simple Cup-Marks,” in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, volume 55, 1989.


Huge thanks to the pseudonymous ‘QDanT‘ for use of the photo in this profile.  Cheers Danny!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Yarnbury Henge, Grassington, North Yorkshire

Henge:  OS Grid Reference – SE 01405 65413

Getting Here

Yarnbury henge from the air

In Grassington, go up the main street and keep going uphill, out of town.  You’re on Moor Road now and it keeps going northeast for about a mile, where the small copse of trees grows just before Yarnbury House.  However, on the other side of the road (right) two field before you reach the house, you’ll notice a slightly raised elevation in the field, close to the wall.  A footpath runs right past it, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding it!

Archaeology & History

This is a fine, roughly circular neolithic monument, sat not-quite-on-the-heights, but still possessing damn good views all round (except immediately west), begging the question, ‘what on earth are you and why were you built here?’  Answers to which, we don’t really know.  But ascertaining its geomantic nature wouldn’t be too difficult for local people who have spent years visiting the site.  John Dixon (1990) mentioned how, in the winter months,

“the sun falls behind Pendle (Hill) providing it with a sky-red backdrop.  In my own view the site is related to the presence of Pendle…and may have been the major factor in the location of the monument.”

He may be right!  It has been suggested by one archaeologist (King et al, 1995) that the site was “most probably a wood henge” with upright rings of wooden posts that were built onto the central platform — but until we get a full dig here, we’re not gonna know.

N-NE section of henge
SW section of the henge

Found close to an extensive amount of other prehistoric remains in the area (dating from the neolithic to Iron Age), this henge monument is notable for its size, as it’s only a little fella!  It’s like a mini-version of the Castle Dykes henge near Aysgarth, 14 miles to the north!  First mentioned as a ‘disc barrow’ in 1929, J. Barrett (1963) added the Yarnbury Henge to the archaeological registers 32 years later, citing it as a “circular platform 60-63 ft diameter, surrounded by a ditch 20ft wide (crest to crest) and an outer bank.”  A couple of years later D.P. Dymond (1965) described the henge in slightly more detail, telling:

“At Yarnbury, just over one mile north-east of Grassington there is an earthwork 116ft in diameter overall, consisting of a ditch with external bank.  On surface inspection the earthwork appeared to have the characteristics of a henge monument.  An excavation carried out in July 1964 , by an archaeological summer school based on Grantley Hall, proved this thesis.  There was no trace of an internal mound and the entrance to the southeast was obviously  original.  No traces were found of any sort of internal structure, and a square pit in the centre of the circle had been caused by an excavation earlier this century.  The ditch was rock-cut and the bank of simple dump construction.  No dating evidence was found… With its single entrance the Yarnbury henge falls into Atkinson’s Class 1.”

SW area of the henge

In recent years it seems that some damage has been done by digging into the east and southeastern sections of the henge.  Summat we hope doesn’t get any worse.  In the field on the other side of the road we found traces of prehistoric enclosure walling (along with a curious, large, almost cursiform shadow, 44 yards across and running 110 yards NE), typical of the extensive settlement remains found less than a mile away at Lea Green and High Close Pasture, Grassington.  It’s an impressive area, well worth checking out!


  1. Barrett, J., “Grassington, W.R.,” in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, part 161, 1963.
  2. Beck, Howard, Yorkshire’s Roots, Sigma: Wilmslow 1996.
  3. Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys through Brigantia – volume 2: Walks in Ribblesdale, Malhamdale and Central Wharfedale, Aussteiger Publishing: Barnoldswick 1990.
  4. Dymond, D.P., “Grassington, W.R.,” in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, part 163, 1965.
  5. Harding, A.F., Henge Monuments and Related Sites of Great Britain, BAR 175: Oxford 1987.
  6. Harding, Jan, The Henge Monuments of the British Isles, Tempus: Stroud 2003.
  7. King, Alan, et al, Early Grassington, Yorkshire Archaeological Society 1995.
  8. Wainwright, G.J., “A Review of Henge Monuments in the Light of Recent Research,” Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, volume 35, 1969.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

High Close Pasture, Grassington, North Yorkshire

Settlement:   OS Grid Reference – SE 003 652

Also known as:

  1. The Circus
  2. Druid’s Altar
  3. Druid’s Circle

Getting Here

Curwen’s 1928 plan

Easy enough to locate.  In Grassington go up the main street a coupla hundred yards, turning left up past the small church, taking the footpath on your right heading up to the fields that stretch to the north.  Don’t mistake the remains of the medieval village that you’ll pass for the Iron Age and Romano-British site that we’re heading for, another coupla hundred yards up.  You’ll notice a lot of old low walling structures on the slopes heading up above you.  That’s the stuff!

Archaeology & History

Despite the industrial devastation of the landscape on the hills around here, this entire area still teems with prehistoric archaeological remains, making you wonder just how much more once existed in this region.  In bygone days Prof Anne Ross thought this region to be the capital of northern England in Iron Age days.  She could be right: in just about every nook and cranny of small valleys and rivulets we find evidence of ancient people everywhere for miles around, settlement upon settlement in every direction you take.  The remains found here at High Close Pasture typifying the examples any ardent antiquarian will come across in this region of upper Wharfedale.

Druid’s Circle (Bogg 1904)
Earliest known photo in 1899

The settlement remains and ancient cultivations at High Close have been described by various writers over the last hundred years, with Edmund Bogg (1902) calling the most notable of the remains here the ‘Druid’s Altar’ (not to be confused with the other Druid’s Altar at nearby Bordley); a title that was similarly described as “The Druid’s Circle” when Eliot Curwen surveyed the area.  It is also locally known as ‘The Circus’, after it being a place where celebrated events once took place. This Druid’s Circle section is,

“an oval area 150 feet long by 75 feet wide. It consists of a bank surmounted by a single or double-row of flat-topped stones about one-and-half feet high by 2 feet wide… This may have been a communal meeting place of the Iron Age folk, who cultivated these fields, and who lived in isolated huts.” (Elgee & Elgee 1933)

The notion of the circle being a communal meeting place was echoed by Mr Curwen (1928) in his slightly more detailed description of this place.  He told that the interior of the Druid’s Circle had been levelled:

“It lies eight feet below the surrounding banks to the northeast and east, to which it rises with a gradient of 8 in 21.  The bank to the north is less high, while to the south and west  the arena, while seperated from it by the bank, is above the level of the sloping hillside.  The encircling bank is surmounted by a single (and) double row of stones for three-fourths of its extent.  These are apparent to the east and south, but are less so to the west, as along this side a stone wall has been built actually along the bank of the Circus; the stones belonging to this bank are, however, quite clear below the footings of the wall.  From northeast round by south to southwest the row of stones is double.  Those in the inner row, forty-six in number, stand some eighteen inches high; they are about two feet wide and are flat-topped, the line is almost continuous, and in parts the stones are placed edge to edge.  A second row of smaller stones backs the larger ones.  Entrance is obtained to the central level area by a gap to the southwest.  No fosse surrounds this earthwork.  To the southeast, a lynchet four feet high runs off it, while to the north a low stoney bank runs off in a NW direction, and one of the larger stony banks approaches to within a few feet of the northwest.”

In the fields above, particularly on the east and north of this notable ruined stone ring, the extensive “cultivation pastures” as they’ve been called, are evident all over the place.  Hut circles and copious other antiquities can all be found within a square mile of this spot.  If you like your Iron Age archaeology, this area will knock yer socks off!

…to be continued…


  1. Bogg, Edmund, Higher Wharfeland, James Miles: Leeds 1904.
  2. Charlesworth, Miss D., ‘Iron Age Settlements and Field Systems,’ in Archaeological Journal, volume 125, 1968.
  3. Curwen, Eliot, ‘Ancient Cultivations at Grassington,’ in Antiquity, June 1928.
  4. Elgee, Frank & Harriett, The Archaeology of Yorkshire, Methuen: London 1933.
  5. Raistrick, Arthur & Chapman, S.E., ‘The Lynchet Groups of Upper Wharfedale, Yorkshire,’ in Antiquity, June 1929.
  6. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Hammond Close, Threshfield, North Yorkshire

Settlement / Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – SD 9517 6488

Getting Here

Aerial view of site
Aerial view of site

Follow the same directions to reach the Bordley ‘circle’ (it’s actually a much denuded burial site).  Look up the hill (south) at the limestone escarpments above you, walk past the Hammond Close Stones and head up the slopes in front of you.  If you get to the top of the hill without noticing the extensive prehistoric walled structures you’ve passed, then start to slowly amble here and around the tops and the slopes you’ve just walked up.  They’re everywhere!

Archaeology & History

The grid reference here has to be considered as a general one.  The site we’re looking at, upon the tops of this wonderful limestone-enriched hill, is quite extensive and covers much more than the simple eight-figure grid ref I’m using to direct you here.  On the way up the slope from the Bordley ‘circle’ site, you’ll notice how the natural lines of limestone have been used to define lines of walling.  The remains of many smaller stones have been laid into the natural rock outcrops, and others set into the earth and sectioned off smaller enclosures within the greater whole.  It was obviously a huge and time-consuming exercise to create these large rocky sections, some of which appear to have actually been cut into the rock.  The aerial image here shows clearly the lines as they were laid out, intruding the extensive natural bedrock covering the landscape, not just here but much further afield.  Indeed, the large set of enclosures here at Hammond Field typifies dozens and dozens of other such sites in the hills north and west of here.

Enclosure walling running E-W
Topmost line of walling

The trouble with this and other sites in the Upper Wharfedale region is dating them.  Although we typically ascribe an Iron Age date to many of these settlements, we know that many of them were added to and maintained by peasants and farmers well into medieval times.  And why not!?  They’re excellent, solid and need little maintainance! The sections we’re looking at here in this particular site may have had their origins in the Bronze Age.  It seems a reasonable assumption considering the existence of the Bordley circle site and several other denuded burials along the same ridge at the bottom of the slope.  But the majority of the ‘enclosed’ sections running up and around this hill seem to have Iron Age and Romano-British stamps on them.  It’s likely that some of the ‘enclosed’ sections would have been constructed to keep cattle in, aswell as being living quarters for people.  At least one well-defined hut circle can be seen along the north-facing edge of the hill and, perhaps, even the fallen remains of a once upright standing stone.

The topmost part of the Hammond Close hill is all but surrounded by Nature’s limestone, with a large oval grassy region in the middle of it all; but on the eastern side of the hill, the natural limestone walls are lacking and so were supplemented by the work of people who built an additional protective line of walling, running north for some 45 yards from the small craggy ridge at the top, along the level, until it meets up with more natural limestone.  The man-made walling is built into this aswell.  Halfway along this length of north-south walling is another section, running to the east for nearly 40 yards before bending slightly for another 25 yards into yet more natural outcrop.

Partition walls on north slope
Stretches of walling: from ancient to modern

I could spend the next few paragraphs describing all the walled sections visible on this hill and down its edges, but don’t wanna bore you with the small detail of it all!  Aswell as that, if you climb over the eastern walls and walk a short distance across the rocky hill, you’ll start seeing other prehistoric settlement remains beneath your feet.  And on the hill across directly to your north, we find more extensive remains at the very large Lantern Holes settlement, dating again from the Iron Age, if not earlier.

The ancient remains are all over the place round here!  So those of you who love good outdoor wanderings, prehistoric archaeological sites and excellent views, give this place your attention!  It’s well worth it!


  1. Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys through Brigantia – volume 2: Walks in Ribblesdale, Malhamdale and Central Wharfedale, Aussteiger: Barnoldswick 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Dumpit Hill Enclosure, Hebden, North Yorkshire

Enclosure / Settlement:  OS Grid Reference – SE 02884 64062 —  NEW FIND

Getting Here

Line of enclosure walls

Follow the same directions to get to the Dumpit Hill A stone circle; but instead when you get to the point where you need to walk off-track and into the heather to get to the circle, keep walking up the dirt-track for about another 200 yards, watching diligently thereby for a reasonable sized, fallen, “standing-stone”-like character just yards into the heather on your right (on your left, there’s a U-shaped dip where the wall is).  This is the northern edge of the walled enclosure.  From this fallen ‘standing stone’ follow the overgrown walling along carefully into the heather along and down the slight slope.  You’re now either on the very edge, or perhaps going into the middle of the enclosure.  Look around!

Archaeology & History

East section of walling

There’s no previous written history of this site, discovered for the first time last week on our sojourn to the Dumpit Hill stone circles, by Michala Potts.  She didn’t seem too excited by it at the time, but an amble back to what she’d found got me going! (easily done) With the help of the heather being burned away, open and exposed was a distinct line of prehistoric walling — perhaps Bronze Age, perhaps later.  It’s hard to tell.

Structurally similar to the enclosure walling at Horse Close and Rough Haw, either side of Skipton, a few miles to the south, here we have about 100 yards of walling seeming to enclose the eastern side of the small hilltop, but running into the heather on its southern edge and the moorland track on its northern side, where it disappears again, leaving no trace of what one would assume would be a consistent western section.

From the grid reference for the site, the line of walling runs northwards for about 20 yards before taking a very slight shift in direction for another 20 yards.  Here the walling goes to the left (west) for another 20 yards, before edging slightly northwest and back into the heather.  A section of the walling is visible at each end, though we lose any accurate trace of it after a short distance in the long heather.  However, at the northwestern point in the enclosure walling, a very distinct long stone about 4 feet high leans at an angle in the ling.  It seems apparent that this stone at one point in the not-too-distant past stood upright, making it the tallest stone here.

