Market Cross, Keighley, West Yorkshire

Cross: OS Grid Reference – SE 06042 41002

Getting Here

Dead easy this one!  Go along North Street in Keighley, towards the main church in the middle of town (a St. Andrew’s church, previously St. Pete), by the once-infamous Lord Rodney pub, and the old stone edifice stands outside by the Green.  The much better Red Pig public house is across the road from here.

Keighley's Town Cross, 1847 - illustrated by Edwin Riby

Keighley's Town Cross, 1847 - illustrated by Edwin Riby

Archaeology & History

For a relatively trivial archaeological site, it’s got a bittova history.  Not that this is an old site either!  We’re not sure just when this cross was made, but it’s certainly no more than 300 years old.  Before standing in its present position outside St. Andrew’s Church, sometime before 1840 it was said to have been a few hundred yards away above the present roundabout on Oakworth Road; and one record tells that it originally came from nearby Utley, a mile to the north.  Due to lack of decent records, we’re not sure about its early status as a market cross, nor when it was first erected.  Indeed, even the steps on which the cross presently stands are clearly more recent than the ones illustrated on Edwin Riby’s 1847 portrait, reproduced here.

Keighley Cross, on a grey wet day!

Keighley Cross, on a grey wet day!

It would be good to get a complete history of this archaeological relic but it’s difficult with artifacts such as these; and although gaining access to the church now takes less time and effort than it used to (the vicar here used to be quite unhelpful, but has recently changed his ways – which is good!), it’s only open at certain times of the week.*  Friday afternoons seem OK to have a look round.  Please – if folk begin having trouble gaining access to the Church once more, let us know on here so we can make complaints about it.  The Church is paid for by local tax-payer’s cash, and so needs to be open to all of us.  Let’s hope this humble ingredient can be maintained for the good of all in this otherwise regressive social community (Keighley, that is…).

There’s also some very curious folklore to be added here in relation to the market and its cross, but its tale is gonna have to wait…

References:

Gray, Johnnie, Through Airedale, from Goole to Malham, Elliott Stock: London 1891.
Keighley, William, Keighley, Past and Present, R. Aked: Keighley 1858.

* There isn’t even a notice giving information, email or phone numbers, telling you who you can contact if you want to know anything about the history of the church, or visit it — which is quite dreadful considering how much money they get paid by tax-payers for their supposed socio-spiritual duties.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Dymond Stone, Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 12629 45206

Also known as:

  • Carving no.118
  • Carving no. 275

Getting Here

Dymond Stone, Ilkley Moor

It’s not too far from the main footpath from Ilkley to the Twelve Apostles stone circle.  As its discoverer C.W. Dymond (1880) said, “It lies alone, on and near the foot of a steep slope, about a furlong, or less than five minutes’ walk, north from the ruins of a small stone-circle (Twelve Apostles) which crowns the crest of the pass leading south-south-east from Ilkley to Eldwick, and just one mile and three-quarters from the former place.  If approached therefrom, it will be easily found about two hundred yards to the east of the point where the road surmounts the steep, to enter upon the upper plain.”  Otherwise, walk through the Twelve Apostles from the main footpath and out the other side, following the land where it slopes down and, near the bottom, you’ll see this large stone sitting quietly on its own…

1880 image of Dymond's carving

1880 image of Dymond's carving

Archaeology & History

Not too sure about the veracity of this one to be honest.  It was first described by archaeologist C.W. Dymond (1880) as “a stone marked with a striking group of cups” – but these are small and untypical of the usual markings.  “The stone is 9 ft. 6 ins. in length, 6 ft. 3 ins. in breadth, and about 2 ft. in thickness; its upper surface dipping a little, with the ground, toward the north. Upon it may be seen a group of small cups, for the most part about half an inch in diameter,” he said.

Dymond thought that the design on the rock may have represented parts of the night sky, saying, “here we may have a rude attempt to portray the starry heavens spanned by the galaxy ; and that the outlying groups may have been intended to represent two of the constellations perhaps Orion, and another not so easily identified.”  But I think we can take this with a pinch of salt.

Included in Hedge’s (1986) survey without comment, Boughey and Vickerman (2003) thought that the “small peck marks which are not typical cup-marks” were “doubtful.”  I think they were right.

References:

Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, West Yorks Archaeology Service 2003.
Dymond, C.W., ‘Cup Marks on Burley Moor,’ in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 36, 1880.
Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks of Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Cheetham Close, Egerton, Lancashire

Stone Circle:  OS Grid Reference – SD 7164 1589

Also known as:

  • Chapeltown
  • Chetham Close

Getting Here

Various ways to get here, probably the easiest is by taking the A639 north from Bolton, up to Turton & Entwhistle Reservoir.  Park up in the layby and walk onto the hills behind you (south), right near the very top.  Look around!

Archaeology & History

A long article by Major Gilbert J. French — ‘The Stone Circles on Chetham’s Close’ — in one of our northern antiquarian journals of 1894, told us a great deal about the sad remains of this once proud circle.  I have reproduced the main body of the article here (with minor editing), which I hope is of interest to local historians and archaeologists around Bolton:

Early drawing of this now-ruined site

Early drawing of this now-ruined site

From time immemorial the existence of a so-called Druidical circle upon the top of Chetham’s Close has been recognised, and at one time the monuments of this circle must have been very pronounced and prominent. Within the last quarter of a century, however, the stones have been sadly mutilated and in part destroyed. This was chiefly done by the tenant farmer of the late owner, Mr. James Kay, who objected to people visiting the situation. Mr. Kay was communicated with, but did little or nothing to prevent the mutilation. I am glad to say that the present owner has expressed his intention of faithfully restoring and protecting the circle, and by the aid of the plan taken in 1871 by Mr. Thomas Greenhalgh, of Thornydikes, near Bolton, will have little trouble in doing so.

Writing to me on August 9th, 1890, he says: “I have this afternoon spent some time on the site of the Druidical circle with Mr. Edmund Ashworth, and, with the assistance of Mr. Greenhalgh’s plan, we have clearly made out the position of the circle. I am glad to find there are sufficient stones and remains of stones to enable this to be done, and it seems that there are similar stones close at hand to complete the circle.”

By the courtesy of Mr. J. P. Earwaker, I have had placed in my hands an early description of the circle, published in 1829 (August 11th) in the first volume of the Cambrian Society, and contributed by a writer who signs himself ‘Elvaeliad.’ He says:

“In the parish of Bolton-le- Moors is a hill named Turton Heights, and on the south-east end of it is a large sheep pasture, which goes by the name of Chetham’s Close. Nearly on the summit of this close, but inclining to the north-east, are the remains of a bardic temple, the diameter of which is about seventeen yards. There are only six stones of the circle remaining, and these are sorely mutilated either by time or the hand of man. The circle is as perfect as if traced by the compasses of Newton or La Place; and, what is rather singular, an upright stone stands about thirty-seven yards nearly east from its outward verge and another about seventeen yards due south. The ‘maen gorsedd’ has disappeared as well as some other stones forming the circle, and, from the oozy nature of the ground, I am inclined to believe that independent of the mutilations mentioned, the surface of the earth has risen considerably since the circle was first constructed. The views to the north and east are very fine, but bounded by hills rising and swelling above each other. Towards the south and south-east are seen Bolton and Manchester, with their busy populations; a considerable part of fertile Cheshire, Mow Hill in Staffordshire, and lofty ranges of mountains both in Derbyshire and Yorkshire; and were it not for Edgar¹ or Winter Hill on the west Penmaenmawr frowning upon the sea, Moel y Vammeau, and the bicapitated head of Snowdon would be distinctly visible on a clear day.

“Frequently have I visited this interesting spot, and, amidst the silence and solitude which reign there, thought of ‘the days of former years.’ Here have the bards in their different orders often met and performed their various rites and mysteries, with their uni-coloured robes flowing before the breeze. Here have hundreds, probably thousands, standing without the circle observed the solemn proceedings, and listened with deep attention to the maxims and doctrines which philosophers and Druids delivered. Since those periods, what changes, what revolutions have taken place! How often has the blue lightning flashed and the thunder rolled over this sacred spot! Kingdoms have risen and fallen, emperors have been throned and dethroned, arts and sciences have retrograded and advanced, and various and awful occurrences have taken place; but these rude stones, though severely shattered, still remain as attestations of the religious and philosophical views of the ancient Briton. But where are the founders of this monument and those who worshipped there ? The sages who often proclaimed within this circle,

Y gwir yn erbyn y byd,’ are gone the way of all flesh. “Our fathers, where are they? The prophets, do they live for ever?”

“About a mile and a half from this bardic temple a neighbour and friend of mine, whilst digging a drain, about twenty years ago (1819), discovered the head of an old British standard, which is now in my possession. It is of copper, the head of which is shaped like an axe, and the other end has a double groove in which the flagstaff entered, and, by that means, became firmly fixed. Its weight is fourteen ounces and a half, but was evidently heavier when perfect, as the ring on its side through which the cord of the flag ran is broken off, and the lower end of the groove has been also mutilated. Its figure, though not an exact one, may be seen in Gough’s edition of Camden’s Britannia, vol. ii., p. 501, pi. xviii., figure 13. From traces still remaining it is evident that a Roman road passed within two hundred yards where this relic was found. Now, my opinion is that the Romans and Britons met there in hostile array, and with their flags unfurled; that in the action which took place the Roman soldiers, for soldiers are ever the same, dashed at the British flag and cut it down, and that, owing to the tumult, the confusion, and the boggy nature of the ground, the standard head was broken off, sunk into the earth, and was lost.” (This account was then signed ‘Elvaeliad’, August 11th, 1829.)

Thus ends this chronicler, and his testimony is useful as corroborating that of subsequent generations.

In 1871 Mr. Thomas Greenhalgh, of Thornydikes, Bolton, prepared the following account of the circle, which was read before the British Archaeological Association, on June I4th of that year, and is published in the twenty-seventh volume of the transactions of that society:

“The township of Turton, like many others in southwest Lancashire, is largely occupied by lofty moorland hills the home of the grouse and the lapwing. Amongst these wilds is a range of high ground standing more distinct from the other moors than is usual with hills of this nature. The range is divided into two parts by a slight depression. That portion to the north is named Turton Heights, and is stated by the Ordnance Survey to be one thousand one hundred feet above the sea. The southern half is known as Chetham Close, from its having been the property of that old Lancashire worthy, Humphrey Chetham. This part is twenty-five feet lower than Turton Heights, and the depression spoken of above sinks about thirty feet lower still. The summit of each is a sort of table-land, sloping gently towards the depression just named, and extending both together about a mile from north to south by a quarter of a mile from east to west.

“Nearly in the centre of the northerly slope of Chetham Close and at an elevation of one thousand and sixty feet stand several stones of a Druidical circle. This circle, I should judge, originally consisted of eleven stones. Of these seven are still standing in a more or less perfect state. The diameter of the circle is small, being only fifty-one feet six inches. So the stones are, as might be expected, small likewise. The tallest is fifty-five inches by eighteen inches wide, and the shortest (number four) eight inches only in height. At the distance of forty-five feet, south-west from the outside of the circle, stands a solitary stone, nineteen inches high by ten inches wide, and southsouth-east at a distance of one hundred and two feet another stone, thirty-five inches high by seventeen inches wide. The stones vary in thickness from nine inches to fifteen inches.

“The position of the stones is circular, with vacant spots, and their dimensions and shapes vary. The table-land gradually rises from the circle in a southsouth-east direction and a short distance past the outlying stone a height of one thousand and seventy-five feet is attained, and a quarter of a mile further on a view is to be got, with a clear atmosphere, which towards the south is bounded only by the powers of vision. From this spot the ancient people who erected the circle must have often gazed on a scene which persons now familiar with south Lancashire would find it impossible to realise. The valleys and even the sides of the hills were clothed with trees, the oak and birch predominating, whilst the margins of the numerous streams and swamps were overhung by the alder; the wild boar and doubtless the wolf roamed in the woods, and smaller game abounded in the more open parts. The numerous waters throughout the district would be alive with fish, amongst which the salmon might be numbered; for when the country was better wooded and entirely uncultivated the large rainfall of the district (now about a mean of fifty-five inches) would be still more copious, and keep the streams full of water.

“The last few centuries have, however, wrought a wonderful change in the scene, which has been the most rapid since the introduction of machinery into the country; and from the same spot may now be seen the habitations, comprised in towns, villages, and farmhouses, of hundreds of thousands of human beings. Unfortunately, however, there are still to be found amongst us persons as barbarous in some respects as the rude people who erected the circle. These were rude in their ideas of building; the others barbarous in wantonly destroying that which time had made more interesting than the palaces of kings. Up to the spring of last year the circle appeared to have suffered little for ages; but at that time rambling over the moors I turned aside to take another look at the circle. Not that I thought of anything having happened, but for old acquaintance sake; when to my surprise I noticed a framework of wood within the circle, and upon reaching the spot itself what my disgust and astonishment were may be easily imagined, when I found two of the stones broken almost to fragments, and several others damaged. This could only have been effected by the aid of a heavy hammer, as the stories broken were before strong and sound. Fortunately, they were not rooted up so their places are still seen in the group. One very small one has apparently been in the state it now is for a long time.

“I at once communicated my unpleasant discovery to the owner of the land, James Kay, Esq., of Turton Tower, who instituted an enquiry, and traced it to some members of a picnic party, who had made use of the ground without asking leave. A few more such wanton pieces of mischief, and this interesting relic, like many others of its class, will be irrecoverably destroyed.

“About a mile from the circle, north-west from it and on a much lower level, eight hundred and ninety feet above the sea, is a flat piece of bog, called ‘Charter’s Moss.’ Here was found, about 1810, a bronze British celt. It was discovered by a man whilst digging turf, as I am told, at four feet from the surface. Having taken a careful drawing of it, I found, upon comparing it with similar objects in the British Museum, that in cases Nos.13 to 20, ‘British Antiquities Department,’ there were several closely resembling it, and one [No.315 Z] the all but exact representation of it. The Rev. Probert, in whose possession it had been for nearly half a century, and who resided a few hundred yards from the spot where it was dug up, died recently (then 1871), and bequeathed it to New College,² Gordon Square, London.”

I have no doubt that the British celt referred to in this account by Mr. Greenhalgh is the same as that mentioned in the previous description by ‘Elvaeliad,’ and I conjecture that this is the nom de guerre of the same Rev. William Probert referred to, who was a literary man, and the author of Ancient Laws of Cambria (1823) and other works. I am glad to say that this celt was kindly given up by the authorities of Manchester New College, and has been placed in the Chadwick Museum, Bolton. It is also interesting to note that a similar specimen was found in a quarry on Cockey Moor, near Ainsworth, about three miles from and in view of the circle, by Dr. Denham, about 1839. It is still in the possession of his family.

Mr. Matthew Dawes, of Bolton, also wrote a description of the circle, which was read before the Historic Society, in 1852. He says: “I accompanied Sir Henry Dryden to visit these remains in 1850. At that time there remained six stones upright, varying in height from one foot six inches to four feet, and in thickness from eleven inches to two feet. Judging from the relative distances of those remaining three stones have been taken away. At one hundred and fifteen feet south-east from the circle is a single stone and at eighty-two feet south-west is another, and between these two stones is an assemblage of smaller stones only just appearing out of the boggy soil.”

It has long been supposed that this circle of upright stones was the only one on the site; indeed, the late Mr. Scholes, in his recently published History of Bolton (1892, p.11), says only one circle is known about Bolton.

The adjacent 'cairn circle', in 1894

The adjacent ‘cairn circle’, in 1894

In June of last year, in company with Mr. Thomas Hardcastle, I visited the site, and noticed what was evidently another circle. This we perceived from the stones cropping up in places and from the nature of the turf. I find that the same opinion was formed by a member of the Manchester Literary Club (the late Mr. E. Kirk), who, in a paper read before the club, in November, 1878, says: “There are two circles, the more northerly formed of large individual stones, set diadem or corona fashion, the other of smaller stones, as if it had been a walled enclosure with a pile in the centre.” This observation is quite correct, and a removal of the surface of the earth last June to a depth of three to six inches revealed a perfect stone-walled circle, as shown in the illustration. This circle is larger than the upright one, being exactly twenty-four yards across (the size of similar stone circles, ex. gr., the circle at Zennor, Cornwall). It lies to the south-west of the upright circle and is twenty yards from the outlying westerly stone of same, and is twelve yards from the outlying southerly stone of same, and is on slightly higher ground than the first circle. The circle is faced on both inside and outside by large flat stones, and the space within is occupied by smaller stones. I can find no trace of mortar nor marks of tools, nor do I find any gateway or opening to the circle, although the whole of it has not yet been laid bare. The circling wall is of an average width or thickness of four feet. The stones are the ordinary grit stone of the district. The removal of part of the earth within the circle has shown a number of stones lying there and there is also a large collection in the exact centre. It is most symmetrically round, and the wall is very evenly and regularly constructed.

I think there is no doubt but that it is of later date than the upright circle and may have been subsequently used as a place of worship.

Possibly it may, in accordance with the theory of Dr. Colley March, have been a place for mortuary exposure before subsequent sepulture, and it is interesting to note that the Three Lowes in the valley below and about half a mile away are reputed Barrows. No bones or remains of any sort have yet been found, but so far only the upper surface lies exposed. Its situation and shape preclude the idea of its being a sheep-fold, and from its dimensions it is not likely to have been a watch tower or a “burgh.” Possibly it may be the site of a collection of ancient British dwellings, clustered together, and defended by the enclosing wall. The owner, Mr. Hardcastle, intends to make careful excavations, and from these some further information and enlightenment will probably be thrown upon the origin of what is undoubtedly a most interesting and important archaeological discovery.

Notes:

1. This is evidently the origin of the name of the adjacent township, “Egerton.” I have seen the place, “Edgar’s town,” marked in (fifteenth century) Lancashire maps.
2. Now the Manchester College, Oxford (Unitarian).

References:

Abraham, John Harris, Hidden Prehistory around the North West, Kindle 2012.
Barnes, Bernard, Man and the Changing Landscape, Merseyside County Council 1982.
Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
Dixon, John, Journeys through Brigantia – volume 11: East Lancashire Pennines, Aussteiger Publications: Barnoldswick 2003.
French, Major G.J., ‘The Stone Circles on Chetham’s Close,’ in Transactions of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society, 1894.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Doubler Stones, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stones:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0723 4652

Also Known as:

  1. Carving Nos. 41 & 42 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  2. Carving Nos. 6 & 7 (Hedges survey)
  3. Doublestones
  4. The Fire Stones

Getting Here

The curious mushroomy Doubler Stones

Various ways to get here, but the 2 most common are: (1) from Brunthwaite village, above Silsden, following the road uphill for a mile, then turning right (west) onto the moorland dirt-track to Doubler Stones Farm.  Just before here there’s a footpath uphill (north) for 200 yards to the stones.  (2) follow the Millenium Way footpath south up Addingham Moorside, onto Addingham High Moor.  Keep going on the same path another 500 yards and they’ll appear ahead of you.

Archaeology & History

First described as the ‘Doublestones’ in the local Addingham parish records of 1786, these great mushroom-shaped rocks were later brought to the attention of archaeologists by J. Romilly Allen in 1879 and they greatly intrigued numerous Victorian antiquarians, who puzzled as much about their exotic forms as the cup-marks on their tops!  Allen wrote of them:

“These rocks are by far the most remarkable freaks of Nature to be seen in the district. They occupy a prominent position, perched on the extremity of a rocky knoll which juts out into the valley; and as seen from below, with their weird forms standing out clear and sharp against the background of blue sky, they present so extraordinary an appearance that they would at once attract the attention of even the most unobservant.  In general outline they resemble gigantic toadstools; and I presume that they are called Doubler Stones from the fact of their shapes being almost identical.  They may be appropriately described as Nature’s Twins.  The upper surface of the cap of one of these stones has three large basin-shaped cavities in it.  Two of these lie along the central axis of the stone, and measure respectively 1ft 3in by 2ft 9in deep, and 1ft 9in by 1ft 3in by 9in deep.  They are united by a deep groove, a continuation of which runs out over the edge of the stone at each end.  There is another basin lying to the west side of the two central ones, with one of which it is connected by grooves.  It measures 2ft by 1ft 9in and is 9in deep.  There is no direct evidence that these basins are artificial; but it is quite possible that they may have been so originally, and have been enlarged by natural agencies.  But in addition to the basins, are twenty-six cup-markings of distinctly artificial origin.  They vary in diameter from 2 to 4 in.  One group of cups appears to be arranged in parallel rows.”

Cup-marks on the right-hand Doubler Stone

Cup-marks on one of the Doublers (after Hedges 1986)

Although the writer thought there were no artificial cup-markings on the other Doubler Stone (the one on the left in the photo), John Hedges (1986) and Boughey & Vickerman (2003) cite there to be at least two cup-markings on this rock.  Other writers have given different numbers for the respective cup-marks thought to be on these rocks down the years.

If you’re into prehistoric rock-art, check this place out.  If you’re a geologist and aint been here, you’ll be even more impressed!

Folklore

In Nicholas Size’s Haunted Moor (1934) he described the Doubler Stones as being the abode of ghosts and a place of sacrificial rites in ancient days. While in Guy Ragland Phillips’ Brigantia, we find that the word ‘doubler’ itself “is a large shallow dish, bowl or plate” – which we find on top of the greater one of these two well-worn-weirdoes.  As well as being haunted, there is some other little-known, though not unexpected folklore here, which told these old stones to be the meeting place of witches in previous centuries.

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Allen, J. Romilly, ‘The Prehistoric Rock Sculptures of Ilkley,’ in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 35, 1879.
  2. Allen, J. Romilly, ‘Notice of Sculptured Rocks near Ilkley,’ ibid, volume 38, 1882.
  3. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Chieveley 2001.
  4. Boughey & Vickerman, Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, West Yorkshire Archaeology Service 2003.
  5. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  6. Jennings, Hargrave, Archaic Rock Inscriptions, A. Reader: London 1891.
  7. Phillips, Guy Ragland, Brigantia: A Mysteriography, RKP: London 1976.
  8. Size, Nicholas, The Haunted Moor, William Walker: Otley 1934.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Tadpole Stone, Eastwoods Rough, Dacre, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 18601 61644

Also known as:

  • Eastwoods Rough II Carving
  • IAG638b (Boughey)

Getting Here

Tadpole Stone, Dacre

To get here, follow the same directions as if you’re going to the Morphing Stone.  This carving is in the same field, but about 100 yards SSW of there, just to the south-side of the Nidderdale Way footpath.  There’s plenty of rocks about, but with a bit of patience or a natural rock-art dowser’s nose, you’ll find the carving easily enough!

Archaeology & History

Tadpole Stone plan

Tadpole Stone plan (© Richard Stroud)

This is another relatively recent find — though I wonder whether the nearby ‘Fertility Stone’ (about 500 yards north, in some walling) should switch names with this carving, as this one gives the distinct impression of sperm fertilizing the egg!  Don’t you agree!?  The name of the Tadpole Stone was given to it by Michala Potts — and the photograph and design are used, courtesy of Richard Stroud.  In the next field from here, towards Eastwoods Farm, we find the Eastwoods Cross base and cup-markings and adjacent cup-marked stone.  Not far away are other carvings, aswell as a number of other Bronze- and Iron-Age sites.

This design was described in Keith Boughey’s (2007) article on the rock art around Eastwoods Farm, telling how it

“was discovered by Kevin Cale and reported to the N.Y.C.C. SMR back in 2001… A low profile moss-covered earthfast rock a little over 1m in diameter in any one direction immediately S of the Nidderdale Way about 100m east of the end of Monk Ing Road and S of Eastwoods Farm at SE 18601 61643 and 172m O.D. Its domed surface carries a somewhat unusual design interestingly reminiscent of the design carved at the previous site which lies in the same field and landscape 160m to the north-west… An oval or egg-shaped groove enclosed up to six cups; a groove or channel, often referred to as a ‘comet tail’ in rock art motif vocabulary, runs from the central group of the six out beyond the enclosing groove, bends sharply and continues down over the sloping face of the rock.  A wide groove at the base of the rock running into the present turf line may be a further element of the carving.”

References:

Boughey, K., “Prehistoric Rock Art: Four New Discoveries in Nidderdale,” in Prehistoric Research Section Bulletin, no.44, Yorkshire Archaeological Society 2007.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Holy Well, Todmorden, West Yorkshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – SD 931 244

Getting Here

Now I aint been here for a few years, but it’s hopefully still where I last left it!  You need to get into the trees behind the Christ’s Church just out of the town centre, along the south-side of the Burnley valley road. (A646)  When you get to the footpath which runs just above the tree-line in the woods (it’s known locally as the ‘Lover’s Walk’ path), wander along for just a couple of hundred yards.  You’ll eventually get to the small spring of water and the tiny stream which runs down the slope, just to the left of the path. According to the old map I’ve got – that’s it!

Archaeology & History

This long-lost sacred well originally emerged a little bit further up the hill from where it is today.  Almost nothing is known about it.  Seemingly first highlighted in 1852, my first “discovery” of the place came as a result of going through some local old maps I’d had the fortune of obtaining.  In Victorian days when the site was much more prominent, the old road that took you into the woods was called Holy Well Lane.  Now, its memory has been subdued, and the old road is known simply as ‘Well Lane.’

A local writer, J.W. Crowther, mentioned the site in his local place-name survey, where he told that the Holy Well was a “name given to a well of excellent spring water” — but nothing more.  It was later mentioned in an article by J.A. Heginbottom [1988] who wrongly reported it as being “destroyed.”

Folklore

Local tradition told that ‘memaws’ (offerings such as rags, coins, flowers, etc) used to be left here by local people in olden times, as offerings to pacify or give respect to the waters; although what time of the year these were left, and the nature of the resident deity, has all been forgotten.  In very recent years however, it seems that some modern NewAge-types are now visiting the place once again.

References:

Crowther, J.W., Place Names of Todmorden, privately printed: Todmorden (n.d.)
Heginbottom, J.A., ‘Early Christian Sites in Calderdale’, in PHAS 1988.

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Idol Stone, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13265 45943

Also Known as:

  • Carving no.157 (Hedges)
  • Carving no.322 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Take the directions to reach the Haystack Rock, then head onto the moor following the southeast footpath for a few hundred yards, towards where the moor slopes uphill.  20-30 yards before the uphill slope, a yard to the right of the path.  It accompanies the Young Idol Stone with its two small cups, just a few yards away.  Keep your eyes peeled and y’ can’t really miss it! If you hit the large slightly-pyramidal-shaped boulder with its well-worn lines running from its top (the Idol Rock), you’ve gone past it.

Idol Stone carving (Allen 1882)

Idol Stone carving (Allen 1882)

Archaeology & History

An intriguing carving this, and one which has always had me edging towards a manifest linear or logical myth underscoring its form.  It’s the almost binary or primal numeric system in the lay-out of the cups which seems to do it.  Few other carvings in the region exhibit this tendency.*  If you aint seen it ‘in the flesh,’ check it out.

First described by that old Victorian J. Romilly Allen (1882), he seemed equally impressed by it, calling it “the most beautiful specimen of prehistoric sculpture,” continuing:

“The stone is of grit, and measure 3ft 2ins, by 2ft 6ins.  Its upper surface is nearly horizontal, and has carved upon it cups varying in diameter from 2ins to 3ins.  A row of cups in the middle of the stone are entirely surrounded by a groove.  There is also a channel running round the outside.  Single cups are often found encircled by one or more concentric rings; but it is very exceptional indeed to find several cups surrounded by a single groove, or to find the cups so symmetrically arranged as in the present instance.”

Idol Stone - looking SW

Idol Stone - looking SW

Prehistoric walling runs very close to this and the adjacent rock carvings, with the well-known ‘enclosure’ just a short distance to the east on the same moorland plain.  This carving is very much on the edge of, or within, Green Crag Plain’s ‘Land of the Dead.’

This carving was one of several that Alan Davis (1983) measured in his exploratory survey on the validity of Alexander Thom’s ‘megalithic inch’ unit.  This issue absolutely fascinated me as a boy, as it brought the attention of these curious non-linear images into the domain of mathematics and the higher sciences, instead of the lowly social sciences within whose domain archaeology is embedded, with its many inaccuracies and falsehoods.  A number of astronomers and other academics did a great number of papers exploring potential units-of-length, surveying the carvings (and megalithic rings) in much greater detail than any previous archaeologist.  Much of it was excellent work.  However, the mythos of our ancient ancestors possessing great technical knowledge and mathematical ability was unfounded.  In Davis’ (1983) paper — edited and expanded a few years later (1988) — he found no evidence of mathematical units of measurement here; though left the option ‘open’ for further discussion and analysis on several others, where multiple units of megalithic inches were measured.  These findings however, are more likely the result of mere chance.

Idol Stone with recent "twenty-first century informal unauthorised" art painted onto it

In 2011 some unnamed people visited the Idol Stone carving and vandalized it (this sadly happens more and more up here); but this form of vandalism is now being termed “twenty-first century informal unauthorised carvings” and is actually sanctioned by Ilkley Parish Council members, local businessman Tom Lonsdale and his affiliates as artistic “tradition”!  Indeed, the damage done here and vandalism done on some other ancient carved stones that have been redesignated by Tom Lonsdale and friends as “twenty-first century informal unauthorised carvings”, legitimizes and encourages others to follow in their shallow-minded ignorance, enabling others to add their own form of ‘art’ on these supposedly protected monuments, on a region with an alleged SSSI status. They even encourage supposedly ‘nice’ people — y’ know the sort — to etch poems and such things onto the stones on the moors, in violation of regulations that apply to the general public.  As a result, expect more vandalism — sorry…arty-farty “twenty-first century informal unauthorised carvings” both here and elsewhere. (it’ll obviously surprise you to know that these modern pop-poet artists like Pip Hall are being paid thousands to carve their own vandalism on the moors, then take their spoils home to another part of the country, caring not a jot about encouraging damage on authentic prehistoric carvings here)  This same appalling debacle — sorry, “tradition” — has been encouraged on the Haystack Rock, Hanging Stones and other prehistoric carvings on the moor.

Folklore

The name ‘Idol Stone’ was an invention of one of the Victorian romanticists, who saw heathen idolatry and perversion all over these moors (you’ve gotta ask y’self, what the hell were these people up to!?).  Our old friend Nicholas Size told there to have been ghostly figures and druidic activities occurrent at this site.

References:

Allen, J. Romilly, ‘Notice of Sculptured Rocks near Ilkley, with some Remarks on Rocking Stones,’ in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 38, 1882.
Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, West Yorkshire Archaeology Service 2003.
Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
Davis, Alan, ‘The Metrology of Cup and Ring Carvings near Ilkley in Yorkshire,’ in Science and Archaeology, 25, 1983.
Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
Jennings, Hargrave, Archaic Rock Inscriptions, A. Reader: London 1891.
Size, Nicholas, The Haunted Moor, William Walker: Otley 1934.
Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.

* Hmmmm… and that’s got me thinking.  I think I need to spend a night meditating here and see what consciousness brings to the fore…

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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