Achadh Thaibstil, Bettyhill, Farr, Sutherland

Chambered Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NC 7398 5899

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 6228
  2. Clachan Burn

Getting Here

Achadh Thaibstil cairn12

Achadh Thaibstil cairn, looking W

Along the A836 road a mile east of Bettyhill, a track goes south onto the moors just before Loch Salachaidh. Walk along here for several miles, past the windmills, past a small quarry on your left, and a hundred yards or so along, to the right of the track, you’ll notice a rounded hillock covered in stones and rock on the top (aswell as bracken in the summer and autumn).  That’s the spot!

Archaeology & History

Achadh Thaibstil cairn

Achadh Thaibstil cairn

This little-known cairn, close to the prehistoric hut circles on the other side of the track, is a medium-sized Neolithic or Bronze Age monument.  Not included in Audrey Henshall’s (1995) survey of the region, the tomb was built upon a small natural rise with the usual thousands of small and medium-sized stones rising up 4-5 feet high.   Near its crown we find an exposed chamber, typical of chambered tombs, measuring more than a yard across and two yards long, with flat slabs defining its sides.  It appears that the inner ‘chamber’ may have been split into two sections, as an oblong slab of stone runs parallel down the central ‘chamber’ a third of the way across.  The Canmore account simply tells how the cairn is on low knoll and

“measures about 10.5m in diameter and 1.0m high. It has been opened and a centrally placed slab lined cist revealed, the southern side of which is missing. The cist measures 1.4m east-west, with the east and west slabs 1.2m long and 0.6m high.”

Looking down into the chamber

Looking down into the chamber

From the chamber, looking N

From the chamber, looking N

On the horizon to the far north, the peak of the giant tomb known as Fiscary 2 rises up, indicating the cardinal direction.  This may have had geomantic significance, as ‘north’ signifies Death and darkness: the symbolic point where light never emerges; the point linked to the North Star, Alpha Draconis in the neolithic era, or Polaris in our present Age: the point to and from which shamans travel into the Land of the Gods.  These elements may or may not have been relevant here.

References:

  1. Henshall, Audrey S. & Ritchie, J.N.G., The Chambered Cairns of Sutherland, Edinburgh University Press 2005.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  58.500839, -4.164057 Achadh Thaibstil, Bettyhill

Water End Maypole, North Mymms, Hatfield, Hertfordshire

Maypole (removed):  OS Grid Reference – TL 2296 0410

Getting Here

On the east side of Warrengate Road, approached from Welham Green via Dixons Hill Road, or from Brookmans Park via Bradmore Lane.

Archaeology & History

o khy 01170

A 1920 photograph of the Public House. The Maypole was believed to have been in the garden grounds to the rear.

The exact position of the pole is not marked on the 1896 25″ OS map, as it is probable that it had been removed by the middle of the nineteenth century (like the majority of the permanent Hertfordshire maypoles), but local belief in the 1950s and 60s was that it had been in the garden of the Old Maypole (originally known as ‘The Maypole’) public house, which adjoined the smithy in Warrengate Road, Water End.  The public house is stated to have been built around 1520, with later additions, but is now a private house.

The population of Water End and nearby Welham Green was predominantly employed in agriculture, domestic service and straw plaiting, but the area’s proximity to London probably speeded the demise of the ancient traditions like maypole dancing .

Maypole North Mymms

The 1896 OS 25″ map, showing the garden ground to the rear of the public house

Doris Jones-Baker writes: “The old Hertfordshire maypoles, on May Day decorated with ribbons and a bunch of spring flowers at the top, were described as being ‘as high as the mast of a vessel of a hundred tons, painted often in a diagonal or spiral pattern from bottom to top in yellow and black, or often in vertical stripes of red, white and blue’”

Interestingly, the rear of the public house garden adjoins the Swallow Holes, a geological feature where the intermittent flowing waters of the Mimmshall Brook disappear into the chalk in as many as 15 sink holes. Hertfordshire has an ancient tradition of ‘woe-waters’ related to the local geology, where the flowing or not of a stream or spring was seen to herald ‘sorrow to come’. From personal memory the Mimmshall Brook is normally a dry stream bed which can in winter suddenly turn into a raging torrent, flooding the land behind The Old Maypole. Any tradition of it having been a woe-water has though been lost. But it is just possible that long ago the coming of May Day was also seen to herald the end of flooding of the Mimmshall Brook and may explain the siting of the pole.

The last year that people danced is not recorded, but the local maypole tradition continued; this writer remembers ribbon dancing as a very small child to a fiddle accompaniment around a maypole erected at the nearby, but long demolished Waterend C.E. Primary School, which closed in 1960.

Folklore

As well as Maypole dancing, Hertfordshire had a rich tradition of May day ritual and song, which despite the county’s proximity to London, survived long enough for some of it to be recorded for posterity. While there does not seem to be any ritual recorded for North Mymms, the following was recorded at nearby Hatfield. “On may morning, dressed in white and holding bunches of Hawthorn or, in late seasons, blackthorn blossoms the children sang door to door a local version of the May song, which began:

‘A bunch of May I bring unto you
And at your door I stand,
Come pull out your purse,
You’ll be none the worse
And give the poor Mayers some money….’”

References:

  1. North Mymms Local History Society, North Mymms Pictures From The Past, Welham Green, 2002
  2. Jones-Baker, Doris, The Folklore of Hertfordshire, B.T.Batsford, London, 1977
  3.  Kingsford, Peter, North Mymms People in Victorian Times, Brookmans Park, Hertfordshire, Privately Published, 1986

© Paul T. Hornby 2016 The Northern Antiquarian 

North Mymms maypole

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North Mymms maypole 51.722200, -0.221181 North Mymms maypole

Boxted Cross Henge, Colchester, Essex

Henge Monument:  OS Grid Reference – TM 0093 3277

Archaeology & History

Boxted Henge plan (Colchester Archaeology Group)

Boxted Henge plan (Colchester Archaeology Group)

As with many sites in Southern England, intensive agriculture has taken its toll on the archaic monuments.  The Boxted Cross henge is no exception and hardly any elements of it remains today.  But it seems that it was an impressive fella in our more ancient heathen past.

The site was only rediscovered in the 1970s and was first described in Mrs Ida McMaster’s (1975) survey of crop-marks that had been revealed by aerial surveying in Essex and Suffolk counties.  Her brief account of the monument told it to be,

“A Class II henge with a wide somewhat ploughed out ditch. Various linear ditches are near, together with prolific variegated ‘field outlines’ of glacial subsoil cracking which extends into the next field southwards. The ditch terminals of the southwest entrance to the henge appear to be wider than the general run of the ditch, say 4-5 metres.”

When Harding & Lee (1987) examined the site, they were a little more cautious in their interpretation of it being a definite henge, citing that there was “insufficient information, but cannot be ruled out as henge-related,” adding that it “could also be a mill.”  This latter element seems unlikely, though a windmill may have been built onto the site at a later date.

More recently however the site has been categorized by Historic England as “a Late Neolithic henge.”  The monument itself was defined by a broad circular ditch with two large opposing entrances to the north and south.  The total diameter of the enclosure is 44 yards (40m) across; but with the surrounding ditch measuring 5½ yards (5m) across all around, the inner level of the henge was about 33 yards (30m) in diameter.  Plenty of room for partying old-style!

References:

  1. Harding, A.F. & Lee, G.E., Henge Monuments and Related Sites of Great Britain, BAR 175: Oxford 1987.
  2. McMaster, Ida, “Crop Marks Selected and Plotted,” in Colchester Archaeological Group Bulletin, volume 18, 1975.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Boxted Cross henge

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Boxted Cross henge 51.957163, 0.922931 Boxted Cross henge

Shaman’s Lodge, Glen Cochill, Perthshire

Hut Circles:  OS Grid Reference – NN 90591 41247  —  NEW FIND

Getting Here

The large double hut circle, surrounded by tombs
The large double hut circle, surrounded by tombs

Take the same directions to reach the giant Carn Ban prehistoric tomb. Follow the track past the tomb further onto the moorland until you reach a small wooden bridge over the small burn.  From here, walk straight north off-path onto the moor for 100 yards and a small rise in the land, with several cairns just below it, is the site in question.

Archaeology & History

Hut circle are hut circles – right?  Well, usually that’s the case.  We find them attached to, or within, or outlying prehistoric enclosures and can date from anywhere between the neolithic and Iron Age periods.  With the site we’re looking at here, on the outer western side of Glen Cochill’s southernmost giant enclosure, there’s something amiss….or maybe that should be, “something rather peculiar.”

Mr Hornby, hut-side
Mr Hornby, hut-side
Shamans Lodge walling
Shamans Lodge walling

Paul Hornby found it a few weeks ago during an exploration of the region’s prehistory. We went in search of, and found, the giant Carn Ban close by, but noticed curious archaeological undulations ebbing in and out of the heathlands: cairns, walls, hut circles, settlements, more cairns—and then this!

Consisting of two slightly larger-than-average ovals of walled stone, probably Bronze Age in date, the first impression was of a remarkably well-preserved site (and that it is!), seemingly of an elongated stretch of walling, with a central wall that split it into two halves.  Each ‘hut circle’ was found to be between six and seven yards across, with the two conjoined architectural features giving an overall NW-SE length of 14 yards.  But the more we looked at this, the more obvious it became that this was originally one single hut circle—the lower southeastern one—with an additional one that was added and attached onto the northwestern side at a later date, probably several centuries later.

Lower earlier hut circle, with upper later hut circle attached
Lower earlier hut circle, with upper later hut circle attached

Walking around the structure we found that the very well-preserved walls—about 2 feet wide in places and rising a foot or so above the compacted peat—had been built onto a raised platform of earth.  This was no ordinary hut circle!  The ground beneath it seems to have been raised and supported and on the southern side in particular it is notable that other building stones are compacted into the peat.  There may even be the remains of a secondary outer wall on this southern edge, where it seems that the entrance was made.

Small group of cairns 15 yards away
Small group of cairns 15 yards away

Here’s the curious bit: immediately outside the northwestern and southern walls are small prehistoric tombs, or cairns.  Not just one or two, but more than a dozen of them, all constructed within 20 yards of this curiously raised double hut circle.  Literally, a small prehistoric house of some form was raised in the centre of a prehistoric graveyard—and it doesn’t end here.

Of at least three giant enclosures in this region, and what looks like a very well-preserved prehistoric tribal hall or meeting place, there are upwards of a hundred tombs scattered nearby.  Two cairn circles were also found about 100 yards to the north, one of which was damaged by a military road a few centuries ago.

Close-up of walling
Close-up of walling

I give this double-roomed abode the somewhat provocative title of the Shaman’s Lodge because of its setting: surrounded by tombs, the ‘house’ would seem to have been a deliberate setting erected in the Land of the Dead here.  I hope you can forgive my imaginative mind seeing this as a structure where, perhaps, a medicine woman would give rites to the dead, either for those being buried in the small graves, or rites relating to the giant White Cairn of the ancestors close by.  Shamans of one form or another occur in every culture on Earth and have been traced throughout all early cultures.  If no such individuals ever existed within the British Isles, someone needs to paint one helluva good reason as to why they believe such a thing….

When the heather grows back here, the site will disappear again beneath the vegetation.  It is unlikely to re-appear for quite sometime, so I recommend that anyone wanting to have a look at this does so pretty quick before our Earth covers it once again….

References:

  1.  Stewart, Margaret E.C., “Strath Tay in the Second Millenium BC – A Field Survey”, in Proceedings Society Antiquaries Scotland, volume 92, 1961

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks again to Paul Hornby for his assistance with site inspection, and additional use of his photos.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Shaman's Lodge

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Shaman\'s Lodge 56.550414, -3.781289 Shaman\'s Lodge

Clach na h’ Iobairte, Kinloch Rannoch, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 61702 58975

Clach na h-Iobairte, looking south
Clach na h-Iobairte, looking south

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24576
  2. Chieftain’s Grave
  3. Clach na h-Iobairte
  4. Clach na h-Jobairte
  5. Craiganour Stone
  6. Craig-na-Odhar
  7. Stone of Sacrifice
  8. Stone of the Offering

Getting Here

Standing stone shown on the 1867 OS-map
Standing stone shown on the 1867 OS-map

From the gorgeous village of Kinloch Rannoch, take the road along the north side of Loch Rannoch for about 2½ miles.  As you go along the road, for a good mile or so it is wooded. Where the woods stop and the first field appears on your right, stop!  You’ll see the standing stone perched erotically at an angle above you.

Archaeology & History

Clach na h-Iobairte, looking east
Clach na h-Iobairte, looking east

A fascinating site in a quite beautiful setting, typical of the Highlands.  This stone of many names is a curiously-shaped monolith: like an erect stone penis at the edge of the field when seen from the roadside, calling out to christians and pagans alike, to be castigated or rubbed—whatever the religious preference of the surveyor!  Leaning over at a slight angle, the stone is still nearly six feet tall and lives upon a large and equally prehistoric stone cairn about 30 feet across.  This cairn, it is said, has been added to by locals when the field was cleared of stone and piled on top of the old tomb.  No excavations have been done here, nor at the large ‘hut circle’ in the same field about 50 yards away.

Folklore

So far I have only found a short narrative of this stone in the pages of T.R. Barnett’s (1944) loving account of the Perthshire hills, where he tells that, close by the stone at Aulich, was once

“a famous smith, said to be in league with the devil, and he made the finest claymores in Rannoch.”

References:

  1. Barnett, T. Ratcliffe, The Road to Rannoch and the Summer Isles, John Grant: Edinburgh 1944.
  2. Cunningham, A.D., A History of Rannoch, privately printed 2004.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  56.701917, -4.260306 Clach na h’ Iobairte

Craigmaddie Muir (2), Baldernock, Stirlingshire

Chambered Cairn (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – NS 58 76

Also Known as:

  1. Blochairn 2
  2. Canmore ID 44421
  3. STR 3 (Henshall)

Archaeology & History

Close to the ruined Craigmaddie Muir cairn could once have seen a companion, of roughly the same size and structure and made up of thousands of small stones, covering a long internal chamber. It was described in David Ure’s (1793) early history work on the area which, even then, thanks to “frequent dilapidations, will soon be annihilated.” The cairn was included in A.S. Henshall’s (1972) magnum opus in which she wrote:

“There was a second cairn in the vicinty of Craigmaddie Muir I. It was also ‘of an elliptical shape.’ Writing in 1793, Ure says that it ‘was laid open last year, and, though not so large as the other, was of the same construction, which seems to be Danish.  Some of the stones placed in the rows at the bottom are considerably large… Among the contents, upon opening…were urns… One of the fragments of an urn is ornamented, near the mouth, with two shallow grooves. The diameter of the circle of which it is a segment seems to have been at least 20in.”

Fragments of human bones were also found within the site, but the entire cairn was sadly destroyed a long time ago. In the Stirlingshire Royal Commission report (1963:1) it was speculated that the urn found herein,

“must have been either a neolithic vessel or a cinerary urn. In view of the method of construction of the chamber it may be assumed that both cairns were related to the Arran or Clyde-Carlingford types.”

References:

  1. Henshall, Audrey Shore, The Chambered Tombs of Scotland – volume 2, Edinburgh University Press 1972.
  2. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Stirlingshire – volume 1, HMSO: Edinburgh 1963.
  3. Ure, David, The History of Rutherglen and East Kilbride, Glasgow 1793.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  55.960627, -4.268409 Craigmaddie Muir (2)

Idol Rock, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

‘Cup-Marked’ Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13296 45898

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.221 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.327 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Idol Rock, Ilkley Moor

From Cow & Calf Hotel head onto the moor above you, following the same directions to reach the ornately carved Idol Stone (and its immediate companions). Ahead of you on the same footpath, about 100 yards along, as it begins to slope up the hill further onto the moor, you’ll see a large upright pyramid-shaped stone, about 8 feet all, right at the side of the path. Y’ can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

Deep cups & lines on top

Although ascribed as a cup-marked stone in usual surveys, the cup-markings on top of this rock are seemingly Nature’s handiwork. There is a possibility that cup-markings were carved into the top of the stone, many thousands of years ago, but due to the centuries of wind and weathering, we cannot in anyway assess the curvaceous bowls and lines running across and from the top of this rock to be artificial.

Folklore

The name ‘Idol Stone’ seems to have come about as a result of the judaeo-christian Victorian obsession of satanic idolatry in all things natural – which many of them still fear. Sadly there are no early accounts of practices of idolatry at this rock, until it was used by chaos magickians in the formative years of that Current in the 1980s.

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Boughey, K.J.S. & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  3. Cudworth, William, “Rombald’s Moor Antiquities,” in Bradford Scientific Journal, volume 3, 1912.
  4. Forrest, C. & Grainge, William, A Ramble on Rumbald’s Moor, among the Dwellings, Cairns and Circles of the Ancient Britons, W.T. Lamb: Wakefield 1868-9.
  5. Hedges, John (ed), The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  6. Holmes, J., “A Sketch of the Prehistoric Remains of Rombald’s Moor,” in Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society, volume 9, 1887.
  7. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Idol Rock

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Idol Rock 53.909070, -1.799094 Idol Rock

Balbirnie Carving (01), Markinch, Fife

Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference – NO 28587 02966

Also Known as:

  1. Balfarg
  2. Fif 1 (Morris 1981)

Getting Here

The cup-and-ring marked slab

Follow the same directions to find the Balfarg Stone Circle.  From the A92 going north from Glenrothes, turn E onto the country lane to Star and Kennoway. 100 yards on there’s a sign for Balbirnie; turn right here and about 200 yards on, where the road bends right, the circle’s just below you). This carving is perched on its side in one of the preserved grave cists within the circle, easily visible at ground level.

Archaeology & History

This carving (and its adjacent compatriot) was found inside the Balbirnie stone circle when it stood in its original position more than 100 yards northwest of the place it presently occupies (at NO 2850 0304). Thankfully, when the megalithic ring was moved and reconstructed, its original status was kept, including the repositioning of this impressive small cup-and-ring stone – despite it being a copy of the original.

Early photo of the carving

Like a good number of prehistoric tombs, this small carved stone was stood on edge, facing into the stone-lined tomb (cist), obviously representative of some important element in the Land of the Ancestors: perhaps a map of the landscape therein; perhaps a personal token; perhaps indicative of the spirits of the dead; perhaps a magickal amulet for safe guidance. There are a number of ritual possibilities here, and whichever it was, we can be sure the symbols were representative of the animistic cosmology of the neolithic people living hereby, linking the living with the dead.

As you can see from the original photograph, a number of cup-marks along the edges of the stone are accompanied by two or three cup-and-rings, one of which is very faint. Some carved lines run between some facets of the carving, linking one mythic element to another. Ron Morris (1981) described the carving, simplistically, as,

“Under a cairn, within a ring of stones, one of 5 cists had, carved on the inside of a side-slab (sandstone), ¾m by ½m by ¼m (2¾ft x 1¾ft x ¾ft): 2 cups-and-one-ring—one faint and incomplete—and also 8 cups, 2 with ‘tails’. Greatest diameter of ring 12cm (5in), and carving depths up to 2cm (1in).”

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, Rings of Stone, BCA: London 1979.
  2. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.213888, -3.152948 Balbirnie Carving (1)

Balbirnie Carving (02), Markinch, Fife

Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference – NO 2850 0304

Also Known as:

  1. Balfarg
  2. Fif 1b (Morris 1981)

Getting Here

Old photo of the Balbirnie 2 carving

This carved stone is now held in one of the museums. To get a better idea of its original locale, take the directions to reach the Balfarg Stone Circle (from the A92 going north from Glenrothes, turn E onto the country lane to Star and Kennoway. 100 yards on there’s a sign for Balbirnie; turn right here and about 200 yards on, where the road bends right, the circle’s just below you) and look at the small stone-lined tombs (cists), within which this carving was first found.

Archaeology & History

This carving (and its adjacent compatriot) was first found within the Balfarg stone circle that originally stood more than 100 yards northwest of the site it now occupies (at NO 2850 0304). Found inside the edge of another prehistoric stone-lined tomb (cist) within the stone circle, the small elongated stone possessed at least 16 singular cup-marks along one flat face of the rock. Two adjacent cup-marks may be linked by a small line running between them. As you can see in the old photograph here, most of the cups run in two parallel lines, similar to the primary feature found on the more famous Idol Stone on Ilkley Moor.

Described in association with the Balbirnie 1 carving by Ronald Morris (1981) as simply, “a slab in another cist (with) cup-marks,” like its partner just a few yards away this carving was again representative of some important mythic element in the Land of the Dead to the person whose body was laid here.

References:

  1. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.214579, -3.154320 Balbirnie Carving (2)

Panorama Woods (227), Ilkley, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 11467 47287

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.101 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.227 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  3. Rocking Stone

Getting Here

Panorama stone 227 – once a rocking stone

Come out of Ilkley/bus train station and turn right for less than 50 yards, heading left up towards White Wells.  Go up here for less than 100 yards, taking your first right and walk 300 yards up Queens Road until you reach the St. Margaret’s church on the left-hand side.  On the other side of the road, surrounded by trees is a small enclosed bit with spiky railings with Panorama Stones 227, 228 and 229 all therein: the least-decorated one on the left being the one we’re dealing with here.

Archaeology & History

This is another of the caged Panorama Stones, found within the awful spiked fencing across from St. Margaret’s Church, just out of Ilkley centre.  Originally located ¾-miles (1.2km) WSW of its present position in Panorama Woods (at SE 10272 46995), along with its petroglyphic compatriots in this cage, the carving was moved here in 1890 when a Dr. Little—medical officer at Ben Rhydding Hydro—bought the stones for £10 from the owner of the land at Panorama Rocks, as the area in which the stones lived was due to be vandalized and destroyed. Thankfully the said Dr Little was thoughtful and as a result of his payment he had some of the stones saved and moved into their present position.

Original location of stones
J.T Dale’s 1879 sketch

It was first described by the northern antiquarian and petroglyph pioneer, J. Romilly Allen (1879) , who saw it in the now-destroyed “rough inclosure”, as he called it, along with the other stones now in the same Ilkley ‘cage’. Its present position does it no justice whatsoever in terms of its original position.  It was ostensibly a rocking stone: this seemingly trivial-looking boulder was sat on top of the much-cropped Panorama Stone 228 (a yard east of the three in this outdoor cage).  Allen (1879) was fortunate enough to have seen the stone before it was uprooted, telling us how this topmost stone, “has eleven cups, wo of which are surrounded by single rings.”  The modern archaeologist John Hedges (1986) told it to be in a “bad state,” with “very worn carvings, fourteen cups, one with partial ring and groove.” Its situation deteriorated further, as stated by rock art students Boughey & Vickerman (2003), who noted,

“medium-sized, roughly triangular rock, its surface recorded as in a bad state in 1986 and now (2002) even worse.  Fourteen cups, one with partial ring, one groove.”

And its condition isn’t helped by its inaccessibility, when groups like the ‘Friends of Ilkley Moor’ or the local archaeologist should be at least annually cleaning this and the adjacent carvings.  If they’re incapable, there are sincere people in antiquarian, history and pagan groups who would probably help out…

John Hedges 1986 sketch
Faint cupmarks visible

In truth, this carving cannot be seen in isolation, nor merely reduced to a numeric catalogue in some rock art corpus.  We must contextualize its relationship with the once much-larger multiple cup-and-ring stone on which it sat and then see it as it was in the landscape.  Originally of course the rocking stone was Nature’s very own creation.  As humans began migrating over and eventually occupying this once-wooded arena, the rocking stone became intimately related with animistic magickal rites and, over time, petroglyphs began to be etched upon the stone.  Most probably the flat underlying rock surface was carved upon first, and a symbiotic relationship was forged between Earth’s surface and the small rocking stone, both of which were used in oracular and other rites.  Over centuries, as the cups and rings on the earthfast stone grew, the mythic status of this small rocking stone allowed for the encroachment of carvings, and eventually cup-marks began to be etched upon it too.  Later still, as the neolithic period moved into the Bronze Age, the people began to build a low-walled stone enclosure around this and the nearby multiple-ringed carving – similar to the multi-period enclosure at Woofa Bank and other sites on these moors.  It was all a very long and gradual process.

In truth, the mythic status of this once-impressive site would have been maintained—in one form or other—well into the medieval period.  But that’s another matter altogether…

References:

  1. Allen, J. Romilly, “The Prehistoric Rock Sculptures of Ilkley,” in Journal of British Archaeological Association, volume 35, 1879.
  2. Bennett, Paul, The Panorama Stones, Ilkley, TNA: Yorkshire 2012.
  3. Bennett, Paul, Aboriginal Rock Carvings of Ilkley and District, forthcoming.
  4. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  5. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  6. Downer, A.C., “Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Association,” in Leeds Mercury, August 28, 1884.
  7. Eliade, Mircea, The Sacred and the Profane: The Nature of Religion, Harcourt, Brace & World: New York 1959.
  8. Hadingham, Evan, Ancient Carvings in Britain, Souvenir Press: London 1974.
  9. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  10. Heywood, Nathan, “The Cup and Ring Stones of the Panorama Rocks”, in Transactions Lancashire & Cheshire Antiquarian Society, Manchester 1889.
  11. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.

Acknowledgements:  With huge thanks to both Dr Stefan Maeder for help in cleaning up the stones; and to James Elkington for allowing use of his photos in this site profile.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

 

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  53.921599, -1.826888 Panorama Stone CR-227