Skirtful of Stones, Horton-in-Ribblesdale, North Yorkshire

Cairn (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SD 785 747

Getting Here

Although apparently long gone, we could find this giant prehistoric tomb on the eastern side of the great Ingleborough and was one of many with this name once scattering the mid-Pennines. It was found less than a mile south of the hamlet of Selside, a few miles above Horton-in-Ribblesdale, on the west side of the B6479 and its existence is thankfully preserved in the place-name, ‘Borrens’, where the giant tomb was once found, 200 yards south of Gill Garth Farm.  If you look on the OS-map, you’ll notice an ancient settlement site close by.

Archaeology & History

In 1892, the great Yorkshire historian Harry Speight told us:

“We have no proper account of it, but it was doubtless ransacked and removed in the expectation of finding treasure. It is mentioned…in the Gentleman’s Magazine for 1761, as follows:

‘In the valley above Horton, near the base of this mountain (Ingleborough), I observed a large heap or pile of greet-stones all thrown promiscuously together, without any appearance of building or workmanship, which yet cannot be reasonably thought to be the work of Nature. Few stones are found near it, though ’tis computed to contain 400 of that country cart-loads of stones, or upwards. There is likewise another at the base north-east, in resemblance much the same, but scarce so large.'”

Speight speculated that it may have been raised to commemorate “some dire conflict between the Romans and the native hill tribes, as it lay on the old Roman thoroughfare across Ribblehead to the camp under Smearside.” We may never know this for sure, but there are plenty of Iron- and Bronze Age remains scattering this region – and just a few hundred yards south of this lost cairn are the old remnants of an ancient settlement…whose pages and images (it is hoped) will appear on TNA in the near future…


  1. Smith, A.H., English Place-Name Elements, volume 1, Cambridge University Press 1956.
  2. Smith, A.H., Place-Names of the West Riding, volume 6, Cambridge University Press 1961.
  3. Speight, Harry, The Craven and Northwest Yorkshire Highlands, Elliott Stock: London 1892.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian