Bradup Stone Circle, Morton Moor, West Yorkshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 0898 4393

Also known as:

  1. Bradup Bridge
  2. Brass Castle
  3. Kirkstones Circle

Archaeology & History

Lay-out of the site, c.1929 (after Raistrick)

Lay-out of the site, c.1929 (after Raistrick)

Not far from the little-known site of Beacon Hill, this once important megalithic ring was described by Arthur Raistrick in 1929 as “the finest stone circle” in West Yorkshire.  Sadly however, the complete destruction of the place in recent years has now left us with nothing to go by (you would think such actions were illegal, but we’ll come to that shortly).

The site measured thirty feet across and, until only a few years back, had a distinct embankment surrounding it.  In 1885 Robert Collyer described 18 stones here; but in Raistrick’s (1929) survey only 12 were visible.  A newspaper account of the site in 1960 reported that 12 stones were still in situ and that “there are large holes from which the other stones have been removed.”  This fact was echoed by a local walker, Ken Pickles, who knew the site well and said:

“I first walked this moor in 1945,” he says. “In the late 1960s there were definitely 12 there. It was a perfect stone circle. It offends me that children should be denied things like this.”

As if to affirm the status and number of stones again, when archaeologist Ian Longworth (1965) wrote about it he told that,

“Twelve stones remain in this badly damaged circle, which measures about 30 feet across.   The stones are of local millstone grit.  Several seem to have been removed from the site to repair Bradup Bridge.”

Sid Jackson’s old drawing

By 1995 only one stone was in situ, but a very distinct circular embankment was still in evidence.   I sat here quite a few times when I was younger, munching mi sarnies, having a rest, alone and with friends (once in the company of holy wells author Edna Whelan and fellow rock art researcher and author Graeme Chappell) before journeying back home.  It seemed that at least one other stone was buried just beneath the grassy surface on the northeastern side of the banking.

Arthur Raistrick’s (1929) plan shows that at least two stones stood near the centre of the circle, which may have related to a solstice sunrise alignment with the old standing stone at nearby Black Knoll hill on Morton Moor (replaced at an unknown date in the past by a stone cross).  And when Mr Raistrick told this to be the best stone circle in the region, he knew what he talking about!  He had surveyed many other prehistoric remains and was the leading archaeological authority in the region at the time.  Today, we have no such professional authority in the region who is worthy of such an accolade.  The sorry series of events that led to the destruction of Bradup’s stone circle took a little time to emerge, but after a series of emails to various departments several years ago, the culpability seemed to spread across several people, each of whom made simple mistakes; but these were mistakes that have led directly to Bradup’s demise.  I hope some of you will forgive me telling its story…

I first received an email from a colleague in 2002 asking whether or not I was aware of what seemed to be the final destruction of the Bradup stone circle, as the land-owner from Upwood Farm had been over the field and uprooted some buried stones — plus the last visible upright in the ring — and moved them into a pile at the top southern-end of the field in which the circle previously stood.  So a small bunch of us went over to have a look and, much to our horror, found the report to be true.  The field itself had been completely levelled and the circular embankment flattened, with the upright stone and any buried ones dragged and dropped into the pile of stones that obviously constituted the megalithic structure we’d sat within and visited so many times down the years.  Someone — the land-owner it seemed — quite recently in early 2002, had destroyed the Bradup stone circle.

How the hell had this happened…!?

In 2006, Pippa Pemberton was the person working for English Heritage who had the stately title of ‘Field Monument Warden for West Yorkshire’ and elsewhere — and it was Pippa who told the sorry tale, albeit through the well-disguised erudition of avoiding blame to any of them!

I will publish full details of her email and the names of the people responsible for its destruction in the near future… (to be continued…)

Folklore

Also known as the Brass Castle and the Kirkstones (indicating it as a place of worship), this site was reputedly haunted. The name “Kirkstones” probably derives from the rock outcrop 800 yards north of here, where the stones which made this site may have come from.  A dowsing survey found there to be water beneath the circle, but this wasn’t mapped.

References:

  1. Anonymous, “Brass Castle,” in Telegraph & Argus, 9 September, 1960.
  2. Anonymous, “Stone Circle Wrecked, Says Walker,” in Telegraph & Argus, October 5, 1990.
  3. Anonymous, “Mystery Surrounds Vanishing Circle,” in Telegraph & Argus, 31 January 1998.
  4. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann 2001.
  5. Collyer, Robert, Ilkley, Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
  6. Longworth, Ian H., Regional Archaeologies: Yorkshire, Cory, Adams & MacKay: London 1965.
  7. Pemberton, Pippa, “Scheduling and Location of the Bradup Site,” personal email, March 2006.
  8. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘The Bronze Age in West Yorkshire,’ in Yorkshire Archaeology Journal, 1929.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

The Northern Antiquarian – Charity Number SCO-46359

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About megalithix

Prehistorian and independent archaeological researcher, specializing in prehistoric rock art, Neolithic, Bronze Age & Iron Age sites, and the animistic cosmologies of pre-Christian & traditional cultures.
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