Middleton Moor Carving 002, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1154 5202

Photo by Richard Stroud

Photo by Richard Stroud

Getting Here

To find this, follow exactly the same directions as that of the Middleton Moor Carving 001, which is just a few yards away. Both of these stones may take some finding when the heather’s deep — but when we first discovered them, the heather had recently been burnt back.

Archaeology & History

This small rounded stone had a covering of vegetation on it when Richard Stroud and I first discovered it in April 2005, with just a couple of cups visible, but once the heather’d been carefully rolled back, another fine carving greeted our keen-eyed petroglyphic senses!

Drawing of the carving

Drawing of the carving

...and again!

At least eight cups seem apparent here, though once Richard had the photos processed there appeared to be a couple of things on the stone which we hadn’t noticed when in the field (a common cup&ring dilemma). One of the most curious parts of the stone seems to be the winding line near the bottom of the stone. Make of it what you will!

Just a couple of yards east of this carving we find the rounded remains of a single burial cairn, probably for just one person, just like as with Middleton Moor 001.  This site could do with excavating, as we may have a small neolithic or Bronze-Age cemetery hiding under the heath.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Middleton Moor 001, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 11545 52017

Photo by Richard Stroud

Photo by Richard Stroud

Getting Here

Go up the long winding Ilkley-Langbar country moorland road.  A coupla miles along there’s a sharp bend in the road, left, with a dirt-track here that takes you onto the moors.  Walk up here to the shooting house just east of Black Hill in the Middleton Moor enclosure and, once there, walk up the steepish slope to the left (west). Once on the level, head to the wall and about halfway along, look around.  If the heather’s long and deep you’ll be lucky to find it.  Good luck!

Archaeology & History

Photo by Richard Stroud

Photo by Richard Stroud

Sketch of the carving

Sketch of the carving

The carving was first discovered by Richard Stroud and I in April, 2005, amidst one of several exploratory outings to records known sites and, aswell, to keep our eyes peeled in the hope that we might find some new ones!  This was the first we came across; but when we found it, just one faint cup seemed noticeable on the southern edge of the small rounded stone; but after fifteen minutes of carefully rolling back the vegetation, this very well-preserved carving was eventually unveiled before us.  It’s in quite excellent condition!  The most notable part of the design are the two deep cup-markings, with the topmost cup looking half-surrounded by smaller cups on its southern edge.

There is also a well-preserved, though overgrown burial cairn (probably for one person) just a few yards west of this stone.  This is just about impossible to see unless the heather’s been burnt back.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Maxey Cursus, Cambridgeshire

Cursus:  OS Grid Reference – TF 125 078

Archaeology & History

Much of this site has unfortunately been completely destroyed.  Thought by Colin Burgess (2001) to be one of the earliest cursus monuments,  it was Paul Devereux (1989) who gave the clearest early description of this site,* telling:

“This site is to be found…between the village of Maxey and the River Welland, south of Market Deeping. When discovered by aerial photography the cursus was already partially destroyed… The northwest segment ‘starts’ almost on the banks of the Welland and goes southeast on a straight course to an obliterated point where a change of alignment occurred, and the cursus continues in a different direction. The total known length is 1930 yards (1.77km), and the width averages 190 feet (58 metres). The ditches themselves display subtly different orientations, but are in straight sections. The investigations of F. Pryor suggests that the northwest length of the cursus was constructed long after the southeast portion, when the latter’s ditches had become silted up (banks do not seem to have been present). The southernmost ditch of the southeastern section bisects two circular sites. Site A is particularly interesting. It occurs just east of the…change in direction, or junction of the two cursuses if such was the case.”

And such is the case, as recent discoveries have found. But before this was known for sure, Devereux wrote, that “a segment of cursus ditch emerges from this vaguely henge-like site, 450 feet in diameter, in the direction of the nearby church” of St. Peter.

The “henge-like site” described here has been defined by Oswald, Dyer and Barber (2001) as one of the enigmatic ’causewayed enclosure’ monuments – out of which emerges the other seperate alignment, the Etton Cursus, heading southeast.

References:

Burgess, Colin, The Age of Stonehenge, Phoenix: London 2001.
Loveday, Colin, Inscribed Across the Landscape, Tempus: Stroud 2006.
Oswald, A., Dyer, C. & Barber, M., The Creation of Monuments, EH: Swindon 2001.
Pennick, N. & Devereux. P., Lines on the Landscape, Hale: London 1989.
Pryor, Francis, Britain BC, Harper-Collins: London 2003.

* The OS-reference for this site is of the northwestern end of the cursus. The southeastern terminal is at TF139063.

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Maen Cattwg, Gelligaer, Glamorganshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – ST 1269 9744

Also Known as:

  • Gelli-Gaer carving
  • Maen Catwg

Getting Here

From Gelligaer, take the northernern road up Heol Adam for 2-300 yards, where you’ll see a footpath on your left taking you into the fields. Walk up the path and as it crosses the wall and bends due east, you’ll see the boulder in the middle of the field. That’s it!

Archaeology & History

Across the road from Tir-y-Rhen is this singular flat boulder, measuring about 10ft x 6ft, with at least 33 full cup-markings etched on it. Described briefly in Chris Houlder’s (1974) Welsh Archaeological guide, then more recently in John Sharkey’s (2004) Welsh rock-art book where he told there to be perhaps another seventeen cups on its surface, the Royal Commission (1976) lads gave us the surity of definition in their survey of neolithic sites in the region. A kilometre north of Gelligaer, some 260m above sea level, we find this well-preserved carved rock:

“An approximately rectangular block…much weathered at at the corners…2.6m long NE-SW, by 1.7m wide, and about 0.6m thick.  The upper surface is covered with a haphazard series of 33 cup-marks varying from 40 to 115mm in diameter, and from 5 to 60mm deep… There are also 17 more cup-marks which are too weathered for precise measurement, but whose presence is certain.  Other may have been completely worn away.  Two more slabs of stone are just visible under the west corner of the main stone, suggesting the possibility that the cup-marks were made on the capstone of a cromlech, now collapsed.”

An earlier account by Wheeler (1925) described a number of lines or channels linking some cup-marks to each other, but these are now very difficult to see.  I’ll hopefully get some decent images of this carving sometime soon!

References:

Houlder, Chris, Wales: An Archaeological Guide, Faber: London 1974.
Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Wales, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan – Volume 1: Pre-Norman, Part 1: The Stone and Bronze Ages, HMSO: Cardiff 1976.
Sharkey, John, The Meeting of the Tracks, Gwas carreg gwalch: Llanwrst 2004.
Wheeler, R.E.M., Prehistoric and Roman Wales, Oxford University Press 1925.

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Lower Apronful of Stones, Pendle Hill, Lancashire

‘Cairn’:  OS Grid Reference – SD 778 390

Getting Here

Park up at the Nick of Pendle and follow directions to the Devil’s Apronful of Stones, but about halfway along the path, bear to the right along a swerving footpath which eventually takes you to another guiding cairn. On the OS-maps there’s the Chartist’s Well 100 yards due west of this old overgrown tomb.

Archaeology & History

The much-overgrown Lower Apronful, with modern cairn on top

The much-overgrown Lower Apronful cairn

Seemingly excluded from all previous archaeological surveys, this is a very large structure indeed.  Crowned with a small modern cairn on its top marking a small footpath crossing the site, this very large cairn-like structure is about four feet tall at the highest.  I first came across it at the end of August, 2006, after going through some folklore records which then led to exploring the area in the hope that there might be some archaeological ruins in the region — and we weren’t to be disappointed!

Outline of extended monument

Outline of extended monument

This giant cairn structure is larger than the denuded remains of the Devil’s Apronful cairn that can be seen a few hundred yards further uphill, but is almost entirely overgrown with grasses.  It measures at least 31 yards (east-west) by 29 yards (north-south) and is just like an overgrown Little Skirtful of Stones on Burley Moor. Parts of its eastern side have been dislodged and the main rock structure is plainly visible where the vegetation has come away.  A ringed embankment is also very clear, mainly on the north and eastern sides of this large structure (as one of the photos here shows), but on the whole it is overgrown and ruinous.  It’s a brilliant spot though and sorely needs some proper archaeological attention.  In the event that this site aint a prehistoric cairn, please lemme know so I can delete it from TNA.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Black Hill Long Cairn, Low Bradley, Skipton, North Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0092 4756

Also Known as:

  1. Black Hill Long Barrow
  2. Bradley Moor Long Barrow
  3. Bradley Moor Long Cairn
  4. King’s Cairn

Getting Here

Follow the same directions for getting to the Black Hill Round Cairn.  It’s less than 100 yards away – you can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

This is a superb archaeological site — and it’s bloody huge! It’s big and it’s long and it sticks out a bit – which is pretty unique in this part of the Pennines, as most other giant cairns tend to be of the large round variety.  Although the site was originally defined by Arthur Raistrick (1931) as a long barrow, J.J. Keighley (1981) told how, “it was found to be a round cairn imposed on a long cairn.”  And it’s an old one aswell…

Near the SE end of the giant cairn

Close-up of the main cist

More than 220 feet long and 80 feet in diameter at its widest southeastern end, as we walk along the length of the cairn to its northwestern edge, its main body averages (only!) 45 feet in diameter.  Made up of tens of thousands of rocks and reported by Butterfield (1939) to have had an upright stone along its major axis, the “height varies from 4-8ft, but the cairn has been much despoiled and disturbed,” said Cowling in 1946. He also told how,

“Excavation revealed that almost in the centre of the mound were the remains of a cist made of roughly dressed stone flags and dry walling, covered by a large stone. Under a stone slab, laid on the floor of the cist, were fragments of (burnt and unburnt) bone and a small flint chipping.”

This is a very impressive site and deserving of more modern analysis. The alignment of the tomb, SE-NW, was of obvious importance to the builders, believed to be late-neolithic in character.  The tomb aligns to two large hills in the far distance in the Forest of Bowland which we were unable to identity for certain.  If anyone knows their names, please let us know!

Folklore

The older folk of Bradley village below here, tell of the danger of disturbing this old tomb. In a tale well-known to folklorists, it was said that when the first people went up to open this tomb for the very first time, it was a lovely day. But despite being warned, as the archaeologists began their dig, a great storm of thunder, lightning and hailstones erupted from a previously peaceful sky and disturbed them that much that they took off and left the old tomb alone. (I must check this up in the archaeo-records to see if owt’s mentioned about it.)

References:

  1. Ashbee, Paul, The Earthen Long Barrow in Britain, Geo Books: Norwick 1984.
  2. Butterfield, A., ‘Structural Details of a Long Barrow on Black Hill, Bradley Moor,’ in YAJ 34, 1939.
  3. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  4. Keighley, J.J., ‘The Prehistoric Period,’ in Faull & Moorhouse’s West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey, I, WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.
  5. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘Prehistoric Burials at Waddington and Bradley,’ in YAJ 30, 1931.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Black Hill Round Cairn, Low Bradley Moor, Skipton, North Yorkshire

Cairn:  OS Grid Reference – SE 008 475

Also Known as:

  1. Black Hill Cairn
  2. Bradley Moor Round Cairn
  3. Queen’s Cairn
The Black Hill Round Cairn, Bradley Moor - looking north

The Black Hill Round Cairn, Bradley Moor – looking north

Getting Here

Various ways here.  Best is probably taking the footpath onto Farnhill Moor a few hundred yards east of Kildwick Hall.  Head for the cross-bearing Jubilee Tower (supposedly built upon an ancient cairn), NW, keep going past it uphill until you reach the walling 350 yards north, where a seat let’s you have a rest.  Climb over the wall! Alternatively, walk eastwards and up through the steep but gorgeous birch-wooded slopes of Farnhill Wood; and as the moortop opens up before you, the great pile of rocks surmounts the skyline ahead. You can’t miss it! (NB: the spot cited on the OS-map as the cairn is in fact another site, 100 yards NW)

Archaeology & History

Its an awesome place in an awesome setting. You can see 360-degrees all round from this giant mass of rocks — something which was of obvious importance to the people who built it. If it had been placed 20-30 yards either side of here, that characteristic would not occur. Indeed, this is the only place anywhere on these moors where such a great view was possible. Important geomancy, as they say (or whatever modern term they give it these days).

Bradley Moor Cairn - looking down to the Long Cairn

Bradley Moor Cairn – looking down to the Long Cairn

Small section of the old cairn

Although the tomb is still of considerable size (at least 100 feet across) and made up of thousands of stones, it has been severely robbed of stone in years passed, for walling and other building materials.  A number of other small cairns scatter the heathlands a few hundred yards roundabout this central giant (though are hard to find in the deep heather); and there is a distinct cairn circle about 100 yards to the northwest, which has yet to be excavated.  This cairn circle can be made out quite easily if you stand on the ridge about 30 yards west of here, looking down the slope.  An then of course we have the equally huge  Black Hill Long Cairn, less than 100 away, aligned northwest-southeast, which obviously had an important archaeological relationship with this giant round cairn.  Also around this and the adjacent long cairn, numerous flints and scrapers have been found, showing humans have been here since at least the early neolithic period.

This site in particular gives me the distinct impression that it was the most important of the various sites upon these moors. It’s got a distinctly female flavour to it – and it’s old name of the Queen’s Cairn seems just right.  Maybe it’s the fact that when I first visited the place, a great thunderstorm broke through the previously perfect skies, scattering lightning bolts all round for perhaps thirty minutes — so I stripped down and held my arms outwards, screaming to the skies in the pouring rain!  Thereafter, no clouds appeared in the skies for the rest of the day.  It was a brilliant welcome to the place!

