Simon Howe Stone Row, Goathland, North Yorkshire

Stone Row:  OS Grid Reference – SE 83016 98119 (SSW) to SE 83031 98142 (NNE)

Getting Here

Simon Howe stone row (photo by James Elkington)

From Pickering take the moor road towards Whitby (A169) for approx. 12 miles.  After passing the Fylingdales Early Warning radar on the right (you can’t miss it), the road dips down to cross Eller Beck as a dog leg. After a half mile turn off left (west) towards Goathland (signposted). Follow the road under the North Yorks Moor railway bridge and after a third-of-a-mile the road turns slightly left.  Park in the little layby and follow the track onto the moors. Cross the small stream and walk along the narrow track through gorgeous heather for a mile and a half. Ahead you will see Simon Howe prominent on a ridge, with a stone row leading to it.

Archaeology & History

Not included in either of the giant megalithic alignments surveys of Burl or Thom, it seems that the first archaeological reference to this site was made by Raymond Hayes (1988).   He visited the site in 1947, shortly after a moorland fire had cleared away all the vegetation, allowing for a clearer view of the stones and, after his brief description of the adjacent Simon Howe tomb, he told that,

“The ridge is also the site of what is an unusual feature for the moors: a stone alignment consisting of three, formerly five upright stones that lead to a low eroded cairn c.65m to the south(west).  A moor fire in 1947 revealed the fourth, fallen stone, and I was able to locate the socket of a fifth.”

Raymond Hayes 1947 photo
Stone row on GoogleEarth

From hereon, Hayes seemed to more interested in seeking out and describing a large number of flints that he found scattered on the ground around Simon Howe and its associated monoliths than the stones themselves.  Very sad…  The exact position of the missing fifth stone seems to be shown on Hayes’ plan as being closest to the cairn, about 10-15 yards away, but no trace of this remains.  However, of the remaining monoliths, they are all clearly visible from the air on Google Earth!

Looking SW (Photo by James Elkington)
Looking NE (photo by James Elkington)

The most southerly of the four stones (SE 83016 98119) stands just over 3 feet tall and the second upright, leaning at an angle, is just slightly taller, with the tallest of the three uprights at the northeastern end, being some 6 feet tall.   The fourth fallen stone (SE 83031 98142) lies just beyond this in the heather and which, if resurrected, would stand some 4 feet in height.  The length of the row, stone-to-stone, is just over 29 yards (26.6m).  I’m not aware if this site has ever been assessed as having an astronomical function, but its angle to the northeast might suggest a lunar rising.  Perhaps more pertinent would be another prehistoric cairn that can be seen less than 100 yards away past the northern end of stone row…

References:

  1. Hayes, Raymond H., North-East Yorkshire Studies: Archaeological Papers, YAS: Leeds 1988.
  2. White, Stanhope, Standing Stones and Earthworks on the North Yorkshire Moors, privately printed: Scarborough 1987.
  3. Windle, Bertram C.A., Remains of the Prehistoric Age in England, Methuen: London 1909.

Links: 

  1. Simon Howe Stone Row on Stone Rows of Great Britain

Acknowledgements:  A huge thanks to James Elkington for use of his excellent photos in this site profile, as well as telling us about Getting Here. 🙂

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  54.372026, -0.723399 Simon Howe stones

Salachary Stones, Kilmartin, Argyll

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference – NM 8405 0403

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 22831

Getting Here

Two of the Salachary stones

Roughly halfway between the staggering standing stone at Kintraw and the farmhouse of Salachary a coupla miles east along the A816 road to Kilmartin, a small overgrown car park nearly hides on the south-side of the road, just below the forestry.  50 yards west of this, a small track winds uphill.  650 yards (0.6km) up here, once it levels out, a hairpin in the track veers NW; ignore it, instead walking into the marshy grass in front of you (south) for 50-60 yards up and round the small rocky crag.  Once you get round the edge of this, immediately east, you’ll see one of the tall monoliths 50 yards ahead of you.

Archaeology & History

Rediscovered in recent times by Marion Campbell (1962), this damaged row of three tall standing stones is cited in Swarbrick’s (2012) poorly-arranged survey as being “difficult to find in broken ground”; although patience brings the stones clearly into sight for any explorer.   They’re big too!  Sadly only one of them still remains fully upright—but that one’s nearly 9 feet tall!

In Miss Campbell’s initial description of the site, following their rediscovery, she told how,

“A chance sighting led to the discovery of a group of three monoliths, one erect, one sloping and one prostrate, on the West side of a wide glen leading S from the upper part of the Bealach Mor; the site commands a fine view into the northern hills. The spot is about 550ft above sea level and this is therefore the highest group of standing stones so far recorded in the area.

“The erect stone is 8ft 4in x 2ft x 1 ft, lozenge-shaped in section, with a pointed top. The leaning stone, also lozenge-shaped, is 10ft x 1ft 8in x 1ft, and pointed. The fallen stone is over 11ft x 2ft wide, too deeply buried in turf for the thickness to he measured. The stones appear to have stood in line, the nearest points of the first and third stones 9ft apart and the line joining them running north and south.  Along a ridge running S behind the stones are a number of small ruins, oval and rectangular, in old cultivations. No surviving placename has been recovered for the site so far.”

Section of the fallen stone
Looking west

Indeed, no subsequent investigation has led to either an early name nor any traditions about the site, and the stones cannot be found on any early maps of the area.  A pity, as they’re quite impressive stones and would have had some old stories known of them in ages gone by.

Twenty years after Miss Campbell’s discovery, in May 1982, the stones were visited and surveyed by the Royal Commission lads.  Their description very much tallied with Miss Campbell’s, but it’s worth citing anyway.  They told us that:

“On a terrace on the W side of an unnamed valley to the S of Bealach Mor and about 850m SW of Salachary, there is a setting of three large standing stones which is aligned from N to S.  Only the N stone is still upright; it measures 0.7m by 0.72m at the base and rises with straight sides to a pointed top at a height of 2.75m.  The central stone is of similar proportions, but it now leans to the NE at an angle of about 15° to the horizontal.  The S stone, which measures 3.4m by 0.65m has fallen with its top to the SE.”

Royal Commission plan
Alexander Thom’s plan

Around the same time, Clive Ruggles (1984) assessed the Salachary stones for any potential astronomical alignments and found—as Alexander Thom & Aubrey Burl did in their own survey (1990)—that as they pointed virtually north-south they stood beyond any solar or lunar functions.  Thom found the stones align almost perfectly north-south, with a notch in the southern horizon at 178°, and on the northern horizon the hilltop of Meall Reamhar at 2° west of north.  This northern line may relate to the airt of death, although no other immediate archaeological remains have been found to fortify this idea (however, other unrecorded standing stones are close by and their relationship with Salachary has yet to be adequately assessed).

Aubrey Burl’s first description of this stone row told us:

“There are three stones in a N-S row situated on a terrace on the W side of a glen.  The N stone, with a pointed top, stands 8ft 4 (2.5m) high.  The central stone leans dramatically at 20°.  It is 10ft (3m) in length.  The S stone is prostrate and half-buried.  It is 11ft (3.4m) long.  The row is about 13ft (4m) long.  From the site there is a fine view of the northern hills.”

Looking north

In truth, the main north-south axis relates to the more open geological avenue of the landscape.  Both the east and west are all but blocked by crags and hills, and the stones seem to have been positioned to echo the hollowed section of the landscape.  The land runs in curious geological folds and has a distinct genius loci which I enjoyed in differing (usually wet) conditions when I used to live nearby.  The site is well worth a walkabout if you’re in the area – and there are more unrecorded stones still hiding in Nature’s rocky folds nearby.

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Campbell, M. & Sandeman, M., “Mid Argyll: An Archaeological Survey,” in Proceedings Society Antiquaries Scotland, volume 95, 1964.
  3. Campbell, Marian, Salachary, Kintraw’, in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1962.
  4. Ferguson, Lesley, “A Catalogue of the Alexander Thom Archive Held in the National Monuments Record of Scotland,” in Records in Stone (ed. C. Ruggles), Cambridge University Press 1988.
  5. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll – volume 6: Mid-Argyll and Cowal, HMSO: Edinburgh 1988.
  6. Ruggles, Clive L.N., Megalithic Astronomy, BAR: Oxford 1984.
  7. Ruggles, Clive L.N., “The Stone Alignments of Argyll,” in Records in Stone (ed. C. Ruggles), Cambridge University Press 1988.
  8. Swarbrick, Olaf, A Gazetteer of Prehistoric Standing Stones in Great Britain, BAR: Oxford 2012.
  9. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – volume 1, BAR: Oxford 1990.
  10. Weston, Garth, Monuments and Mountains, Ashridge: Bakewell 2007.

Acknowledgements:  This site profile could not have been written without the help and of Nina Harris, Paul Hornby, Frank Mercer and Belinda Sales.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.179807, -5.480990 Salachary stone row

Craggish, Comrie, Perthshire

Standing Stones (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NN 763 214

Archaeology & History

An impressive-sounding cluster of standing stones that met their demise around at the end of the 19th century.  They were described by Fred Coles (1911), who lamented their passing.  Listed in the stone row surveys by Burl (1993) and Thom (1990), the prime description we have of them was in Coles’ survey, who told:

“This site has also been wantonly bereft of its group of megaliths.  Up to so recent a date as 1891 there were several.  These were shown on the (Ordnance Survey map) as three in one line and two in another, on a field about one furlong NE of Craggish farmhouse, close to the road coming down from Ross, and nearly a quarter-mile NW of the ford across the Ruchil at Ruchilside.”

In Finlayson’s (2010) colourful survey of the local megaliths he told that the stones,

“Stood, by the road, in what is now ‘The Whinney Strip’: a boulder-strewn strip of land 20m wide dividing up otherwise flat and even grazing land.”

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  2. Cole, Fred, “Report on Stone Circles Surveyed in Perthshire, Principally Strathearn,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 45, 1911.
  3. Finlayson, Andrew, The Stones of Strathearn, One Tree Island: Comrie 2010.
  4. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – 2 volumes, BAR: Oxford 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.369083, -4.003080 Craggish stones

Glenhead Stone Row, Doune, Stirlingshire

Standing Stones: OS Grid Reference – NN 75491 00455

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24689

Getting Here

Take the B824 road that runs between Dunblane and Doune and, whichever direction you’re coming from, watch out for the large statue of David Stirling by the roadside (y’ can’t really miss it!).  Stop here. Then, walk along the dirt-track into the field by the side of the statue, keeping your eyes peeled 50 yards along, for the upright stones in the field on your right, at the top of the brow of the hill.

Archaeology & History

Glenhead Farm standing stones
Glenhead Farm standing stones

A few hundred yards south of the large Glenhead Standing Stone, we come across this curious small row of three reasonably large standing stones which — the more you look at them — give the distinct impression that they may be the remains of a large prehistoric tomb.  But archaeology records are silent on this matter and we must contend with what we can see.  At the northernmost end of the row, a fourth stone lays amongst the vegetation: it may have once stood alone, or maybe  been snapped from  its fellow monolith.  20 yards south is a large mass of stone; perhaps from an old building, perhaps cairn spoil (does anyone know?)

The local historian Moray Mackay (1984) thought that the line of stones here were once a part of something larger, saying:

“Originally it was probably a circle of six stones, with a seventh in the middle, and this central stone can still be identified by its flat top on which are the mysterious and well known cup-marks, much weathered but plainly visible.  Close to the site, urns and stone hammers were unearthed last century.”

Glenhead stone row, looking north

Of the three remaining upright stones, it is the central one which has the cup-markings visible on its top and side (Allen 1882), with a lovely covering of almost luminous lichen giving it extra effect! (a separate TNA Site Entry for the cup-marked stone will be written in due course)

The famous astroarchaeologist Alexander Thom and his son (1990) described the place as,

“A three stone alignment showing about 33° N declination in one direction and 31° S in the other, but the azimuth comes from the stones only and so cannot be accurate. Perhaps the line is lunar to the hill in the SW…”

In Thom’s (1967) earlier work he posited that the alignment may relate to the rising of the star Capella around 1760 BC, but this is untrue. Thom’s error however, was not of his making, but due to the false dates that archaeologists ascribed to megalithic ruins at the time – dates which Thom used in his research, believing that the archaeological fraternity would know what they were talking about!  In their collaborated text, Aubrey Burl added how,

“these stones stand on a hill summit at 360ft (110m) OD. The row is on a north-facing slope. Three stones stand. A fourth, prostrate, 6ft 6 in (2m) long, lies against the NE pillar. The row has a NNE-SSW axis. The northernmost stone is 3ft 6in high, the centre 4ft, and the SSW, characteristically the tallest, 6ft 6in… The line is about 27 feet (8.3m) long. The central stone has 23 cupmarks on its top and 4 more on its western side.”

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Allen, J. Romilly, “Notes on some Undescribed Stones with some Cup-Markings in Scotland,” in PSAS 16, 1882.
  2. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  3. Mackay, Moray S., Doune: Historical Notes, Forth Naturalist: Stirling 1984.
  4. Thom, Alexander, Megalithic Sites in Britain, Oxford University Press 1967.
  5. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, A., Stone Rows and Standing Stones – volume 2, BAR Oxford 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.180400, -4.007365 Glenhead stone row

Parc-y Meirw, Llanychaer, Pembroke

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference – SM 9988 3591

Also Known as:

  1. Parc y Marw
  2. Parc y Meirw

Archaeology & History

Parc y Meirw - by Liz Haines
Parc y Meirw – by Liz Haines

This is an impressive and well-known megalithic stone row, found just 4-5 miles inland from the coastal town of Fishguard.  The drawing here is used courtesy of Elizabeth Haines, landscape artist, and gives a fine representation of the site as I’m sure you’d agree!  Consisting of at least eight standing stones — four still upright and four laid down — aligning northwest to southeast, the tallest stone stands at the southerly end measuring 11 feet tall.  The stone row is found in a region rich in prehistoric remains.  Aubrey Burl (1993) said of the place:

“Four of the eight stones in this unusual row still stand, trapped in a  field-wall, tow of them now gateposts.  Thom suggested that the line, 131ft (40m) long, was laid out downhill towards the WNW and the minor northern moonset just north of Mount Leinster ninety-one miles away across the Irish Sea.”

Quite a distance!  And perhaps because of this, Burl thought that the nature of this line of stones was more archaeological than astronomical, with its focal point being more likely up the slope to the ESE instead.

Folklore

There was once an adjacent chambered tomb here which, when it was “destroyed for a house in 1844 brought the owner no luck” (Thom, Thom & Burl 1990) – which is damn good to hear!  There was a piece of folklore mentioned by E.L. Barnwell (1868) and other writers that the fields here marked the fall of three Welsh princes in the Battle of Mynydd Carn in 1084.  In Roger Worsley’s (1988) fine tour of Pembrokeshire’s historical sites, he tells how these megaliths in the “field of the dead” are also haunted, saying:

“A local tale tells of Ladi Wen, a ghostly White Lady wandering about the fields at night, and who will kill anyone who ventures near; it was enough to keep villagers away from the site well into this century, though the stone row is over five thousand years old.”

References:

  1. Barber, Chris & Williams, John Godfrey, The Ancient Stones of Wales, Blorenge: Abergavenny 1989.
  2. Barnwell, E.L., “Alignments in Wales,” in Archaeologia Cambrensis, volume 14, 1868.
  3. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  4. Thom, Alexander, Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones, BAR 560: Oxford 1990.
  5. Worsley, Roger, The Pembrokeshire Explorer, CCP: Abercastle 1988.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSA huge thanks to Elizabeth Haines, Landscape Artist, for use of her drawing of Parc-y Meirw.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Parc-y-Meirw stones

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Parc-y-Meirw stones 51.985504, -4.915740 Parc-y-Meirw stones

Harden Moor Stone Row, Bingley, West Yorkshire

Standing Stones (lost):  OS Grid Reference – SE 07 38

Getting Here

This site hasn’t been located. However, if it hasn’t been destroyed by the quarrying on the SW side of the moor, remains of it should still be found amidst the heather and would be a good discovery for any enthusiast.

Archaeology & History

The first notes I found about this place were those by archaeologist Sydney Jackson in 1956, who wrote:

“It would be interesting to know what Dr Richard Richardson, of Bierley Hall, Bradford meant when, writing about 1709, he said that Mr Benjamin Ferrand show him a ‘skirt of stones’ on Harden Moor, near to a row of stones placed in a line nigh two hundred paces in length some two feet above the heath, others hidden beneath it.” (my italics)

The undoubted man-made nature of this row of stones was emphasized by Dr Richardson when he wrote,

“That these stones were placed here by design, no person can doubt; but for what I end cannot conjecture, having never seen anything of this kind before.”

The great Yorkshire historian Harry Speight (1898) also came across the same antiquarian notes many years before and speculated how,

“it may be inferred from this that it had been a double row of stones, like the avenue of Maiden Castle in Swaledale.”

The ‘skirt of stones’ that were described here may be the well-preserved Harden Moor Circle.  However in recently finding the short essay of Peter Craik (1907) of Keighley, this idea may need re-assessing, as Craik clearly shows in his survey of the the nearby Catstones Ring earthwork, what he described as the “remains of a cairn” on the northern edge of that ring, giving us a different location for this lost stone row.

However, another potential position for our lost stone row that needs exploring is the one described by Butler Wood following an exploratory visit here with the Bradford historian, William E. Preston, at the beginning of the 20th century.  Mr Wood (1905) told of them both coming across some sort of earth-and-stone line “half-a-mile north of” the Catstones Ring, telling:

“Mr W.E. Preston and myself traced a short time ago on Harden Moor, remains of an entrenchment for a distance of 80 or 90 yards.  It faces south, and lies near Spring Head Heights.  The wall consisting of boulder and earth rising three feet above the soil, but there is no trace of a ditch.”

This is obviously half the length described by Richardson and Ferrand in 1709, but nearly two centuries separate the two accounts (the position of Mr Woods’ line is roughly SE 072 387; whilst that nearer to the Catstones Ring would be nearer SE 069 383).

I’ve searched the tops of this moorland a number of times hoping to locate this seemingly important megalithic stone row, obviously without success.  Further searches on the moor are needed after the heather’s been burnt back.

References:

  1. Craik, Peter, “Catstones Ring,” in C.F. Forshaw’s Yorkshire Notes & Queries, volume 3 (H.C. Derwent: Bradford 1907).
  2. Jackson, Sidney, “Harden Circle Found,” in Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 2:1, July 1956.
  3. Speight, Harry, Chronicles and Stories of Old Bingley, Elliott Stock: London 1898.
  4. Wood, Butler, ‘Prehistoric Antiquities of the Bradford District,’ in Bradford Antiquary, volume 2, 1905.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Harden Moor stone row

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Harden Moor stone row 53.844495, -1.892053 Harden Moor stone row

Roms Law, Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Ring Cairn: OS Grid Reference – SE 13648 44719

Also known as:

  1. Grubstones Circle
  2. Rumbles Law
  3. Rums Law

Getting Here

Early drawing of 'Grubstones'
Early drawing of ‘Grubstones’

Get to the Twelve Apostles stone circle, then walk just 100 yards down the main footpath south, towards Bingley, and watch out for a small footpath immediately to your left.  Walk on here and head for the rocky outcrop a half-mile ahead of you.  Once past the outcrop, take the first footpath right and walk down for another 100 yards.  Stop! – and walk into the heather.  The circle’s about 50 yards away!  You can of course come from the Menston side of the moor, following the same directions for the Great Skirtful of Stones, but keep walking on for another 200 yards, towards the rocky outcrop again, turning left down the path for 100 yards, before stopping and walking 50 yards into the heath again!

Archaeology & History

Roms Law circle
Roms Law circle

This is one of my favourite sites on these moors. I’m not 100% sure why – but there’s always been something a bit odd about the place. And I don’t quite know what I mean, exactly, when I say “odd.” There’s just something about it… But it’s probably just me.  Though I assume that me sleeping rough here numerous times in the past might have summat to do with it, playing with the lizards, and of course…the sheep… AHEM!!! Soz about that – let’s just get back to what’s known about the place!

Grubstones is an intriguing place and, I recommend, recovers its original name of Roms or Rums Law.  It was described as such in the earliest records and only seems to have acquired the title ‘Grubstones’ following the Ordnance Survey assessment in the 1850s.  The name derives from two compound words, rum, ‘room, space, an open space, a clearing’; and hlaw, a ‘tumulus, or hill’ – literally meaning here the ‘clearing or place of the dead,’ or variations thereof.  But an additional variant on the word law also needs consideration here, as it can also be used to mean a ‘moot or meeting place’; and considering that local folklore, aswell as local boundary records tell of this site being one of the gathering places, here is the distinct possibility of it possessing another meaning: literally, ‘a meeting place of the dead’, or variations on this theme.

The present title of Grubstones was a mistranslation of local dialect by the Ordnance Survey recorders, misconstruing the guttural speaking of Rum stones as ‘grub stones.’  If you wanna try it yourself, talk in old Yorkshire tone, then imagine some Oxford or London dood coming along and asking us the name of the ring of stones!  It works – believe me….

The site has little visual appeal, almost always overgrown with heather, but its history is considerable for such a small and insignificant-looking site.  First described in land records of 1273 CE, Roms Law was one of the sites listed in the local boundary perambulations records which was enacted each year on Rogation Day (movable feast day in Spring).  However in 1733 there was a local boundary dispute which, despite the evidence of written history, proclaimed the Roms Law circle to be beyond the manor of Hawksworth, in which it had always resided.  But the boundary was changed – and local people thenceforth made their way to the Great Skirtful of Stones on their annual ritual walk: a giant cairn several hundred yards east to which, archaeologically, there is some considerable relationship.  For at the northern edge of the Roms Law circle is the denuded remnants of a prehistoric trackway in parts marked out with fallen standing stones and which leads to the very edge of the great cairn.  This trackway or avenue, like that at Avebury (though not as big), consists of “male” and “female” stones and begins – as far as modern observations can tell – several hundred yards to the west, close to a peculiar morass of rocks and a seeming man-made embankment (which I can’t make head or tail of it!).  From here it goes past Roms Law and continues east towards the Great Skirtful, until it veers slightly round the southern side of the huge old tomb, then keeps going eastwards again into the remnants of a prehistoric graveyard close by.

In my opinion, it is very likely that this trackway was an avenue along which our ancestors carried their dead. Equally probable, the Roms Law Circle was where the body of the deceased was rested, or a ritual of some form occurred, before taken on its way to wherever.  It seems very probable that this avenue had a ceremonial aspect of some form attached to it. However, due to the lack of decent archaeological attention, this assertion is difficult to prove.

A previously unrecognised small single tomb is in evidence to the immediate southeast (5 yards) of the circle.  There is also another previously unrecognised prehistoric trackway that runs up along the eastern side of the circle, roughly north-south, making its way here from Hawksworth Moor to the south.  The old legend that Roms Law was a meeting place may relate to it being a site where the dead were rested, along with it being an important point along the old boundary line. Records tell us that the chant, “This is Rumbles Law” occurred here at the end of the perambulation – which, after the boundary change, was uttered at the Great Skirtful.  This continued till at least 1901.

Northern section of the Ring
Northern section of the Ring

Modern archaeological analysis of the site is undecided as regards the actual nature of Roms Law.  Ordnance Survey maps show it as an “enclosure” (which is vague); Faull & Moorhouse’s survey (1981) erroneously tell us it had no funerary nature, contrary to Eric Cowling’s (1946) report of finding bones and ashes from the small hole in near the centre of the ring, aswell as the 1880 drawing of the site in Collyer & Turner’s survey (above).  And we find the single cairn on the south-eastern edge of the ring indicating burial rites of sorts definitely occurred here.  Described variously by previous archaeologists as a stone circle, a ring cairn, cairn circle, an enclosure, aswell as “a rubble-fill wall of a circular house” (by some anonymous member of the West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, who didn’t respond to my queries about this curious assumption), the real nature of Roms Law leans more to a cairn circle site.  A fine example of a cup-and-ring stone — the Comet Stone — was found very close to the circle, somewhere along the Grubstones Ridge more than a hundred years ago, and it may have had some relevance to Roms Law.

This denuded ring of stones is a place that has to be seen quite blatantly in a much wider context, with other outlying sites having considerable relationship to it.  Simple as! (If you wanna know more about this, check out my short work, Roms Law, due out shortly!)

Describing the status and dimensions here, our great Yorkshire historian Arthur Raistrick (1929) told that:

“The larger stones still standing number about twenty, but the spaces between them are filled with stones of many intermediate sizes, so that one could with only considerable detail of size, etc, number the original peristalith.”

…Meaning that we’re unsure exactly how many stones stood in the ring when it was first built!  Although a little wider, the Roms Law is similar in form to the newly discovered ‘Hazell Circle‘ not far from here.  The site has changed little since Raistrick’s survey, though some halfwits nicked some of the stones on the southwestern edge of the site in the 1960s to build a stupid effing grouse-butt, from which to shoot the birds up here! (would the local council or local archaeologist have been consulted about such destruction by building the grouse-butt here? – anyone know?)  Thankfully, this has all but disappeared and the moorland has taken it back to Earth.

There is still a lot more to be told of Roms Law and its relationship with a number of uncatalogued sites scattered hereby.  Although it’s only a small scruffy-looking thing (a bit like misself!), its archaeology and mythic history is very rich indeed.  “Watch This Space” – as they say!

Folklore

Alleged to be haunted, this site has been used by authentic ritual magickians in bygone years. It was described by Collyer & Turner (1885) “to have been a Council or Moot Assembly place” — and we find this confirmed to a great extent via the township perambulation records.  Considerable evidence points to an early masonic group convening here in medieval times and we are certain from historical records that members of the legendary Grand Lodge of All England (said to be ordained in the tenth century by King Athelstan) met here, or at the adjacent Great Skirtful of Stones giant cairn 400 yards east.

The boundary perambulations which occurred here on Rogation Day relate to events just before or around Beltane, Mayday.  Elizabeth Wright (1913) said of this date:

“These days are marked in the popular mind by the ancient and well-known custom of beating the parish bounds, whence arose the now obsolete name of Gang-days, and the name Rammalation-day, i.e., perambulation-day, for Rogation-Monday.  The practice is also called Processioning and Possessioning… The reason why this perambulation of the parish boundaries takes place at Rogationtide seems to be that originally it was a purely religious observance, a procession of priest and people through the fields to pray for a fruitful Spring-time and harvest.  In the course of time the secular object of familiarizing the growing generation with their parish landmarks gained the upper hand, but the date remained as testimony to the primary devotional character of the custom.”

And the calling of, “This is Rumbles Law” maintained this ancient custom when it used to be uttered here.

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Bennett, Paul, The Roms Law Circle, Ilkley Moor, Heathen Earth: Keighley 2009.
  3. Bennett, Paul, The Twelve Apostles Stone Circle, TNA Publications 2017.
  4. Collyer, Robert & Turner, J. Horsfall, Ilkley: Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
  5. Colls, J.N.M., ‘Letter upon some Early Remains Discovered in Yorkshire,’ in Archaeologia 31, 1846.
  6. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  7. Devereux, Paul, Places of Power, Blandford: London 1989.
  8. Faull & Moorhouse, West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey – volume 1, WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.
  9. Gelling, Margaret, Signposts to the Past, Phillimore: Chichester 1988.
  10. Gelling, Margaret, Place-Names in the Landscape, Phoenix: London 2000.
  11. Gomme, G.L., Primitive Folk-Moots; or Open-Air Assemblies in Britain, Sampson Low: London 1880.
  12. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘The Bronze Age in West Yorkshire,’ in YAJ, 1929.
  13. Smith, A.H., English Place-Names Elements – volume 2, Cambridge University Press 1956.
  14. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 4, Cambridge University Press 1963.
  15. Speight, Harry, Chronicles and Stories of Old Bingley, Elliott Stock: London 1898.
  16. Wardell, James, Historical Notices on Ilkley, Rombald’s Moor, Baildon Common, etc., Leeds 1869.
  17. Wright, Elizabeth Mary, Rustic Speech and Folk-Lore, Oxford University Press 1913.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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