Auchinellan, Ford, Kilmartin, Argyll

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NM 86681 03320

Also Known as:

  1. Achadh nan Carradh
  2. Achnacarra
  3. Canmore ID 22802

Getting Here

Two stones on 1875 map

Unless you’re venturing down the tiny Loch Awe roads, the easiest way here is to turn right off the A816 Lochgilphead-Oban road, 1½ miles north of Kilmartin.  Go along this winding minor road for literally 2½ miles where, after coming out the tree-lined road, just past the small Loch Ederline, the fields re-appear on both sides of the road.  Just here, where the trees end, just a few hundred yards before the hamlet of Ford, in one of the field on the left, you’ll see a tall upright stone.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

I was very fortunate, many years ago, to live in the old farmhouse of Auchinellan in the trees by this ancient stone.  It became a companion many a time, as I sat with it in rain and mist and darkness sometimes, beneath the bright Moon.  It always had a good feeling about it.  And so when a small bunch of us visited here again recently, it was almost as if I’d never been away.  Tis a magickal part of our landscape.

The old stone looking N
The old stone looking NW

Standing ten-foot-tall on a grassy plain with craggy hills all round, this old fella once had another companion close by its side—this time, a stone one!  Accounts of it are curious to say the least, with one telling us it was only “a few inches high” – which is plain daft, to say the least.  The now-lost stone was in fact about six-feet tall; and the story of its disappearance was that it was moved into the grounds of Auchinellan House, somewhere in the garden.  Clive Ruggles (1984) told that it could be found at grid-reference NM 8653 0268, so it shouldn’t be too hard to find.

As far as I can tell, the first written testimony of this stone was by the Ordnance Survey lads after they’d visited here in 1871 and, several years later, highlighted it on their maps. (above)  On this is clearly shown, just yards apart, the two standing stones.  Much later, when the Royal Commission (1988) doods did their survey, they described the stone in their usual brief way:

“Situated on the top of a slight rise in a pasture field 270m SW of the Ford Hotel, there is a standing stone which measures 0.7m by 0.55m at the base and rises with straight sides to a flat top at a height of 3m…”

The site was included in Thom’s (1990) major survey on prehistoric stone rows where, again, only a brief description is given, saying:

“On a terrace near Loch Ederline is a standing stone which leans to the E.  It is 9ft 6 (2.9m) high.”

It’s a beautiful place in a beautiful setting and is one of countless prehistoric monuments in this part of Scotland.

Folklore

The Gaelic names for this site—Achnacarra and Achadh nan Carradh—means “the field of the burial stone”, which relates to the folklore of the stones reputedly marking the place of an ancient grave.

References:

  1. Campbell, Marion, Mid Argyll – An Archaeological Guide, Dolphin: Glenrothes 1984.
  2. Campbell, Marion & Sandeman, M., “Mid Argyll: An Archaeological Survey,” in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries Scotland, volume 95, 1964.
  3. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll – Volume 6: Mid-Argyll and Cowal, HMSO: Edinburgh 1988.
  4. Ruggles, Clive L.N., Megalithic Astronomy, BAR: Oxford 1984.
  5. Thom, Alexander, Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – volume 1, BAR: Oxford 1990.

Acknowledgements:  Big thanks to Neens Harris, Paul Hornby & Frank Mercer.  And the stunning resource of Scotland’s 1st edition OS-maps is Reproduced with the kind permission of the National Library of Scotland

Links:

  1. Auchinellan (Ford) Stone on The Megalithic Portal

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.174625, -5.438116 Auchinellan stone

Lady Fife’s Well, Leith, Midlothian

Holy Well? (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NT 27534 75794

Archaeology & History

Despite this site having a number of albeit brief literary references, from the early 19th century onwards, the history and traditions of this Well are very scant indeed.  It figures in various texts that detail the historical ‘Battle of Leith’, but there is little additional information in such tomes.  Even local history works pass it by with brevity.

Lady Fifes Well on 1852 map
Lady Fifes Well on 1853 map

Its present name derives from the Countess of Fife who, in the 19th century, lived in the nearby mansion of Hermitage House (and who also grafted her name onto the nearby mound of Lady Fife’s Brae); but this title seems to have been grafted onto the earlier ‘Ladie Well’, implying it had a dedication to St. Mary or more probably an earlier heathen female spirit at the waters. Although it is shown on the OS-maps of 1852 and ’53, and described in Grant’s 1883 work as being there in his time, all subsequent maps after this date seem to indicate that it had gone.

All that we know is that the waters ran into a small stone trough and that Lady Fife enjoyed her evenings here, partaking of the waters.

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, Ancient and Holy Wells of Edinburgh, TNA 2017.
  2. Campbell, Alexander, The History of Leith from the Earliest Times, William Reid: Leith 1827.
  3. Grant, James, Cassell’s Old and New Edinburgh – volume 3, Cassell, Petter Galpin: London 1883.
  4. Harris, Stuart, “The Fortifications and Siege of Leith,” in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 121, 1991.
  5. Harris, Stuart, The Place-Names of Edinburgh: Their Origins and History, Gordon Wright: Edinburgh 1996.
  6. Hutchison, William, Tales, Traditions and Antiquities of Leith, Leith 1865.
  7. Maxwell, C.A., The Wars of England and Scotland, W.P. Nimmo: Edinburgh 1870.
  8. Russell, John, The Story of Leith, Nelson 1922.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  55.969654, -3.162577 Lady Fife\'s Well

Baildon Moor Carving (173), West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13844 40347

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.40 (Hedges)

Getting Here

The lovely ‘Carving 173’, Baildon Moor

From Baildon go up onto the moor, turning left to go round Baildon Hill and onto Eldwick, stopping at the car park at the top of the brow. Cross the road and walk along past carving 184, making sure you keep right sticking to the footpath that runs along the edge of the slope (not onto the flats & up to Baildon Hill itself). There are several carvings along here, but this one’s on the right-side of the widening path, another 300 yards past carving 184. Keep your eyes peeled – y’ can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

Carving 173, looking south

In my 1982 notebook I described this as “a very well-preserved cup-and-ring stone, with two cup-and-rings and seven other cup-marks. There seems to be faint remains of other lines carved by some of the cups.”  And the description is as apt today as it was back then – though neither of the surrounding ‘rings’ are complete.  However, as the photos here indicate, adjacent to the main cup-and-ring near the centre of the stone another incomplete cup-and-ring is evident, emerging from the natural crack that runs across it.  In the subsequent surveys of Hedges (1986) and Boughey & Vickerman (2003) they somehow only saw one cup-and-ring on this rock.  Easily done I suppose!  In certain light there’s what may have been an attempted second surrounding ring starting on one of the cups…but I’ll leave that for a later date…

CR-173 (after Hedges)
Slippery when wet!

There may also have been intent to carve another ring around one of the other cups on the northern half of the stone.  This possible fourth ring and its position on the stone potentiates solar symbolism (not summat I’m keen on, tbh), which fits into the position and nature of several other cup-and-rings in this region and which I’ll expand on and highlight a little later on.  It is important to remember that this petroglyph and its nearby relatives were once accompanied by a series of tumuli, or prehistoric burial mounds: a feature that is not uncommon in this part of the world.  Well worth having a look at!

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, Megalithic Ramblings between Ilkley and Baildon, unpublished: Shipley 1982.
  2. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  3. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  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.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Baildon Moor CR-173

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Baildon Moor CR-173 53.859165, -1.791001 Baildon Moor CR-173

Baildon Moor Carving (184), West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 14124 40447

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.46 (Hedges)
Carving 184, Baildon Moor

Getting Here

From Baildon, take the road up onto the moors, turning left to go round Baildon Hill, then park-up at the small car-park on the brow of the hill at the edge of the golf course.  Cross the road and take the well-trod footpath diagonally right, heading onto Baildon Moor.  Walk along here for 300 yards and notice the large stone just to your right. You can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

Close-up of cups & faded ring

Listed without real comment in several surveys, this large sloping rock that looks over the north and western landscapes of Rombald’s Moor and beyond, has several simple cup-markings on its surface, one with a faded ring surrounding a cup.  In more recent centuries, someone began to add their own etching onto the stone but, thankfully, stopped before defacing the ancient markings.  I noted this carving in one of my early notebooks, saying only that it “lacked the central design found in others from this region,” being little more than a (seemingly) disorganized array of several marks.

Hedges 1986 drawing

A greater number of other carved stones scatter the grassy flatlands west and south of here, some of which are found in association with prehistoric cairns and lines of walling; but no such immediate relationship is visible here.

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, Of Cups and Rings and Things, unpublished: Shipley 1981.
  2. Bennett, Paul, Megalithic Ramblings between Ilkley and Baildon, unpublished: Shipley 1982.
  3. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  4. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  5. 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.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Baildon Moor CR-184

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Baildon Moor CR-184 53.860056, -1.786739 Baildon Moor CR-184

Crook Farm north, Baildon Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13703 39616

Getting Here

This lovely cup-and-ring stone, Baildon Moor

Take the road up alongside and past Shipley Glen, taking the turn to go to Crook Farm caravan site. Go right to the end of the car-park, then walk up through the trees on your left.  Keep going uphill about 100 yards by the field-wall until it starts to level out – and shortly before the first gate into the field (on your right) keep your eyes peeled for the triangular stone in the ground, barely 10 yards away from the walling. You’re damn close!

Archaeology & History

W.E. Preston’s early photo of the carving

For some reason this has always been one of my favourite cup-and-ring stones on Baildon Moor and it’s well worth checking out if you visit the area! It was rediscovered by the Bradford historian W.E. Preston, who photographed the carving around 1912.  Shortly afterwards he took fellow historians Joseph Rycroft and W. Paley Baildon to see this (and others he’d located) and both a drawing and photo of the site was including in Mr Baildon’s (1913) magnum opus the following year.

As you can see from the relative photos—with literally 100 years between them—erosion hasn’t taken too much toll and this neolithic or Bronze Age carving remains in very good condition.

Joseph Rycroft’s early drawing
Close-up of one section

Covered with upwards of fifty cup-markings, there are also two cup-and-rings and numerous carved lines meandering around and enclosing some of the many cups.  It’s a fascinating design, with another ‘Cassiopeia’ cluster of cups in one section, beloved of archaeoastronomers who explore these stones.  Mr Rycroft’s drawing of the design (left) is perhaps the best one, to date.

Along this same ridge there are remains of other prehistoric sites, more cup-and-rings, remains of prehistoric walling and what may be a small cairn circle (to be described later).

References:

  1. Baildon, W. Paley, Baildon and the Baildons – parts 1-15, Adelphi: London 1913-1926.
  2. Bennett, Paul, Of Cups and Rings and Things, unpublished: Shipley 1981.
  3. Bennett, Paul, Megalithic Ramblings between Ilkley and Baildon, unpublished: Shipley 1982.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Crook Farm north CR

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Crook Farm north CR 53.852598, -1.793177 Crook Farm north CR

Baildon Moor Carving (150), West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13724 40096

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.22 (Hedges)

Getting Here

Carving 150, with Dobrudden Stone to rear

Whether you come via Shipley Glen or Baildon, head for the Dobrudden caravan park on the western edge of Baildon Hill.  As you get to the entrance of the caravan site, turn right and walk along the outer walling of the caravan site, up and around for less than 100 yards.  Keep your eyes peeled for the upright stone against the outer walling (the famous Dobrudden Cup-and-Ring Stone), and just 10 yards away, laid flat in the grasses, you’ll see this small cup-and-ring stone!

Archaeology & History

Found just a few yards from the well-known Dobrudden Carving that stands up against the wall, this small flat level stone, slowly again being encroached by Earth’s skin, is found on the edge of the High Plain, whereon the usual conjunction of prehistoric tombs and cup-and-rings is found once again.  Whether this carving ever had its own cairn or funerary monument is now hard to say for sure; and the excessive erosion of modern humans is slowly eradicating the landscape all round here.

Jackson’s 1956 drawing
Hedges 1986 drawing

Consisting of two cup-and-rings (with very deep cupmarks in the centres), there are also what seem like artificially carved lines or grooves running across the stone.  It was first described in a short article in the Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin (Jackson 1956)*, found lying “in the path alongside the north wall of the Dobrudden Farm enclosure.”  It seems like stone may have been covered over until some local work on Dobrudden unearthed it in the latter half of the 20th century.  There’s also an intriguing note told by a local man called Jack Taylor, which Jackson narrated, saying how he,

“always held the opinion that the rings were not contemporary with the cups, and went so far as to suggest that they had been carved within living memory by someone anxious to ‘improve’ the boulder.”

This might be the case, as there is another carving not far away near the top of Baildon Hill that certainly seems to have been done in the 20th century.  And one of the two surrounding rings on this stone does appear to have a more recent look to it than the other.  However, we must consider that the covering soil has kept the carved rings in such good condition. (There are examples of petroglyphs throughout the world where certain carved elements were added at later times by countless aboriginal tribes.)

Close-up of cup-and-rings
Dobrudden carving 150

Like all of these carvings, to get an accurate picture of the true original we must visit them in all weathers all through the year, to see how differing seasons express the petroglyph. For we can see on some images we have of this carving a number of features that aren’t on the drawings of either Jackson (1956) or Hedges (1986): whether the rings surrounding the cups are ancient or not, there is a definite carved line nearly linking them together; and at least one faint line stretches down from one of the rings.  We need to visit the carving again to see if such features show up with greater clarity when lighting conditions are better.

References:

  1. Baildon, W. Paley, Baildon and the Baildons – parts 1-15, Adelphi: London 1913-1926.
  2. Bennett, Paul, Megalithic Ramblings between Ilkley and Baildon, unpublished: Shipley 1982.
  3. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  4. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  5. Jackson, Sidney, “Another Cup-and-Ring Boulder,” in Bradford Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 1:13, 1956.

* Boughey & Vickerman (2003) cited W. P. Baildon’s magnum opus (1913) as the first to describe this stone, but this is untrue (there’s certainly no mention nor illustration of it in my editions of the Baildon volumes).

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Baildon Moor CR-150

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Baildon Moor CR-150 53.856912, -1.792836 Baildon Moor CR-150

Swinside Stone Circle, Hallthwaites, Millon, Cumbria

Stone Circle:  OS Grid Reference – SD 17163 88174

Also Known as:

  1. Chapel Sucken
  2. Chapel Suke
  3. L1/3 (Thom)
  4. Sunkenkirk
  5. Sunken Kirk
Swinside stone circle, under Knott Hill

Getting Here

Bittova journey this — but well worth it!  From Broughton-in-Furness take the A595 road west, past Duddon Bridge for about another 1½ miles, turning right up the small single-track country lane beloved of city-mind drivers, up the fertile scruffy road, past Broadgate and stopping just before Cragg Hall Farm.  There’s a dirt-track running up the back of Cragg Hall.  Go up here and keep walking for a mile or so until, as you approach Swinside Farm and the fields open up in front of you, the stones begin to appear.

Archaeology & History

Swinside, looking east

The Swinside stone circle is Aubrey Burl’s favourite.  And for good reason!  Like other impressive megalithic rings of the region, the stones are large, well set, and the landscape holds the stones finely in the hills.  Without the landscape here, Swinside (like Castlerigg and elsewhere) would not have such grandeur.  When you sit in the ring, or walk round it, Knott Hill to the south was of obvious mythic relevance to the people who built this stone circle four or five thousand years ago.  But this can be said of many of the surrounding crags.  A few miles southwest we see the top of the haunted Black Combe rising into clouds, still speaking to some with spirits from animistic realms, long known to our ancestors.  Following the skyline west and past the small falls of Whicham stream, whose name speaks of long past trees, we reach the near-west skyline with the cairn-looking pap of the Raven Crag, symptomatic of magickal rites calling to and beyond the circle.  To the north is the symbolic ridge of Lath Rigg.  Along the craggy eastern ridges from here you get the impression that you’re more in Argyll than Cumbria; and the break in the hills to the southeast reaches to the distant pinnacle of Kirkby Moor, where the midwinter sunrise emerged to tell of solar calendrical motions and the coming of the dark season to our megalithic tribes.  But enough of the landscape!

Swinside on 1867 OS-map

Although the name Swinside can be traced back to the 13th century, the local folk-name of the circle—Sunken Kirk—was mentioned for the first time as “the Chapell Suke” in Parish Registers of 1624.  No earlier literary source has yet been identified, probably because of the isolation of the site and the lack of people writing about the area.  Swinside stone circle is, just about, a perfect circle, give or take a foot here and there, holding the circular dome of the heavens within its domain.  Yet despite its almost regal appearance, early references to the site seem scant.  It seems to have been first described in William Hutchinson’s huge History of Cumberland (1794), where he told:

“In the neighbourhood of Millum, at a place called Swinside, in the estate of William Lewthwaite Esq., of Whitehaven, is a small but beautiful druidical monument; it is circular, about twenty eight yards in diameter; the stones of which it is composed are from six to eight feet high, all standing and complete.  A little to the south, is another of larger dimensions, but not in so perfect a state: the neighbouring people call those places by the emphatical names of Sunken Kirks.”

A few years later, William Camden’s legendary text Britannia was edited and reprinted again, this time by Richard Gough (1806), who told:

“At Swineshead, a very high hill…is a druidical temple, which the country folk call Sunken Kirk, i.e., a church sunk into the Earth.  It is nearly a circle of very large stones, pretty entire.  No situation could be more agreeable to the Druids than this; mountains almost encircle it, not a tree is to be seen in the neighbourhood, nor a house, except a shepherd’s cot at the foot of a mountain surrounded by a few barren pastures.  At the entrance are four large stones, two placed on each side at the distance of six feet.  The largest on the left hand side is five feet six inches in height, and ten feet in circumference. Through this you enter into a circular area, 29 yards by 30.  This entrance is nearly southeast.  On the north or right-hand side is a huge stone of conical form, in height nearly nine feet.  Opposite the entrance is another large stone which has once been erect, but is now fallen within the area: its length is eight feet.  The left hand or southwest is one, in height seven feet, in circumference 11 feet nine inches.   The altar probably stood in the middle, as there are some stones still to be seen, though sunk deep in the earth.  The circle is nearly complete, except on the western side some stones are wanting.  The largest stones are about thirty one or two in number.  The outwards part of the circle upon the sloping ground is surrounded with a buttress or rude pavement of smaller stones raised about half a yard from the surface of the Earth… This monument of antiquity, when viewed within the circle, strikes you with astonishment, how the massy stones could be placed in such regular order either by human strength or mechanical power.”

Tall, northernmost stone to centre
Northeast section of the ring

It seems he was impressed!  Yet despite this, in the 19th century not many folk strayed this far into the western edges of Lakeland to look upon Swinside.  There were occasional descriptions from travellers and antiquarians such as J.T. Blight (1843) and Edwin Waugh (1861), each speaking of the site’s visual magnitude, but it wasn’t until archaeologist C.W. Dymond came here, first in 1872 and then again in 1877, that a fuller account of the site came into being.  In his essay on a “Group of Cumberland Megaliths,” he said how the stones were still in excellent condition and that,

“few of the stones seem to have been removed — probably because plenty of material for walling and road-making could be collected from the neighbouring hillside.” (Dymond 1881)

When Mr Dymond first came here he told of the remains of a rowan tree which had split one of the stones, but this has long gone.  More than twenty years after the archaeologist’s first visit, he returned with R.G. Collingwood to make a more detailed evaluation of the ring.  He measured and planned Swinside like it had never been done before and his ground-plan (below) is still very accurate indeed.  Aubrey Burl (1999) takes up the story:

“The ring was partly excavated by Dymond, Collingwood and three men from midday Tuesday, 26 March 1901, until the close of the following evening.  They dug two long, intersecting 46cm-wide trenches, NW-SE, NE-SW, across the ring with a curious zigzagging pattern of others between southeast and southwest: an investigation of some 51m² of the central area.  Within the circle the trenches represented less than a thirteenth of the 642m² of the interior.

“Below the grass and turf was a thin layer of soil under which yellowish marl or ‘pinnel’ varied from 15cm to 75cm in depth, being deepest at the entrance which had been dug into earlier around 1850.  Wherever it was uncovered the gravelly marl was wavily uneven, presumably the result of ploughing.  The bases of the circle-stones rested on the pinnel, held firmly in their holes by small cobbles with others heavily packed around the sides.  The only finds were a nut-sized lump of charcoal just northeast of the centre with others near the entrance; a minute splinter of decayed bone near the first bit of charcoal and two pieces of red stone.  There were also some contemporary glass sherds and a Lancaster halfpenny dated between 1789 and 1794 lying in the uppermost turf layer.”

Dymond’s 1881 plan of Swinside

Since these early archaeological digs, Swinside has given up little else.  Much like other stone circles in the British Isles, few real clues as to exactly what went on here have been forthcoming.  But in the 1960s, investigations into megalithic sites made a bit of a quantum leap and some old ideas about astronomical ingredients were resurrected.

Alexander Thom’s plan of Swinside

Swinside was one of the places explored by engineer and megalith enthusiast, Alexander Thom.  Thom was one of the prime figures instrumental in the resurgence of interest in megalithic sites — and his finds of megalithic astronomy and prehistoric mathematics had a lot to do with it.  Although we know today that some of Thom’s work isn’t correct, his explorations and research stand him far ahead of most archaeologists who pretended to represent this area of research.  He left us with the most detailed ground-plans of megalithic sites to date and, of course, showed some fascinating alignments.

Thom listed Swinside as site “L1/3” and made the most detailed and accurate ground-plan of this and 18 other megalithic rings in Cumbria.  He found it to be 94 feet in diameter, with an internal area measuring 6940 square feet.  The one major alignment Thom found at Swinside was of the winter solstice sunrise, lining up just on the edge of the ‘entrance’ to the circle’s southeastern side.

Folklore

Like a number of other stone circles, folklore told that you couldn’t count the stones.  Janet and Colin Bord (1997) also told that people once tried to build a church here in early christian days, but once the builders went home in the evening, the Devil pulled down what they’d built during the day. A motif found at Ilkley’s Hanging Stones cup-and-ring carvings and many other prehistoric sacred sites in the country.

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Armstrong, A.M. et al., The Place-Names of Cumberland – volume 2, Cambridge University Press 1950.
  2. Bord, Janet & Colin, Prehistoric Britain from the Air, Weidenfeld & Nicolson: London 1999.
  3. Burl, Aubrey, “‘Without Sharp North…’ – Alexander Thom and the Great Stone Circle of Cumbria”, in Ruggles, Clive, Records in Stone, Cambridge University Press, 1988.
  4. Burl, Aubrey, A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, New Haven & London 1995.
  5. Burl, Aubrey, Great Stone Circles, Yale University Press: New York & London 1999.
  6. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  7. Dymond, C.W., “A Group of Cumberland Megaliths,” in Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, volume 5, 1881.
  8. Dymond, C.W., “An exploration at the Megalithic Circle called Sunken Kirk at Swinside, in the Parish of Millom, Cumberland,” in Transactions of the Cumberland and Westmorland Antiquarian and Archaeological Society, New Series volume 2, 1902.
  9. Gough, Richard (ed.), Camden’s Britannia, J. Nichols and Son: London 1806.
  10. Hutchinson, William, The History of the County of Cumberland – volume 1, F. Jollie: Carlisle 1794.
  11. Seton, Ray, The Reason for the Stone Circles in Cumbria, R. Seton: Morecambe 1995.
  12. Thom, Alexander, Megalithic Sites in Britain, Oxford University Press 1967.
  13. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, H.A.W., Megalithic Rings, BAR: Oxford 1980.
  14. Waterhouse, John, The Stone Circles of Cumbria, Phillimore: Chichester 1985.
  15. Waugh, Edwin, Seaside Lakes and Mountains of Cumberland, Alexander Ireland: Manchester 1861.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS:

Huge thanks to Brian Else for his photos. And to Paul and Tricia for taking us here, in awesome downpour weather!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Swinside circle

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Swinside circle 54.282446, -3.273878 Swinside circle

Cock Hill, Wadsworth Moor, West Yorkshire

Cist:  OS Grid Reference – SE 009 275

Also Known as:

  1. Mount Skip tomb

Getting Here

OK – OK – stop laughing at the title!  If you wanna check the hill out for yourselves, get to Hebden Bridge, then go up the long and very steep Birchcliffe Road.  Keep going all the way to the very top (a couple of miles uphill).  When you reach here, the building in front of you was the Mount Skip pub.  From here, walk up over the golf course and you’ll hit the disused quarries on the moor edge.

Archaeology & History

The grid reference given above is an approximation.  The tomb (long gone) was within 100 yards of the coordinate.  But don’t let that put you off having a good bimble around the moors here, cos there are several sites to see.

This long-lost burial was located in May, 1897, when quarrying operations were being undertaken behind the Mount Skip Inn, on the edge of Wadsworth Moor.  Ling Roth (1906) told that

“the first indications were the rolling down of pieces of urns which the delvers called flower pots.  Then in digging a hole to fix the leg of a crane, human bones were discovered.”

Geoffrey Watson (1952) later echoing Mr Roth’s comments wrote that,

“a grave containing a skeleton was discovered at a quarry about Mount Skip Inn.  The grave was about 6ft long, 14-18 in wide, and about 2ft deep.  The bones, which were exceedingly brittle, crumbled on handling.  Within the grave, and mainly at the ends, there appeared to be about 6 in of mixed charred wood and bones.  The larger portion of a small earthenware vessel was picked up and retained by one of the quarrymen.”

According to Mr Roth, the “earthware vessel picked up…by one of the quarrymen” was “picked up by a man named Thomas Greenwood, of Shawcroft Hill.”   What became of it, I do not know! If anyone knows, please let us know!

The description telling that “the grave was about 6ft long, 14-18 in wide, and about 2ft deep,” implies it to have been a stone cist – although this is quite long.  The nearest of any similar form would be the giant cairns at Low Bradley, 12½ miles (20km) to the north  This may have been the last remnants of a giant cairn (its landscape position would allow for this).

References:

  1. Roth, H. Ling, The Yorkshire Coiners…and Notes on Old and Prehistoric Haifax, F. King: Halifax 1906.
  2. Watson, Geoffrey G., Early Man in the Halifax District, Halifax Scientific Society 1952.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Cock Hill cist

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Cock Hill cist 53.743877, -1.987833 Cock Hill cist

Stoodley Pike Circle, Mankinholes, West Yorkshire

Ring Cairn (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SD 9730 2418

Getting Here

Stoodley Pike is unmissable! Get to either Hebden Bridge or Todmorden – ask someone – then get to it! Nice climb – nice view – excellent moors all round!

Archaeology & History

Artist’s impression of Stoodley Pike Circle (bottom left of ruin)

All traces of this site have gone, but local gossip still tells there was once something here. When building work commenced on the huge folly in 1814, in clearing the ground “an accumulation of stones (and)…a quantity of bones” were unearthed. After the huge folly had been built, a curious ritual was made by local Freemasons, from here to the nearby Slake Well. The circle was only a small one, but ideal for the spirit of the ancestor to both look-out from, and fly across the landscape.  In another description of the place from 1832 — wrote E.M. Savage (1974) — local writer and poet, William Law, told how “a rude heap of stones had stood on the site from time immemorial.”

Folklore

Suggested by earlier writers to have been an old beacon site, though evidence for this is uncertain.  The site was said to be a meeting place of the “gude grannies,” who met here and told old stories.  E.M. Savage (1974) told us:

“Another story was that the cairn marked the grave of an old chietain and that the bones of a human skeleton had been found… A contemporary of (William) Law, called Holt…stated that this was so.  Another story was that someone had been murdered and buried there.  Many years later, Law quizzed the workmen.  Bones had been found but no one knew whose bones, or their age, so the mystery remained.

“Yet another story had it that the occupant, presumably owner, of Stoodley, had to keep the original Pike, the cairn, in neat and good order.  If a single stone was out of place, no one could sleep.  The banging of doors and other noises started up, to remind the owner to tidy up the stones.  Elusive flames were to be seen playing round the stones. Sor the stories went.”

As can be seen in the artist’s drawing above, done more than a century after the cairn had been destroyed, a ring of stones is shown just below the remains of the earlier of the Peace Monuments, which today carries the old name of Stoodley Pike.

References:

  1. Booth, Thomas, Ancient Grave Mounds on the Slopes of the Pennine Range, R. Chambers: Todmorden 1899.
  2. Savage, E.M., Stoodley Pike, Todmorden Antiquarian Society 1974.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.714030, -2.042387 Stoodley Pike cairn