References:

  1. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  2. Keighley, J.J., ‘The Prehistoric Period,’ in Faull & Moorhouse’s West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey, I, WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.
  3. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘Prehistoric Burials at Waddington and Bradley,’ in YAJ 119, 1936.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Long Bredy Cursus, Dorset

Cursus:  OS Grid Reference – SY 573 912

Also Known as:

  • Martin’s Down Cursus

Archaeology & History

Very little of this site can be discerned. Indeed in 1989 Paul Devereux said no remains were visible at ground level, although its western end is marked by the Long Bredy burial mound.  Sitting amidst a mass of later neolithic and Bronze Age ceremonial remains, this old cursus was aligned east-west.  Devereux told how,

“the extended axis of the cursus…to the east, goes through a group of round barrows on the crest of a ridge on Black Down about a mile away. If diagrammatic material published by an investigating archaeologist is accurate, the alignment continues to the Nine Stones circle…immediately by the roadside a short distance west of Winterbourne Abbas.”

The monument has been measured at be at least 130 yards (100m) long and 28 yards in diameter at its greatest point.

References:

Pennick, Nigel & Devereux, Paul, Lines on the Landscape, Robert Hale: London 1989.

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Litton Cheney, Dorset

Timber Circle / Earthworks:  OS Grid Reference – SY 556 917

Getting Here

From Litton Cheney go north up the White Way road until it meets the main A35 crossroad.  Go across the road, then get over the fence on your right and onto the rise in the hill.  These earthworks, or timber circle remains, are under your feet!

Archaeology & History

Lay-out of site by O.G.S. Crawford, 1939

Lay-out of site by O.G.S. Crawford, 1939

Shown on modern OS-maps as an ‘earthwork’, but ascribed elsewhere as a timber circle, when Stuart & C.M. Piggott visited and surveyed this site in the 1930s, they thought it to be the remains of stone circle.  Found on a prominent rise in the landscape with excellent views all round here, the Piggott’s description of the site told:

“It consists of a shallow ditch with internal bank, enclosing a somewhat oval area measuring 75 feet from north to south, and 63 feet from east to west. The ditch, which lies on the southeast, where the ground has been disturbed, does not reach a depth of more than about one foot, while the bank rises nowhere above 2.5 feet. It is possible there was an entrance on the southeast, but the bank is disturbed at this point. On the crest of the bank on the southwest are 3 almost circular depressions, some 6 feet in diameter, and placed 20 feet distant from one another along the circumference of the bank. Another similar depression is on the northeast, while yet another may have existed in the disturbed portion of the bank on the southeast.”

It was these finds which led them to suppose a ring of stones originally surmounted this small hillock, twelve in all.

Lay-out of the circular remains, by O.G.S. Crawford

Ground-plan by O.G.S. Crawford

Another site — which they called ‘Litton Cheney 2’ — was found less than 50 yards to the east of here by a Mr W.E.V. Young and the Piggotts.  These remains comprised of, “a very shallow and regular ditch surrounding a circular area 47 feet in diameter.  A single sarsen lies on the inner lip of the ditch on the southeast” which, they thought, may have been the solitary remains of yet another stone circle. Three other sarsen stones were found 90 feet south of here, but they were unsure whether they related to the circle or not.

Archaeological remains from here dated from 2200-1400 BC and local researcher Peter Knight (1996) thought that the sites ascribed here as megalithic rings to be correct.  He also found that tumuli visible some 5 or 6 miles southeast of here, on top of Black Down Hill (where the Hardy Monument’s found), “marks out the winter solstice sunrise.”  A dip in the horizon to the northwest, he claims, also marks the summer solstice sunset from here.  Knight also mentions how “both Litton Cheney sites lie close to a ley line going to the Nine Stone Circle and beyond.”

References:

Knight, Peter, Ancient Stones of Dorset, Power: Ferndown 1996.
Piggott, Stuart & C.M., ‘Stone and Earth Circles in Dorset,’ in Antiquity, June 1939.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Lechlade Cursus, Gloucestershire

Cursus:  OS Grid Reference – SP 212 004

Archaeology & History

In Devereux’s (1989) early assessment of our enigmatic cursus monuments, he wrote the following brief notes of this particular site:

“The crop marks of another fragmentary cursus were found in Gloucestershire immediately north of Lechlade, to the west of the River Leach. The crop marks aligned northwest-southeast for 174 yards (160 metres) and were 160 feet (50 metres) wide. Only the square northwest end is known. Excavations were carried out in 1965 in advance of gravel workings. No finds were reported, but two out of three cuttings revealed a post-hole on the inside of the ditch.”

References:

Pennick, Nigel & Devereux, Paul, Lines on the Landscape, Hale: London 1989.

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