Northern section of walling
Fallen monolith?

What may be other features can be seen inside this enclosure section: a possible hut circle and other portions of walling were noted.  However, we didn’t spend much time exploring the site in detail, so there is a high probability of other prehistoric remains in and around this enclosure awaiting discovery.  The site’s proximity to the stone circles of Dumpit Hill A and Dumpit Hill B should be noted; along with what the North Yorkshire’s Historic Environment Officer, Robert White, said were “three, possibly four small circular enclosures (about 9m in diameter)” a short distance away.  A further survey of the site is necessary to enable us a better picture of what we’re looking at here.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Dumpit Hill B, Hebden, Grassington, North Yorkshire

Stone Circle:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0307 6406

Getting Here

Follow the directions to reach the Dumpit Hill A circle.  From here walk about 100 yards ENE till you see an arc of small upright stones.  If the heather’s in full growth it’s highly unlikely you’ll see anything; but if the heather’s been burnt away, the site’s worth looking at.

Archaeology & History

As with the small companion Dumpit Hill A circle more than 100 yards to the southwest, this site of similar dimensions was first reported by Arthur Raistrick in 1963, and then described — albeit briefly — in H.G. Ramm’s “Yorkshire Archaeological Register” for 1964, as “33ft in diameter. One third of the circle robbed but other stones standing.”  And apart from that (with a repeat of the same info in Burl’s [2000] magnum opus) little else has been said.  But there’s quite a bit more to this place than what our mentors have written…

Northern arc of circle, with stones A, B, C & D
Dumpit B Stone Circle (white sticks showing position of stones)

In a team visit to the site last week, it was Paul Hornby who called our attention to Dumpit Hill B.  Thankfully the heather had been burnt back several months earlier, fortunately allowing us a better assessment of the place than Mr Raistrick’s initial survey forty years ago.  Instead of just the 3 stones that he found here, we uncovered a near-complete ring of eight stones, arranged in a pretty decent circle (Alexander Thom would have classed it as a Type 1 circle).  Paul’s attention was first drawn to an arc of three obvious upright stones and another laid down along the same arc.  This arc then turned out to be a semicircle when he found another stone laid half-covered in the peat.

Western stones D & E
Stone F

But then it seemed, if this was an authentic stone circle, we were gonna struggle to see the rest of it as the deep heather had grown up over the southern side of this semi-circle of stones.  But thankfully, with just a little bit of stomping on the ground in the right areas, three other stones of similar size and stature were located and within just a few minutes this small arc of stones had become a full prehistoric ring — except perhaps on the eastern side, where there was a distinct gap in the monument.  Michala Potts and Paul did come across a couple of stones in this “missing” section, but they were just small rocks and didn’t account for an expected 9th stone.  If such a stone ever stood at this eastern point in the circle, it remains unfound.

Two of the stones (G & H) that were initially covered in heather, after we’d carefully peeled the vegetation back, had what seems like small packing stones at one end, where it seemed obvious they had stood upright.  It was tempting to carefully stand each stone back up into position, but we managed to overcome the temptation!  None of the stones are higher or longer than 3 feet.  At least three of them seemed to have been set along their longer axis rather than being set in the tall upright position — but again, this needs verifying by excavation.  (With good evidence, some students posit that upright stones are male; rounded, wider stones are female — though such a lay-out here seems unlikely)

Stone G
Stone H

An additional curiosity was found in the middle of the circle, where there was a small but distinct scattering of stones, very much like a denuded cairn.  If this turns out to be the case (as seems likely) it’d mean a new classification for this monument.  We could do with having another look at this place the next time the heather’s been burnt away, enabling us to find out more about its nature and function.

…And if you walk west down the slight slope, over the couple of small drainage-ditch streams (which they really should stop cutting into our moorlands) and then up the slight slope towards the trackway, stopping some 20 yards before it, you’ll find you’ve walked right into the middle of a previously undiscovered Bronze Age enclosure, or settlement: the Dumpit Hill enclosure.  It’s pretty impressive aswell! (more on that in due course)


  1. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  2. Ramm, H.G., “Yorkshire Archaeological Register, 1964,” in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, part 163, 1965.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Huge thanks again to Dave Hazell, Paul Hornby and Michala Potts in seeking out & helping with this and the adjacent sites!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian