Slack Bottom Stone, Heptonstall, West Yorkshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SD 98374 28800

Also Known as:

  1. Dawson City Field Stone

Getting Here

Go all the way up and through Heptonstall village until you reach the hamlet of Slack, by the road junction.  From here walk down the road as if you’re going back into Hebden for less than 200 yards, then take the footpath on the left downhill and walk along. After a couple of stiles, keep a keen eye on the walling where the holly trees are, above the tree-line of Hardcastle Crags.  You’ll see it soon enough!

Archaeology & History

Slack Bottom stone

Arguably the best-named standing stone in Britain, it was first discovered by Absalom Voist in the late 1990s (and first described in my Old Stones of Elmet), hiding away in the more modern walling, beneath a holly tree.  But the stone itself is very nicely eroded and seems of good age, aswell as being a good near-six-foot tall specimen of a standing stone, just above the tree-line south of Hebden Dale.  The stone gets its name from the fact that it’s at the bottom end of Slack village (which is actually called ‘Slack Bottom’ – with a house-sign there above the door to prove it!).  It may be part of what was originally some original Iron Age walling instead of an authentic standing stone — tis hard to say really — but it’s a nice stone nonetheless.  David Shepherd (2003) named this stone as ‘Dawson City Field’ in his later survey of megaliths in upper Calderdale.

Not far from here, along the edge of the woodland, is the little-known remains of an old cross-base which I think has eluded all previous surveys.  Next time I’m up here, I’ll try remember to get some photos of the place!

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Shepherd, David, ‘Prehistoric Activity in the Central South Pennines,’ in Proc. Halifax Ant. Soc., 2003.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.755559, -2.026140 Slack Bottom stone

New Edge Chalybeate, Colden, Heptonstall, West Yorkshire

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – SD 95447 29403

Getting Here

Take the Heptonstall road up from Hebden Bridge, going round the village (not into it) and head through Slack and onto Colden.  Just as the road begins to go downhill to Colden, note the small single-track road on your right called Edge Road.  Go on here for a good mile until it becomes a dirt-track and there, on your left, is the half-run-down old farmhouse called New Edge.  Just yards past it, off to the right by the trackside, you’ll see this large copper-coloured stone basin oozing with the same-coloured liquid.

Archaeology & History

New Edge Chalybeate, above Colden

This is one of what Thomas Short (1724) called “the ten thousand chalybeats”, or iron-bearing springs,  inhabiting the Yorkshire uplands — but he didn’t include this site in his huge survey.  But it’s a beauty amongst chalybeates, as a visit here clearly shows!  The well is one of two found on either side of the old building known as New Edge (as contrasted with Old Edge, a little further along the lane), and its waters trickle gently from the old stone trough.

The waters are undoubtedly enriched with large amounts of iron, as the photo here shows, giving the waters clear medicinal value.  In tasting them, not only do the waters give you that copper-coloured hue, but you can clearly taste the minerals in the water. As with other iron-bearing springs, the water from the New Edge spring is good for the blood, good for anæmia, loss of energy and a low immune system.

References:

  1. Short, Thomas, The Natural, Experimental and Medicinal History of the Mineral Waters of Derbyshire, Lincolnshire and Yorkshire, privately printed: London 1734.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.760961, -2.070542 New Edge Well

Standing Stone Hill, Heptonstall, West Yorkshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SD 95355 30184

Getting Here

Standing Stone Hill monolith

From Hebden Bridge, go up the Heptonstall road, going round the village and onto and through Slack, keeping straight on the road until it goes uphill for a short distance, then levels out; then watch out for the small right-turn and the single-track road heading to a dead-end.  Go right to the end, the very end, and go through the gate and walk up the track onto the moor.  As you reach the ridge and the moorlands north open-up before you, note the small ‘standing stone’ on your right, about 10 yards off-path.  Go up past it, following the path up the small hill and keep going till you hit the triangulation pillar.  From here, keep walking on the same path ESE for another 200 yards.  Y’ can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

The name of the place rather gives the game away a bit, yeah…?  When I first moved to nearby Hebden Bridge in the 1990s, I noted the conspicuous place-name ‘Standing Stone Hill’ on the maps — so when I met local earth-mystery enthusiast John Billingsley and asked him about any remains up here, he said, with conviction, “there’s nowt up there!” (or words to that effect)

“Are y’ sure?” I asked. To which he repeated his dictum. But I wasn’t convinced of his words and, like any decent chap with energy for old stones and such things, wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer and went to check for myself – and wasn’t too surprised when I found this lovely looking standing stone — and a fine specimen of a monolith it is indeed!

Standing stone, looking south
Standing Stone, looking east

Although not a tall specimen by any means, this rounded and weather-worn upright has fine character and age to it.  Standing more than 3 feet in height and nearly as wide, the stone has a faded but distinct artistic carving of the letter ‘T’ on its western face (which you can make out on the photo, hopefully).  It was thought this may have been an old boundary marking, but the stone aint on any boundary line so possibly relates to some local family who marked it with that deluded notion of ‘ownership’ of this part of the desolate moors.

It’s a beautiful spot up here, out on its own.  I’ve sat here many times, both alone and with good heathen friends, gazing across the endless silence on days coloured with snows, mists, bright sunshine and heavy rains.  It has that feeling of solitude, of being forgotten, of being truly untouched.

Standing Stone Hill on 1851 map
Standing Stone Hill on 1851 map

There are a couple of other possible standing stones on this section of moorland.  One in particular appears to have been taller in bygone times and is marked on the 1851 OS-map of the region about 100 yards southwest of the triangulation pillar (you’ll notice it on your right, off-path, as you’re walking towards the pillar—shown at the position on the map here, right).  Further west is the tall medieval Reaps Cross, where corpses were rested in their journey over the moors.

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.767980, -2.071949 Standing Stone Hill