Archaeology & History
Absolutely nothing is left of the large series of ancient earthworks that were reported to have existed near the very centre of Leeds by Ralph Thoresby, James Wardell and others in the 18th and 19th centuries. Although we do not know with certainty the age and nature of the site, it would seem very likely to have had a prehistoric provenance. However, this wasn’t the opinion of either Thoresby (1715) or Thomas Whitaker (1816). They both thought the remains were of Roman origin – but we must remind ourselves of the inaccuracies made, particularly by Whitaker, when it came to estimating the dates of early monuments (e.g., Whitaker’s assertions of the huge Counter Hill earthworks above Addingham). Sometime later, James Wardell (1853) thought the remains on Quarry Hill were distinctly pre-Roman; though reasoned that the invading force may have used the site at a later date. Wardell wrote:
“Traces of a prior occupation were, until recently, observable on the summit of Quarry-hill, along the western edge of which ran an earthwork of considerable length and magnitude, and of semi-circular form.”
We know little else of the place, sadly, but the shape of the site around the hilltop edges would seem to support the likelihood of a pagan origin. Further information would, of course, be more helpful…
Thoresby, Ralph, Ducatus Leodiensis, Maurice Atkins: London 1715.
Wardell, James, The Antiquities of the Borough of Leeds, Moxon & Walker: Leeds 1853.
Whitaker, Thomas D., Loidis and Elmete, T. Davison: Leeds 1816.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian