If you wanna drive here, be prepared for a long uphill winding haul, with poor turning and parking spots. But from the central roundabout in Todmorden, take the road diagonally across as if you’re going to the train station, and barely 50 yards up, take the right turn under the railways arches, bearing sharp left, then up the steep zigzagging road for a mile or so. You’ll eventually reach Stones Lane on your left. Go down this, nearly to the end, slowly – and keep your eyes peeled until you see the big one! You can’t miss it! If you wanna walk up, take the Calderdale Way route up past Dobroyd Castle, and where you get to the top of the hill and the fields open up ahead of you, look down the slope into the field for one stone, and up past the shrubs to Centre Hill. You can’t miss ’em!
Archaeology & History
This is a quite extraordinary sight to those who visit here for the first time. Moreso because, until very recently, the place was excluded from all text-books and surveys. But if you like your megaliths, this place is well worth the trek up the hill. You’ll be amazed! The tallest and largest of these giant monoliths was recorded when a team from Ordnance Survey mapped the area in 1844, but gave no antiquated note to it. When another Ordnance Survey team re-surveyed the area again in 1911, they noted two other ‘stones’ three fields away to the northeast. More than a decade later, the industrialist historian Abraham Newall (1925) described them at some length in his fine work on the region.
The first thing generally noticed is the 12-foot tall standing stone near the bottom of the field (stone 1). Then you’ll see the curiously-worked thin standing stone, nearly as tall, on the hillock at the top of the same field (stone 2). This stone has been surmounted onto an old millstone and the hillock itself was once an old beacon hill. Then on the other side of the road a few hundred yards along, another stone just over 4-feet tall can be seen (stone 3); and in the same field is another one laid down at the side of a well (stone 4). This stone used to stand just where the water appears. It’s seems probable that other standing stones may once have been in close attendance, but have been destroyed over time.
Stone 1 is hemmed in at the base by several stones, giving the impression that it was resurrected at some time in the recent past. Several local stories attest to this. Stone 2 was once further down in the same field but was moved to its present position in the 19th century and was, it is alleged, moved there to commemorate the Battle of Waterloo. Several local historians contest this. Stone 3 has nothing said of it; apart from by the local farmer who said it once had a companion (as illustrated on the early map, above). We were told that this companion (stone 4) was uprooted and a spring of water appeared where it stood, so they laid it down in the position it still occupies, just by the spring 10 yards into the field.
If you’re into megaliths and live in Yorkshire or Lancashire, check these beauties out! Just respect the local farmer – he’s not into ignorant tourists clambering over walls. (don’t say you’ve not been warned!)
- Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
- Newell, Abraham, A Hillside View of Industrial History, J. Bentley: Todmorden 1925.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian