The remains of a prehistoric tomb existed near the foot-bridge on the south-side of the canal at Dowley Gap, but was destroyed during the building of the sewage works there in 1951. It was reported by a Mr Duncanson to Bradford’s Cartwright Hall archaeology group, who told how they accidentally uncovered it during construction work. He told that “stone cist (was) about 3½ feet long and 1½ feet deep and was found on rising ground at the western end of the works where the storm water tanks are now situated.”
We obviously don’t know the age of the cist, but such grave monuments are most commonly Bronze Age. The existence of the Crosley Wood Iron Age enclosure 4-500 yards NNW and the prehistoric circle 800 yards east are the nearest other known early period monuments.
Jackson, Sidney, “Stone Cist at Bingley,” in Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 3:6, 1958.
This site is all but unknown to the great majority of folk in Baildon, and even some of the local historians have let it slip from their investigative tendrils. According to the primary Baildon historian, W.Paley Baildon, it was first known as the ‘Halliwell Holy Well’. In his magnum opus (1913-26) of the township he relates that,
“The 1852 Ordnance map marks Halliway Banks Wood to the south of Langley Lane, with a well just below it, and a footpath from Holden Lane to the well. Halliway, I think, is a corruption of Halliwell, the ‘holy well,’ with the special footpath leading to it and nowhere else. Haliwell Bank occurs in (the Baildon Court Rolls of) 1490, when it formed part of the property held by William Tong of Nicolas Fitz William.”
This etymology is echoed by the great place-name authority A.H. Smith (1954). It also caught the attention of archaeologist Andrea Smith (1982), in her investigation of twenty-five holy wells in the West Yorkshire region.
“Many wells,” she wrote, “are recorded simply as ‘Holy Well,’ or the various forms ‘Halliwell,’ ‘Helliwell’ and ‘Hollowell.’ It is possible that in these instances the identity of the patron saint or guardian of the well has been forgotten, which may be the case with the site at Collingham, now known as Hollowell.”
The well itself can no longer be seen. When I looked for the site in 1982, I found that to the right of where the 1852 map showed it, was a waterworks lid covering the old holy waters, just in the trees atop of the field beneath a great sycamore with a number of small stones roughly encircling the site: perhaps the only possible relics of the century before when the waters would have been used. A stone trough was situated at the bottom of Holden Lane, fed by the waters from the Halliwell and from here the course of the stream meandered down the side of Slaughter Lane, now known as Kirklands Road. The land around Halliwell became known as Kirkfield, or field of worship.
A local resident told how during autumn and winter, the left side of the field gets extremely boggy – the region were the old stream ran from the old well, along which dowsers have found aquastats abound. Now however, houses have been built where the waterworks-lid used to be and is likely to be in someone’s backyard, all but forgotten.
According to local lore, the site of this most ancient of holy wells was found in the warmest place in the Baildon district. Whilst its geographical position doesn’t necessarily suggest this (although it did face south, into the sun), this lore may reflect some healing aspect of the well that has long since been forgotten.
Perhaps relevant to Andrea Smith’s comment about there being ‘guardians’ at holy wells is found in folklore relating to nearby Holden Lane: locals in the last century also referred to it as Boggart Lane, so called after the Boggart which was seen there in the form of a spectral hound that was said to possess large glowing red eyes and was a sign of ill omen. Modern sightings of the spectral hound, which appeared along the road which led to the old well, are unknown.
Baildon, W. Paley, Baildon and the Baildons (parts 1-15), St. Catherines: Adelphi 1913-26.
Smith, A.H., English Place-Name Elements – volume 1, Cambridge University Press 1954.
Smith, Andrea, ‘Holy Wells Around Leeds, Bradford & Pontefract,’ in Wakefield Historical Journal 9, 1982.
Whether you’re coming here from Wrose or Eccleshill, go along Wrose Road and turn down Livingstone Road at the traffic lights. Down here, when the road splits, head to your right until you meet with those stupid road-block marks (where you can only get one car through). Just here, walk down the slope and path on your right, and before you hit the bottom of the slope, walk down the small valley for about 20 yards until you see the small stream appear from beneath some overgrown man-made stone lintels. That’s it!
Archaeology & History
When I was a kid I used to play down this tiny valley when the waters here still had small fish swimming away (we used to call them ‘tiddlers’). The fish seem to have gone, but there are still waterboatmen on the surface, indicating that we still have fresh water here – and on my most recent visit, I cautiously tasted the waters and found them OK (the prevalence of broken bottles and beer cans from locals doesn’t inspire you to drink here though).
Initially located on the local boundary line between Eccleshill and Wrose, the waters used to be found running into a trough about 100 yards further up the small valley, but this has been lost and housing now covers its original site. You can see how the stream has cut the valley further upstream, but now it bubbles up from beneath the rocks shown in the photo. Bradford historian Robert Allen (1927) described the site in his survey as originally being between North Spring and South Spring Wood.
Although the name Sweet Willy Well remains a mystery, one of its other titles — the Lin Well — relates to the presence of linnets that used to be found in great numbers here. The ‘Sugar Stream’ name is one we knew it as locally as children, due to the once sweet taste of the waters. It is likely to have had medicinal properties, but these have been forgotten. No archaeological survey has ever been done of this site.
Allen, Robert C. (ed.), The History Of Bolton In Bradford-Dale; with Notes on Bradford, Eccleshill, Idle, Undercliffe, Feather Bros: Bradford 1927.
Takes a bit of finding this one, and isn’t that impressive, so is probably only of value to the real enthusiasts. From Shipley, head up to Northcliffe and take the walk into the woods. Walk along the valley bottom, past the old train line at the bottom of the valley, and keep going for a few hundred yards until you meet with the small pond or damn on your left. Somehow cross over the stream and walk up the overgrown hill right above the pond. You’ll notice a single rock, on the right-hand side of the tiny stream running down the slope you’re walking up, just on the top of the ridge near the tree-line about 20 yard or so before the golf course. That’s it!
Archaeology & History
This little-know cup-and-ring stone, seemingly in isolation just over the northern edge of the golf-course about 20 yards into the woods at the top of the ridge, cannot be contextualized with any adjacent monuments as the area has been badly damaged by the industrialists, as usual, with both quarrying and the golf course – much like the damage done at Pennythorn Hill, above Baildon.
This rock has what seems to be at least five cup-markings: two quite prominent, the others smaller and more faded. Earlier surveys by the likes of Sidney Jackson (1962) saw another two cups on the stone, but these seem to be natural. A curious large ring runs around the cup near the top of the stone, but this is pretty faint nowadays. One of the cups along the edge of the stone also looks like it may have had an arc carved around the top of it, but this needs exploring at different times of day and in different lighting conditions to verify or deny this.
Jackson, Sidney, “Cup-Marked Rock, Northcliff Wood,” in Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 7:6, 1962.
From Shipley town centre open market, take the Kirkgate road up to Saltaire, past the old town hall. On the other side of the road take the little path into the Bowling Club, in the trees (if you hit the church you’ve gone too far). Once standing in front of the bowling green itself, you need to walk along the left-side path. Two-thirds of the way down, now laid in the ivy-covered area below the old quarry face, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
Archaeology & History
I remember first seeking out this carving when I was still at school and wondering how the hell it got here – and believed it to be a fallen standing stone at the time! It seems that the stone was cut and readied for use as a gatepost instead, at some time long ago.
The curious cup-marked stone has travelled about a bit, somehow. Formerly at the edge of a field in the grounds of Bradford Grammar School 3 miles away (at SE 1523 3583), the fella was then built into the wall of the now-demolished Shipley Old Hall, before reaching its present resting place at the edge of the bowling green. Consisting of around 16 cup-markings with carved lines seeming to link them here and there, it was first mentioned by the late great Sydney Jackson (1955) in an early edition of the Bradford Archaeology Journal. The carving was recently included in the Boughey & Vickerman (2003) survey, where they described it as,
“Medium-sized fairly smooth grit rock with coarse line down top, probably natural, evidence of quarrying on edge. Sixteen or seventeen cups, one with a groove out has a deeper cut within it and twelve of the others are linked in pairs by short grooves. This has been interpreted as feathering for quarrying, but the grooves are across the line of likely split, rather than along it.”
And for those of you who live nearby: if you check this out, see if you can locate an earthfast boulder near here which I recall having a cluster of distinct cup-marks running on top of the rock along one side. I couldn’t find it when I looked a short while ago, it’s not in the archaeology survey lists, and it remains lost—in the heart of Shipley no less!
Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
Jackson, Sydney, “Cup-Marked Boulder, Shipley Old Hall,” in Bradford Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 1:10, 1955.
Another of the small cluster of little-known prehistoric carved stones in this woodland on the edge of Bradford, not in the Boughey & Vickerman (2003) survey. This however is possessed of a cup-and-half-ring, with other seemingly carved ingredients fusing onto natural aspects of the rock. The design is found on the highest part of the stone; and whilst the main cup is easy to make out, the encircling half-ring is slightly troublesome.
There are two distinct lines running down one side of the rock, both seemingly natural, but they may have been added to—it’s difficult to say with any certainty. Certainly the one closest to the cup-and-half-ring has the carved line etched to meet the natural geological feature, as you can just make out in the photos here. There also seems to be other carved features surrounding the central design, with other marks round the main cup, almost suggesting that a complete ring was being made, but never accomplished. It’s an odd one. If I’d have stripped the moss from the stone I could have seen the design in greater detail, but I’ve gotta bittova soft spot for mosses and lichens, so left it alone!
Follow the same directions as if you’re visiting the largest and most ornate of the Buck Woods carvings. From here, walk 10 yards to the Buck Woods 3 carving, then about the same distance forward again until you reach the low lines of (what looks like) Iron Age walling running roughly east-west through the trees. Walk 10-20 yards east along the walling until a gap or entrance appears – and on the other side where the walling starts again, check the 2nd or 3rd rock along, beneath the mosses.
Archaeology & History
There are no previous references to this small cup-marked stone, whose cups are on the topmost surface of the stone in this ancient stretch of walling (into which some vandal has recently carved his name, ‘Hunt’). It’s another one for the purists amongst you though, as we only have 2 or 3 cupmarks here, as the photos show – with just one which I can say is a certainty. Curiously the other two look, for all the world, as if they’re mollusc cups!—but considering you’re about 50 miles from the sea, this seems a little unlikely. Worth having a look at when you’re checking the other four carvings close by.
A nice simple, almost cute cup-marked stone—not included in the Boughey & Vickerman (2003) survey—with three simple cups running almost in a straight line from the middle of this long stone to its outward, eastern edge. One of the good features of this and its associated carvings is the setting amidst which it’s found. We tend to associate these carvings with open moorland, where many now live, but when they were first carved they were surrounded by woodland and much more: important ingredients relevant to understanding the nature of these curious carvings…
From Thackley corner, take the Esholt road down Ainsbury Avenue. Walk past the Thackley football ground and another 50 yards on, to your left, there’s a field. Cross this and go through the gate into the trees. Another field is across the footpath, but turn right and walk on the muddy path, keeping parallel with the other field, until the walling bends round to the left. About 15 yards round where the wall bends left, watch out for the silver birch tree and the small cup-marked rock at its base, right up against the wall.
Archaeology & History
This is an archetypal single cup-marked stone known as a ‘portable’ — though in its original state, when the rock was obviously larger than it is today, I doubt anyone could have carried it further than a couple of yards! The stone has been split from a larger rock, and we’re unsure the size of its original form—but presume it to have been perhaps double its present size.
The broken rock stands (now) upright against the wall and nice birch tree (Betula pendula), but wasn’t like that when we first found it, and the cup was barely visible as it faced down into the Earth. As the images show, we have just a single cup-mark on its outer face. It looks typical of those carvings found in the larger Bronze Age cairns scattering the moors to the north, but we have no evidence nor folklore indicating the existence of such a monument hereby. The extensive amount of overgrown multiperiod walling all over this woodland may have used up such a cairn, but we will probably never find out, as the woods have been overused by industrialists, who are now, slowly, turning the woods here into a park.
From Thackley corner, take the Esholt road down Ainsbury Avenue. After a couple of hundred yards, note the metal gateways into the woods. Go through here, following the main path, until you reach another split in the paths where one of those awful touristy signs tells you where you are. Walk past this (not left or right) into the opening of large oaks and other trees on a flat plain. A path swings round the right side of this, and less than 100 yards along, watch out for some rocks on your right, heading towards the wall and small field. You’re damn close!
Archaeology & History
This is one amongst a cluster of at least five cup-marked stones very close to each other in the woods here — and probably the best of the bunch. Also found in conjunction with what seems to be an Iron Age walled enclosure 20 yards away, there are at least eight cup-marks on top of this rock, They occur in two groups: one, on a sloping section of the boulder where three fading cups can be seen; and the other is on the topmost section of the stone, where five larger cups distinctly stand out, and occur in conjunction with what seems to be a long carved line running close to the edge of the rock before it drops sharply to the ground.
This and its associated carvings are found in close proximity to some sort of walled enclosure. It’s difficult ascertaining the age and nature of the enclosure walling, as masses of it are found throughout this section of woodland and it appears to be multiperiod in age and nature: from Iron Age to Victorian by the look of things. Neither this cup-marked stone, nor any of its close associates (the closest of which is the Buck Woods 3 carving, less than 10 yards away), were recorded in the Boughey & Vickerman survey of rock art in West Yorkshire.