Conichan East, Glen Almond, Perthshire

Settlement:  OS Grid Reference – NN 84651 32082  —  NEW FIND

Getting Here

The setting of the remains

The setting of the remains

Park up and walk the long estate track up Glen Almond for nearly three miles until, on your left, you’ll see a small pond.  From here, walk up the slope and, about 100 yards above you, note the large solitary boulder ahead, above the dyke of a small walled stream, where the land levels out.  Just past the rock itself is the first of several remains.

Archaeology & History

First things first: the grid-reference cited here is centred upon the largest of several rings of stone found on this small grassy plateau, 150 yards north above the River Almond, just past the huge boulder.  It’s an impressive site – and a previously unrecorded one.

The raised ring of Conichan

The raised ring of Conichan

Looking southeast

Looking southeast

At least three large hut circles can be clearly seen on this small ridge, amidst a sea of prehistoric sites scattered all down this lonely Scottish glen.  When Paul Hornby, Lara Domleo and I meandered up here the other day (to visit the Clach na Tiompan megaliths), extensive prehistoric walling called my nose up the slopes to see if anything was hiding away—and a large prehistoric ring, more reminiscent of the Derbyshire stone circles and ring cairns than any hut circle, appeared before me.

The first and largest that I came across is the one immediately north of the huge boulder (which may have slight traces of ancient walling running up to it).  The large ring is clearly raised onto a flat level platform, with an entrance on its southern edge.  The ring itself measures, from outer-wall to outer-wall some 12 yards wide (E-W) and 11 yards N-S.  The northernmost section of the walling or stone embanked structure is built into the sloping hill to the rear, with the east and western walls constructed simply onto the flat land.  The walling itself is typical of prehistoric structures, comprising the usual mass of small stones packed within a number of larger upright stones; although much of it is very overgrown with centuries of vegetation.  The walling that constitutes the ring itself is between 1-2 yards across and about two-feet high above the present ground-level.

Second circular remains

Second circular remains

...and from another angle

…and from another angle

To the east of this is a smaller, roughly circular construction of similar form.  The rocks that make up this site are much more visible and may have been robbed and used in the more extensive walling above and the dykes below.  It is unclear whether the nature of this site is the same as that of the more defined circular enclosure we have just described.

The remains of a third structure was clearly evident a short distance to the east of this, but I didn’t have much time here and another visit is needed to make further assessments.  Iron Age walling and other undocumented prehistoric remains were also found close by.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Hut Circles, Perthshire, Scotland, Settlement/Enclosures | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

St John’s Well, Dronfield, Derbyshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid-Reference – SK 353 783

Getting Here

St Johns Well, Dronfield

St Johns Well, Dronfield

In Dronfield, St. John’s Well is to be found off Church street in the Forge in the courtyard adjacent to the glass roofed atrium on the left hand side.

Archaeology & History

J.C. Cox (1875–9) in his Churches of Derbyshire appears to the sole reference although he quotes a lost 1710 reference.  He notes a St. John’s Well cited by Francis Bassano, c.1710, saying:

“…a well, close to the churchyard in St John’s Lane, called St John’s Well, from which “they usually fetch water now for baptising infants””.

Looking down the well...

Looking down the well…

...and into the waters

…and into the waters

Despite only this slight mention, the site still survive.  According to local historian Mr. Ken Ward, the well is that now found in the courtyard of the forge: a 16th century building now developed into a small shopping complex.  He states it is 80 metres from the south porch of the church supporting Bassano’s location.  The site is along Church Street (previously Church Lane) which he believes was once called St. John’s Lane. The well is a circular one with modern stonework on the top.  However, this encloses a much older ring of six layers with a grill apparently opening out into a larger chamber below.  It appears to be a deeper well than would be expected, but it is spring-fed and was presumably deepened for use in the forge.

References:

  1. Cox, J. Charles, Notes on the Churches of Derbyshire – volume 1, Palmer & Edmonds: Chesterfield 1875.

Links:

  1. Holy & Healing Wells

© R.B. Parish, The Northern Antiquarian

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King’s Well, Calverton, Nottinghamshire

Healing Well:  OS Grid Reference – SK 615 489

The spring emerges from under the bridge into the pool

The spring emerges from under the bridge into the pool

Also Known as:

  1. Keen Well

Getting Here

In Calverton, take Renals Way off the main street and follow it around until you reach the end and a copse. Take the left hand path. When the footbridge is reached the spring head is encountered.

Archaeology & History

Also known as the Keen Well, fortunately it still survives.  It arises between some sandstone blocks forming a small cave where a strong spring flows and fills a small pool with some rough stones around it. The pool does not appear very deep although is it overgrown in parts. A footbridge crosses over the springhead, meaning that one has to peer under it to see the spring.  The area surrounding Renals Way and Dark Lane is ear-marked for development and I hope that this spring can survive this stage of its history.

Folklore

Bob Morrell (1988) in his Holy Wells of Nottinghamshire notes a site (although he does not name it), which was attended by pilgrims near and far, and had the tradition that ‘kings’ after hunting in Sherwood Forest would visit it ‘to quaff the nectar’.

In the well chamber it looks a natural spring

In the well chamber it looks a natural spring

Close view of the spring head

Close view of the spring head

Morrell (1988) fails to state whether it still existed, but the site in question would appear to be the Keen Well.  It’s name being possibly derived from King’s Well.  According to Mr. Peck of the local history museum, this was supposed to have used by ‘Old Saxon Kings’ to bathe their eyes as a protection against failing sight.  One of the medieval kings and his attendants are also reputed to have stopped here whilst travelling to the North.

References:

  1. R.W. Morrell (1988) Nottinghamshire Holy Wells
  2. R.B. Parish (2008) Holy wells and healing springs of Nottinghamshire

Links:

  1. Holy & Healing Wells

© R.B. Parish, The Northern Antiquarian

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Orwell, Milnathort, Kinross

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference – NO 1494 0432

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 27912
  2. Mawcloych

Getting Here

The Orwell standing stones

The Orwell standing stones

Drive from Milnathort SE down the A911 road towards Balgedie and Scotlandwell.  About a mile out of the village, keep your eyes peeled on the farmed fields on your left.  You’ll notice the standing stones a few hundred yards ahead and, if you, see them in time, will be able to park up by the track on your left a coupla hundred yards before Orwell Farm. Ensure you visit this site between October and March – otherwise the fields are in full crop.

Archaeology & History

Stones marked on the 1857 map

Stones marked on the 1857 map

These are impressive standing stones by anybody’s standards.  Although we have two impressive uprights today on the highest point in the potato fields, in the 19th century the place-name writer Liddall (1896) told that “in this district are still three large pillar stones known as the Standing Stones of Orwell.” (my italics)  Their existence was recorded, he said, in early topographical accounts in an obsolete place-name Mawcloych, or “place of the stones.”  But if there were three standing stones here, they must have stood prior to the article written by the pseudonymous “W.H.”, who described them in the October edition of The Scottish Journal in 1847, saying:

“About half-a-mile above the old (Orwell) churchyard, in a field by the roadside, are two large upright stones, known as “the Standing Stones of Orwell.”  They are placed east and west of each other about fifteen yards apart—that to the west is flat, and about six feet in height—the one to the east is of a round form, tapering slightly to the ground, and stands nine feet high.  The latter, although still of considerable size, has lost somewhat of its circumference within the last ten years, and, at the present moment, there is a large crack down one side, which, by the action of the weather, will lead to a further diminution of its bulk. It has not been ascertained to what depth these stones are embedded in the earth, but it must be considerable, in order to retain them in the position they occupy.

“The common belief is, that these stones are of Danish origin, erected in commemoration of a victory, or to mark the spot where those who had fallen in battle were interred. This supposition is so far countenanced by the fact that a stone coffin, of large size, was found on digging up the space between the stones. Similar coffins have also been turned up in the same field, and, ten or twelve years ago, the ground was dug up in several places by a neighbouring proprietor, when large quantities of bones, much decomposed and mixed with charcoal, were discovered.”

Fred Coles 1906 ground-plan

Fred Coles 1906 ground-plan

Orwell Stones, looking north

Orwell Stones, looking north

This early description telling of the poor condition of one of the stones presaged its eventual fall in the late 1960s; but this thankfully led to an archaeological evaluation which gave us more information about the site.  Before this however, the great northern antiquarian Fred Coles (1906) visited the stones in August 1904, describing them with his usual meritorious detail, telling:

“They stand on a very gently rising ground, the space between them and for some distance to the south being somewhat higher than the surrounding field.  In ground plan they are related as shown (attached).  The east stone is the higher, standing 9 feet 8 inches clear of theground, smooth-sided and hexagonal. At the base its girth is 9 feet 9 inches, swelling up at the 5-foot level into 10 feet 8 inches. The West Stone, very rugged and angular, is 7 feet 5 inches in height, girths at the base 11 feet 1 inch, and at about 3 feet upwards, 10 feet 5 inches, its broadest side facing the East Stone. Both are of whinstone. The shortest distance between the two Stones is in a line nearly north-west, and measures 46 feet 10 inches.

“Mr R. Kilgour, one of the oldest residents of Kinross, showed me a fine partially flattened oval pebble of dark reddish quartzite, measuring 5 inches by 2⅞ inches, which he found in the ground between these two Stones. The abrasion at each end clearly shows that this pebble has been used as a pounder.

“In a book which to some extent deals with local antiquities, occurs the following passage with reference to these two Standing Stones: ‘In the same field stone coffins have occasionally been turned up by the plough; and, about the beginning of the 19th century, the ground was in many places dug up by the neighbouring proprietor, when quantities of bones much decomposed and mixed with charcoal were discovered.'”

But after the west stone fell down, J.N.G. Ritchie (1972) and his team turned up to resurrect it—and also check out what might be underneath it.  His initial notes of the findings were published in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, which said:

“Excavation at the bases of these two standing stones…was undertaken prior to the re-erection of the W stone and to the embedding of both stones in cement.  The original position of the fallen stone could be detected only as a slight hollow in the natural gravel, but as this corresponded with the position of the stone on Coles’ plan…the stone could be re-positioned comparatively accurately.

“A cremation deposit was found in an insubstantial stone setting in a scoop in the natural gravel some 0.5m S of the stone.  The E stone, which is an impressive whinstone 3.8m in total height, had been set up in a hole 1.5m x 1.4m and 0.75m in depth.  Within the pit on the SW side of the stone there was an unusual two-storeyed cremation deposit; the lower cremation was contained within a rough setting of stones with one side formed by the standing stone itself, and was covered by a flat slab.  On this slab and again surrounded by a setting of small stones was the upper cremation.  It seems most likely that these were inserted into the stone hole at the time of the erection of the stone. Another cremation was found at the lip of the stone hole on the SE side.  The discovery of cists and cremation patches in the same field in the early 19th century suggests that the stones have acted as a focus for such burials.”

The southeasterly stone

The southeasterly stone

The northwesterly stone

The northwesterly stone

Ritchie (1982) later wrote how they had found “burnt dog and pig bones with the lower cremation deposit,” implying “rituals” at the site.  He even posited how such deposits at standing stones “may have a bearing on their postulated use  as astonomical markers,” although Alexander Thom’s (1990) exploration of the Orwell stones indicated no archaeoastronomy here.  So it seems very obvious that these giant monoliths were markers for a neolithic and/or Bronze Age cemetery or necropolis in prehistoric times.  Aubrey Burl (1993) defined the stones here as having “an Irish setting, with the east emphasized, as alway, by the taller stone.”

Fred Coles' 1906 drawing

Fred Coles’ 1906 drawing

Unmentioned by the archaeologists in all of the references I have at hand, is the probable relationship the Orwell stones had with the rising background of the Lomond Hills to the east, with its archaic legends of cailleach, neolithic tomb creations and other geomantic indicators.  These elements (and more) need to be explored more diligently by forthcoming students.  It’s a remarkable setting as far as I’m concerned!

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, “Pi in the Sky”, in Douglas C. Heggie’s Archaeoastronomy in the Old World, Cambridge University Press 1982.
  2. Burl, Aubrey, From Carnac to Callanish, Yale University Press 1993.
  3. Coles, Fred, “Notices of Standing Stones, Cists and Hitherto Unrecorded Cup-and-Ring Marks in Various Localities,” in Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 40, Edinburgh 1906.
  4. Day, J.P., Clackmannan and Kinross, Cambridge University Press 1915.
  5. Feacham, Richard, Guide to Prehistoric Scotland, Batsford: London 1977.
  6. Jack, James W., Glenfarg and District – Past and Present, Miller & Smail: Perth 1903.
  7. Liddall, W.J.N., The Place Names of Fife and Kinross, William Green: Edinburgh 1896.
  8. Ritchie, J.N.G.,”Orwell Standing Stones,” in Discovery & Ecavation in Scotland, 1972.
  9. Ritchie, J.N.G., “Archaeology and Astronomy: An Archaeological View”, in Douglas C. Heggie’s Archaeoastronomy in the Old World, Cambridge University Press 1982.
  10. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Fife, Kinross and Clackmannan, HMSO: Edinburgh 1933.
  11. Simpkins, John Ewart, County Folklore – volume VII: Examples of Printed Folk-Lore Concerning Fife, with some Notes on Clackmannan and Kinross-Shires, Folk-Lore Society: London 1914.
  12. Thom, A., Thom, A.S. & Burl, Aubrey, Stone Rows and Standing Stones – volume 2, BAR: Oxford 1990.
  13. “W.H.”, “A Ramble in Kinross-shire,” in The Scottish Journal of Topography, Antiquities, Traditions, volume 1, 1848.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Baildon Moor Carving (130), West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13077 40098

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.11 (Hedges)
  2. Central Design Stone

Getting Here

Baildon Moor carving

Baildon Moor carving

Take the directions to find the Glovershaw Quarry carving, or the Baildon Moor 126 carving and the newly-found Toad Stones circle, and zigzag about in the bracken when it’s down at the end of Winter (forget it from summertime onwards!).  You’re damn close.

Archaeology & History

A carving that I first visited when I was a child – but one which, curiously, caught my attention.  The small arc of four cup-marks that you can see on the stone was an integral feature of other carvings in this particular region—though not all, of course.  It seemed to me at the time that it had symbolic significance, as the arc occurred in a number of other Baildon petroglyphs.  Astronomy was my fetish at that time and so I saw the arc as solar or stellar movements across the sky, represented by the cup-markings.  It was one of many fascinating Rorschach’s that I encountered, just as rock art students across the world do when looking at these ancient carvings. However, the simple symbolism of this and similar nearby carvings has stuck and plays under my skin somewhat: one of those curious non-egoic tickles, constantly nudging away, as if there’s something in it, but being looked at from the wrong angle…

CR130dr

John Hedges 1986 sketch

Looking down at the cups

Looking down at the cups

Anyway… All we have here is a primary design of four cup-marks reaching across a small earthfast stone.  Other simple carvings are found close by and there are the remains of several prehistoric cairns circles within a few hundred yards.  Beneath the deep bracken-mass, it is highly probable that other ancient remains remain hidden.

The carving was first recognised in one of Sidney Jackson’s (1958) archaeology bimbles in the 1950s with his bunch of northern antiquarians from Cartwright Hall, Bradford. It later found its way into the survey of John Hedges (1986) where he described it, simply:

“Small, lozenge-shaped, smooth grit rock, sloping NW-SE into grass and bracken, four symmetrical cups in slight curve.”

References:

  1. Baildon, W. Paley, Baildon and the Baildons – parts 1-15, Adelphi: London 1913-1926.
  2. Bennett, Paul, Of Cups and Rings and Things, unpublished: Shipley 1981.
  3. Bennett, Paul, Megalithic Ramblings between Ilkley and Baildon, unpublished: Shipley 1982.
  4. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  5. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  6. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  7. Jackson, Sidney, “Cup-Marked Boulders, Baildon Moor,” in Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 3:2, 1958.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Braidwood, Carluke, Lanarkshire

Standing Stone (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NS 8435 4799

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 46543

Archaeology & History

1864 OS-map, showing the stone

1864 OS-map, showing the stone

Illustrated on the 1864 Ordnance Survey map, right by the roadside a hundred yards or so east of Braidwood House, once stood a proud standing stone – but sadly there are no remains of the monument today.  It was said by Mr Groom (1882), in his encyclopaedic Gazetteer of Scotland, that the standing was “supposed to have been a milestone on Watling Street,” but we have no way of verifying this with any certainty.  However, a similar association was conferred upon the stone by local people when the site was visited by the reverend John Wylie in 1839, when it was still standing.  Writing in the Statistical Account of Carluke, Wylie told,

“It is supposed to have stood at the side of a Roman Road, passing from Lanark, across the bridge of the Mouse beneath Cartland Crags, through Lee Valley, across Fiddler’s Burn at Chapel, and thence by Braidwood into the main street.”

The last record we have of the stone still being in position is from the 1898 OS-map, but sometime thereafter it was uprooted and destroyed.  Any further information about the stone would be gratefully welcomed.

References:

  1. Groom, Francis H. (ed.), Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland – volume 1, Thomas C. Jack: Edinburgh 1882.
  2. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historic Monuments of Scotland, Lanarkshire: An Inventory of the Prehistoric and Roman Monuments, HMSO: Edinburgh 1978.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Lower Lanshaw Dam (01), Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1416 4489

Getting Here

Cup-marked stone & cairn

Cup-marked stone & cairn

Take the same directions as if you’re visiting the Lanshaw Dam 2 petroglyph, then keep walking directly towards the Lanshaw Dam, 130 yards east.  Halfway between the two, closer to the footpath, look out for a stone of similar shape and dimensions to Lanshaw 2, just by a prehistoric cairn.  You’ll find it!

Archaeology & History

Close-up of cup marking

Close-up of cup marking

As with a great number of petroglyphs in and around Yorkshire, this large single cup-marked rock is found in close association with a reasonably large prehistoric cairn (several others are close by), some 3 yards in diameter.  The cup-marking here is larger than yer average cup-mark on these moors, being four inches across. It can clearly be seen on the southern vertical face of the rock and doesn’t appear to have been recorded before.  On the whole, it’s nothing special to look at and is probably just one for the petroglyphic purists amongst you.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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