Arns Well, Glasgow, Lanarkshire

Healing Well (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NS 5996 6406

Also Known as:

  1. Arms Well

Archaeology & History

1865 OS-map of Arns Well, Glasgow

1865 OS-map of Arns Well, Glasgow

Taking its name from the local dialect word relating to Alder trees (Alnus glutinosua) that grew above the source of the waters, Arns Well had already been destroyed by the end of the 19th century, but prior to this it was renowned as one of the social gathering places in Glasgow Green.  Highlighted on the original Ordnance Survey of the area in 1865, Arns Well was also a place where artists and poets gathered – and a number of old prints of Glasgow were drawn from here.

Originally the waters emerged from marshy ground and used to be known as “the Peat Bog,” but by 1777 a small well house was built to contain the waters and make it a feature in the wider architectural landscape of the Glasgow Green park area.  Once the spring had been channelled, its waters “were considered to be amongst the best to be had in Glasgow, particularly for making tea and adding to whisky.”

References:

  1. Anonymous, Glasgow Green and Roundabout, Friends of the Peoples Palace: Bridgeton n.d. (c.1983)
  2. Brotchie, T.C.F., “Holy Wells in and Around Glasgow,” in Old Glasgow Club Transactions, volume 4, 1920.
  3. Grant, William (ed.), The Scottish National Dictionary – volume 1, SNDA: Edinburgh 1934.
  4. Renwick, Robert & Lindsay, John, The History of Glasgow – volume 3, Maclehose: Glasgow 1934.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Holy Wells, Lanarkshire, Scotland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trysting Stone, Doune, Perthshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NN 7256 0182

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 24761
  2. Deil’s Head
  3. Fairy Stone
  4. Gold Stone

Getting Here

Trysting Stone of Doune

Trysting Stone of Doune

From the old cross in the middle of the village, walk along the A820 Balkerach Street main road (NOT down George Street) until you reach Station Wynd on your right.  Walk up here for 100 yards towards the new housing estate (don’t buy these places – they’re dreadful quality beneath the veneers) and there, on a small grassy rise on the left just before the car park, stands our stone!

Archaeology & History

This little-known monolith on the northern edge of little Doune village, was recently moved a short distance from its original position thanks to another one of those sad Barratt housing estates being built here; but at least it has received protection with the surrounding fence and notice board telling its brief history and folklore (better than being destroyed I s’ppose).

Stone marked on 1866 OS map

Stone marked on 1866 OS map

Standing less than five feet tall, local lore tells that it has been moved around close to this spot several times in the last couple of centuries.  Although not mentioned in Hutchinson’s (1893) essay on local megaliths, the stone was highlighted on the 1866 Ordnance Survey of Doune, where the non-antiquated lettering showed how it was thought to be Roman in origin, not prehistoric.

Folklore

Trysting Stane, looking NE

Trysting Stane, looking NE

The name of the stone comes from it being used as a place where deeds were sworn, with the stone as witness to the words proclaimed by both parties (implying a living presence, or animistic formula of great age).  This activity was continued in the local ‘trysts’ or cattle fairs held a mile away, where buyers swore the sale of cattle at this stone—again with the stone being ‘witness’ to the spoken deals.  It was also used as a counter where gold was exchanged for cattle bought and sold during the Michaelmas and Martinmas Fairs.

In local newspaper accounts from the 1950s, local historian Moray S. Mackay told how the children of the village used to gather round the stone, holding hands, and sing,

Olie Olie, peep, peep, peep,
Here’s the man with the cloven feet,
Here’s his head, but where’s his feet?
Olie Olie, peep, peep, peep.

Notice board telling its tale...

Notice board telling its tale…

Looking at the stone on its rise

Looking at the stone on its rise

This implies the stone once possessed a myth relating to a petrified ancestral deity of animistic (pre-christian) origin, but as yet we have found no additional information allowing us a confirmation of this probability.  A correlate of this theme—i.e., of the stone being the head of a deity—is found in West Yorkshire (amongst many other places), where one of the little known Cuckoo Stones was once known to be a local giant until a hero-figure appeared and cut off his head, leaving only his body which was then turned to stone.  Mircea Eliade (1958; 1963) cites examples of animistic religious rites and events explaining this early petrification formula via creation myths, etc. (we find very clear evidences of animistic worldviews and practices still prevailing in the mountains just a few miles north and west, still enacted by local people)

Folklore also alleged that the stone was Roman in nature, but neither archaeology nor the architectural form of the stone implies this.  Roman stones were cut and dressed—unlike the traditional looking Bronze Age, rough, uncut fella standing here.

References:

  1. Eliade, Mircea, Patterns in Comparative Religion, Sheed & Ward: London 1958.
  2. Eliade, Mircea, Myth and Reality, Harper & Row: San Francisco 1963.
  3. Hutchinson, A.F., “The Standing Stones of Stirling District,” in The Stirling Antiquary, volume 1, 1893.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Perthshire, Scotland, Standing Stones | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Douky Bottom, Arncliffe, North Yorkshire

Settlement:  OS Grid Reference – SD 95203 69067

Getting Here

Aerial view of settlement

Aerial view of settlement

Go up the B6160 road, heading for Kilnsey Crag.  A few hundred yards past the famous crags, take the little road to Arncliffe.  About a mile up, where you reach the second building on the left-side of the road, walk up behind here, up the steep fields and towards the craggy heights above.  Keep right uphill till you see the cluster of cairns on the peak above; but before reaching them, walk over the rocky landscape to your left (southeast) and you’ll eventually see an excess of straight walling a coupla hundred yards away. That’s it!

Archaeology & History

A bittova climb to get here – but well worth it in the end.  On a spur of land amidst the outstanding limestone plateaux less than a mile south of Arncliffe village, rising near the silent ghostly cairns upon Knotts ridge above it, we come across an extensive prehistoric settlement complex.  It is one of many in this upland region.

Looking south at the settlement

Looking south at the settlement

Knott cairns above the settlement

Knott cairns above the settlement

Poorly described (if at all) by official archaeology websites, this place is bloody big!  All that we can see today at ground level are lines of very extensive walls intersecting each other and forming very large rectangles growing further and further out from each other towards the western scree.  Much of the walled structures are in good condition if they are prehistoric, as presumed by archaeologists; but it seems obvious that the site was in continuous use by local people for domestic and agricultural purposes all through medieval and later periods.

One of the settlement hut circles

One of the settlement hut circles

Raised lines of ancient walling

Raised lines of ancient walling

The longest stretch of visible walling runs from northeast to southwest and measures 175 yards long (160m), with several stretches of parallel walling splitting the settlement into different sections of large enclosures all attached to each other.  These parallel walls measure a maximum of 54 yards (49.5m) and run northwest to southeast.  The aerial image of the site shows the structures very clearly in some parts.  Others are more vague and some are difficult to see at ground level.  But the settlement as a whole cannot be missed.  Several hut circles have been built inside the main rectangular enclosures, with two others faintly visible on the outer edges.

As far as I’m aware, no excavations have taken place here, so we are still grasping at periodic straws when it comes to dating the place.  When Arthur Raistrick (1929) wrote his article about the associated enclosures like that at Blue Scar, a short distance to the east, he thought them to be Iron Age in origin.  He may well right.  A singular enclosure circle can be found a few hundred yards to the south.

References:

  1. Elgee, Frank & Harriet, The Archaeology of Yorkshire, Methuen: London 1933.
  2. Raistrick, Arthur & Chapman, S.E., ‘The Lynchet Groups of Upper Wharfedale, Yorkshire,’ in Antiquity, volume 3, 1929.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Settlement/Enclosures, Yorkshire, North | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Forty Acres 03, Stelling, Marske, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NZ 0758 0058

Getting Here

Surface of Forty Acres 3 carving

Surface of Forty Acres 3 carving

From Marske village, take the road west and uphill to the villages of Fremington and Reeth.  At the top of the hill where the fields open up, several hundred yards along on your right, past the field with the track, a footpath sign points you up onto the moor. Go up the field till you hit the wall that goes right to the top of the moor. Where the four walls meet, go straight across and then walk northwards along the line of walling for 2-300 yards, keeping your eyes peeled for a solitary stone on its own, 100 yards west.  You’ll find it.

Archaeology & History

Deep carved line features

Deep carved line features

A previously unrecorded petroglyph located within a massive arena of prehistoric sites dating from the neolithic and continuing through the Bronze Age period and beyond.  Found a few hundred yards northwest of the once giant cairn of Cock Howe, this design is characterized mainly by the two large deep channels deliberately cut into the stone that run from the middle of the upper surface down to ground level.  One of them emerges from a single cup-marking, at an angle; whilst the other comes from the edge of a natural crack in the rock.  The channels are wide and flattened. Other faint lines can be discerned too, which may have originally been carved.  We need to explore this design in different lighting conditions to see if there are additional features here.

Looking east-ish

Looking east-ish

An archetypal cup-marking can seen on the vertical edge of the stone and three other faint ones scatter the top.  Another small ‘cup’ is along the southern vertical face of the rock which, when we found it, thought was natural; but a photograph of the stone by James Elkington seems to show a ring surrounding much of the cup-mark.  We need to go back and take another look at the place.

A number of other carvings described in Paul and Barbara Brown’s (2008) survey can be found in the region.

References:

  1. Brown, Paul & Barbara, Prehistoric Rock Art in the Northern Dales, Tempus: Stroud 2008.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Cup-and-Ring Stones, Yorkshire, North | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Douky Bottom, Arncliffe, North Yorkshire

Enclosure:  OS Grid Reference – SD 95126 68887

Also Known as

  1. Dowkerbottom

Getting Here

Douky Bottom Ring

Douky Bottom Ring

Go up the B6160 road, heading for Kilnsey Crag.  A few hundred yards past here, take the road to Arncliffe and, several hundred yards along, keep yer eyes peeled for the (usually) decent craggy dry stream bed on your left (west). Follow this upstream till you hit the large cave (DO NOT go inside – it’s deadly!), continuing uphill above the crags, following the steep walling upwards to the next set of crags. Above these, another long straight line of walling continues in the same direction you’ve been walking. Follow this along until it meets up with another large line of walling, heading NE.  Walk along here till this wall changes direction NE, but here you need to walk across the grasses westwards, past the large cave for another 100 yards.  You’ll find it!

Archaeology & History

This is a simple but well-preserved circular monument, probably constructed in the Iron Age, just 100 yards past the incredible Douky Bottom cave (in which various prehistoric remains have been found).  No excavations appear to have been made here, yet the near-perfect ring is in very good condition indeed.  The monument consists of thousands of small stones – taken from the huge scree immediately behind the structure – whose uppermost visible mass overlays a much older and larger pile of stones, all of roughly the same size.

Douky Bottom ring, looking NE

Douky Bottom ring, looking NE

The ring is less than 10 yards across and gives the impression of it being a large hut circle—which it may or may not be.  Without an excavation we cannot know its function with any certainty.  Other, much larger prehistoric enclosures and settlements are close by, mainly to the northeast; and you have the truly bizarre rock piles on the ghostly horizon crags, whose histories are quiet indeed….  For any antiquarians amongst you who’d like a good day out, give this region a try!  It’s a truly intriguing arena with much much more hiding away than any of the archaeology records can tell you about.

Acknowledgements:  Many many thanks to James Elkington for guiding us to the sites in this region.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Settlement/Enclosures, Yorkshire, North | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Richard Wood South, Thornton Steward, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone (missing):  OS Grid Reference – SE 16940 87301

Archaeology & History

A prehistoric carving that is missing and possibly destroyed since being rediscovered in 2001 by Barbara Brown (2008) and subsequently described in her book on North Yorkshire petroglyphs.  She told it to be in “Thornton Steward field hedge bottom” and was a simple glyph, being a

“rectangular slab (with) single cup-mark located in hedge bottom part of old walling.”

When she revisited the site with her husband in 2006, the old hedge and wall had been removed, with “new hedging in place.”  The carved stone may be buried within a pile of clearance stones adjacent to the hedgerow, but it has yet to be relocated.  If anyone finds it, please let us know!  It was one of several cup-marked stones that exist in the wider neighbourhood.

References:

  1. Brown, Paul & Barbara, Prehistoric Rock Art in the Northern Dales, Tempus: Stroud 2008.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Cup-and-Ring Stones, Yorkshire, North | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Glen Shurig, Kilbride, Arran

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NR 00 37

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 39685

Archaeology & History

Along the B880 glen road that cuts Arran roughly in half, known as The String, could once be seen a stone circle that one early writer told was quite impressive.  Today It seems that all trace of the circle has gone.  The earliest mention of it seems to be in James Headrick’s (1807) work, where, in discussing what he thought were “Druidical” remains of obelisks and cairns in the area,

“A more entire circle of this sort is seen on the rising ground at the mouth of Glen Shirreg, towards the west.”

But he tells us no more.  Shortly afterwards—according to reverend Allan McNaughton in the New Statistical Account of the 1830s—it was destroyed. He said that,

“about twenty-four years ago, a very complete circle at the mouth of Glensheraig was removed, in clearing the field in which it stood for the operations of the plough.”

Despite this short remark, eighty years later we had J.A. Balfour (1910) inform us that,

“On the right of the String Road going west in Glen Sherraig is a small ruined monument of which three small standing stones alone remain, so disposed as to suggest that the original structure was a double circle.”

However, Balfour’s site may be an altogether different one to that mentioned by Headrick and McNaughton.

Aubrey Burl (2000) lists it in his major work; but its ancient life was, once again, brought to end in these recent years by those of less sound minds than our ancestors.

References:

  1. Balfour, J.A., The Book of Arran – volume 1, Arran Society of Glasgow 1910.
  2. Bryce, James, “Account of excavations within the stone circle of Arran“, in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 4, 1863.
  3. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  4. Headrick, James, View of the Mineralogy, Agriculture, Manufactures and Fisheries of the Islland of Arran, with Notices of Antiquities, D. Willison: Edinburgh 1807.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Arran, Scotland, Stone Circles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment