Meikle Findowie, Little Dunkeld, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 96105 39143

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 86434

Getting Here

Meikle Findowie stone

Along the A822 road between Dunkeld and Milton, 4.7 miles (7.6km) west of the A9, turn left down the track signposted ‘Meikle Findowie’.  About 700 yards along the track you reach modernised farmhouse and here, on your left, a track takes you east.  You’ll notice some ruins a couple of hundred yards along.  The standing stone is by its side.

Archaeology & History

Looking eastwards…

Beside the old trackway that runs east-west past Meikle Findowie, above the ancient flood-plain of the breathing River Braan, a solitary stone lives by the more modern shadow of old sheep-folds.  Tis a quiet little fella, less than 5 feet tall, that you could almost pass as a forgotten gatepost if you chattered when walking by. But it’s much more ancient than any old gate…

It nestles below the old hill of Airlich, with its beautiful stone circle and huge ancient enclosures higher up: a chunky old stone with no carvings or other human marks upon it.   Tis a site site worth visiting before heading uphill, to the megalithic ring of enchantment.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks as always to Paul Hornby for getting us to this site.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Meikle Findowie

loading map - please wait...

Meikle Findowie 56.532836, -3.690748 Meikle Findowie

Elkington’s Track, Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Prehistoric Trackway:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13169 44111 to SE 13321 44172

Getting Here

Mr Elkington's newly uncovered prehistoric track
Mr Elkington’s newly uncovered prehistoric track

Get yourself to the Roms Law circle, by hook or by crook.  Then take the long almost straight footpath south, as if you’re heading to the very damaged Horncliffe Well (thanks to Yorkshire Water).  You’ll notice the fencing that runs parallel to the path eventually.  Nearly 400 yards along the parallel fenced line you reach the first decent-sized stream.  From here, walk upstream, keeping to its northern edges for another 300 yards—then walk 10-20 yards into the heather.  You’re damn close!

Archaeology & History

The site is named after Mr James Elkington who recently rediscovered this previously unmapped prehistoric trackway, close to where Burley Moor meets the western edge of Hawksworth Moor, on the greater Rombald’s complex.  And it’s a bloody good find if I might say so myself!  But, like so many sites covering the Rombald’s complex, it begs more questions than it answers.

2014 aerial view showing outline of trackway
2014 aerial view showing outline of trackway
2002 aerial view of trackway
2002 aerial view of trackway

The trackway is consistent in architectural design and dimensions with at least six of the eight prehistoric trackways that I’m aware of on these moors — none of which have ever been adequately mapped nor investigated by regional archaeologists (thankfully, there are folk like us around!).  This ninth trackway, upon initial investigation, may be the shortest of them all up here.

Section of large stones marking the track
Section of large stones marking the track
Overgrown section of track-edge
Overgrown section of track-edge

Elkington’s Track seems to begin its route about 10-20 yards north of the once large, fast-flowing stream of the Middle Beck—which in itself seems curious.  No trace of any trackway seems evident on the other side of this stream and there are no other prehistoric remains accounting for why it should begin or end here…

Walking along the track, it heads northeast for 80 yards, with low lines of raised parallel walling 4-5 yards apart defining the avenue, before it begins to gradually bend round in a more easterly direction.  Thirty yards along this more easterly alignment, in the southern walled section, lays an eroded stone (SE 13255 44165) that seems to have stood upright in the not-too-distant past.  It seems to mark an opening or gap in the walled trackway and a large scatter of small stones, akin to the denuded remains of a cairn is evident just below the track at this point.  The raised embankment of the trackway keeps heading east, towards the line of Hawksworth Moor boundary stones.

More long line of walled edges
More long line of walled edges
Looking NE up the track
Looking NE up the track

Upon initial investigation, the trackway was visible for a minimum of 185 yards (169.4m) in length, whereafter any immediate trace of it disappeared into the ancient peat.  However, aerial views of it on GoogleEarth indicate a faint extension of the track, but these are difficult to apprehend at ground-level.  There is every possibility that this trackway eventually meets up with one of the four other prehistoric trackways near the Great Skirtful of Stones giant tomb, or even the North Road running past Roms Law—but until this can be ascertained, the trackway must be defined on its own merits.  Further heather-burning on the moors at either end would obviously enable a great examination of the remains.

In the event that the southernmost point of this trackway does begin above the Middle Beck stream, as seems apparent, we may be looking at a ceremonial trackway and not just a ‘road’ as we define them in the modern parlance of homo-profanus culture.  Think of it as a small version of The Avenue trackway that runs from Stonehenge outwards, past the Heel Stone and eventually bending down to the River Avon. (Burl 2006)  Y’ just never know…..

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, A Brief History of Stonehenge, Constable: London 2006.
  2. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  3. Raistrick, Arthur, Green Tracks on the Pennines, Dalesman: Clapham 1962.
  4. Wright, Geoffrey N., Roads and Trackways of the Yorkshire Dales, Moorland: 1985.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Elkington's Track

loading map - please wait...

Elkington\'s Track 53.893012, -1.801103 Elkington\'s Track

Badger Stone, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 11074 46049

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.88 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.250 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  3. Grainings Head Stone

Getting Here

Allen's 1879 drawing
Allen’s 1879 drawing

Although there are several routes to this site, for those who are not used to walking or find maps difficult to read [get a life!], it is best approached from the Ilkley side of the moor.  Follow the old track that cuts the moor in half past the remains of Graining Head quarry where the moor begins to level out.  Once here cut straight east until you find the footpath which, after a while, you will see leads to a wooden seat right in the middle of nowhere.  Here is our Badger Stone.

Archaeology & History

An eroded but quite excellent cup-and-ring stone — one of the very best on Ilkley Moor — comprising nearly a hundred cups, ten rings, what seems to be a half-swastika design, plus a variety of other odd motifs.  It’s one of the best carvings on the entire moor and has been written about by many folk over the years.  First described in an early essay on cup-and-ring stones by J. Romilly Allen (1879) — who must have visited it in poor light, as some elements of the carving weren’t noticed — he described it as a “sculptured stone near Grainings Head”, saying:

“This stone…is a block of gritstone 12ft long by 7ft 6in broad, by 4ft high.  The largest face slopes at an angle of about 40° to the horizon, and on it are carved nearly fifty cups, sixteen of which are surrounded with single concentric rings.  At the west end of the stone are a group, three cups with double rings and radial grooves.  At the other end, near the top, is a curious pattern formed of double grooves, and somewhat resembling the “swastika” emblem… At the highest part of the stone is a rock basin 8in deep and 9in wide.  On the vertical end of the stone are five cut cups, three of which have single rings.  This is one of the few instances of cup and ring marks occurring on a vertical face of rock.”

Badger Stone on 1910 OS-map

The title “badger” dates back to at least medieval times when, as the Yorkshire historian Arthur Raistrick (1962) explained, the word represented “a corn dealer, corn miller or miller’s man.”  It is likely that this traditional title goes much further back, probably into prehistory, as grain was one of the earliest forms of trade.  Very close to this sacred old stone are place-names verifying this, like Grainings Head and Green Gates.  A little higher upon the moor is the twelfth century Cowper’s Cross (which used to have cup-markings etched upon it) where, tradition tells, a market was held that replaced an older one close by.

The Badger Stone carving
Close-up of cup-and-rings

Our Badger Stone rests beside the prehistoric track which Eric Cowling termed “Rombald’s Way” (after the legendary giant, Rombald, who lived with his old wife upon these hills): an important prehistoric route running across the mid-Pennines.  This ancient route runs east-west, traditionally the time of year when agricultural needs are greatest at the equinoxes.  This may have been the time when any ancient grain traders met here. (In modern times a number of archaeologists have emphasized such routes as “trade routes”: a notion that derives from the modern religion of Free Market Economics in tandem with the rise of Industrialism and social Darwinism, much more than the actuality of them as simple pathways or means of accessible movement).

There are accounts from other places in Yorkshire about these badger men.  We find a number of other “badger” stones, gates, ways, stoops and crosses on our Yorkshire hills.  One of them in North Yorkshire, wrote Raistrick (1962), “is an ancient trade way.”  In Richmond, North Yorkshire, around the time of the autumn equinox, Badger men from across the Dales followed the old routes over the hills into town, held annual festivities and sold their grain. (see Smith 1989; Speight 1897)  It is perhaps possible that our old Badger Stone would have been a site where some form of indigenous British Demeter was revered.

Drawing of Badger Stone carving

Some parts of Badger Stone have what could be deemed as primitive human images (anthropomorphic) mainly on the northwestern side of the carving, emerging from the Earth itself.  And certainly amidst he same portion we have a very distinct solar symbol, very much like the ones found at Newgrange and, for that matter, many other parts of the world.

Some New Age folk have given the fertility element to the Badger Stone a deeper status, using imagination as an aid to decode these old carvings.  When feminist New-Age writer Monica Sjoo visited Badger Stone she described it as “erotic”, with the carvings giving her a distinct impression of “vulvas” and she also thought orgies of sorts had been enacted here. (Billingsley & Sjoo, 1993)  The vulva imagery is a well-known idea to explain cup-and-rings and in some cases this will be valid; but when I passed an illustration of this rock-art to a number of people (all women), there was not a vulva to be mentioned — merely the OM symbol, sperm entering the egg, a snail, a bicycle, a willy, a paw-print, eyes, a face, a tadpole, cartoon breasts, the rear end of a dog, grapes, letters, numbers, ears and a snake!  Awesome stuff!  Take a look at the design yourself and see what you can see in it.  Answers on a postcard please! (The dilemma of making specific interpretations of these carvings is that we tend to approach them with dominant ego perspectives, many of them reflecting little more than our own beliefs or search for identity, imposing unresolved journeys and conflicts on that which we encounter, as with the above case.)

As with prehistoric rock-art in general, they are a number of things: functional, ritual, history, spirit; different at each and every site.  As if to exemplify this at Badger Stone, note how the detailed carvings have been executed mainly on the southern face of the stone.  The northern face has little if anything to show on it.  It would suggest therefore, that this stone had some mythic relationship with events during daylight hours.  But we have to be careful here…

At sunrise on a good morning, we note how the eastern edges of this stone show up very clearly indeed.  If Nature’s conditions are damp and wet (as they tend to be each morning on the hills), the visible outline of these cup-and-rings show up very clearly indeed.  Oddly, as the sun then passes through the daytime sky each and every day on its cyclical movement, the petroglyphic content becomes a little less visible unless the stone is wet.  Indeed at sun-high (midday period) the carving doesn’t show up as well as it did in the morning light.  And we find the same characteristic as the sun goes to set in the west: where that part of the carved stone shows up very clearly again — much clearer than during full daytime hours.  If rain has fallen, the glyphs stand out very clearly indeed.

As all cultures imbued the natural world with animistic, living qualities, it seems probable that these periods of the day (sunrise and sunset) were significant at this particular carving.  It may be, very simply, that the Badger Stone “came to life” with the sunrise and its mythic nature was alive during this period; whereas with many other carvings (both on these moors and elsewhere in Britain) their strong mythic associations related to the northern Land of the Dead.  But then, I could be talking bullshit!

The Badger Stone is also a strong contender for it being a painted stone.  Many petroglyphs like this in other cultures were ceremonially coloured-in using lichens and other plants dyes at certain times of the day or year, relating specifically to important mythic relationships between the people and the spirit of the rock at such places.  This very probably occurred here.

References:

  1. Allen, J. Romilly, “The Prehistoric Rock Sculptures of Ilkley,” in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 35, 1879.
  2. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  3. Billingsley, John & Sjoo, Monica, “Monica Sjoo in West Yorkshire,” in Northern Earth Mysteries, no.53, 1993.
  4. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  5. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  6. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  7. Raistrick, Arthur, Green Tracks on the Pennines, Dalesman: Clapham 1962.
  8. Smith, Julia, Fairs, Feasts and Frolics: Customs and Traditions in Yorkshire, Smith Settle: Otley 1989.
  9. Speight, Harry, Romantic Richmondshire, Elliot Stock: London 1897.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Badger Stone CR

loading map - please wait...

Badger Stone CR 53.910479, -1.832911 Badger Stone CR