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