East Wall Stone, Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13924 45493

Getting Here

East wall stone on the right

Follow the directions to reach the impressive Woofa Bank prehistoric enclosure.  You need to find the walling that constitutes the enclosure itself and walk along to its eastern side where you’ll reach an ‘opening’, as if it may once have been an entrance at that side of the enclosure.  A reasonably large sloping rock is on one side of this ‘entrance’.  You can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

Unlike many of the other petroglyphs found within the Woofa Bank enclosure, the design on this one is faint — very faint indeed (much like the recently uncovered triple-ring petroglyph by the Thimble Stones).  Comprising simply of a small cluster of cup-marks, you’ll struggle to see this one — unlike its compatriot on the western wall of the enclosure.

Looking down on the rock
Some very faint cupmarks

It consists of a single cup-mark on the northern edge of the stone, whilst on the sloping southern part of the rock are a number of very faint cups, eroded by them there millenia of Nature’s wind and weathering.  One or two of the cups are just visible in good lighting, but what are almost certainly a few more can be seen when the rock is wet and in low daylight hours.  It’s a design that’s probably only of interest to the hardcore petroglyph fanatics, but without doubt this is yet another carving within this obviously important prehistoric enclosure.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.905410, -1.789560 East Wall Stone

Cliff Cottage Circle, Broad Haven, Pembrokeshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SM 8615 1428

Archaeology & History

Described in context with an extant standing stone 100 yards to the north, this stone circle seems to have been destroyed in the latter half of the 19th century.  It was described in the Royal Commission’s huge Pembrokeshire (1925) survey, after they had visited the site and viewed the remains.  They told us:

“On the side of the road immediately opposite to Cliff Cottage, and constituting part of the garden walls of Upper Lodge, are numerous boulders which formed a well-defined stone circle.  A few years ago they were moved, dressed, and used for walling.  The entrance to the circle is said to have faced north-east.  The southern portion was still visible about the year 1896.”

As far as I’m aware, local people report that a couple of the stones are still visible in the overgrown walling.  Students working for the Welsh Coflein database allege that the remaining stones “are of doubtful antiquity.”  Unless they have some substantial evidence to validate this statement (none is given) their remarks should be taken with a pinch of salt.

References:

  1. Royal Commission Ancient & Historical Monuments, Wales, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Wales & Monmouthshire: VII – County of Pembroke, HMSO: London 1925.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  51.786201, -5.101970 Cliff Cottage

Clowder (1), Arncliffe, North Yorkshire

Enclosures:  OS Grid Reference – SD 9165 6968

Also Known as:

  1. Clouder

Getting Here

Looking down on Clowder-1

To the right of The Falcon Inn across from Arncliffe village green is a trackway called the Monk’s Way.  Walk up here for about 450 yards until there’s a stile on your right which is the start of the diagonal footpath SW up the hillside.  Once you hit the limestone ridge several hundred yards up, keep on the path that curves round the edge of the hill for 1.3 miles (2.1km), going over 5 walls until, at the 6th one, you should look uphill, east, at the small cliff-face 100 yards above you.  That’s where you need to be!

Archaeology & History

This is one of several clusters of large prehistoric enclosures and settlements in the expanse of land known as Clowder, on the hills 1.65 miles (2.63km) southwest of Arncliffe.  It’s in a very good state preservation and, surprisingly, almost nothing has been written about it.

Covered hut circle on NW edge
Cliffs & walls of Clowder-1

A multi-period site whose construction probably began  sometime in the Iron Age (although the old Yorkshire Dales archaeologist, Arthur Raistrick, thought the settlements up originated in the Bronze Age), we can say with some certainty that parts of this complex were definitely being used until medieval times due to the lack of growth on some of the walling.

The entire complex comprises of a series of interlinked walled enclosures running roughly north-south for a distance of more than 200 yards.  Along the 200 yards are at least eight conjoined walled sections of varying shapes and sizes.  Some of the walling, particularly along its western edges, measuring up to 10 feet across (some of this will be due to collapse) is very overgrown indeed and is probably the oldest aspect of the enclosure.  The inner walled sections, much of it leading up to the small cliff face, are rough rectangular structures, each of them averaging 30 yards from their western edge to the eastern cliff and rock faces.

Most recent walled section

Within the largest and best preserved section at the northern end, a smaller and more recent walled rectangular enclosure would seem to have been used for either cattle or storage of some form, as it’s on too much of a slope to have been viable as a living quarter.  Also on the very northern edge is a well-preserved but much overgrown hut circle, between 8-9 yards across.

Faint walling looking south

The entirity of Clowder-1 is difficult to assess without an archaeological dig.  Despite this, as half of the walled enclosures (in the northern half) are on slopes leading up to the cliffs they would seem unsuitable for people to live in.  It is more probable that these sections were used for livestock and other storage.  At the more southern end however, the land begins to level out and this would be feasible as good living quarters.  There was also once a good source of water immediately beneath the entire complex, but with deforestation the waters eventually fell back to Earth.Back to its southern end and down towards the modern-day walling, some 70 yards on we find more ancient structures of the same architectural form that we’ve just walked along.  This lower section has just one notable singular oval-shaped hut circle, 20 yards east-west by 29 yards north-south.  Other probable man-made structures seem to be just below this; and this part of the settlement then continues on the other side of the walling, into the large Dew Bottoms (5) settlement complex.

Folklore

Weather lore of the ‘Clauder’ hill tells that it “draws the skies down” – i.e., as Halliwell Sutcliffe (1929) put it:

“A deluge may be in process on each side of the Clouder when lower down the sun is hot on tired pastures.”

We encountered just such a truth when James ElkingtonChris Swales and I visited the sites up here just a week or so ago…

References:

  1. Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys through Brigantia – volume 2, Aussteiger: Barnoldswick 1990.
  2. Sutcliffe, Halliwell, The Striding Dales, Frederick Warne: London 1929.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to James Elkington and Chris Swales, without whose guidance this site profile would never have been written.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  54.122360, -2.128648 Clowder (1)

Tombreck (07), Ben Lawers, Kenmore, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 65022 38285

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 238573

Getting Here

Tombreck 7 carving, beneath Ben Lawers

Tombreck 7 carving, beneath Ben Lawers

Take the A827 road that runs alongside Loch Tay between Killin and Kenmore, and about 6 miles from Killin watch out for the signposts for The Big Shed.  Stop and walk NW up the track across the road from there, up toward Ben Lawers.  Several hundred yards up, past the sheep-fold on the left-side of the track, a line of ruinous walling runs straight over the grasslands. Walk along here until it meets with the next walling that runs uphill.  Look down into where the wall has collapsed.  It’s under your nose!

Archaeology & History

This is a fascinating and pretty impressive example of a simple cup-marked stone.  It’s the design that does it I suppose – similar in some ways to the well-known Idol Stone carving on my old playground of Ilkley Moor (that’s what this one reminded me of when I first clapped eyes on it)—but much better!

Lines of cups from above

Lines of cups from above

The carving from the east

The carving from the east

Its similarity lies in the series of parallel rows of cup-marks running very close together along the line of the low-lying rock, found at the base of some ancient walling that runs up the mountain for several hundred yards.  Not only that, but the line of walling itself also has a parallel line of walling running adjacent for the same distance up the mountainside — more than half-a-mile from start to finish.  This “parallel” feature of walling and cup-markings is a curious coincidence, perhaps.  But certainly the linearity of the cup-marks was itself a very deliberate feature by the person who carved it, representing something ‘structural’, in whatever mythic form that may have been!

The carving in its walling

The carving in its walling

Of the rows of cups constituting this petroglyph, four of them run completely from one side of the stone to the other, rough north to south; with four other shorter rows running only halfway across the rock surface.  Altogether there are perhaps seventy cups etched onto the rock.  No rings or semi-circles of any form were visible in our visit here—although the skies were grey and overcast, making any decent visual analysis more difficult.

A damn good carving and well worth checking out by anyone into prehistoric rock art!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Tombreck (CR7)

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Tombreck (CR7) 56.517178, -4.195342 Tombreck (CR7)

Conichan East, Glen Almond, Perthshire

Settlement:  OS Grid Reference – NN 84645 32074  —  NEW FIND

Getting Here

The setting of the remains

The setting of the remains

Park up and walk the long estate track up Glen Almond for nearly three miles until, on your left, you’ll see a small pond.  From here, walk up the slope and, about 100 yards above you, note the large solitary boulder ahead, above the dyke of a small walled stream, where the land levels out.  Just past the rock itself is the first of several remains.

Archaeology & History

First things first: the grid-reference cited here is centred upon the largest of several rings of stone found on this small grassy plateau, 150 yards north above the River Almond, just past the huge boulder.  It’s an impressive site – and a previously unrecorded one.

The raised ring of Conichan

The raised ring of Conichan

Looking southeast

Looking southeast

At least three large hut circles can be clearly seen on this small ridge, amidst a sea of prehistoric sites scattered all down this lonely Scottish glen.  When Paul Hornby, Lara Domleo and I meandered up here the other day (to visit the Clach na Tiompan megaliths), extensive prehistoric walling called my nose up the slopes to see if anything was hiding away—and a large prehistoric ring, more reminiscent of the Derbyshire stone circles and ring cairns than any hut circle, appeared before me.

The first and largest that I came across is the one immediately north of the huge boulder (which may have slight traces of ancient walling running up to it).  The large ring is clearly raised onto a flat level platform, with an entrance on its southern edge.  The ring itself measures, from outer-wall to outer-wall some 12 yards wide (E-W) and 11 yards N-S.  The northernmost section of the walling or stone embanked structure is built into the sloping hill to the rear, with the east and western walls constructed simply onto the flat land.  The walling itself is typical of prehistoric structures, comprising the usual mass of small stones packed within a number of larger upright stones; although much of it is very overgrown with centuries of vegetation.  The walling that constitutes the ring itself is between 1-2 yards across and about two-feet high above the present ground-level.

Second circular remains

Second circular remains

...and from another angle

…and from another angle

To the east of this is a smaller, roughly circular construction of similar form.  The rocks that make up this site are much more visible and may have been robbed and used in the more extensive walling above and the dykes below.  It is unclear whether the nature of this site is the same as that of the more defined circular enclosure we have just described.

The remains of a third structure was clearly evident a short distance to the east of this, but I didn’t have much time here and another visit is needed to make further assessments.  Iron Age walling and other undocumented prehistoric remains were also found close by.

Acknowledgements:  Many thanks to the noses of little Lara Domleo and Prof. Paul Hornby for their bimbling aid to relocate this site – and one or two others that have been off the radar for many-a-century.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  56.466712, -3.873784 Conichan East

Modsary, Tongue, Sutherland

Hut Circle:  OS Grid Reference – NC 65189 61639

Getting Here

Faint outline of Modsary hut circle, across centre

Along the A836 between Tongue and Bettyhill—nearly 5 miles (7.75km) east of Tongue—take the minor road north to Modsary and Skerray.  Some 1.75 miles along you’ll notice an inland loch to your right, and where the loch finishes, take the minor track up on your right to Modsary.  Walk past the cottages, through the gate and walk diagonally left down onto the moor. A small cave is across in front of you. Head towards that, but on the flat-ish piece of heathland barely 50 yards before it, above the small burn, look around for the low circular walling.

Archaeology & History

This previously unrecorded prehistoric hut circle was rediscovered in May 2018 by Sarah Maclean of Borgie during a brief excursion here, looking at the ancient clearance village of Modsary (which appears to be Iron Age in origin).  In walking onto the moor, shortly before leaving me to my own devices, she pointed out this low ring of barely discernible stones, wondering, “is this another hut circle?” (there are some on the western-side of the road from Modsary)  It would certainly seem so!

Grass showing centre of hut circle

It is constructed upon what seems to be a natural platform of earth above the slow-running burn.  A low ring of stone walling defines the construction: visible in parts, covered in vegetation for the most.  With an entrance on its southeast, the ring measures roughly 9 yards by 10 yards in diameter; with its outer walls being less than 2 feet high all round; but the width of the walls in some places measures up to 3 feet across.  It is certainly man-made and is certainly olde.  It requires excavation to assess its original construction period, although based on others I’ve seen that have been dated, would seem to be Iron Age in origin.

From this to the small cave that I mentioned, a most peculiar rectangular stone construction is evident 2-3 yards below it; and heading 40 yards south, beneath a craggy hill, a line of ancient walling runs SE-NW, with a much overgrown semi-circular arc of large stones, seemingly artificial in nature.  It would seem there is a lot more hiding beneath the heather hereby than official records suggest…

Acknowledgements:  Massive thanks to Sarah Maclean for locating and showing me this site; and also to Donna Murray for giving me a base-camp. Huge huge thanks indeed.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  58.521903, -4.316398 Modsary, Tongue

Baile Mhargaite Enclosure 1, Bettyhill, Sutherland

 

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  58.519653, -4.236361 Baile Mhargaite Enclosure 1

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – NC 69843 61228

Also Known as:

  1. Bail Margait
  2. Margaret’s Town

Getting Here

Baile Mhargaite 1 enclosure, looking NW

Baile Mhargaite 1 enclosure, looking NW

Take the A836 road west out of Bettyhill, down the road and cross the river on the tiny bridge.  From here, go over the gate on the right-hand side of the road and follow the edge of the river towards the sea. Crossing the large extensive sands, you’ll reach a large sand and gravel rise ahead of you. Once on top of this natural feature, walk NNE for 550 yards (0.5km) until you reach one of many extensive sandy expanses in the grasses (and pass tons of archaeological remains as you walk!).  You’ll get there!

Archaeology & History

Arc of south, west & north walling

Arc of south, west & north walling

On this naturally raised sand-and-gravel platform at the edge of this beautiful sandy coastline in the far north of Scotland, walking in search of this particular enclosure, you’ll meander past a whole host of prehistoric sites and remains – some of which are plain to see, others hiding almost just above ground level, barely visible.  But if you’re an antiquarian or historian, this plateau is a minefield of forgotten history!

The site is shown on the 1878 Ordnance Survey map of the region as a “hut circle”, which it may well have been—but this is a large hut circle and was more probably a place where a large family would easily have lived.  When I visited the place the other week, there were no internal features visible.  It is a large ring of stones made up of thousands of small rocks whose walls are low and scattered, barely a foot above present ground-level in places, and barely two-feet at the very highest.  It has been greatly ruined or robbed of other architectural elements and an excavation is in order.  My initial evaluation is that this structure is at least Iron Age in origin.  In Angus Mackay’s (1906) venture here in the early 1900s, he suggested that this and the other “circular rings” were “cattle folds.”

Aerial view, looking straight down

Aerial view, looking straight down

Looking down from the broch above

Looking down from the broch above

The enclosure measures, from outer-edge to outer-edge of the walling, 16.5 yards (15.1m) east-west by 18 yards (16.5m) north-south, and has a circumference of roughly 52.5 yards (4mm); although an accurate measure of its circumference is hampered by the scatter of spoilage from the collapsed walls stretching outwards.  Only the western walled section remains in reasonably good condition.

Looking south, thru the enclosure

Looking south, thru the enclosure

Close by are many cairns, some of which are prehistoric.  A chambered cairn  on the same ridge less than 200 yards away, with another enclosure of the same type yards away, clearly shows that people have lived and used this raised section of land for thousands of years.  We know that people were still living here at the end of the 18th century which—for me at least—begs the question: what ancient traditions, customs and lore did these people know about, which may have dated back into truly ancient history?  …And then the english Clearances destroyed them…

References:

  1. Mackay, Angus, “Notes on a Slab with Incised Crescentic Design, Stone Mould for Casting Bronze Spear-Heads, a Cup-Marked Stone, Holy Water Stoup, and other Antiquities in Strathnaver, Sutherlandshire,” in Proceedings of the Society Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 40, 1906.
  2. Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Second report and inventory of monuments and constructions in the county of Sutherland. HMSO: Edinburgh 1911.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Achamore Hut Circles, Bettyhill, Farr, Sutherland

 

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  58.492464, -4.159511 Achamore Hut Circles, Bettyhill

Hut Circles:  OS Grid Reference – NC 74219 58055

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 6262

Getting Here

Achamore's NE 'hut' circle, looking E

Achamore’s NE ‘hut’ circle, looking E

Along the A836 road a mile east of Bettyhill, a track goes south onto the moors just before Loch Salachaidh. Walk along here for several miles, past the windmills and past the Achadh Thaibstil Cairn, until you reach the remote green fields that are the remains of the clearance village of Achamore.  As you walk into the green grasses, a ruined building is to your left.  In front of you, a large raised round structure almost entirely covered in grass.  You’re here!

Archaeology & History

This is a curious structure – and were it not for being labelled as a ‘hut circle’ by the lads at Ordnance Survey, on first impression I’d be more tempted to classify it as either a collapsed broch, or a large cairn circle.  This is entirely due to the size of the thing, as it’s big for a hut circle!

NW arc of the circle

NW arc of the circle

Eastermost embankment

Eastermost embankment

Circular in form, the sides of the structure on its eastern face are nearly three feet high, piled at an angle of nearly 45 degrees, and several feet across before you reach the internal section of the said ‘hut circle.’  As you walk around it, the height of the piled stones diminishes to between 1-2 feet, but the diameter of the walling all round is consistently wide – increasing the thought of it being a collapsed or robbed-out broch.  The diameter of the structure is some 20 yards across, with an approximate circumference of 64 yards.

'Hut circle' atop of nearby hill

‘Hut circle’ atop of nearby hill

Another “hut circle” is immediately visible some 80 yards to the south, on top of the nearby grassy hilltop.  The majority of this is also covered in meadow grasses, with edges and upper surfaces all but hidden.  On its southeastern edge is what looks like a structural stone ‘entrance’ some two yards across and three yards long.

Other smaller hut circles in the area indicate that this region – like others nearby – was a place of consistent human habitation from prehistoric (probably Neolithic) times, unbroken all the way through until the 18th century.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Achnaburin, Bettyhill, Farr, Sutherland

‘Hut Circle’:  OS Grid Reference – NC 7082 5891

Also Known as:

  1. Achnabourin
  2. Canmore ID 6210

Getting Here

Site as ‘Picts House’ on 1873 map

Take the A836 road (between Bettyhill and Tongue), crossing the metal bridge across the River Naver a mile south of Bettyhill.  Keep going for nearly a mile, past the houses and into the small trees, keeping your eyes peeled to the right where a small but notable bracken-covered mound rises 10-20 yards in the rough field. Go through the gate and you’re there!

Archaeology & History

Low stone wall along S side

A site which, from the nearby roadside, has all the hallmarks of being yet another Sutherland broch (there are tons of them up here!)—but apparently it isn’t!  Despite being shown on the earliest OS-map of the region as a ‘Pict’s House’ (which are usually brochs), the site has subsequently been designated by modern archaeologists as a simple ‘hut circle’.  I have my doubts over this, as it’s a most unusual one with little logic over its positioning—unless it was either a look-out point, or an odd ritual spot.

The south side of the mound

As you can see from the poor photos I got of the place, a large angled tumulus-like hillock (it’s akin to a mini-Silbury Hill at first sight) rises up from the ground with a reasonably uniform angle around much of it, to a height of between 16-20 feet.  Scattered rocks and stones adorn the mound as you walk up its embankments and onto the top where, around the edges, a notable man-made ring of walling shows it to have been artificially created.  Unfortunately most of the top of the mound was completely covered in thick decayed bracken when I visited, so it was difficult to get any good photos of this topmost walling.

The SE side of the mound

From the top of the mound, the walling is between 1-3 feet high, in a roughly circular setting, measuring 36-40 feet across.  The most distinct section of it was visible on the west-to-south-to-east section; with the lowest and depleted section occurring on its northern edges.  The entrance to the ‘hut circle’ is apparently on its eastern side.  Although it is assumed to be Iron Age in nature, its real age is unknown.

References:

  1. Mercer, R.J. & Howell, J.M., Archaeological Field Survey in Northern Scotland – volume 2, University of Edinburgh 1976-1983.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

 

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  58.499176, -4.218019 Achnaburin, Bettyhill

Newton Bridge Enclosure, Fowlis Wester, Perthshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – NN 8884 3155

Getting Here

Enclosure’s western wall

Venture along the A822 Crieff to Dunkeld road, turning down into the gorgeous Sma’ Glen.  Nearly 1 mile past Ossian’s Stone, just past where the road crosses the River Almond, walk along the track on your right where the big boulder sits.  Past the boulder, walk up the grassy slope to the left.  A standing stone will catch your attention, which sits in the walling.  Y’ can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

Rediscovered by Paul Hornby in 2015 at the end of a day’s excursion to the neolithic sites a few miles west of here, I can find no references at all to the denuded remains of what seems to be a typical prehistoric enclosure.

Looking down the west wall
The southwestern walls

Constructed around a natural rise in the land 60-70 yards above the River Almond, the enclosure has that ‘Iron Age’ look about it (it may be earlier).  Shaped like a giant ‘D’ (and clearly visible on GoogleEarth), the extensive walling that makes up the site—about a yard wide all the way round—is far from small, measuring some 60 yards (54.8m) at its greater longer axis roughly north-south, by 54 yards (49.5m) east to west, with a circumference of about 170 yards (155.5m).  The much-denuded walling that defines the perimeter is comprised of a number of large stones with thousands of smaller packing stones that are mainly overgrown.  A large ‘standing stone’ about 3 feet tall is the most notable feature nearly halfway along the western wall.

Small standing stone in wall

In all probability this enclosure would have been in use since its construction in the Iron Age period all the way through to the coming of Fuadach nan Gàidheal (the Highland Clearances) in the 19th century, as the people here were pragmatists who made best use of what was around them.  It is likely to have ended its days as an area where cattle was contained.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to Paul Hornby for his assistance with site inspection, and additional use of his photos.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian