Deanside, Tongue, Sutherland

Souterrain (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NC 591 556

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 5343
  2. Dionaite

Archaeology & History

Location of Deanside souterrain

Nothing now remains of the prehistoric underground chamber, “eirde House” (as they were called) or souterrain, that was reported by the northern antiquarian James Horsburgh when he was exploring the sites here in the 1860s.  Found near Deanside a couple of miles south of Tongue, alongside the edge of the Allt an Dionaite (Deanside Burn), even in his day there wasn’t much of it left.  It was one of a number of souterrains in the region that he was shown, presumably by local people, telling us briefly that,

“Near Deanside, there were remains of the end of another (souterrain) on the bank of the burn, but it has since been washed away in a flood.”

In an exploration up the side of the burn today, I could find no remains whatsoever; although I didn’t walk too far up and have a feeling that its position would have been further up than where I got to.  In a brief chat with some of the old people living in the neighbourhood, they told me they had no memory of the site.

References:

  1. Horsburgh, James, Notes of Cromlechs, Duns, Hut-circles, Chambered Cairns and other Remains, in the County of Sutherland“, in Proceedings Society of Antiquaries, Scotland, volume 7, 1870

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Advertisements
Posted in Scotland, Souterrains, Sutherland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cupar Stone Circle, St. Martin’s, Perthshire

Stone Circle (ruins):  OS Grid Reference – NO 15958 31227

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 28632

Getting Here

The stone circle on 1867 map

Follow the same directions as if you’re visiting the Witches Stone of St. Martin’s.  On the way up the long dirt-track, just where the track has levelled out above the slope, keep your eyes peeled on the left (west) for a line of large long boulders on the other side of the barbed-wire fence, laid down, just at the edge of the field.  That’s what’s left of the place!

Archaeology & History

This site is in a sad state of affairs and no discernible ‘stone circle’ of any form can be seen here.  The stones that constituted the megalithic ring were uprooted and dumped at the side of the huge field sometime in the latter-half of the 20th century.  The site is shown clearly on the early OS-maps but at some point in more recent years, the land-owner here (I presume) uprooted the stones and dumped them at the field-side, where they remain. Not good.

Cupar Stones from the track

One of the stones here bore the curious name ‘Cupar’, which probably relates to it being a place where criminal trials were held, or justice dispensed. (Grant 1952)  Traditions such as this were enacted at other megalithic rings and ancient sites in earlier times.

The first mention of the circle I can find is in the old Name Book of 1865, which informs us:

“Three large boulders set up edgeways, and part of a circular earthen bank.  There is no local tradition regarding the stones but the Rev Park believes them to be the remains of a Druidical Temple. The name Cupar Stone is not well known locally but still appears on the estate map.”

Cupar Stones at field-edge

It originally stood on the edge of the large flat plateau, just at the point where the land slopes down to the south, with the curious Witches Stone of MacBeth on the same level plateau just over 400 yards to the north.  This small monolith may have been a deliberate outlier from the ring, perhaps relating to the calendrical airt of death (the direction ‘north’ commonly denotes Death in pre-christian cultural cosmologies).  But we know little else about the ring.  In Margaret Stewart’s (1965) notes about the site, she indicated that some of the stones were still standing when she saw them, saying how the “largest remaining stones are to the south and west.”  They’re not anymore!

Postulating it as a possible ‘four-poster’ stone circle (a dubious one, he said), Aubrey Burl (1988) told us:

“In the south corner of a partly cleared wood…there are three large stones, two of them fallen. They are in a roughly straight line running NNE-SSW.  Nearby is a fourth prostrate stone in a boundary wall.  Stewart (1965:21) suggested that they had once formed a ring approximately 24ft 6in (7.5m) in diameter. Different opinions have been that if there had been a circle, it was probably larger.”

In light of the near-complete destruction of the Cupar stone circle, I feel that note should be made of a somewhat worrying trend, not only here, but many other prehistoric sites in the country.  In the site profile Canmore has given the Cupar stone circle, its destruction and vandalism has been termed “agricultural improvement”, as if to sound ‘acceptable’ and that it’s OK to destroy stone circles – which it plainly is not!  If you or I were to do such a thing, we’d be arrested!  We need to make sure that, as individuals and organizations, we treat what some term “agricultural improvement” for what it is: vandalism (usually by rich tory land-owners who give back-handers, or similar things, to make sure the official paperwork looks OK).  I know a lot of archaeologists agree with this too, but cannot speak out for fear of losing their jobs.

References:

  1. Barnatt, John, Stone Circles of Britain (2 volumes), BAR: Oxford 1989.
  2. Burl, Aubrey,  The Stone Circles of the British Isles, Yale: London 1976.
  3. Burl, Aubrey, Four Posters: Bronze Age Stone Circles of Western Europe, BAR 195: Oxford 1988.
  4. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  5. Grant, William & Murison, David D., The Scottish National Dictionary – volume 3, SNDA: Edinburgh 1952.
  6. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments Scotland, South-east Perth: An Archaeological Landscape. RCHAMS: Edinburgh 1994.
  7. Stewart, Margaret E.C., “Excavation of a Circle of Standing Stones at Sandy Road, Scone, Perthshire“, in Transactions & Proceedings Perthshire Society Natural Science, volume 11, 1965.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Perthshire, Scotland, Stone Circles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rough Haw Carvings, Flasby, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone: OS Grid Reference – SD 96396 55834 – NEW FIND

Getting Here

Rough Haw cup-markings

The quickest way to get here is to follow the directions to the Sharp Haw Trig Stone. From the Trig Stone keep heading down the footpath until you see the gate at the bottom. Go through the gate and Rough Haw is straight in front of you.  Head towards Rough Haw and you will see a track going straight up the middle. Go right up that track and over the top till your on the summit, keep walking forward about 50-60 yards and you will see it.

Archaeology & History

Second lot of cups

Some petroglyphs have been found near the top of the prehistoric Iron Age settlement called Rough Haw, a few miles north of Skipton. Not previously recorded, this long flat stone and its companion are littered in cup markings (perhaps a couple of dozen).  There could be more cups and other markings than we saw today, but by the time we reached here the sun had disappeared, so poor daylight made it difficult to see if there were any more.

© Chris Swales, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Brigantia (Northern England), Cup-and-Ring Stones, Yorkshire, North | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Sharp Haw, Flasby, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SD 9594 5532

Getting Here

Sharp Haw Hill on the left

The quickest way to get here is to head out of Skipton towards the B6265 Grassington Road. Once on the B6265 you will go past the Craven Heifer Pub on your left hand side. About ¾-mile past the pub you will see a small turning on your left called Bog Lane. Turn on to Bog Lane and travel ¼-mile till you come to a sharp left bend; and on the right you will see a gateway with room to park. Once you have parked, you will notice a sharp-pointed hill—and that’s Sharp Haw!  You’ll need to go through the gate, up the gravel track to another gate; go through that, and continue on the track for 100 yards where you will notice a footpath going off to your right, get on it. Keep on this path heading to Sharp Haw to the stile in the wall; once there go over it and up to the trig point.  From the trig point you need to keep going and about 10 yards after you will notice a footpath starting to go down to the right. Head down and the stone is on your left. You can’t miss it!

Cup-Marked Stone

Archaeology & History

Not previously recorded, this carved stone near the top of Sharp Haw is intriguing in shape.  It is found on the vertical face of the rock.  The petroglyph has one large cup with three smaller faint ones above it.

There are many more distinct cup-markings found on the flat rocks on top of Rough Haw close by.

© Chris Swales, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Brigantia (Northern England), Cup-and-Ring Stones, Yorkshire, North | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Witches Stone, St. Martin’s, Perthshire

‘Standing Stone’:  OS Grid Reference – NO 15927 31609

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 28628

Getting Here

The Witches Stone of MacBeth

Going north-eastish from the city of Perth, take either the A93 or A94, turning west along the A93 a mile south of Guildtown, or east at Balbeggie on the A94, until you reach St. Martin’s hamlet and park up just below the church opposite the old cottages. Walk up the track below the cottages (not the one above them!) for ⅘-mile (1.35km) [past the ruined Cupar Stone Circle], and where the land has levelled out and in the huge flat field on your left, you’ll eventually reach a gate and see the odd-looking ‘rock’ about 250 yards away in the middle.

Archaeology & History

A fungal morel turned to stone

In a quiet and little-known parish that was once littered with about a dozen stone circles, there remains a most curious and fascinating stone which, in earlier days, was to be seen on the open moorlands at this spot.  The area was then forested and then the agriculturalists came with their farming and destroyed the forests, stood seemingly isolated in the old woodlands above the hamlet of St. Martin’s to the south.  Although it was described in the 19th century as being “four feet high”, it stands barely three feet tall, is very curiously-shaped—just like a morel mushroom from some angles—in the middle of an extensive piece of flatland where the crops barely grow.

Witches Stone on 1866 map

Witches Stone, looking west

The stone was highlighted on the first OS-map of the parish in 1866, showing it in the woodland plantation of Eastmuir.  It may have been some sort of northern outlier related to the now-destroyed stone circle of Cupar 400 yards south; and if this was the case, its position in the landscape relative to the circle would give the Witches Stone an airt (virtue ascribed to cardinal directions) in the cycle of the year that relates to darkness and death. (Perhaps oddly—perhaps not—the name of parish St. Martin’s relates to that dark period in the calendar, as St. Martin’s day in the old calendar was Samhain or Halloween: old New Year’s Day, when the spirits of the dead moved across both land and skies.)

It has been erroneously described by the Canmore lads as being little more than “a glacial erratic”, but the stone here is quite earthfast; and their idea that “its peculiar shape has probably been caused by wind erosion”, is also somewhat dubious considering the shape of other monoliths and megalithic rings in the region.  The stone has an appearance similar to some Bull Stones, where the animal was chained to rocks such as this and then baited by dogs, although I can find no such lore here. Indeed, the history and archaeology of the stone seems all but silent.  Its folklore however, would have the Shakespearian romanciers amongst you flocking to the place…

Deep grooves atop of the stone

The top of the stone has some very distinct and deep-cut lines running down at angles, and has the appearnace of being cut into at some time in the dim and distant past.  By whom, and for what reason, we cannot say.

Folklore

William Richie (1845) told us that during the problems Scotland were having in the 11th Century with the english disease of stealing land and spreading its violence, King MacBeth—whose castle stood within this parish at Cairnbeddie (NO 1498 3082)—took that advice of two witches, and that

“they met him one night at a place still caled ‘the Witch Stane’ (where a remarkable stone still stands), about a mile from his old residence, and warned him to beware, ‘Till Birnam forest come to Dunsinane.'”

The 1860 Name Book told us that,

“The Moor where the witches met, which is in St. Martins Parish is yet pointed out by the country people, and there is a stone still preserved, which is called the Witches Stone.”

References:

  1. Scott, Aleander, St. Martin’s and Cambusmichael, Perth 1911.
  2. Richie, William, “St. Martins and Cambusmichael,” in New Statistical Account of Scotland – volume 10: Perthshire, William Blackwood: Edinburgh 1845.

AcknowledgementsHuge thanks to Prof Paul Hornby for showing me this site. Cheers matey!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Perthshire, Scotland, Standing Stones | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Peace Stone, Port of Menteith, Stirlingshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NS 56413 99540

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 44622
  2. Gartrenich
  3. Malling
  4. Menteith 1

Getting Here

Peace Stone cup-and-ring

The quickest way here is bedevilled with troublesome parking (and an unhelpful local at Malling Cottage).  That aside, roughly halfway along the A81 between the Braeval roundabout (near Aberfolye) and Port of Meneith, turn down the track at Malling, following it round for 300 yards through the farm, then another 500 yards or so until you reach a junction with a gate on your left. Walk down the track to your right, roughly alongside the Lake of Menteith, for nearly 700 yards until you reach the gate into the forestry commission land. Go thru the gate and turn immediate right, following the fence for about 200 yards where a clump of stones lives. You’re there!

Archaeology & History

The Peace Stone in 1899

This seemingly isolated petroglyph, known about by local people in the middle of the 19th century and earlier, was said to have been “held in great reverence.”  It was first mentioned in literary accounts in 1866, when the oral traditions about it were more important than any archaeocentricism.  But things change with the times: local people were kicked off their lands, old stories and knowledge of sites were lost, and the ‘discipline’ of archaeology was beginning to look at these curious carved rocks with puzzled minds.

The Peace Stone was described at some length and with considerable accuracy in Mr A.F. Hutchison’s (1893) gazetteer on the ancient stones of Stirlingshire.  It was one of the regions only known petroglyphs at that time and thankfully he gave us a good account of it, saying:

“On the west ride of the Lake of Menteith, about half a mile south from the farm-house of Malling, this stone is to be found, lying at the boundary of the arable land. The ground at the place rises into a slight eminence, on the top of which the stone lay till some seven or eight years ago, when a labourer took it into his head that a stone on which so much labour had evidently been spent must have been intended to cover something valuable. He proceeded to excavate the earth at the side with the intention of getting at the buried treasure, with the result that the stone slipped down into the hole which he had made, where it now lies.  It is quite possible, however, that an interment, if no treasure, might be found beside it on further research. The stone is roughly circular on the surface, measuring about 4 feet in diameter. It is entirely covered with cup and ring marks—22 cups in all—varying in size from an inch to two inches in diameter.  The cups and rings are very symmetrically formed. Nearly in the centre is a fine one surrounded by four circular grooves.  Others have incomplete triple and quadruple circles, with radial duct dividing them. There are other curious curves that sometimes interlace, and near the lower side of the stone are five or six cups with straight channels running out from them over the edge. This is an extremely interesting stone. It is unique in our neighbourhood, so far as I know, in showing these symmetrical carvings. They are now, however, much weather-worn.”

Ron Morris’ sketch & photo

When Alison Young (1938) came to write about the carving, she echoed Hutchison’s thought that the stone might have originally have covered a tomb—but we simply don’t know and it should be treated as guesswork, as there are no known prehistoric tombs anywhere hereby.

Close-up of faded cups

Years passed before the next archaeological visit – by which time the stone had been uprooted and moved, apparently “ploughed up by the Forestry Commission”, and when Ron Morris (1981) last sought it out found that “the stone was un-traceable”.  On a previous visit, before being moved, he found it to be,

“a cup-and-three-rings, 3 cups surrounded by two rings…and 6 cup-and-one-ring.  One of these and 2 cups form part of the design of the cup-and-three-rings.  There were also at least 7 other cups, and a number of grooves, some forming lines from a central cup, or a cup-mark, downhill.  Greatest diameter visible in 1977 30cm (12in) and depth of carving 3cm (1 in)… Many of the carvings are so weathered as to be visible only when wet in early morning or late evening.”

And when we visited the site a few days ago, the stunning sunlight that had followed us all day, sadly faded and disallowed us better photographs of the site.  Huge apologies…. But it’s worth visiting when the daylight’s good, perhaps when you’re exploring the huge number of brilliant petroglyphs at Ballochraggan and Nether Glenny on the hillside 1½ miles immediately north of this “outlier”, as Brouwer & van Veen (2009) called it.

Folklore

In a landscape bedevilled with stunning petroglyphs, traditions and folklore of them is all but gone; but the story of the Peace Stone was thankfully captured in words by Mr Dun (1866), who told us:

There is a curious prophecy connected with a stone situated near the ruins of the chapel of Arnchly, and which is worth recording.  From time immemorial this stone went under the name of the Peace Stone, and it was held in great reverence by the natives.  One Pharic McPharic, a noted Gaelic prophet, foretold that, in the course of time, this stone would be buried underground by two brothers, who, for their indiscretion, were to die childless. By-and-by the stone would rise to the surface, and by the time it was fairly above ground, a battle was to be fought on “Auchveity,” that is, “Betty’s Field.”  The battle was to be long and fierce, until “Gramoch-Cam” of Glenny, that is, “Graham of the one eye,” would sweep from the “Bay-wood” with his clan and decide the contest. After the battle, a large raven was to alight on the stone and drink the blood of the fallen. So much for the prophecy then; now for the fulfilment. About fifty years ago, two brothers (tenants of the farm of Arnchly), finding that the stone interfered with their agricultural labours, made a large trench, and had it put several feet below the surface. Very singular, indeed, both these men, although married, died without leaving any issue. With the labouring of the field for a number of years, the stone has actually made its appearance above ground, and there is at present living a descendant of the Grahams of Glenny who is blind of one eye, and the ravens are daily hovering over the devoted field. Tremble ye natives! and rivals of the “Hero Grahams,” keep an eye on Gramoch-Cam!

The name of Betty’s Field came from an earlier piece of folklore: where a prince out hunting a stag was caught in one of the deep bogs hereby, only to be rescued by a local lass.  In return for her help, she was given a large piece of land which was to bear her name.

References:

  1. Armit, Ian, “The Peace Stone (Port of Menteith parish),” in Discovery & Excavation Scotland, 1998.
  2. Brouwer, Jan & van Veen, Gus, Rock Art in the Menteith Hills, BRAC 2009.
  3. Dun, P., Summer at the Lake of Monteith, James Hedderwick: Glasgow 1866.
  4. Hutchison, A.F., “The Standing Stones and other Rude Monuments of Stirling District,” in Transactions Stirling Natural History & Antiquarian Society, volume 15, 1893.
  5. Hutchison, A.F., The Lake of Menteith: Its Islands and Vicinity with Historical Accounts of the Priory of Inchmahome and the Earldom of Menteith, Stirling 1899.
  6. Mallery, Garrick, “Pictographs of the North American Indians,” in Bureau of Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution, volume 4, 1886.
  7. Morris, Ronald W.B., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Southern Scotland, BAR: Oxford 1981.
  8. van Hoek, Maarten, “Menteith (Port of Menteith parish) Rock Art Sites,” in Discovery Excavation Scotland, 1989.
  9. Young, Alison, “Cup-and ring Markings on Craig Ruenshin, with some Comparative Notes”, in Proceedings Society Antiquaries Scotland, vol. 72, 1938.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Posted in Cup-and-Ring Stones, Scotland, Stirlingshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Yockenthwaite Circle, Buckden, North Yorkshire

Stone Circle:  OS Grid Reference – SD 89975 79365

Also Known as:

  1. Druid’s Circle

Getting Here

Yockenthwaite circle (photo by James Elkington)

The long country road running between Aysgarth and Kettlewell is the B6160.  Whether you’re coming from the north (Aysgarth) or south (Kettlewell), when you reach either Buckden or Cray, take the minor road west to Hubberholme.  Just over 1½ miles further on, you reach the tiny hamlet of Yockenthwaite itself.  Cross the river bridge, then turn left and walk along the footpath parallel with the river.  600 yards or so along, keep your eyes peeled for the low small ring of stones in front of you.

Archaeology & History

Just above the well-trod path that runs parallel with the usually shallow River Wharfe, this small and silent ring of stones rests in the idyllic host of Langstrothdale, deep in olde Yorkshire.  Tis a wonderful spot… Classed as a ‘stone circle’ for many a decade (even by the esteemed Aubrey Burl), this small but ancient ring shouldn’t really be held in the same category as our larger megalithic circles.  In truth, it looks more like some of the larger hut circles I’ve seen and uncovered down the decades—and it may well be that.  Indeed, even the archaeo’s aren’t in agreement as to what it is, with the general idea being that it is the remains of a ring cairn of some type, despite no human remains being found here.

Looking northwest

Raistrick’s 1929 plan

Yockenthwaite itself was already know by this name in 1241 CE, when the monks of Fountains Abbey were given the land by one of the murderous invading Norman families of the period.  This ingredient may be relevant to the history of the circle, for as the great northern antiquarian Harry Speight (1900) pointed out,

“in several places in the dales there are traces of what seems like ancient sheep or cattle enclosures, which are probably vestiges of this grant to the monks of Fountains in 1241.”

And Speight thought the circle had a similar origin to these remains.  He continued:

“An enclosure of this kind, composed of a number of big stones on end, lies at the low end of the second pasture on the north side of the river between Yockenthwaite and Deepdale, and has been described as a Druid’s Circle.  It is doubtless one of these monastic folds.”

And he may have a point.  Although when Arthur Raistrick (1929) ventured here in the early 1920s, he had other ideas, pushing the date of the site way way back into the Bronze Age.  “The circle,” Raistrick told,

“is slightly raised above the surrounding ground-level, and the stones, standing edge to edge, can be seen from a considerable distance on either fell side.  The circle is 25 feet diameter, very nearly a true circle, there being only about 6 inches variation in diameter.  The stones number 20, placed on edge to edge to edge…with only two small gaps, which would accommodate three or perhaps four more stones.  These stones were probably removed some years ago to repair the stile in the neighbouring wall.  Outside this circle of 20 stones, on the northwest side, there are four others placed concentrically, and very close to the circle, but there is no evidence that the circle was ever double, or that there were ever more than these extra four stones.  There is a slight mound at the centre, and probing with a rod proved a small circle of stones, about 9 feet diameter at the centre, indicating probably a burial.  Several large boulders lie on the level ground around the circle, but these are all rolled down from the fell-side above, and not placed in any connection with the circle.  All the stones of the circle are of limestone…”

It was this designation that led to Burl (1976; 2000) to include it in his corpus of megalithic rings; although John Barnatt (1989) did question the validity of the site as a true ‘stone circle’ in his own gazetteer, saying:

“This unusual site comprises a contiguous ring of orthostats of c. 7.5m diameter, which are graded downslope to the SSW to allow for the gradient; their tops are all roughly horizontal.  They range from 0.30 to 1.05m in height, 22-3 stones survive today and 3-4 appear to be missing.  To the NNW there is a short outer arc of 4-5 stones placed immediately outside the main ring.  4 loose stones appear to have been added to the ring recently.  Raistrick’s plan does not tally with the present remains, despite the sites undisturbed nature.  The interior of the site is filled by a low horizontal platform, with virtually no height upslope to the north-east and a height of c. 0.5m to the south-west.  The ring of stones stand well proud of this round the full circumference.  This site appears to be a variant form of kerb-cairn rather than a true stone circle.”

The structure has been built onto a slight but notable platform, as has also been done with many hut circles—and the Yockenthwaite site may just be one of them.  Only an excavation will tell us for sure.  It’s isolated from other remains, but on the hills above, both north and south, denuded Iron Age and Bronze Age settlements look down on this solitary ring.  Whatever it may be, it’s olde and in a beautiful setting.  Well worth checking out if you like yer ancient sites!

References:

  1. Barnatt, John, Stone Circles of Britain (2 volumes), BAR: Oxford 1989.
  2. Burl, Aubrey, A Guide to the Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, New Haven & London 1995.
  3. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  4. Elgee, Frank & Harriet, The Archaeology of Yorkshire, Methuen: London 1933.
  5. Longworth, Ian H., Regional Archaeologies: Yorkshire, Cory, Adams & MacKay: London 1965.
  6. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘The Bronze Age in West Yorkshire,’ in Yorkshire Archaeology Journal, volume 29, 1929.
  7. Raistrick, Arthur, Prehistoric Yorkshire, Dalesman: Clapham 1972.
  8. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.

LinksJames Elkington Photos

AcknowledgementsHuge thanks to James Elkington for use of his photos in this site profile.  Cheers mate!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Posted in Brigantia (Northern England), Stone Circles, Yorkshire, North | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Southdown Cottage, Cotmandene, Dorking, Surrey

Tumulus (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – TQ 1686 4958

The Cotmandene urn

Archaeology & History

Highlighted on the 1914 OS-map (as ‘Site of’), nothing now remains of the prehistoric structure that either covered or surrounded the ancient burial urn, found fortuitously by a Mr Turner in the garden of Southdown Cottage at the beginning of the 20th century.  Believed to be either Iron Age or Romano-British in origin, the find was noted by Mr Malden (1913) in his brief in the Surrey Archaeological Collections, who wrote:   

“Early in 1913 it came to my knowledge that some years ago some discoveries had been made in the garden of a house on Cotmandene, Dorking.  Mr Turner…was digging for sand in his garden when he found a small cinerary urn (see illustration), with ashes in it.  The height is only 5 inches, the diameter across the top about 4 inches, but at the widest part 5⅜.  The urn is so small that it probably contained the ashes of a child: it is wheel-made, but badly; the diameter is not precisely the same across the top from every direction: Mr Reginald Smith attributes it to the first century BC.  Some fragments of other urns were found.  Mr Turner has kindly presented the whole specimen to the Society’s Museum.  At a lower depth in the same garden were numerous flints, some implements, many flakes, and traces of a hearth with several burnt stones. These clearly belonged to an earlier date, considerably, than the interments, but as the finds were made about 1906-7, and not investigated till this year, it is impossible to be precise about the depth at which they occurred.”

References:

  1. Malden, H.E., “A Cinerary Urn and other Matters found at Dorking and Betchforth,” in Surrey Archaeological Collections, volume 26, 1913.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Cairns, Tombs, Tumuli, England (south), Surrey | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cock Howe (1), Skelton Moor, Marske, North Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – NZ 0811 0063

Getting Here

Cock Howe cairn, Skelton Moor

Take the minor high road between the hamlets of Marske and Fremington (up Hard Stiles from Marske side), turning up Stelling Road at the crossroads, and ⅔-mile (1.1km) along, turn right up Helwith Road. ¾-mile (1.2km) along, on the right, walk thru the gate onto the moor following the walling.  Nearly 400 yards on you meet a junction of walling: walk past this until you reach the next line of walling and then follow it northeast for just over 500 yards. Once there, look for the mounds in the heather immediately south, less than 50 yards away.

Archaeology & History

This is one of the “isolated cairns of fair size” mentioned in passing by Tim Laurie (1985) in his survey of the massive settlement and field systems scattering this gorgeous moorland arena.  It is one amongst a scatter of several in and around the eastern height of Cock Howe hill on the south side of Skelton Moor.  The area has sadly been scarred by an excess of old lime mines—many of which are visible close by—damaging with some severity the excess of prehistoric remains on these moors, none of which have yet been excavated in any detail.  This cairn included.

Secondary cairn visible to rear

Even though much of the heather here had been burnt back when James Elkington and I visited the place recently, the pile of stones was still very embedded into the peat.  The moorland rabbits had dislodged some of the stones, highlighting the mass of rocks much better.  It stands nearly a metre high and is roughly 7 yards by 8 yards in diameter from edge to edge, structurally similar to the many Bronze Age cairns scattering Rombalds Moor, Askwith Moor and other Yorkshire clusters.  A second cairn of similar size and stature exists some 30 yards to the southeast (visible on one of the photos).

For anyone who might visit this site, the most impressive features hereby are the huge settlement remains scattering the moors just north of the wall a few yards away.  When the heather has been burnt back, a veritable prehistoric city unfolds before your eyes, with extensive lengths of walling, hut circles and what can only be described as huge halls, in which tribal meetings probably occurred – much of it in superb condition!  Well worth visiting.

References:

  1. Laurie, T.C., “Early Land Division and Settlement in Swaledale,” in Upland Settlement in Britain: the Second Millennium B.C. and After, ed. Don Spratt and Colin Burgess, BAR British Series 143, 1985.
  2. Martlew, R.D., Prehistory in the Yorkshire Dales, YDLRT: York 2011.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Brigantia (Northern England), Cairns, Tombs, Tumuli, Yorkshire, North | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Nor Hill, Skipton Moor, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 02181 51125

Getting Here

Nor Hill cup-marked stone

Along the A65 near Draughton, go (south) uphill at Height Lane until it levels out.  ¾-mile (1.2km) up, a modernized stone milepost is where the road crosses the ancient Roman Road. From here, walk west for just over a mile (1.8km), past the trees on yer right, until you approach a small copse on yer right. In the field just before the copse, walk uphill until you reach the highest of the two rises and walk about. You’re damn close!

Archaeology & History

Cup-markings

This small cup-marked rock was rediscovered by Chris Swales in April 2018.  It’s probably only for the purist petroglyph fanatics amongst you, consisting of just a single cup-mark on its vertical west-face, and another near its top western edge.  Official records show no other carvings in the immediate vicinity, but local antiquarians may find it profitable in surveying the area.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Brigantia (Northern England), Cup-and-Ring Stones, Yorkshire, North | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments