Follow the same directions as if you’re going to the excellent Morphing Stone cup-and-ring carving. From the carving, look up the field to the where the dirt-track is and, by the closest gate with a tree near it, walk straight towards it. Roughly halfway between the Morphing Stone and the gate you’ll find — eventually — the small stone in the photo with well-defined cups on it. You might need to wander back and forth until you find it, as there’s many rocks to check out here!
Archaeology & History
This small cup-marked stone was rediscovered by Danny Tiernan in the late afternoon of Thursday, August 18, 2011, just as the heavens opened and the rains poured down! With at least one well-defined cup-mark and another two near the edge of the stone where the grasses had grown, this stone probably needs another look at it, as there may be more beneath the surface, much like when we first found at Morphing Stone. Danny also found and photographed another larger boulder, a bit further up the field closer to the fence, where what may be a single cup-mark is clearly seen living on top of the rock. It’s one of those dodgy English Heritage ones though, so I’ll let those ‘qualified’ chaps check this one out and give it their expertise! It could well be another unrecorded cup-marked stone though…
From the road between Pateley Bridge and Summerbridge, the B6165, turn down to Glasshouses, following the road through the village and round past the reservoir; then as the road bends, keep to your left and go the steep zigzaggy hill, stopping where a gravel parking space is on the right-hand side of the road, by the bend. From here, cross the road and walk up the footpath to Yorke’s Folly. Go over the wall and along the footpath by the wall (the Nidderdale Way) for a coupla hundred yards. Then turn into the heather about 50 yards up from the walling. Look around!
Archaeology & History
There’s no previous reference to this site. It was found yesterday and is one of several such small heaps of stones (cairns) found along the flat ridge of moorland just south the hugely impressive of Guisecliff Crags on the northern edge of Heyshaw Moor. The one illustrated here is probably the best of the several we found and may be indicative of a previously undiscovered cairnfield. On a visit to the western side of the moors a few months ago we found another small cluster of similar cairns in very good condition, much like the one pictured here. It would appear to be prehistoric in nature — although the existence of an old track that ran nearly 20 yards to the west may indicate its previous use as a marker cairn. On the slopes below here (north) there are several examples of cup-and-ring stones, which tend to indicate the proximity of prehistoric graves. This cairn could well be such marker.
We also found evidence of other early human remains on this ridge and further up the moor (walling, rectangular building, possible cairn circle), but there appears to be no literary information explaining its nature. Further visits are needed here.
From the bottom of Pateley Bridge, just out of town take the left turn to Bewerley and go through the village; or from Glasshouses follow the road over the River Nidd and round. Both ways take you to meet the steep and winding Nought Bank Road, which you should follow all the way to the top of the moorland hill. You can just park up by the footpath taking you east. Then cross the road and walk west on the dirt-track to Rowan Tree Crags. 100 yards along, the gentle sloping moor on your left is the Old Wife’s Ridge.
Archaeology & History
The academic history of this moorland is poor, save occasional notes about lead mining and quarrying (Jennings 1967). Speight (1894) describes the finding of large pieces of lead-worked Roman inscriptions nearby that were found in January 1735 — one of which had the letters ‘BRIG’ cut into it, thought to be a referral to the land or deity, Brigantia. Examples of prehistoric rock art occur at nearby Guisecliff Woods, due east, but there are no specific notices about the archaeology of this hillside.
When we visited the place yesterday, much of the heather had been burned (the previous year) and we found two stones which looked suspiciously as if they had stood upright in the past, and may have had played some part in the naming and myth of the Old Wife on this part of the moors. I can find no other records of any remains here.
References to the Old Wife scatter our northern lands and invariably refer to an aspect of the heathen Earth Mother of our peasant ancestors, particularly in Her aspects of winter and early spring. In Scotland and Ireland She was commonly known as the cailleach. Sadly I can find no extant lore relating to Her mythic aspects in the landscape on these hills. A field-name to the south, Nanny Black Hill, may have related to the Old Wife.
Jennings, Bernard (ed.), A History of Nidderdale, Advertiser Press: Huddersfield 1967.
o’ Crualaoich, Gearoid, The Book of the Cailleach, Cork University Press 2003.
Speight, Harry, Nidderdale, Elliot Stock: London 1894.
From the large village of Summerbridge, go west along the B6541 towards Dacre Banks, where you’ll see the signpost for the Nidderdale Way footpath. Follow this past the disused quarry and onto the meadows. When you hit the Monk Ing road, bear right (north) and keep going till you’re 100 yards from Eastwoods Farm. Go right, down into the fields for 50 yards or so. Look around!
Archaeology & History
A previously unlisted single cup-marked stone which is likely to become overgrown by the grasses pretty soon. Several other carvings are in close attendance in this field. It’s not far from the cup-marked Eastwoods Cross Base (aka CR 637) in the same field, but a little further down. In all probability there are other carvings yet to be found in this area. The rock art student Keith Boughey (2007) mentioned it briefly in an article on the other carvings nearby, saying simply:
“A small area of rock (very possibly bedrock) measuring 40cm x 14cm at its greatest extent pokes up through the turf, showing one worn but clear cup-mark on its western edge (Fig 3). On its own, this marking would not be significant were it not for the fact that four other carved rocks are already recorded from this particular locality.”
To get here, follow the same directions as if you’re going to the Morphing Stone. This carving is in the same field, but about 100 yards SSW of there, just to the south-side of the Nidderdale Way footpath. There’s plenty of rocks about, but with a bit of patience or a natural rock-art dowser’s nose, you’ll find the carving easily enough!
Archaeology & History
This is another relatively recent find — though I wonder whether the nearby ‘Fertility Stone’ (about 500 yards north, in some walling) should switch names with this carving, as this one gives the distinct impression of sperm fertilizing the egg! Don’t you agree!? The name of the Tadpole Stone was given to it by Michala Potts — and the photograph and design are used, courtesy of Richard Stroud. In the next field from here, towards Eastwoods Farm, we find the Eastwoods Cross base and cup-markings and adjacent cup-marked stone. Not far away are other carvings, aswell as a number of other Bronze- and Iron-Age sites.
This design was described in Keith Boughey’s (2007) article on the rock art around Eastwoods Farm, telling how it
“was discovered by Kevin Cale and reported to the N.Y.C.C. SMR back in 2001… A low profile moss-covered earthfast rock a little over 1m in diameter in any one direction immediately S of the Nidderdale Way about 100m east of the end of Monk Ing Road and S of Eastwoods Farm at SE 18601 61643 and 172m O.D. Its domed surface carries a somewhat unusual design interestingly reminiscent of the design carved at the previous site which lies in the same field and landscape 160m to the north-west… An oval or egg-shaped groove enclosed up to six cups; a groove or channel, often referred to as a ‘comet tail’ in rock art motif vocabulary, runs from the central group of the six out beyond the enclosing groove, bends sharply and continues down over the sloping face of the rock. A wide groove at the base of the rock running into the present turf line may be a further element of the carving.”
Boughey, K., “Prehistoric Rock Art: Four New Discoveries in Nidderdale,” in Prehistoric Research Section Bulletin, no.44, Yorkshire Archaeological Society 2007.
Various ways to get here. I s’ppose the easiest is from Dacre village. If you go just past Sunny House, take the footpath on your right & walk along it, roughly straight across a number of fields, until you hit the footpath known as the Nidderdale Way. The field you’re now in should be scattered with numerous rocks all over the place (if it aint, you’re in the wrong place), reaching down towards the trees. Walk straight towards the trees for another 100 yards and the carving is somewhere hereabouts under your nose! You’re very close! If, however, you decide to walk up the Nidderdale Way from Dacre Banks, the field you need is the one immediately to your right just before you reach the Monk Ing Road trackway. The Tadpole Stone (or Eastwoods Rough II carving) is in the same field, close to the Nidderdale Way path — check that out aswell!
Archaeology & History
This is a large carving I found in April, 2006, in the company of rock-art student Richard Stroud (who sent us the pictures). Twas in the midst of a fine day wandering about checking some of the ‘known’ sites in the area, when we happened across two or three previously unknown sites — and as the day wore on, just before we were gonna head for home, this little beauty poked the edge of its head out of the turf! It had the pair of us in near rapture, with numerous “Wow’s” and excitable expletives coming from our mouths! We’re easily pleased us rock-art doods — but then it is a beauty when you first see it.
We came here several times in the weeks following its initial discovery, and it seemed that on each visit, we found an additional aspect to the carving. It seemed to keep changing each time we came here — hence the name ‘Morphing Stone’!
The prime feature in the carving is the very large oval-shaped ‘ring’ with huge carved bowl in the middle and several outlying cups-markings around it. Although it’s not plain to see in the photos, there’s a large tongue-shaped protuberance jutting out from one side of the main ringed feature. You can also see a small cluster of cup-marks on the top-right of the rock: from here — though it isn’t easy to see in the photo — a long straight line links up with the edge of the major central ring. Other lines run off on the top of the main feature and there are several other cup-markings on different parts of the stone. It’s obviously best to see the carving “in the flesh”, so to speak, to get a good impression of what it actually looks like. And, to those of you who might wanna venture up here, there are several others nearby.
A year or two after rediscovering the carving, rock art student Keith Boughey (2007) described the stone, saying:
“Measuring 2.61m from N-S and 1.88m from W-E at its greatest extent, the carved surface carries quite a complex design… At its N end is a large cup/basin with an approximate diameter of 25-30cm, surrounded by a ring that may or may not be complete: 2 cups have been incorporated into the ring on its N and W side. W of this ring a groove leads off S to a further possible cup. On the E side of the large central cup are 3 further cups of varying size. These motifs are all enclosed within a wide groove, which forms almost a dome pattern. Out of the ring, a further groove runs NW out of the design, bisecting the enclosing groove, curving round to form a handle shape before running back in towards the large central cup. The groove shows signs of continuing E towards the edge of the stone. Just outside the W edge of the enclosing dome is one well-defined cup. S of this, in a slight depression, are 2 further cups of differing size. A straight groove appears to run SW out of the enclosing dome shape on its E side towards further motifs on the stone’s S side. The groove may run into an area of cup marks, but there appears to be a break before it continues. When exposed, the carvings looked quite fresh and sharp, suggesting that they had remained covered for some considerable time – possible since antiquity or at least from a time in the prehistoric past when cup-and-ring-markings had begun to lose their significance and were no longer required to be visible in the landscape.”
To those of you who like the new computer images of cup-and-rings, the three below are samples from a number of such images done after the stone had been discovered. Intriguingly, the long line running between the cluster of cups to the large cup-and-ring doesn’t show up too well; but the barely perceptible line running out, zigzag-fashion, from the large central cup-and-ring, shows up much clearer than when looking with the naked eye.