Fairy Knowe, Crarae, Minard, Argyll

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NR 987 973

Archaeology & History

Fairy Knowe (Campbell 1923)

Just over 100 yards northeast of the chambered cairn in Crarae Garden we can see the denuded remains of this old mound, long ago held as the dwelling place of the little people. When it was first described in 1865, a standing stone was reported as surmounting the tomb, but this can no longer be seen.  Further excavations made by Sir George Campbell in 1923 and reported in the Oban Times, showed the cairn to have been 108 feet across and nearly 6 feet tall at the centre — beneath which a “stone coffin” was found.  It was said that two passages ran from this middle chamber: one to the southwest and the other roughly southeast.  Deposits of shells, antlers, and the bones of cattle, deer, horses and sheep were also found here.

References:

Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Argyll – volume 6: Mid-Argyll and Cowal, HMSO: Edinburgh 1988:61.
Scott, J.G., “Excavation of the Chambered Cairn at Crarae, Loch Fyneside,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 94, 1961.

Links:

  1. The Fairy Knowe, Crarae – on Scotland’s Places
Posted in Argyll & Bute, Cairns, Tombs, Tumuli | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Torrisholme Barrow, Morecambe, Lancashire

Tumulus:  OS Grid Reference – SD 459 642

Getting Here

Various ways up this old hill, visible from all angles it seems.  I came up via the housing estate near where us friend lives, near Bare Lane Station, through the houses and up the footpath.  But you can just as easy (if not easier) walk up from the country lane and fields beneath its eastern side.  Much nicer!

Archaeology & History

Torrisholme Barrow

Torrisholme Barrow

As many northerners will tell: gerrin information from the Lancashire archaeologists about prehistoric sites is troublesome (must be Southerners running the show!).  There’s tons of stuff in this good county, but archaeo-info is pretty poor on the ground.  This great old tomb for example, is designated as a “round barrow” on the Lancashire County Council monuments and records listing, but there’s no other info telling when it was dug, who by, the size of the tomb, what was found here, etc.  Pretty poor to be honest (c’mon chaps – get yer fingers out!).  The best info on-line comes from the more dedicated amateur enthusiasts.

A local historian told us that there was nowt up here, but my nose told me otherwise — so up we tramped!  It was pretty obvious once we’d got to the top here, that some ancient mound had been built up.

“This has all the hallmarks of a tomb,” I said.

Torrisholme Barrow, looking SW

Torrisholme Barrow, looking SW

The spirit of the ancestor herein (whoever s/he was) had excellent views and flights to numerous important hills 360° all round here.  A perfect place for a tomb! And when we returned into the Darklands of our Yorkshire abodes, we found this notion to be true.  Marked on early OS-maps as a tumulus, next to the tell-tale giveaway route of Barrow Lane, there are passing mentions of it in a couple of old local history books I’ve come across, but I’ve yet to find much more about it.  It’s a fine mound and of decent size, well worth checking out if you’re in the area.  Once I get more details of the archaeological finds from here, I’ll add the data to TNA (but based on past performances and responses from Lancashire archaeo’s, I wouldn’t hold your breath…)

And for any Morecambe historians who might be able to find more: what — if anything — is known of the ‘Fartle Barrow’, now swallowed by the encroachment of the sea, just a few hundred yards west of here?

Early OS-map showing barrow

Early OS-map showing barrow

Folklore

In days of olde, this site was an old moot or meeting hill: one of the northern Law or council meeting hills.  Quite how far back this gathering tradition up here goes, aint known.  We do know however that there was a christian tradition enacted here, at Easter, of local church doods taking a cross up the top of the hill (does anyone know the story behind the old Cross Hill, half-a-mile south of here?).  There’s obviously quite a lot more pre-christian activities occurrent round here than has been previously thought.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Cairns, Tombs, Tumuli, Lancashire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Douglas Terrace, Cambusbarron, Stirlingshire

Cairn (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NS 782 929

Archaeology & History

At the bottom of the ridge from the (supposedly) singular King’s Park cup-and-ring stone,” in a sand-pit adjoining Douglas Terrace,” we could once find the remains of a now lost prehistoric tomb.  First described in the Stirling Natural History Society’s Transactions in 1907, the Scottish Royal Commission lads (1963) told us that, “an urn from this cist was taken to the Smith Institue, Stirling, in a broken condition.” Anymore information about this site, or images of the fragmented urn, would be hugely appreciated.

It does seem very probable that the King’s Park cup-and-ring stone at the top of the ridge from here did relate to local neolithic or Bronze Age burial sites, as I suspected.  It’s highly likely that other carvings were (are?) hidden beneath, or round the edges of this Douglas Terrace and Kings Park region, as I suggested a few months ago.  It’s imperative that archaeologists in the district pay attention to this area before giving the go-ahead of any further landscape destruction.  (Huge thanx to Paddybhoy for prodding my attention here.)

References:

Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Stirlingshire – volume 1, HMSO: Edinburgh 1963.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Cairns, Tombs, Tumuli, Stirlingshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Birkhill House, Cambusbarron, Stirlingshire

Cairns (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NS 780 926

Archaeology & History

In times past, there were at least two prehistoric tombs in land either side of old Birkhill House, now covered by the M9 motorway.  The Scottish Royal Commission lads described the first as being “in the garden of Birkhill House,” continuing:

“This cist contained bones and an urn which measured 5in in height and 6in in diameter, and was ornamented with zigzag lines.”

They think, from its description, that “it may have been a food vessel.”  There were also the remains of another tomb to be found in “rising ground to the west side of” Birkhill House.  Both of these finds were first described in the local Transactions of the Stirling Natural History and Antiquarian Society in 1880.  It seems that little else is known about them. (Thanx again to Paddybhoy for prodding my attention here.)

References:

Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Stirlingshire – volume 1, HMSO: Edinburgh 1963.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Cairns, Tombs, Tumuli, Stirlingshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Coneypark Nursery, Cambusbarron, Stirlingshire

Cairns (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NS 783 926

Archaeology & History

At least two old tombs that could once be seen here are long-gone by all accounts.  They could be found 200 yards south of the remaining King’s Park cup-and-ring stone.  The first was described by the Royal Commission lads (1963) as a well-defined cist, “situated within a gravel mound and (it) contained a skeleton.” (Thanx to Paddybhoy for prodding my attention here.)  Another tomb site was described a few years later:

“A second short cist was found just within the cairn material 3m SE x E from cist no.1.  It consisted of a capstone set on built-up side walls, the bottom courses being five slabs on edge.  The internal measurements were 64cm long and 48cm wide and 60cm deep.  This second cist was orientied NE-SW with its floor made of small pebbles on which lay a late incised beaker and a small piece of human skull.”

References:

Royal Commission on Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Stirlingshire – volume 1, HMSO: Edinburgh 1963.
Thompson, J.K., “Coneypark: Bronze Age Cairn,” in Discovery & Excavation in Scotland, 1972.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Cairns, Tombs, Tumuli, Stirlingshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Cunninghar, Tillicoultry, Clackmannanshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NS 9240 9712

Also Known as:

  1. Druidical Temple

Archaeology & History

Remaining stone at the destroyed circle

Remaining stone at the destroyed circle

A stone circle was once to be found on the elevated piece of ground above the north-side of the main road between Tillicoultry and Dollar, but it was sadly destroyed sometime in the 19th century.  Listed in Burl’s (2000) magnum opus, we have very little information about the place; though an account of the site was described in the Scottish Royal Commission report (1933) which told that a —

“Stone circle, measuring about 60 feet in diameter, once stood here but was completely removed many years ago, when the stones, which are said to have been 5½ feet in average height, were taken to cover a built drain at Tillicoultry House”!

Stone circle site shown on the 1866 OS-map

Unbelievable!  Any decent local folk nearby wanna find out where this drain is, see if the stones are visible (though I doubt they are), so we can plan to uproot it and move the stones back somewhere nearby. There are a few decent spots on the slopes above where it would look good!

When visited by researchers in the 1890s, parts of an embankment which surrounded the destroyed circle were still visible.  Also, indicating there was some ritual funerary nature to the site, a local teacher called Mr Christie found the remains of an ornamented urn protruding through the ground next to where one of the monoliths had stood.  Unfortunately in his attempts to remove the urn, much of it crumbled away.

Further examinations thereafter found that a burial was (seemingly) beneath the centre of the circle; and excavations here found that a covering stone of the tomb was covered in intricate cup-and-ring designs (see the Tillicoultry House Carving for further details).  Other prehistoric remains were found a little further up the hill from here.

References:

Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR 86: Oxford 1981.
Robertson, R., ‘Notice of the Discovery of a Stone Cist and Urns at the Cuninghar, Tillicoultry…’, in PSAS 29, 1895.
Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, HMSO: Edinburgh 1933.

© Paul Bennett,The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Clackmannanshire, Stone Circles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Robin Hood’s Stone, Riddlesden, West Yorkshire

Legendary Rock:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0623 4447

Getting Here

Dead easy!  If you come from Silsden, take the Holden Road up onto the moor edge, all the way up the wooded hill.  As you reach the top, keep your eyes peeled for the stone in the slope to your left.  Otherwise, coming from Riddlesden, take the moor road upwards (to Silsden Road) as if you’re gonna visit Peggy Mawson’s Well, the Baldwin Stone or some of the Rivock carvings.  Keep on the road to where you see the microwave tower on Pinfold Hill to your right.  It’s just below it!

Archaeology & History

Robin Hood's Stone from above

Flints have been found on the slopes above here, but records of this stone only go back — as far as I’ve found — to 1850 (this seems to typify records around the Keighley district, which only seems to record anything post-1500 AD).  In mid-Victorian times, plans were afoot to use the rock for building material, but local people objected and so the stone kept its position overlooking the valley.  There are a number of very defined ‘cups’ on the sloping face of the stone, but several (though not all) of these have all the likeness of the holes dug into the rock by climbers — though why climbers would even think to cut foot-holes into this easy rock beggars belief!

Folklore

One of several sharp well-defined 'cups' on the rock

One of several sharp well-defined 'cups' on the rock

Not too surprisingly, folklore tells that this stone was one of the places where our old hero Robin Hood sheltered, when being chased by god-knows-who in one of his many exploits.  We’ve no way of proving this of course, but the sparse woodland remains above here also bear the hero’s name.  What seems to be a more modern piece of industrial folklore alleges that this stone was actually put here by workers in the Victorian times!  The boulder allegedly lived near Barden, Bolton Abbey, but was blocking construction work, so was uprooted and moved all the way to where it now sits!  In bygone times the rock was a local meeting place – perhaps around Beltane, in line with Robin Hood festivities.

References:

Gray, Johnnie, Through Airedale from Goole to Malham, Elliot Stock: London 1891.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Sacred Nature, Yorkshire, West | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment