Neriby, Bridgend, Islay

Standing Stone (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NR 359 605

Archaeology & History

This is another standing stone whose days are seemingly long gone.  It was last recorded in 1878 as being about 300 yards northwest of the old farmhouse at Neriby.  The old stone stood more than six-feet tall, but appears to have gone.  Anyone journeying this way might wanna scour the ground to see if the fella’s remains can be seen lying around anywhere – though the fact that an old quarry was dug hereabouts doesn’t bode well for a successful hunt.  There are, however, remains of an old tumulus a bit further up the way…

References:

Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll – volume 5: Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Oronsay, HMSO: Edinburgh 1984.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Argyll & Bute, Hebrides, Inner, Islay (Isle of), Standing Stones | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Worm Well, Fatfield, Durham

Sacred Well: OS Grid Reference – NZ 3115 5401

Getting Here

This seems a bittova cheat really – and on two counts: i) I aint been here yet; and ii) we’re not sure that there’s any remains left to be seen.  But these notes might produce a result, so direction pointers are worthwhile I reckon!  Various ways to come, but you need to end up on the weird-sounding Bonemill Lane – whether you get there via Worm Hill Terrace or Biddick Lane aint important.  Once on the right road, you wanna stand by the supposedly haunted Biddick Inn, and walk down the road a short distance until you reach a path on your right which heads up towards the ruined Worm Hill.  Halfway along here – or thereaboots – the old Worm Well could once be seen.

Archaeology & History

This was initially very difficult to pin down with any certainty, though after a few hours investigation, Keighley archives researcher Michala Potts found it highlighted on a field-map of the region from 1750, as the illustration here clearly shows.

Map highlighting the Worm Well, 1750

Map highlighting Worm Well, 1750

During its “missing years”, several accounts describe the well as being between Worm Hill and the River Wear, which is what’s clearly shown here.  So the possible confusion there may have been (which I initially had aswell) between the riverside spring opposite the pub and the now missing Quarry Well on the far western side of Worm Hill, can at least been dispelled.   The position of the site was described by the holy wells writer, Alan Cleaver [1985], who told that “the well still exists, having been restored in 1974, at the foot of Worm Hill at Penshaw on the north bank of the river.”  Local history records tell that a plaque commemorating the site was put here the same year; and this note is again confirmed in Paul Screeton’s [1978] excellent survey of the dragon legends hereabouts.  Records from the mid-18th century tell that the Worm Well possessed “a cover and an iron dish or ladle” (Binnall & Dodds 1943) to protect the waters.

Folklore

We find from old records that in the middle of the 18th century, “it was a wishing well and a place of festivity on Midsummer Eve.”  The common veneration of crooked pins were offered at this legendary site.

…And then, of course, we have the great Legend of the Lambton Worm, whose spirit form gives this site so much importance.  This well-known folk-tale tells that the great serpent emerged from this very water source.  In this renowned creation myth of the landscape, and the sites upon it, we have the dragon, the cailleach, the waters, and more…

In a recent narrative of the Lambton Worm story, author Karen Liebreich (2012) sent us an excerpt from her new book, UneXplained: Spine-tingling tales from Real Places in Great Britain and Ireland, which outlines more of the tale.  Karen writes:

“Simon, the heir to Lambton Castle, was a wild boy who never paid attention to his lessons or his elders. He liked only to play with the local boys from the village and their games were rough and annoyed other people. They went joy-riding with carts and donkeys, they stole apples from the trees, they frightened younger children. They liked to go hunting for rabbits and fishing for eels in the local river. The lord of the manor, Simon’s father, thought his son should behave better since one day he would be in charge. Simon could not be bothered.

“One Sunday, when he should have been in church, Simon played truant with Stephen, his friend, and two other boys from the village, and went fishing in the river Wear.  After hours of dull waiting, chatting and eating their picnic, Simon caught a strange-looking animal. It did not look like the regular eels and small fish they usually caught. It was no longer than his finger, dark green and with two little fins on its back. Its skin was rough and scaly, and it had four short legs, with sharp clawed feet. Its face was repellent, with a long pointed snout, twelve little teeth sharp as pins, and red glowing eyes.

“Stephen peered over Simon’s shoulder at the animal. “Yuk, throw it back,” headvised. But Simon had caught nothing else, and he was intrigued by the little beast. He put it in his pouch. As the boys walked home, kicking stones and chatting, they noticed a foul smell. It came from Simon’s pouch. They were just passing the well by the castle, so Simon tossed the squirming worm in, and promptly forgot all about it….”

Read the rest of the story in on Kindle at – http://amzn.to/SsjKK6

…to be continued…

References:

  1. UneXplained - LiebreichBinnall, P.B.G. & Dodds, M.H., ‘Holy Wells in Northumberland and Durham,’ in Proc. Soc. Antiq. Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 4th series, volume 10:2, January 1943.
  2. Cleaver, Alan, ‘Holy Wells – Wormholes in Reality,’ in Source magazine, no.3, November 1985.
  3. Liebreich, Karen, UneXplained: Spine-tingling tales from Real Places in Great Britain and Ireland, Kindle 2012.
  4. Screeton, Paul, The Lambton Worm and other Northumbrian Dragon Legends, Zodiac House: London 1978.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Brigantia (Northern England), Durham, Holy Wells | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Caesar’s Camp, Bracknell, Berkshire

Hillfort:  OS Grid Reference – SU 863 657

Archaeology & History

Described by Steve Ford (1987) as “the only known example of a hillfort in East Berkshire,” this much overgrown site encloses an area covering 7.8 hectares.  It was first started around 700 BC and thought to be a northern outpost for the Atrebates tribe.  However, just over the northern edge of the ramparts, less than half a mile away, a group of seven round barrows were once in evidence, indicating that the the flat plateau on which the hillfort stands would have been of use prior to its construction (Hawkes 1973).  The site is described as follows:

“The earthworks consist of a single bank and ditch on the northwest, while elsewhere there is an additional outer bank.  At the southern side, the ramparts include a second ditch and a third bank… At present there are four entrances: north, south, east and west, but it would seem that only the eastern and western entrances are contemporary with the construction of the hillfort.”

The site was known to be of use by the Romans when they got here, as a coin of Cunobelin and Roman pottery has been uncovered here — though a Roman road does pass by a short distance south, so such finds would be expected.

References:

  1. Ford, Steve, East Berkshire Archaeological Survey, Berkshire County Council 1987.
  2. Hawkes, Jacquetta, Prehistoric and Roman Monuments in England and Wales, BCA: London 1973.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Hastings Hill Cursus, Sunderland, Durham

Cursus: OS Grid Reference – NZ 3555 5381

Also known as:

  1. Hasting Hill

Archaeology & History

Aerial view of Hasting Hill cursus & enclosure remains

Aerial view of Hasting Hill cursus & enclosure remains

This site was discovered in the 1980s, following aerial surveying of the region.  The survey uncovered a number of previously unknown archaeological monuments in relative proximity to each other; the Hastings Hill cursus being just one.  There was also a causewayed enclosure and some round barrows some 700 yards south of Hastings Hill Farm. Although no distinctive remains of the earthworks can still be seen on the surface, limited excavation confirmed that significant remains survive beneath the ground. (in the aerial image here, note that the cursus in question aint the long thin crop-mark running to the top-left, but is the small, slightly rounded-end linear feature nearly touching the bottom-right of the oval enclosure)

A brief description of the remains on the Sunderland Council website gives the following information:

“Sections of the ditches of both the cursus and causewayed enclosure were excavated by the Department of Archaeology, University of Durham in 1980. The cursus is orientated north-south. At its northern terminus the cursus is 47m wide and is defined by a 1m wide, asymmetrical ‘V’ shaped ditch, which was 0.4m deep. The southern terminus has not been identified, but the cursus is at least 400m long. The causewayed enclosure lies 10m north west of the northern terminus of the cursus. It is an irregular oval, 92m by 65m, with its long axis orientated north-west, south-east defined by a 1m-2.2m wide ditch, which is 0.2m-0.3m deep. It has entrances in the north west and south east perimeter of the enclosure. One of the round barrows, which is 9m in diameter, is on the eastern perimeter of the enclosure. The other round barrow ditches are located just east of the cursus, 400m south of the causewayed enclosure. One of these has been measured at 20m-22m diameter. The cursus, causewayed enclosure and round barrows are interpreted as being of Neolithic date.”

References:

  1. Horne, P.D., MacLeod, P. & Oswald, A., ‘A Probable Neolithic Causewayed Enclosure in the North of England,’ in Antiquity Journal, March 2001.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Brigantia (Northern England), Cursus Monuments, Durham | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Roms Law, Burley Moor, West Yorkshire

Ring Cairn: OS Grid Reference – SE 13648 44719

Also known as:

  1. Grubstones Circle
  2. Rumbles Law
  3. Rums Law

Getting Here

Early drawing of 'Grubstones'

Early drawing of ‘Grubstones’

Get to the Twelve Apostles stone circle, then walk just 100 yards down the main footpath south, towards Bingley, and watch out for a small footpath immediately to your left.  Walk on here and head for the rocky outcrop a half-mile ahead of you.  Once past the outcrop, take the first footpath right and walk down for another 100 yards.  Stop! – and walk into the heather.  The circle’s about 50 yards away!  You can of course come from the Menston side of the moor, following the same directions for the Great Skirtful of Stones, but keep walking on for another 200 yards, towards the rocky outcrop again, turning left down the path for 100 yards, before stopping and walking 50 yards into the heath again!

Archaeology & History

Roms Law circle

Roms Law circle

This is one of my favourite sites on these moors. I’m not 100% sure why – but there’s always been something a bit odd about the place. And I don’t quite know what I mean, exactly, when I say “odd.” There’s just something about it… But it’s probably just me.  Though I assume that me sleeping rough here numerous times in the past might have summat to do with it, playing with the lizards, and of course…the sheep… AHEM!!! Soz about that – let’s just get back to what’s known about the place!

Grubstones is an intriguing place and, I recommend, recovers its original name of Roms or Rums Law.  It was described as such in the earliest records and only seems to have acquired the title ‘Grubstones’ following the Ordnance Survey assessment in the 1850s.  The name derives from two compound words, rum, ‘room, space, an open space, a clearing’; and hlaw, a ‘tumulus, or hill’ – literally meaning here the ‘clearing or place of the dead,’ or variations thereof.  But an additional variant on the word law also needs consideration here, as it can also be used to mean a ‘moot or meeting place’; and considering that local folklore, aswell as local boundary records tell of this site being one of the gathering places, here is the distinct possibility of it possessing another meaning: literally, ‘a meeting place of the dead’, or variations on this theme.

The present title of Grubstones was a mistranslation of local dialect by the Ordnance Survey recorders, misconstruing the guttural speaking of Rum stones as ‘grub stones.’  If you wanna try it yourself, talk in old Yorkshire tone, then imagine some Oxford or London dood coming along and asking us the name of the ring of stones!  It works – believe me….

The site has little visual appeal, almost always overgrown with heather, but its history is considerable for such a small and insignificant-looking site.  First described in land records of 1273 CE, Roms Law was one of the sites listed in the local boundary perambulations records which was enacted each year on Rogation Day (movable feast day in Spring).  However in 1733 there was a local boundary dispute which, despite the evidence of written history, proclaimed the Roms Law circle to be beyond the manor of Hawksworth, in which it had always resided.  But the boundary was changed – and local people thenceforth made their way to the Great Skirtful of Stones on their annual ritual walk: a giant cairn several hundred yards east to which, archaeologically, there is some considerable relationship.  For at the northern edge of the Roms Law circle is the denuded remnants of a prehistoric trackway in parts marked out with fallen standing stones and which leads to the very edge of the great cairn.  This trackway or avenue, like that at Avebury (though not as big), consists of “male” and “female” stones and begins – as far as modern observations can tell – several hundred yards to the west, close to a peculiar morass of rocks and a seeming man-made embankment (which I can’t make head or tail of it!).  From here it goes past Roms Law and continues east towards the Great Skirtful, until it veers slightly round the southern side of the huge old tomb, then keeps going eastwards again into the remnants of a prehistoric graveyard close by.

In my opinion, it is very likely that this trackway was an avenue along which our ancestors carried their dead. Equally probable, the Roms Law Circle was where the body of the deceased was rested, or a ritual of some form occurred, before taken on its way to wherever.  It seems very probable that this avenue had a ceremonial aspect of some form attached to it. However, due to the lack of decent archaeological attention, this assertion is difficult to prove.

A previously unrecognised small single tomb is in evidence to the immediate southeast (5 yards) of the circle.  There is also another previously unrecognised prehistoric trackway that runs up along the eastern side of the circle, roughly north-south, making its way here from Hawksworth Moor to the south.  The old legend that Roms Law was a meeting place may relate to it being a site where the dead were rested, along with it being an important point along the old boundary line. Records tell us that the chant, “This is Rumbles Law” occurred here at the end of the perambulation – which, after the boundary change, was uttered at the Great Skirtful.  This continued till at least 1901.

Northern section of the Ring

Northern section of the Ring

Modern archaeological analysis of the site is undecided as regards the actual nature of Roms Law.  Ordnance Survey maps show it as an “enclosure” (which is vague); Faull & Moorhouse’s survey (1981) erroneously tell us it had no funerary nature, contrary to Eric Cowling’s (1946) report of finding bones and ashes from the small hole in near the centre of the ring, aswell as the 1880 drawing of the site in Collyer & Turner’s survey (above).  And we find the single cairn on the south-eastern edge of the ring indicating burial rites of sorts definitely occurred here.  Described variously by previous archaeologists as a stone circle, a ring cairn, cairn circle, an enclosure, aswell as “a rubble-fill wall of a circular house” (by some anonymous member of the West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, who didn’t respond to my queries about this curious assumption), the real nature of Roms Law leans more to a cairn circle site.  A fine example of a cup-and-ring stone — the Comet Stone — was found very close to the circle, somewhere along the Grubstones Ridge more than a hundred years ago, and it may have had some relevance to Roms Law.

This denuded ring of stones is a place that has to be seen quite blatantly in a much wider context, with other outlying sites having considerable relationship to it.  Simple as! (If you wanna know more about this, check out my short work, Roms Law, due out shortly!)

Describing the status and dimensions here, our great Yorkshire historian Arthur Raistrick (1929) told that:

“The larger stones still standing number about twenty, but the spaces between them are filled with stones of many intermediate sizes, so that one could with only considerable detail of size, etc, number the original peristalith.”

…Meaning that we’re unsure exactly how many stones stood in the ring when it was first built!  Although a little wider, the Roms Law is similar in form to the newly discovered ‘Hazell Circle‘ not far from here.  The site has changed little since Raistrick’s survey, though some halfwits nicked some of the stones on the southwestern edge of the site in the 1960s to build a stupid effing grouse-butt, from which to shoot the birds up here! (would the local council or local archaeologist have been consulted about such destruction by building the grouse-butt here? – anyone know?)  Thankfully, this has all but disappeared and the moorland has taken it back to Earth.

There is still a lot more to be told of Roms Law and its relationship with a number of uncatalogued sites scattered hereby.  Although it’s only a small scruffy-looking thing (a bit like misself!), its archaeology and mythic history is very rich indeed.  “Watch This Space” – as they say!

Folklore

Alleged to be haunted, this site has been used by authentic ritual magickians in bygone years. It was described by Collyer & Turner (1885) “to have been a Council or Moot Assembly place” — and we find this confirmed to a great extent via the township perambulation records.  Considerable evidence points to an early masonic group convening here in medieval times and we are certain from historical records that members of the legendary Grand Lodge of All England (said to be ordained in the tenth century by King Athelstan) met here, or at the adjacent Great Skirtful of Stones giant cairn 400 yards east.

The boundary perambulations which occurred here on Rogation Day relate to events just before or around Beltane, Mayday.  Elizabeth Wright (1913) said of this date:

“These days are marked in the popular mind by the ancient and well-known custom of beating the parish bounds, whence arose the now obsolete name of Gang-days, and the name Rammalation-day, i.e., perambulation-day, for Rogation-Monday.  The practice is also called Processioning and Possessioning… The reason why this perambulation of the parish boundaries takes place at Rogationtide seems to be that originally it was a purely religious observance, a procession of priest and people through the fields to pray for a fruitful Spring-time and harvest.  In the course of time the secular object of familiarizing the growing generation with their parish landmarks gained the upper hand, but the date remained as testimony to the primary devotional character of the custom.”

And the calling of, “This is Rumbles Law” maintained this ancient custom when it used to be uttered here.

…to be continued…

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Bennett, Paul, The Roms Law Circle, Ilkley Moor, Heathen Earth: Keighley 2009.
  3. Bennett, Paul, The Twelve Apostles Stone Circle, Burley Moor, TNA Publications 2012.
  4. Collyer, Robert & Turner, J. Horsfall, Ilkley: Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
  5. Colls, J.N.M., ‘Letter upon some Early Remains Discovered in Yorkshire,’ in Archaeologia 31, 1846.
  6. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  7. Devereux, Paul, Places of Power, Blandford: London 1989.
  8. Faull & Moorhouse, West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey – volume 1, WYMCC: Wakefield 1981.
  9. Gelling, Margaret, Signposts to the Past, Phillimore: Chichester 1988.
  10. Gelling, Margaret, Place-Names in the Landscape, Phoenix: London 2000.
  11. Gomme, G.L., Primitive Folk-Moots; or Open-Air Assemblies in Britain, Sampson Low: London 1880.
  12. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘The Bronze Age in West Yorkshire,’ in YAJ, 1929.
  13. Smith, A.H., English Place-Names Elements – volume 2, Cambridge University Press 1956.
  14. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the West Riding of Yorkshire – volume 4, Cambridge University Press 1963.
  15. Speight, Harry, Chronicles and Stories of Old Bingley, Elliott Stock: London 1898.
  16. Wardell, James, Historical Notices on Ilkley, Rombald’s Moor, Baildon Common, etc., Leeds 1869.
  17. Wright, Elizabeth Mary, Rustic Speech and Folk-Lore, Oxford University Press 1913.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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

Fimber Cursus, East Yorkshire

Cursus Monument:  OS Grid Reference – SE 893 610

Archaeology & History

Little else appears to have been written about this site, due no doubt to lack of archaeological investigation and the destructive powers of intense agricultural practices hereby.  It was first described in the Yorkshire Archaeological Register and told about by a Mr. H.G. Ramm, who described:

“a probable cursus in the Scales, Fimber Grange and Fimber Station area. An aerial photograph taken by John Dent has entended parallel ditches previously known in fragmentary form and enabling them to be interpreted as a cursus running along the valley floor, the north ditch from SE 8939 6106 to SE 9075 6104 and the southern ditch from SE 8937 6103 to SE 9068 6102. The distance between the ditches varies from 18-27m west of Fimber Grange to 30-37m east of the Grange.  A trapezoidal enclosure, 30m by 15m, possibly a small long barrow, has been identified at SE 9008 6104, oblique to the north cursus ditch, which bends to take in account of it.  A group of five ring ditches, three of which are in the cursus, lies to the west of Fimber Grange, but indicate a wartime searchlight post.”

This makes the length of this monument pretty short, but the faint remains of this possible cursus are visible on aerial shots.  A number of other large ancient earthworks were charted here by the famous archaeologist, J.R. Mortimer (1905), though he made no mention of this particular site.

More info please!

References:

  1. Edmondson, T., History of Fimber, H. Smithson: Malton 1857.
  2. Gutch, Mrs. E., Examples of Printed Folk-lore Concerning the East Riding of Yorkshire, David Nutt: London 1912.
  3. Moorhouse, S., ‘Yorkshire Archaeological Register: 1976,’ in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, volume 49, 1977.
  4. Mortimer, J.R., Forty Years Researches in British and Saxon Burial Mounds of East Yorkshire, Brown & Sons: Hull 1905.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Brigantia (Northern England), Cursus Monuments, Yorkshire, East | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Hutton Moor Henge, Dishforth, North Yorkshire

Henge:  OS Grid Reference – SE 3525 7351

Getting Here

Hutton Moor Henge from above (photo © Pete Glastonbury)

From junction 49 on the A1 (M), Dishforth turn-off, bear west on the Copt Hewick and Ripon road.  100 yards past Copt Hewick, take the track on the right-side of the road, leading to Blois Hall and further up to Low Barn.  Once at Low Barn, go north through the trees called Harland’s Plantation and the barely visible henge remains are in the field on the other side – as PeteG’s fine aerial photo here shows!

Archaeology & History

At ground-level there’s not too much to see of this once fine henge, thanks to the usual excesses of modern agriculture and modern industry.  Which is a pity, as the completed monument here was similar in size and lay-out to the three huge henges a few miles north at Thornborough.  Archaeologist Jan Harding (2003) believes this and the Thornborough henges and others nearby, suggests “there was a unity of purpose behind” all of them, in terms of their lay-out, alignments and ritual purpose.  He may be right.  Aubrey Burl thinks similarly, noting how,

“The central plateau of these enclosures are remarkably similar in shape and size, slightly ovoid and varying no more than 5 metres or so from a norm of 97 by 92 metres.  All have their entrances near the northwest and southeast following the lie of the land.

Each of them could have held as many as two thousand people and yet they crowd together in a narrow rectangle 11km (7 miles) long and no more than 1.5km (1 mile) across, like an avenue of architect-designed houses with a river frontage to their west.”

Intriguing stuff – and all from the neolithic period.  But focussing on Hutton Moor’s monument, …

In Walbran’s (1851) historical work on Ripon and district, he gave us one of the earliest descriptions of Hutton Moor’s henge, telling:

“we have far more direct and conclusive evidence, that the immediate vicinity of Ripon was regarded with peculiar interest and veneration ; since one of the tribes of the Brigantian Celts had chosen it as their station for the dispensation of justice and the celebration of religious rites ; in fact, had made it the seat of their government. This position — novel as it may be — is, I believe, sufficiently proved.by a remarkable earth-work on the high land near ” Blows Hall,” commanding extensive prospects up and down the Vale of Ure, as well as of the distant ranges of hills which form the side screens of the great Yorkshire plain. Like Abury and Stonehenge, which it rivals in antiquity, its outline is that of a circle, of which the diameter is not less than 680 feet ; but no stones remain, nor indeed does that material seem to have been used in its formation. Though recent agricultural operations have partially effaced the regularity and proportion of its plan, it is sufficiently evident that it was enclosed by a lofty mound and corresponding trench — the latter being inside, and a platform or space about thirty feet wide intervening.

“…At two opposite points, bearing nearly north and south, the mound and trench, for about the space of twenty-five feet, have been discontinued, in order to form an approach to the area of the temple. Outside the mound, also, are some slight vestiges of a further avenue, but too indefinite to be traced. But, however obscure the denotation of its several parts may have become, the antiquity and purpose of the place, as a temple for the performance of Druidical rites, is satisfactorily ascertained by the existence of at least eight large Celtic barrows in its immediate vicinity ; one of which, being on the very ridge of the vale, and planted with fir trees, forms a conspicuous and useful object to guide a stranger to the site. Two of these barrows were opened five years ago, but I found nothing but a few calcined human bones, the ashes of the oaken funeral pile, and some fragments of flint arrow-heads, such as are still used by the North-American Indians. Several bronze spear-heads and celts have, however, been found in the neighbourhood, within recollection.”

Walbran also described there being some upright stones at the henge:

“two small pyramids or obelisks, built on the mound of the temple, about fifty years ago, in the place, it is said, of two similar erections, apparently of high antiquity.”

Loveday (1998) addressed some interesting notes about potential alignment features at henges first described in Anthony Harding’s (1987) text, Hutton Moor included — i.e., the angle of their respective entrances/exits very closely mirror the alignment of adjacent Roman roads.  Curious correlates akin to the ley hunter’s assertions find the alignment or direction of nearby Roman roads is echoed in the alignments of henge entrances.  Now this wouldn’t seem too unusual, but in 4 out of 5 henges, this peculiar parallel has been found.  The Hutton Moor henge is no exception; with its aligned entrances closely paralleling the ancient straight Roman road of the A1 (though there are evidences of a pre-Roman track preceding the Roman construction), less than a mile to the east.  The same alignment is echoed in all of the Ure Valley henges.

Folklore

Ley alignment at Hutton henge

This is a site that seems to have been laid out in some form of linear arrangement in prehistoric times.  The notion was first posited in Norrie Ward’s (1969) work, but later expanded in Devereux & Thomson’s (1979) survey of prehistoric alignments.  Although the axis of the henge doesn’t line up with other sites surveyed, they include it in what’s known as the “Devil’s Arrow’s Ley” and the western side of the henge lines up with the Devil’s Arrows and other sites along the line.  When this ley was assessed for statistical probability, Robert Forrest found the alignment to have a probability much greater than that of chance.

References:

  1. Atkinson, R.J.C., “The Henge Monuments of Great Britain,” in Atkinson, Piggott & Sandars’ Excavations at Dorchester, Oxon, Ashmolean Museum 1951.
  2. Burl, Aubrey, Prehistoric Henges, Shire: Princes Risborough 1997.
  3. Devereux, Paul & Thomson, Ian, The Ley Hunter’s Companion, Thames & Hudson: London 1979.
  4. Harding, Anthony F. & Lee, G.E., Henge Monuments and Related Sites of Great Britain, BAR 175: Oxford 1987.
  5. Harding, Jan, Henge Monuments of the British Isles, Tempus: Stroud 2003.
  6. Loveday, Roy, “Double Entrance Henges”, in Prehistoric Ritual and Religion, Sutton: Stroud 1998.
  7. Walbran, John Richard, A Guide to Ripon, Harrogate, Fountains Abbey, Bolton Priory, W. Harrison: Ripon 1851.

Acknowledgements:

Huge thanks to Paul Devereux for use of his ley alignment drawing.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Posted in Brigantia (Northern England), Henges, Yorkshire, North | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Comet Stone, Cliffe Castle, Keighley, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference – SE 057 421

Also known as:

  1. Cliffe Castle Stone
  2. Grubstone Ridge Carving
  3. Keighley Market Stone
  4. Carving no.216 (Hedges)
  5. Carving no.351 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  6. Upwood Hall Stone

Getting Here

Go to the Cliffe Castle Museum on the outskirts of Keighley town centre (dead easy to find with car park to rear) and explore the museum! You’ll find it eventually!

Archaeology & History

Comet Stone, Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley

Comet Stone, Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley

This lovely-looking carving has been on a bit of walkabout over the last hundred years or so! We’re not quite sure exactly where it first lived, but old records tell that it was found upon the Grubstones Ridge, which is a small section of the moor around and/or between the Great Skirtful of Stones giant cairn and the curious Roms Law, or Grubstones Circle, both on the very tops of Burley Moor (most folk call think of it as just another section of Ilkley Moor). Here it lived (approx grid reference SE 138 446) for several thousand years until, many centuries later, in the mid-19th century, one of them there christian chaps came along – y’ know the sorts.  He was the reverend J.A. Busfield and came to live upon the heathen edge of our Rombald’s Moor at a great house called Upwood. Like many of these weird people, he took a bit of a shine to our ancient relics and, amidst one of his sojourns to the Grubstones one day, came upon this multiple-ringed stone lying amidst the heather, close to the old circle of Roms Law.  Liking it so much, he thought he’d have it as an ornament in the grounds of his hall at Upwood, on the southern edges of the moor overlooking Riddlesden and Keighley — and there it stayed, living quite comfortably, until 1925.

It then spent nearly fifty years living enclosed in the huge abode of Keighley Museum until, in 1971, it was presented by a certain Mr. R.W. Robinson of the same establishment, to Keighley Council, who thought in their weird ways to lean “it against a pile of rocks on the pavement of Bow Street, near Keighley Bus Station, with a small plaque,” telling of its tale and of other cup-and-rings nearby. And there it stayed until more recent years, when it was returned back to the Cliffe Castle Museum – safe, quiet and looked after each night!

Drawing of the carving

Drawing of the carving

Cowling’s early drawing

It’s a lovely, almost archetypal carving: a simple cup surrounded by four complete rings, with a ‘tail’ coming off the edge, similar to the image of a comet flying through the skies – which is, perhaps, what this carving represented. Of course, it could have been something completely different!

The region where this stone was located was an important area for the dead in ancient times – a motif that’s common to many cup-and-rings – and it seems probable that the stone itself was once part of a tomb, though we seem to have no record substantiating this. The carving was highlighted by William Cudworth as being in Upwood on a map dated 1847-51. The next description of it was by Arthur Raistrick in 1936. John Hedges (1986) listed it as stone-216 in his survey; then Boughey & Vickerman (2003) re-list it as stone 351.

NOTE – Don’t confuse this carving with another that is held in the same museum here, the Cliffe Castle or Baildon Moor 144 carving. Well worth having a look at!

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  2. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, Otley 1946.
  3. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  4. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘Cup-and-Ring Marked Rocks of West Yorkshire,’ in YAJ, 1936.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Claymore Well, Kettleness, North Yorkshire

Holy Well:  OS Grid Reference – NZ 819 148

Folklore

In this region so full of old tombs and prehistoric remains, we find this little-known sacred well, long since known as a place of curious sprites and strange lore.  Elizabeth Wright (1913) said of the place,

“It is said that the fairies were wont of old to wash their clothes in Claymore Well, and mangle them with the bittle and pin.  The bittle is a heavy wooden battledore; the pin is the roller; the linen is wound round the latter, and then reolled backwards and forwards on the table by pressure on the battledore.  The strokes of the bittles on fairy washing-nights could be heard a mile away.”

A most curious tale…

References:

Wright, Elizabeth Mary, Rustic Speech and Folk-lore, Oxford University Press 1913.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Whin Knoll Well, Keighley, West Yorkshire

Healing Well (destroyed): OS Grid Reference – SE 0479 4179

Archaeology & History

The Whin Knoll Well, once found bursting into life at the top of Black Hill, Keighley, got its name from the old word ‘whin,’ or gorse bushes (Ulex Europaeus)—also known in Yorkshire as the ‘Spindly Killer Bush’: a most apt title!  These great spindly killer shrubs once profused where the waters of this old well used to bubble into view – indeed, there are still quite a few great old spindlies still scattered here and there!

The site was shown on old maps as being just two fields east of the more renowned Jennet’s Well, but this old public water supply that once fed the local people, was covered by a reservoir many moons ago.  However, a wander up here recently found the reservoir empty, but a water supply was still bubbling out of the ground into the great concrete hollow.  The last remnants of the Whin Knoll Well perhaps…?

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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