Castle Hill, Upper Cumberworth, West Yorkshire

Settlement:  OS Grid Reference – SE 2042 0697

Getting Here

Morehouse's 1861 plan

Taking the A629 road between Shepley and Ingbirchworth, as you hit the staggered crossroads at High Flatts, take the west turn up the slightly sloping straight road of Windmill Lane.  Just where the road ‘kinks’ at a small bend, stop and look into the field on your left.

Archaeology & History

Deemed by some as a hillfort, and others as settlement remains, what little are left of the remaining earthworks here were first described by local historian Henry Morehouse in 1861.  Found about a mile west of Upper Denby, the site was described in the Victoria County History as being “on a commanding though not exactly a defensive situation on the slope of a hill.” This remark coming from the belief (and that’s all it is) that this was an Iron Age castle site.  In 1924 James Petch said of it,

“The earthwork seems originally to have been almost square, and two sides and an angle remain. The external ditch is from ten to twelve feet broad in its present state.”

While Faull & Moorhouse (1981) tell of there being “evidence for Neolithic activity” here, modern surveyors reckon it as an old prehistoric settlement — which makes sense; though little of the site remains to be seen today.

References:

Faull, M.L. & Moorhouse, S.A., West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey, I, WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.
Morehouse, Henry James, History and Antiquities of the Parish of Kirkburton and the Graveship of Holme, Roebuck: Huddersfield 1861.
Petch, James A., Early Man in the District of Huddersfield, Huddersfield 1924.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Newchurch-in-Pendle, Lancashire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SD 822 387

Also Known as:

  1. Pendle Stone Circle

Archaeology & History

A destroyed site mentioned by several local historians. It was positioned at the valley bottom just below Faughs, a hundred yards west of Lower Moss End, where today it is simply overgrown meadows with the typical excess of Juncus reeds.  As local investigator John Dixon said, there are “five stones shown on (the 1848) map just west of Spen Brook Mill.”

In the 1970s, one writer described there being several uprights still in place, but a visit here a few weeks back (though I – unusually! – didn’t walk all through the boggy grounds and explore as extensively as I normally would) found nothing.

Its geomancy, however, was striking. The unnamed hill immediately to the north of its position (at the southern end of the legendary Pendle Hill, a coupla hundred yards west of St. Mary’s church) rises up like a great singular ‘pap’ which, to our old ancestors, was animated with female spirit. I sat here in the pouring rain looking up at this hill and its presence in front of the circle was striking.

…And so I walked onto the top of the said hill. Thereupon I found a small gathering of rocks, not unlike a cairn-spoil. When I enquired with a few local people about the age or nature of this rock-pile, I found no-one seemed aware of its existence. Weird. But from the hill itself, the view is excellent – and the small valley amidst which the old circle once stood teems with legends and myth: of cailleachs, ghosts, wells, witches and more. An excellent spot!

The local writer, historian and walker, John Dixon, sent us the following notes of his exploration here:

“Clifford Byrne, the late Nelson antiquarian, mentions in his book ‘Newchurch in Pendle’ the site of a former stone circle that stood just below Faughs, a hundred yards west of Lower Moss End. Today no large stones of any kind can be located anywhere near this spot, the stones having been removed or broken up some time in the past. However, the 1848 6” OS map records the number and position of these stones as being in two parallel lines about a hundred yards apart lined up west to east. The northerly line (SD 823 389) consists of 3 stones, the southerly (SD 823 387) of 4 stones, all being some 3 yards apart.

“It appears that we have an avenue of stones, not a circle. But why their position in the landscape at the headwaters of two valley streams? The Sabden Brook starts its journey westward to meet with the Calder from the stones, while Dimpenley Clough rises from the stones running east to join Pendle Water – could this be of any significance?”

References:

Byrne, Clifford, Newchurch-in-Pendle: Folklore, Fact, Fancy, Legends and Traditions, Marsden Antiquarians: Nelson 1982.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Robin Hood’s Bay, Whitby, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – unknown

Also Known as:

  • Kendall Stone

Cup-and-Ring Stone, once near Robin Hood's Bay

Cup-and-Ring Stone, once near Robin Hood's Bay

Archaeology & History

In James Simpson’s precursory essay (1866) to his monumental Archaic Sculpturings (1867), he details the former existence of a decent piece of prehistoric rock art, lost to us until very recently by the intrusive diggings of one Thomas Kendall of Pickering.  Simpson wrote:

“A large mass of sandstone in the moor above Robin Hood’s Bay, near Whitby, had some sculpturings upon it, part of which were split off by Mr Kendall of Pickering, in whose garden I have seen the slab of carvings which he thus procured. Mr Kendall’s slab is about five feet long and two and a-half broad. Upon its surface are three or four isolated cups about an inch and a-half in breadth, and five or six others surrounded by ring-cuttings… Two or three of the ring-cuttings consist of single circles. One consists of a triple circle and straight radial groove. The ends of the circles, as they reach the traversing groove, turn round and unite together, as in the horse-shoe pattern… The two remaining circles, which are respectively five inches and eight inches in breadth, and consist of cups surrounded by two and by three circles, are conjoined together by a long gutter. The upper circle shows a single-and the lower a double horse-shoe pattern. In the uppermost or double circle the rounded ends of the rings are united and bestridden by a shallow right-angled line; and the ends of the lowest or triple circle are in part also conjoined by the gutter which runs from the double circle above, and by a cross straight line which runs off from it.  The circles are more imperfectly finished than usual, and at some parts present almost an appearance of being punched out rather than cut out.”

In recent years, thanks to the cup-and-ring huntings of Chris Evans and  Graeme Chappell, the carving has re-emerged from its lost position and, it would seem, is located in someone’s garden in Pickering.  The carving is catalogued as Stone REM 1/P1 in Brown & Chappell’s (2005: 257) work on North Yorkshire rock art.  Hopefully, in the months to come, we’ll have a decent photograph and description of its present condition.  Fingers crossed!

References:

Brown, P.M. & Chappell, Graeme, Prehistoric Rock Art in the North York Moors, Tempus: Stroud 2005.
Simpson, J.Y., ‘On Ancient Sculpturings of Cups and Concentric Rings’, in PSAS volume 6, 1866.
Simpson, James Y., Archaic Sculpturings of Cups, Circles, etc., upon Stones and Rocks in Scotland, England and Other Countries, Edmonston and Douglas: Oxford 1867.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Balloch, Alyth, Perthshire

Cairn (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NO 2738 4885

Archaeology & History

Unfortunately we can no longer see the large prehistoric tomb that was once visible in the fields here, close to the bottom corner of the field below the old Bridge of Ruim, a couple of hundred yards north of the A926 road to Ruthven. The site was destroyed around 1863, but records show that there were several burials found here containing human bones, along with an urn.  Described in an early PSAS article, the Scottish Royal Commission chaps seemed to think that “its position may be indicated by a low swelling in the field”, about 30 yards southeast of the position shown on the first OS-map.  Anyone know owt more about this place?

References:

Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, North-East Perth: An Archaeological Landscape, HMSO: Edinburgh 1990.

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Stinking Stone, Steeton, West Yorkshire

Standing Stone?:  OS Grid Reference – SE 018 424

Getting Here

One of two ways to get here really.  Easiest is from Sutton-in-Craven.  Go thru the village and up the steep hill (don’t take the right turn as you start up the hill).  Go all the way up until the hill starts to level out and on the left-side of the road you’ll notice a boundary stone stood upright (this is the Sutton Stoop).  Stop here.  Of the 2 gates, climb over the top-most one and walk down the path into the adjacent field, heading over to the gap a coupla hundred yards away where the gate to another field is.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

Stinking Stone, Steeton

Stinking Stone, Steeton

Now here’s a weird one.  With a name like this you’d expect there to be plenty of info or historical comments.  But despite all the books and journals in my huge library, aswell as visiting town libraries and exploring the resources on-line, there’s nowt written about this ‘ere spot.  Not a jot!  Even the usually satisfactory place-name fellas have a thing-or-two to say about sites with names such as this, but even they’re old tomes are closed-lipped.  Hmmmmm…..

I visited the place several times to try ascertain what this site was, thinking — perhaps — that it was an old boundary stone whose name had been convoluted from some older, more obvious title.*  The nearby Sutton Stoop boundary stone, right by the roadside, seemed a good indicator to such an assumption as it was a recognised boundary mark with written history and a meeting point along the local perambulation.  But the curiously-named Stinking Stone was neither on the same line, nor ever had been according to old records, and couldn’t be located either.  There had been obvious quarrying and other industrial destruction along the hilltop where the old stone was marked and it seemed logical to assume that it had been destroyed in bygone years by that usual breed of capitalist halfwits.  Until a psilocybin venture one afternoon, last season…

Twas a lovely sunny day, though windy on the tops as usual.  I was out with a couple of neophytes showing them Psilocybes and various other species, chewing them here and there and talking the way of healthy usage.  We passed by an old well, long forgotten, before heading onto Stinking Stone Hill.  Bimbling somewhat, and ruminating about the moss of colour, we decided to sit by the walling in-field and dream for a short while.  As we hit the old gate the Stinking Stone came up right before us.  Literally!

There in the old walling, blunt as you like, stood this four-and-a-half-foot tall standing stone, smoothed on one side by a short aeon of weathering, upright and proud as if it had been stood there for centuries, awaiting attention!  I exclaimed a few triumphant expletives; rubbed myself here and there over the old thing, then sat for a while behind the wind with the old upright, solidly embedded in old earth — then awaited the dream…

Twas a good day…

And then I returned home and later sought what I could on a possible etymology.  Around the hilltop a hundred yards away were small depressions and the faded remains of industrial workings, like I said; and with this in mind the awesome Mr Wright (1905) told us about the existence of ‘Stinking coals’, “an inferior kind of coal” no less.  Referring us to a work from 1818, we’re told,

“The Stinking-coal is noted for containing a great proportion of sulphuret of iron, thick seams or layers of these pyrites running in it. In consequence of this it cannot be used for smelting purposes.”

Another account from 1868 telling us that:

“On opening the body, it contains a strong sulphureous smell, characteristic of the disease; hence it is called the stinking ill; and the stomach and bowels are prodigiously distended with air, having the same intolerable foetor.”

This old worn gatepost however, perhaps has a history that only goes back a few centuries.  It has been cleaved in half, as you’ll see if you visit it; but its western face is old and worn and it’s been embedded in the ground for a long time.  On it’s northern face are the curious etchings of carvings, or wounds from some past offence (perhaps when it was split in half).  It’s history may not be truly ancient.  Twouldst be good to know for sure though…

References:

Wright, Joseph, The English Dialect Dictionary – volume 5, Henry Frowde: Oxford 1905.

* ‘Stinking’, stone-king or King Stone?  Unlikely though…

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Mini-Skirtful of Stones, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1346 4606

Getting Here

Follow directions to get to the Pancake Stone.  From here walk SE on the footpath that runs on the edge of the moor.  After about 200 yards you’ll hit a small footpath which heads into the moor (south).  Walk on here for about 200 yards and notice the small rise in the land to your right (if you cross the small stream where the land dips into a very small valley, you’ve gone past).  That’s it!  The Little Haystack Rock is less than 100 yards away down the slope from here.

Mini-Skirtful of Stones, looking north

Archaeology & History

Of approximately eighty prehistoric cairns that have been alleged to exist along the Green Crag Slack ridge on Ilkley Moor, this site in particular is worthy of note, due mainly to its size. As independent archaeological researcher Paul Bowers said of it when he first saw this cairn-spoil, “it seemed too big to have not been discovered in the past.”  Too right!

Mini-Skirtful, looking west

Mini-Skirtful, looking west

When we tracked across Green Crag Plain a few days ago, it was Michala Potts that called our attention to it.  Half-covered in full heather growth, only the eastern edge was exposed.  At first it seemed that it was loose prehistoric walling, but then I realised it was on the edge of small knoll and the stone work was deeper and wider than walling.  As we explored through the heather atop of the knoll, it was obvious that there was a more extensive gathering of stones scattered all over the top of this small rise, and it seemed that we were looking at the remains of a reasonable sized cairn. Its extent carries about ten yards down the slope from the small hillock, but only a few yards either side of it.  It seems likely that the extended loose stones have, over the centuries, simply slipped further down the slope.  However, not until a decent excavation occurs will we know anything certain.  It is possibile that this is simply the scattered remains of damaged neolithic or Bronze Age walling, but only a more detailed exploration of the site will tell us for sure.

Cowling (1946) mentioned the numerous cairns and scattered walling reaching across this part of Ilkley Moor, but gave no specific information relating to this mini-skirt full of stones! (blame Mikki for the title!)

References:

Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Eastwoods Cross Base, Summerbridge, North Yorkshire

Cross & Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 18506 62013

Also Known as:

  • Carving no.637 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Drawing of CR 637 (after Boughey & Vickerman)

Drawing of CR 637 (after Boughey & Vickerman)

The same directions as for the Eastwoods Farm Cup: from Summerbridge, go west on the B6541 towards Dacre Banks, where there’s the signpost for the Nidderdale Way footpath.  Follow this past the disused quarry and into the meadows.  When you hit the Monk Ing road, bear right (north) and keep going till you’re 100 yards from Eastwoods Farm.  Go right, down into the field for about 30 yards or so.  Look around!

Archaeology & History

Described in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) survey as a “low, medium-sized, quadrant-shaped rock standing up from surroundings, with hollowed out central area.”  This hollowed-out central area is, in all likelihood, the remains of a previously unrecognised old cross-base, although investigating archaeologists have somehow missed this.  The stone’s promixity to the old Monk’s Way — a medieval trade route used by the local monastic Order — would give added weight to this assertion.  A perusal of field-name records here may prove fruitful.

Eastwoods Farm Cross-base & Cup-Marks (courtesy Richard Stroud)

Eastwoods Farm Cross-base & Cup-Marks (© Richard Stroud)

Our authors counted “eight possible small, badly worn cups, (with) three grooves running from central basin, all possibly natural.” The grooves may well be natural, but I’d say that one or two of the cups appear to be genuine.  The large hollow in the middle of the stone may originally have been a cup-marking (or maybe even a cup-and-ring — but we’ll never know), before it became used as a site to erect a primitive cross.

Several other cup-and-ring carvings can be found around here — the Eastwoods Farm Cup is in the same field nearby— with the great likelihood of there being others hidden amidst trees or grasses, waiting to be re-awakened!  The hugely impressive Morphing Stone and a prehistoric lightning-carving can be found in the next field, full of rocks, on the other side of the stream.

References:

Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, West Yorkshire Archaeology Service 2003.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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