Cratcliff West Enclosure, Harthill, Derbyshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – SK 2259 6238

Getting Here

Site of Cratcliff West enclosure

Site of Cratcliff West enclosure

Taking the roughly north-south road betwixt the village of Elton and the town of Youlgreave, rising up to see the great rock outcrop of Robin Hood’s Stride, park-up by the roadside and walk down the path towards the impressive rocky rise of Robin Hood’s Stride.  Keep to the fields below the Rise on its north side and head for the next wooded rise 2-300 yards west.  In the field you’ll cross (field number 202 in on the map, right) before this wooded crag [Cratcliffe Rocks], the outline of the enclosure is beneath your very feet.

Archaeology & History

Aerial image of the Ninestone Ring enclosure

Aerial image of the Ninestone Ring enclosure

This blatantly obvious oval-shaped enclosure or settlement ring has had very little said of it in archaeological circles as far as I can tell. (please correct me if it has!)  I found it quite fortuitously during aerial surveys of the nearby Nine Stones circle.  It’s certainly quite large.  With a general circumference of roughly 285 yards (260.5m), the relative diameters of this enclosure are—from north to south—91 yards (83m) and—east to west—80 yards (73.25m).  The ditch alone is quite wide all the way around, almost giving it a ‘henge’ quality.  Its southern section is nearly 10 yards across at one point!

The northwest section of the enclosure has been built into, or upon a small natural outcrop of rocks.  But also at this point—as seen clearly in the aerial photo—on the other side of the wall just past the raised natural outcrop, is a long straight parallel linear feature, very probably man-made, running away to the northwest for at least 174 yards (159m).  It too is quite large, averaging  more than 13 yards (12m) across all along the length of this “trackway”: twice as wide as the nearest road and similar in form to the smaller cursus monuments that scattered neolithic Britain.

The site seems to be typical in form and structure to general Iron Age, or perhaps late Bronze Age settlements – but without a proper ground appraisal, this is a purely speculative appraisal.  Any further information or images of this site to enable a clearer picture of its nature would be most welcome.

Acknowledgements:  With thanks in various way to Pete Woolf, Dave Williams, Geoff Watson & Martin Burroughs.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Cratcliff West enclosure

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Cratcliff West enclosure 53.158018, -1.663690 Cratcliff West enclosure

Trysting Tree, Todwick, South Yorkshire

Legendary Tree (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SK 49751 83799

Folklore

This was one of the many sacred trees beneath or next to which, in pre-christian days, tribal councils met.  Thanks to the local historians Paul Rowland and  Lis Tigi Maguire Coyle (see ‘Comments’, below), the whereabouts of the tree has been located (contrary to my earlier idea that it had sadly died).  The local writer Harry Garbutt wrote of it in the 1940s, saying:

“The importance of Harthill in Saxon days may be adduced also from the fact that of the Three Hundreds of the Wapentake, Harthill was one.  The Hundred was the Court of local justice and government, and at Harthill would meet under the old Trysting Tree.”

The very word trysting relates to any species of tree that has importance, be it by its appearance or position, and relates to those that were used as traditional or popular meeting sites.

References:

  1. Garbett, Harry, The History of Harthill-with-Woodall and its Hamlet Kiveton Park, Arthur H. Stockwell: Ilfracombe n.d. (c.1948)
  2. Gomme, Laurence, Primitive Folk-Moots, Sampson Lowe: London 1880.

Acknowledgements:  Massive thanks to Paul Rowland (‘Comments’, below), for information pointing us to the exact spot where our Trysting Tree lived; and to Lis Tigi Maguire Coyle for the additional folklore ‘Comment’, below.  Huge thanks to you both!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Trysting Tree

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Trysting Tree 53.348748, -1.254091 Trysting Tree