From Marske village, take the road west and uphill to the villages of Fremington and Reeth. At the top of the hill where the fields open up, several hundred yards along on your right, past the field with the track, a footpath sign points you up onto the moor. Go up the field till you hit the wall that goes right to the top of the moor. Where the four walls meet, go straight across and then walk northwards along the line of walling for 2-300 yards, keeping your eyes peeled for a solitary stone on its own, 100 yards west. You’ll find it.
Archaeology & History
A previously unrecorded petroglyph located within a massive arena of prehistoric sites dating from the neolithic and continuing through the Bronze Age period and beyond. Found a few hundred yards northwest of the once giant cairn of Cock Howe, this design is characterized mainly by the two large deep channels deliberately cut into the stone that run from the middle of the upper surface down to ground level. One of them emerges from a single cup-marking, at an angle; whilst the other comes from the edge of a natural crack in the rock. The channels are wide and flattened. Other faint lines can be discerned too, which may have originally been carved. We need to explore this design in different lighting conditions to see if there are additional features here.
An archetypal cup-marking can seen on the vertical edge of the stone and three other faint ones scatter the top. Another small ‘cup’ is along the southern vertical face of the rock which, when we found it, thought was natural; but a photograph of the stone by James Elkington seems to show a ring surrounding much of the cup-mark. We need to go back and take another look at the place.
A number of other carvings described in Paul and Barbara Brown’s (2008) survey can be found in the region.
Brown, Paul & Barbara, Prehistoric Rock Art in the Northern Dales, Tempus: Stroud 2008.
Take the minor high road between the hamlets of Marske and Fremington (up Hard Stiles from Marske side), turning up Stelling Road at the crossroads, and ⅔-mile (1.1km) along, turn right up Helwith Road. ¾-mile (1.2km) along, on the right, walk thru the gate onto the moor following the walling. Nearly 400 yards on you meet a junction of walling: walk past this until you reach the next line of walling and then follow it northeast for just over 500 yards. Once there, look for the mounds in the heather immediately south, less than 50 yards away.
Archaeology & History
This is one of the “isolated cairns of fair size” mentioned in passing by Tim Laurie (1985) in his survey of the massive settlement and field systems scattering this gorgeous moorland arena. It is one amongst a scatter of several in and around the eastern height of Cock Howe hill on the south side of Skelton Moor. The area has sadly been scarred by an excess of old lime mines—many of which are visible close by—damaging with some severity the excess of prehistoric remains on these moors, none of which have yet been excavated in any detail. This cairn included.
Even though much of the heather here had been burnt back when James Elkington and I visited the place recently, the pile of stones was still very embedded into the peat. The moorland rabbits had dislodged some of the stones, highlighting the mass of rocks much better. It stands nearly a metre high and is roughly 7 yards by 8 yards in diameter from edge to edge, structurally similar to the many Bronze Age cairns scattering Rombalds Moor, Askwith Moor and other Yorkshire clusters. A second cairn of similar size and stature exists some 30 yards to the southeast (visible on one of the photos).
For anyone who might visit this site, the most impressive features hereby are the huge settlement remains scattering the moors just north of the wall a few yards away. When the heather has been burnt back, a veritable prehistoric city unfolds before your eyes, with extensive lengths of walling, hut circles and what can only be described as huge halls, in which tribal meetings probably occurred – much of it in superb condition! Well worth visiting.