Rocking Stone carving, Rocking Moor, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 11050 57852

Getting Here

Site shown on 1854 map

A lovely distance and various way to reach here.  Probably the best is from one of the two footpaths near the Outdoor Centre following (whichever is your preference) the moorland track or path westward onto the open moor.  Tis is 2½ mile walk to reach the two large buildings, stuck high up in the middle of nowhere.  Y’ can’t miss them.  Equally unmissable is the large blatant rocking stone between the buildings.  Gerron top of it!

Archaeology & History

Rocking Stone, in situ

This impressive-looking rock that sits between the two buildings has a number of cup-markings of varying sizes across its topmost surface: some deep and some not-so-deep.  There are perhaps as many as 20 of them on different parts of the stone, but some have been intruded on by more recent graffiti.  On a recent visit to the site, photographer James Elkington and his young assistant MacKenzie, saw what looked like “a very faint ring around one of the cups” – which doesn’t surprise me.  On one section of the stone we see a fascinating series of natural curves and geological undulations, some of which may have been modified a long time ago when the cupmarks were etched.  But whether they were added to or not, it’s more than likely they’d have had some significance in the mythic nature of the rock.

The earliest description telling us that this possessed any prehistoric attributes seems to have been written by William Grainge (1871), in his huge work on the history of this region. He told that,

Faint ring highlighted
Some of the many cups

“This rock…is eleven feet in length, seven feet six inches in breadth, and two feet six inches in thickness.  The whole of the upper surface is thickly indented and grooved with cups and channels; the artificial character of which can be easily seen by anyone.  This logan rests upon a lower rock, the upper surface of which is about three feet above the ground, fourteen feet in length, and nearly the same in breadth.”

Folklore

Curvaceous nature & cups

Although this yummy-looking geological sight no longer rocks, it wasn’t always that way.  Indeed, according once more to the pen of Mr Grainge, although “it does not rock now, it has done so within living memory” – meaning that it would have been swaying at the beginning of the 19th century.  We can only take his word for it.  Also, as with many rocking stones the length and breadth of the land this, unsurprisingly it was adjudged to have been a place used by the druids.

References:

  1. Grainge, William, The History and Topography of Harrogate and the Forest of Knaresborough, John Russell Smith: London 1871.
  2. Tiernan, D., “King George V Visited in 1911,” on Teddy Tour Teas, 5 May, 2012.

Links:  

  1. Teddy Tour Teas

AcknowledgementsHuge thanks as always to James Elkington for use of his photos – as well as his partner in crime, Mackenzie Erichs.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  54.016563, -1.832859 Rocking Stone

Mitton Green Cross, Great Mitton, Lancashire

Mitton Gree-mapCross:  OS Grid Reference — SD 71217 39613

Also Known as:

  1. Toot Hill Cross

Getting Here

From Great Mitton village centre, take the B6246 road NW turning right up the B6243 road a quarter-mile past Great Mitton Hall.  Same distance again, and just after where the road bends left, on the same side of the road you’ll see a wooden bus-stop. The site is just on the grass next to it.

Archaeology & History

The old site by the road (after QDanT)
The old site by the road (after QDanT)

In a region with many old crosses hiding away in the landscape, we have very little history about this particular wayside cross and its stony base, found below the western edge of Toot Hill.  It will no doubt have had something to do with the monks of the once-prestigious Whalley Abbey a few miles away, but we know not what! The great Lancastrian historian John Dixon would, no doubt, have known something of this place, but he is sadly no longer with us… The only thing I can presently find is a passing mention in Fred Ackerley’s (1947) local history work, who told:

“Continuing along the high road past Mitton Green one sees the base of a roadside cross and directly opposite this cross-base is Toot Hill, where in ancient times it is probable that village meetings were held.”

Close-up of the cross-base, with Teddy! (after QDanT)
Close-up of the cross-base, with Teddy! (after QDanT)

Toot not being a just “a look-out hill” (Smith 1954), but in some cases places where ancient temples were built, “upon high totes” — though we have no record of such a temple, christian or heathen, upon this hill.  So the reason for the stone cross at the bottom remains a mystery. Although, atop of the hill, we see marks very reminiscent of something much more archaic and heathen in nature, still visible in the crop-marks…

References:

  1. Ackerley, Frederick George, A History of the Parish of Mitton in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Aberdeen University Press 1947.
  2. Smith, A.H., English Place-Name Elements – volume 2, Cambridge University Press 1956.

Links:

  1. Pictorial Journey of East Lancashire Crosses

AcknowledegmentsBig thanks to Big Dan for use of his photos. Cheers fella!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Mitton Green cross

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Mitton Green cross 53.851969, -2.438987 Mitton Green cross

Ball Cross Carving 02, Bakewell, Derbyshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SK 231 691

Archaeology & History

Ball Cross 2 Carving (after Beckensall)
Ball Cross 2 Carving (after Beckensall)

One of three carvings that were located inside the walling of the Ball Cross hillfort during excavations here in the early 1950s by J. Stanley. (1954)  Each carving is distinctly unlike the other in design (see Ball Cross 1 and Ball Cross 3) and it’s highly probable that they were incorporated into the Iron Age structure with their original mythic functions—of neolithic or Bronze Age origin—disused. It is not unlikely that this and its compatriots were originally found in association with the nearby prehistoric tombs.

Ball Cross 2 Carving (photo by Dean Thom)
Ball Cross 2 Carving (photo by Dean Thom)

The broken piece of rock consists of a broken section of an almost archetypal ‘cup-and-ring’—although with this design, no central ‘cup’ occurs: a pattern found at several other multiple-ring stones, like the Grey Stone near Leeds.  Although Stan Beckensall (1999) described this to have “8 concentric rings”, his drawing and the photo here by Dean Thom, clearly show only seven such ‘rings’.  The carving presently lives in a protective box in Sheffield Museum (though beware the listing they give of the designs, as some are incorrect).

References:

  1. Barnatt, John & Reeder, Phil, “Prehistoric Rock Art in the Peak District,” in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 102, 1982.
  2. Beckensall, Stan, British Prehistoric Rock Art, Tempus: Stroud 1999.
  3. Beckensall, Stan, Circles in Stone: A British Prehistoric Mystery, Tempus: Stroud 2006.
  4. Cooper, Ali, Archaeology Walks in the Peak District, Sigma: Wilmslow 2010.
  5. Morgan, Victorian & Paul, Rock Around the Peak, Sigma: Wilmslow 2001.
  6. Stanley, J., “An Iron Age fort at Ball Cross Farm, Bakewell,” in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, volume 74, 1954.

Acknowledgements:  HUGE thanks to Dean Thom for the use of his photo, plus helpful references on this site.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Ball Cross (2) CR

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Ball Cross (2) CR 53.218625, -1.656877 Ball Cross (2) CR

Ball Cross Carving 01, Bakewell, Derbyshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SK 2310 6911

Archaeology & History

Ball Cross 01 Carving (photo © Dean Thom)
Ball Cross 01 Carving (photo © Dean Thom)

This is another carving (one of three here) that was removed from its landscape setting when found during excavations of the Iron Age hillfort of Ball Cross in the 1950s, and then placed into a box in Sheffield Museum, decontextualizing it and leaving future researchers slightly in the dark as to its possible nature.  In removing the carving from its site, the stone was left with additional scratches and grooves slightly damaging the stone.  Not good!

Ball Cross Carving (after Beckensall)
Ball Cross Carving (after Beckensall)
Ball Cross Carving (after A. Cooper)
Ball Cross Carving (after A. Cooper)

Although unlike the Ball Cross 2 and 3 carvings, the design here is structurally very similar to that found east of Gardoms Edge, with this one comprising of a large unbroken carved oval, with at least twelve cup-marks inside.  Or as Beckensall (1999) described, it “has 12 cups inside a flattened ring.”  Again, like the Gardoms Edge carving, a single cup-mark was etched outside of the enclosed ring. It was found with its companion carvings built into the main walled structure of the hillfort.  It’s unlikely that the stones date from the same age as the hillfort: more probable that they were re-used in the structure, with their mythic nature perhaps already long forgotten…

References:

  1. Barnatt, John & Reeder, Phil, “Prehistoric Rock Art in the Peak District,” in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 102, 1982.
  2. Beckensall, Stan, British Prehistoric Rock Art, Tempus: Stroud 1999.
  3. Beckensall, Stan, Circles in Stone: A British Prehistoric Mystery, Tempus: Stroud 2006.
  4. Cooper, Ali, Archaeology Walks in the Peak District, Sigma: Wilmslow 2010.
  5. Morgan, Victorian & Paul, Rock Around the Peak, Sigma: Wilmslow 2001.
  6. Stanley, J., “An Iron Age fort at Ball Cross Farm, Bakewell,” in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, volume 74, 1954.

Acknowledgements:  HUGE thanks to Dean Thom for the use of his photo, plus helpful data on this site.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Ball Cross (1) CR

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Ball Cross (1) CR 53.218674, -1.655794 Ball Cross (1) CR

Gardoms Edge 02, Baslow, Derbyshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SK 2752 7328

Archaeology & History

Gardoms Edge 2 carving, in Sheffield Museum (photo - Dean Thom)
Gardoms Edge 2 carving, in Sheffield Museum (photo – Dean Thom)

This carving is one of two cup-and-ring stones that were removed from this area and transported to Sheffield Museum, decontextualizing them from their landscape presence (this should not be done unless very severe damage is happening, or their destruction is imminent).  It’s quite an intriguing carving, similar in design to one found not far away at Great Hucklow, the Middleton Moor 479 carving, etc.  Like many Pennine cup-and-ring stones, it was located in a prehistoric cairn field (or necropolis), with hut circles not far away too, and really should have remained in situ for the benefit of future researchers.

Gardoms Edge carving (after Beckensall 1999)
Gardoms Edge carving (after Beckensall 1999)

The carving was cut into one end of a small rock and comprises of a singular unbroken, large oval, within which are enclosed thirteen or fourteen cups, plus a single cup on the outside of the ring.  Lunar associations may be invoked by the 13 cups, enclosed within one cycle of the year.  But I’m speculating of course.  It’s probable that other carvings in the area remained undiscovered.

References:

  1. Barnatt, John & Reeder, Phil, “Prehistoric Rock Art in the Peak District,” in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 102, 1982.
  2. Barnatt, John & Robinson, F., “Prehistoric Rock Art in Ashover School and Further New Discoveries Elsewhere in the Peak District,” in Derbyshire Archaeological Journal, 123, 2003.
  3. Beckensall, Stan, British Prehistoric Rock Art, Tempus: Stroud 1999.
  4. Beckensall, Stan, Circles in Stone: A British Prehistoric Mystery, Tempus: Stroud 2006.

Acknowledgements:  HUGE thanks to Dean Thom for the use of his photo here.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Gardoms Edge (2) CR

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Gardoms Edge (2) CR 53.255845, -1.588911 Gardoms Edge (2) CR

Beadle Hill, Extwistle, Lancashire

Earthworks:  OS Grid Reference – SD 8895 3420

Archaeology & History

The low hill called Beadle Hill is located about half a mile north of Swinden Reservoir between Worsthorne and Haggate in the area called Extwistle. It is just a short distance south of Monk Hall and a little east of Monk Hall farm. The earthworks are a long rectangular feature on a low hill (more of a mound really).

The earthworks are more noticeable on the south and west sides but less so at the eastern and northern edges of the mound. They can’t be said to be in any way defensive. The thinking is that this was a Romano-British farmstead or settlement from the late 4th century AD and, not as often thought a Roman camp. The name Beadle is apparently from the Anglo-Saxon/Old English word ‘Beado‘ or ‘Beadlo‘, meaning ‘battle.’  So could the hill be the site of some long forgotten skirmish from the time when the Romans were leaving the north of England? Or could it refer to the legendary ‘Battle of Brunanburh’ which was fought close by in 937 AD?  In that battle King Athelstan fought against, and defeated, the Danes and Scots who were moving south from Northumbria.

At the south side of Beadle Hill there is an ancient spring, and to the east is Twist Castle—a circular earthwork that could date from the same period as Beadle Hill.  Also, there are a number of tumuli and cairns in this area though these are prehistoric in date, probably Neolithic or Bronze-Age. I do not know whether the site has been excavated.  If it has, please let us know!

References:

  1. Cockburn, John Henry, The Battle of Brunanburh and its Period, Elucidated by Place-Names, Sir W.C. Leng: Sheffield 1931.
  2. Frost, Roger, A Lancashire Township – The History of Briercliffe-with-Extwistle, Rieve Edge Press: Briercliffe 1982.

© Ray Spencer

Beadle Hill

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Beadle Hill 53.803957, -2.168780 Beadle Hill

Mitton Church Cross, Great Mitton, Lancashire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SD 7154 3896

Getting Here

Great Mitton Churchyard Cross (after ‘QDanT’)

Take the B6246 road northwest out of Whalley, or else east from Hurst Green, until you hit the little village of Great Mitton, with its churchyard in the middle.  Go into the churchyard and you’ll find this weird-looking cross!

Archaeology & History

The curious-looking upright in the churchyard here has a mixed history by all accounts.  The oldest portion of the cross is universally ascribed to be the top section, rediscovered when it was dug up “shortly before 1801.” (Ackerley 1947) It possesses a carving of the crucifixion on one side, and some curious figures carved on the other, which some ascribe to being Jesus, but could well be the triple female element which would still have been prevalent in peasant culture at the time it’s thought to have been carved.  The original shaft carrying the ‘cross’ had long since been destroyed and so, according to Jessica Lofthouse (1946),

Carved crosshead (© ‘QDanT’)
Early drawing of cross-head

“In 1897 it was ‘re-erected to commemorate the 1300th anniversary of the reintroduction of christianity into Britain,’ with the new shaft we see today.  This is the oldest relic in Mitton.”

In J. Buckler’s early 1841 drawing of both sides of the carved cross-head we can see in greater detail the nature of the medieval rock art and this was described in Aymer Vallance’s (1920) decorative analysis of carved crosses in England.  He told that

“the cross-head at Mitton, Yorkshire…is peculiar inasmuch as the crucifixion is sculptured on both faces, but in totally different fashions.  That on the west face has the arms stretched horizontally, within a sexfoil frame, and might well be of the thirteenth century.  Whereas the sculpture on the east face, though much more weatherworn, is of a style that could not have been designed before the fourteenth, or perhaps even the fifteenth century.  The arms of the Christ in this instance are drawn upwards in an unusually oblique direction.  It is impossible that these two representations could have been executed at one and the same date.  The circular outline of the head, too, is peculiar, and suggestive rather of a gable-cross than of a standing cross.  Possibly the west face only was sculptured in the first instance, for a gable-cross, the sculpture on the east face being added later in order to adapt the stone for the head of a churchyard cross.”

Although I’ve gotta say that the three carved figures with the upright arms strikes me more as three females than any crucified character and may be an early depiction of the three Mary’s.

One of the early ministers at Mitton church was none other than John Webster, who wrote the highly influential work, Displaying of Supposed Witchcraft, which denounced much of the Church’s obsession and murder of countless people under the auspice of some spurious devil and demonological bollocks which, even today, some still suffer to endure.   Webster was only at Mitton for a few years, before moving into deeper Yorkshire and setting up at Kildwick.

References:

  1. Ackerley, Frederick George, A History of the Parish of Mitton, Aberdeen University Press 1947.
  2. Lofthouse, Jessica, Three Rivers, Robert Hale: London 1946.
  3. Vallance, Aymer, Old Crosses and Lychgates, Batsford: London 1920.

Links:

  1. Pictorial Journey of East Lancashire Crosses

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Mitton Church cross

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Mitton Church cross 53.846359, -2.433712 Mitton Church cross

Withgill Cross, Great Mitton, Lancashire

Cross:  OS Grid Reference – SD 7060 4062

Getting Here

Withgill cross location (after QDanT)

From Great Mitton village, go up (north) the slightly winding B6243 road for a mile, then take the left turn up the minor country lane, for about 300 yards, till you reach a tiny crossroad of tracks, one leading down to Scott House and the other up to Withgill Farm.  Stop here!  You’re damn close.  From what our man ‘QDanT’ says, this is now to be found behind the hedge by the roadside, on the side of the road where the track runs up to Withgill Farm, tucked low and overgrown close to the ground.  Good luck!

Archaeology & History

Described by Mr Ackerley (1947) as being found

“in the coppice beside the gate to Withgill is the base of another road-side cross,”

Cross-base (after QDanT)

all but overgrown by ivy and lost to the causal eye.  Thankfully our man Danny got on his bike and found the remains of the little fella, all-but invisible beneath the vegetative growth!  Beneath the vegetation, John Dixon told there to be “some interesting 17th century graffiti,” but there’s not much that remains of the old cross.

Folklore

There is a curious story about a legendary church that was once supposed to have been up the track on the hill just above here at the farm.  The story goes,

“that when Mitton church was built, it ought to have been built on Withgill Knowle: that there was a church somewhere about there, and that the stones from it were carted down to Mitton in one night and used in building the present church.”

This bitta folklore is a motif found commonly at prehistoric sites, where stones from our ancient places were uprooted and moved (destroyed) to give way to the new christian mythos.  To my knowledge, no such prehistoric sites are known hereby.  Mr Dixon – over to you dear sir!

References:

  1. Ackerley, Frederick George, A History of the Parish of Mitton in the West Riding of Yorkshire, Aberdeen University Press 1947.

Links:

  1. Pictorial Journey of East Lancashire Crosses
  2. Teddy’s Exploration of the Withgill Cross Base

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Withgill cross

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Withgill cross 53.860961, -2.448499 Withgill cross

Hades Hill, Whitworth, Lancashire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SD 909 202

Getting Here

The Hades hill cairn/barrow is located high on the moors some 3 miles north-east of Whitworth and the smaller village of Facit, near Rochdale. Its exact location is close to a footpath halfway between Hades hill and Rough hill, though it is not mentioned on modern OS maps. It is quite difficult to get to so be ready for a long hard walk.

Archaeology & History

This small, low barrow or cairn — a couple of miles north of the little-known Man Stone — measures 15 metres north to south, 13 metres east to west and is 0.9 metres high (about 3 feet in height). But not a great deal can be seen today.

It was excavated in 1898 when a number of artefacts were discovered near the centre of the barrow. The most famous of these ancient artefacts was a Celtic two-tiered urn (of the Pennine type) which had rope imprints and chevrons; inside this urn were the burnt bones of a female, flints, a scraper and a fine pointed borer. Other stuff that came out of the barrow included animal bones, charcoal, flint implements and an arrow head. The urn was placed in the hands of The March Collection at The Rochdale Free Library (now known as Touchstones). A more recent excavation was carried out in 1982 but nothing was recorded at this time. In Dr Whitaker’s History of Whalley, he described there being “the remains of a large beacon, with the foundations of a large circular enclosure” on Hades Hill.

References:

  1. Abraham, John Harris, Hidden Prehistory around the North West, Kindle 2012.
  2. Barrowclough, David, Prehistoric Lancashire, Oxbow: Oxford 2008.
  3. Whitaker, Thomas Dunham, An History of the Original Parish of Whalley – volume 2, George Routledge: London 1876.

© Ray Spencer, 2011

Hades Hill cairn

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Hades Hill cairn 53.678569, -2.138091 Hades Hill cairn

Lantern Holes, Bordley, North Yorkshire

Settlement:  OS Grid Reference – SD 9528 6574

Getting Here

Aerial view of settlement

Follow the same directions to get to Bordley’s Druid’s Altar circle.  Where the little rough car-parky-bit happens to be by the cattle-grid, look up the sloping field where the wall runs up in a line and follow it up on foot.  A coupla hundred yards up you’ll see a small craggy outcrop in front of you and another line of drystone walling in the corner.  Just below this craggy outcrop you’ll notice a raised embankment comprising a line of small rocks running along the edge of the hill.  This is the first bitta prehistoric walling that makes up a part of the settlement system.  From hereon, follow y’ nose along and up the hill and look around.  The settlement’s all around here!

Archaeology & History

This is quite an extensive area of prehistoric (seemingly Iron Age) enclosures on the top and around the edges of the unnamed rocky peak at the top of the large open Lantern Holes field.  I’m not aware of any excavation work that may have taken place at this site, so please excuse me of any errors in the description that follows. (if anyone’s got an excavation report of the site, I’d love to read it!)

As with the many other settlements and enclosures in this region, much of it comprises of extensive stonework built up into and against the geological limestone bedrock either side of this hilltop site.  Huge lines of prehistoric walling, measuring anything between one and three yards across, runs for hundreds of yards in and around this set of enclosures.  We also find several distinct and well-preserved examples of old hut circles (one of which appears to have been re-used as a sheep shelter in more recent centuries) dotted around the edges and in the middle of larger sections of enclosed stone walls.  This is all very impressive when you consider it was done a coupla thousand years back!

Walled enclosure on south side
Walling along SW edges

Very similar in design to the prehistoric settlement enclosures on the other (south) side of the valley at Hammond Close Pasture, above the Druid’s Altar, though more extensive.  Measuring roughly 340 yards (311m) along its longer southeast-northwest axis, and nearly 280 yards (254m) from east-to-west, the uppermost parts of the site have at least seven separate large elliptical ‘enclosures’ built within the rocky enclaves, made up of typical Iron Age wall systems: a series of large upright monoliths packed up by smaller packing stones all along the length of the walling (using a system that still prevails today in drystone walling techniques on our upland moors).  A couple of the photos here illustrated the walling very well and give you an idea of what to look out for if you’re out wandering the region, looking for old sites.

Although the walling we see today is barren and easy to spot, remember that in the time when people built these great structures, you wouldn’t have been able to see them, as they’d have been deliberately covered over and camouflaged with dressed earth and plants.  In watching people emerging from these enclosures, you’d have got the distinct impression that they literally came out of the hill itself: a motif well-known to folklorists in relation to the origin of faerie-folk and other ‘little people.’

We need to go back up here and explore this settlement a bit more, as there’s tons more to be seen.  And if anyone knows of any surveys that have already been done of this site, it’d be good to read the reports, preliminary or otherwise.  A rough-camping weekend is planned on the tops at the break of Spring – so contact us if you’re into joining us for the amble.  I reckon there’s gonna be other sites hidden in the landscape up here that even Arthur Raistrick missed out on!

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Raistrick, Arthur & Holmes, Paul F., Archaeology of Malham Moor, Headley Bros: London 1961.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Lantern Holes enclosure

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Lantern Holes enclosure 54.087548, -2.073649 Lantern Holes enclosure