Stones Farm, Todmorden, West Yorkshire

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference – SD 92520 23593 and SD 92256 23800

Getting Here

One of the Stones monoliths, looking west

If you wanna drive here, be prepared for a long uphill winding haul, with very poor turning, single-track roads and no parking spots.  It’s dodgy as hell!  But, if y’ must – from the central roundabout in Todmorden, take the road diagonally across as if you’re going to the train station, and barely 50 yards up, take the right turn under the railways arches, bearing sharp left, then up the very steep zigzagging dangerous road for a mile or so.  You’ll eventually reach Stones Lane on your left.  Go down this, nearly to the end, slowly – and keep your eyes peeled until you see the big one!  You can’t miss it!  If you want walk up (a much safer, healthier and preferable route), take the Calderdale Way route up past Dobroyd Castle, and where you get to the top of the hill and the fields open up ahead of you, look down the slope into the field for one stone, and up past the shrubs to Centre Hill.  You can’t miss them!

Archaeology & History

Three 'stones' on 1911 map
Three ‘stones’ on 1911 map

This is a quite extraordinary sight to those who visit here for the first time.  Moreso because, until very recently, the place was excluded from all text-books and surveys.  But if you like your megaliths, this place is well worth the trek up the hill.  You’ll be amazed!  The tallest and largest of these giant monoliths was recorded when a team from Ordnance Survey mapped the area in 1844, but gave no antiquated note to it.  When another Ordnance Survey team re-surveyed the area again in 1911, they noted two other ‘stones’ three fields away to the northeast.  More than a decade later, the industrialist historian Abraham Newall (1925) described them at some length in his fine work on the region.

Stone 1, looking NW
Stone 2, at top of hillock (soz about the crap picture)

The first thing generally noticed is the 12-foot tall standing stone near the bottom of the field (stone 1). Then you’ll see the curiously-worked thin standing stone, nearly as tall, on the hillock at the top of the same field (stone 2). This stone has been surmounted onto an old millstone and the hillock itself was once an old beacon hill.  Then on the other side of the road a few hundred yards along, another stone just over 4-feet tall can be seen (stone 3); and in the same field is another one laid down at the side of a well (stone 4). This stone used to stand just where the water appears.  It’s seems probable that other standing stones may once have been in close attendance, but have been destroyed over time.

Stone 3, looking south
Stone 3, looking west

Stone 1 is hemmed in at the base by several stones, giving the impression that it was resurrected at some time in the recent past. Several local stories attest to this. Stone 2 was once further down in the same field but was moved to its present position in the 19th century and was, it is alleged, moved there to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo.  Several local historians contest this.  Stone 3 has nothing said of it; apart from by the local farmer who said it once had a companion (as illustrated on the early map, above).  We were told that this companion (stone 4) was uprooted and a spring of water appeared where it stood, so they laid it down in the position it still occupies, just by the spring 10 yards into the field.

If you’re into megaliths and live in Yorkshire or Lancashire, check these beauties out! Just respect the local farmer – he’s not into ignorant tourists clambering over walls. (don’t say you’ve not been warned!)

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Newell, Abraham, A Hillside View of Industrial History, J. Bentley: Todmorden 1925.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

 

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  53.708706, -2.114797 Stones Farm

Hades Hill, Whitworth, Lancashire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SD 909 202

Getting Here

The Hades hill cairn/barrow is located high on the moors some 3 miles north-east of Whitworth and the smaller village of Facit, near Rochdale. Its exact location is close to a footpath halfway between Hades hill and Rough hill, though it is not mentioned on modern OS maps. It is quite difficult to get to so be ready for a long hard walk.

Archaeology & History

This small, low barrow or cairn — a couple of miles north of the little-known Man Stone — measures 15 metres north to south, 13 metres east to west and is 0.9 metres high (about 3 feet in height). But not a great deal can be seen today.

It was excavated in 1898 when a number of artefacts were discovered near the centre of the barrow. The most famous of these ancient artefacts was a Celtic two-tiered urn (of the Pennine type) which had rope imprints and chevrons; inside this urn were the burnt bones of a female, flints, a scraper and a fine pointed borer. Other stuff that came out of the barrow included animal bones, charcoal, flint implements and an arrow head. The urn was placed in the hands of The March Collection at The Rochdale Free Library (now known as Touchstones). A more recent excavation was carried out in 1982 but nothing was recorded at this time. In Dr Whitaker’s History of Whalley, he described there being “the remains of a large beacon, with the foundations of a large circular enclosure” on Hades Hill.

References:

  1. Abraham, John Harris, Hidden Prehistory around the North West, Kindle 2012.
  2. Barrowclough, David, Prehistoric Lancashire, Oxbow: Oxford 2008.
  3. Whitaker, Thomas Dunham, An History of the Original Parish of Whalley – volume 2, George Routledge: London 1876.

© Ray Spencer, 2011

Hades Hill cairn

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Hades Hill cairn 53.678569, -2.138091 Hades Hill cairn