Crooked Stane, Elvanfoot, Lanarkshire

Standing Stone:  OS grid reference – NS 965 153

Archaeology & History

Described by Tam Ward and Douglas Graham as “the only surviving standing stone in Clydesdale” (which isn’t quite true), this lovely looking monolith, leaning to one side, appears to have several cup-markings on its surface, but they’re actually Nature’s handiwork. The stone aligns to the hill a short distance north, Bodsbury Hill, upon which a fortress was later built sometime in the Iron Age.

I must have a wander round this region sometime: there’s some very attractive place-names nearby crying out for archaeo-attention to rub myself up and down upon!

References:

Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historic Monuments of Scotland, Lanarkshire: An Inventory of the Prehistoric and Roman Monuments, HMSO: Edinburgh 1978.
Ward, Tam & Graham, Douglas, Ancient Monuments of Clydesdale, CDC: Lanark 1989.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Creag a’ Chapuill, Ford, Kilmartin, Argyll

Hillfort:  OS grid reference – NM 855 024

Getting Here

Dead easy!  From Kilmartin go north towards Oban and turn right a mile onwards, to Ford and Loch Awe.  Keep on the tiny road for about 2 miles and if you hit the small Loch Ederline, you’ve gone too far.  To your left is a small hill-cum-small-mountain, scattered with trees and a great rocky face.   That’s it!  Whichever way you wanna approach its height is entirely up to you!

Archaeology & History

I clambered up and down this steep ‘cliff/rock of the Horse’ many-a-times when I lived below here at the old farmhouse at Auchinellan.  Tis a grand old hill with good views all round.  The hillfort however has little left worth seeing, much of the stone being nicked by locals for drystone walls and barns. The best preserved section seems to be at the northeast side of the old hill. Archaeologists think that the mass of rubble nearby was also part of the fort walls in bygone days. Not being much of a hillfort fanatic, I can’t really comment!

On a decidedly mycological note, the magickal fungus of legendary repute, ergot (Claviceps purpurea), grows like the plague at the bottom of the hill (opposite the Creagantairbh standing stone). I wonder if our ancestors used it for owt in particular…?

References:

Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historic Monuments of Scotland, Argyll – volume 6, HMSO: Edinburgh 1988.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Cowper’s Cross, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cross:  OS Grid reference – SE 10223 45609

Also Known as:

  1. Cawper’s Cross

Getting Here

From Ilkley town, head up the road as if you’re going to White Wells but keep following the moorland road up towards Whetstone Gate and the TV masts on the very tops (you’ll have to walk the last half-mile).  Shortly before you get them, you can’t miss this relic by the track-side on your right-hand side.

Archaeology & History

Possibly a christianised monolith, but more likely an original site, put here in an attempt to make local people stop going to the Badger Stone for regular spring gatherings. However, there was until recently what looked like an old monolith on the ground a few yards away, which may have stood upright before the cross was erected. Also on the south-facing side of the cross were four cup-markings, indicating great age.  These may also have been added when the cross was erected. (We know this occurred at other sites in the region, e.g., Churn Milk Joan, Midgley Moor, where such cup-marks were added sometime in the 15th or 16th century.)  However, thanks to some idiotic halfwits in more recent years going up here and vandalizing Cowper’s Cross, the prehistoric cup-markings that were on this relic have been destroyed.  The upright shaft of the cross that’s here now is a re-worked gatepost that replaced the old shaft with its authentic ‘pagan’ carvings.

1920s postcard of Cowper's Cross

1920s postcard of the Cross

But it’s had other bits of bad luck through the years.  The site was struck by lightning many years back, splitting the stone in half, but has since been rebuilt and stands adjacent to its original position, right next to the old Roman road that crosses Ilkley Moor.  Historian Allan Butterfield suggested this site to have originally been an old boundary markstone, christianised many centuries ago.  The name ‘Cowper’ derives from the local Ilkley family of Cawper.

Those of you interested in the early christian history of these moors should also have a look at the little-known Black Knoll Cross, less than a mile south of here in the middle of Morton Moor.

Folklore

Folklore relates that markets were held at this old stone cross many years ago. This gives added weight to the idea that the nearby cup-and-ring marked Badger Stone, where markets were probably held around the time of the equinoxes, was the original site for such gatherings.

Note that another site, the Reva Hill Cross, on the eastern side of this moor, has much the same history.

References:

  1. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Connel, Oban, Argyll

Standing Stone (destroyed):  OS grid reference – NM 917 340

Archaeology & History

The Royal Commission for Historic Scotland (1974) recorded this “stone that formerly stood within the area now occupied by Connel Station,” was thought to have been destroyed shortly before construction of the said building.  Mr R.A. Smith (1874) described the site briefly in his fine series of essays on the antiquities of Loch Etive, telling:

“Above Connell Ferry we come to a small brook called Lusragan, and a few houses with a mill called Clachaleven. To the east, in a  field above the road, is a large standing stone, and around it marks where others, well remembered, lately stood.”

But sadly it seems, these have all gone.

References:

Royal Commission for Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Argyll – volume 2: Lorn, HMSO: Edinburgh 1974:62.
Smith, R. Angus, “Descriptive List of Antiquities near Loch Etive, part 3,” in PSAS, 10, 1874.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Cob Stone Field, Keighley, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 00553 40888

Also Known as:

  • Carving no.1 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Cob Stone with cup-marks on top

Cob Stone with cup-marks on top

Go through Laycock village and take the left turn along the lovely, hidden country lane towards Slippery Ford (called Todley Hall Road) until you get near the end of this beautiful wooded valley (called Newsholme Dean). Just by Grey Stones Hill, on your left, is a track heading down to a large farm building with numerous rocks and boulders in the fields either side of you.  Stop! – and look in the field on the right.

Archaeology & History

Cluster of cup-marks on top

Cluster of cup-marks

This particular stone is in the field to the right of the track, over the wall, right near the top of the field.  Described for the first time in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) survey where they describe “at least eight cups” on the rock; and it’s listed on the MAGIC Map survey as having 6 cups — which are the ones you can plainly see on the very top edge of the stone. What may be three other faint ones can be discerned on the sloping sides of the rock.

Cob Stone Field carving

Another ‘possible’ cup-marked stone can be seen lower down the field, past the large Cob Stone.  Reports also tell there to be another cup-marked stone in the adjacent field at SE 00610 40841 (listed as stone no.2 in Boughey & Vickerman, 2003) with apparently 17 cups on the large rock there, but to me this carving was rather dubious — though I’ll check it out again in differing light conditions to see if owt changes!

References:

Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, West Yorkshire Archaeology Service 2003.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Cnoc na Croise, Ardminish, Gigha, Argyll

Cairns:  OS Grid Reference – NR 644 484

Archaeology & History

In Thomas Pennant’s A Tour in Scotland and Journey to the Hebrides, 1772 (1790:226), he described there being three prehistoric cairns about four-hundred yards west of Ardminish, or a couple or hundred yards north of the Achamore Standing Stone, on Cnoc na Croise, but they seem to have been destroyed.  At least two of them were between 4 and 5 yards across and contained cists.  Does anyone know anything more about these seemingly lost sites?

References:

Royal Commission for Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll – volume 1: Kintyre, HMSO 1971.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Argyll & Bute, Cairns, Tombs, Tumuli, Gigha (Isle of), Hebrides, Inner | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cnoc na Carraigh, Gigha, Argyll

Standing Stone (destroyed):  OS grid reference NR 642 480

Archaeology & History

The Scottish Royal Commission (1971) reported a very large “standing stone that stood 185m NNW of Achmore House (that) was removed at the beginning of the 19th century. It was reported that is measured 4.9m in height (16ft), 1.2m in breadth and 0.2m in thickness.” A prehistoric cairn seemed to have accompanied this monolith – as reported by Thomas Pennant in 1772 – but it too was destroyed around the same time.

References:

Royal Commission for Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll – volume 1: Kintyre, HMSO 1971.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Cleatop, Settle, North Yorkshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS grid-reference – SD 821 613

Also known as:

  1. Druid’s Hill Circle
  2. Druid’s Circle

Archaeology & History

Speight's 1895 map - showing position of circle

Speight’s 1895 map – showing position of circle

Not included in any previous archaeological surveys of megalithic rings, this circle of stones was apparently visible from quite a distance away, sitting on the hillside where now there is woodland.  It was described by the great Yorkshire historian Harry Speight (1892, 1895), though today it seems that all remains of it have vanished.

An early description of it came after an excursion to the site by local antiquarians, who told that “at Cleatop, about a mile to the south of Settle, are the remains of an ancient stone circle.” (Horsfall-Turner 1888) A few years later, Mr Speight gave us more details of the place, saying:

“A little above Cleatop Farm (near Rathmell)…is Cleatop Wood.  Cleatop derives its name from the A.S. cleof, a rocky aclivity; Latin clivus, a bank or slope. Near the northeast side of the wood there was once a very noticeable Druid’s Circle, about 60 feet in diameter; indeed, Mr Thomas Brayshaw of Settle, informs me that within the memory of persons still living, it was so regular and well-defined that one or two gaps caused by the removal of stones could be easily distinguished. The eminence at the rear of the site has, from time immemorial, been known as Druid’s Hill.”

Some years later, that very same local historian Tom Brayshaw (1932) wrote:

“The Ordnance map marks, on the steep slope to the north of Cleatop Wood, ‘site of Stone Circle’.  It needs a very keen eye to identify the few stumps that remain today, and it is deplorable that this most interesting monument, after enduring for so many centuries, has been destroyed during the last eighty years.  In 1847 a description of the circle, as it then was, was sent to Captain Yolland of the Ordnance Survey.

“”I suppose the circle of stones in Cleatop High Park to be aboriginal British or Druidical remains from the following appearances: the circle is complete and the large stones are set on end, some of them several tons weight.  The stones are twelve in number now standing, beside several others that seem to be rolled a short distance, as it is placed on the ascent of a steep hill and commands a beautiful and extensive prospect (more so than any given point of the same altitude in the vicinity).  The circle is 36 feet in diameter.”

“A few stones were still standing in 1883.  The hill above long bore the name Druids Hill.  The Enclosure Acts passed towards the end of the 18th century greatly increased the number of drystone walls in the parish, and it is probable that many old stone monuments were destroyed in making them and in their subsequent repair”.

We have no references of burials or other excavations here to give us any idea of whether human remains had ever been found.  It’s an intriguing place in the landscape though…and worthy of further explorations…

References:

  1. Brayshaw, Thomas, A History of the Ancient Parish of Giggleswick, Halton & Co.: London 1932.
  2. Horsfall-Turner, J. (ed.), ‘Antiquarian Excursion to Giggleswick and Settle,’ in Yorkshire Folklore Journal, vol.1, T. Harrison: Bingley 1888.
  3. Speight, Harry, The Craven and Northwest Yorkshire Highlands, Elliott Stock: London 1892.
  4. Speight, Harry, Tramps and Drives in the Craven Highlands, Elliot Stock: London 1895.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Clachan Ceann Ile, Islay

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference – NR 436 483

Also Known as:

  • Stones of Islay

Getting Here

Also known as the ‘Stones of Islay,’ these two old stones can be found on the west side of the road between Port Ellen and Ardtalla, up the steepish wood-covered slope, just south of the conical fairy hill of Cnoc Rhaonastil.

Archaeology & History

In recent years, the Scottish Royal Commission commented that “they do not appear to be of prehistoric date,” yet include it in the Argyll survey (vol.5:65), just in case!  The larger of the two monoliths is nearly 6 feet long (it was on the floor when I came here, many years back), and its smaller companion about 3 feet long (also on the deck!).

Folklore

In 1794, in the Statistical Account of Scotland, it was said that these two curious standing stones marked the grave of Yla or Yula, “a daughter of one of the kings of Denmark,” which is most unlikely. Between these two stones, folklore tells, is known as the Tomb of Yla – a Danish princess whom legend tells gave Islay its name.

The hill above these old stones was long known to be the place of the faerie-folk. Indeed, the Queen of Faerie herself lived here. Otta Swire told a fascinating old folktale of this place, whose nature will be know to some:

“The Queen was much troubled by the stupidity of human women, for in the fairy world wisdom is chiefly possessed by the women, since it is they who hold the Cup. After much thought, She decided to try to improve matters, so she sent out an invitation to all the women of the world to visit Her in Her hall in the knoll on a certain date. The invitation spread over the wide Earth – it was carried by the winds and the sea waves, by birds and by fish, even the leaves of the trees whispered it. And the women of the world were very much interested and they talked eagerly together. Some laughed at it, some said they were wiser by far than the Little People, some held that the Little People were cleverer and more powerful than they and that this might be a trap. Indeed, the word of women ‘heaved like hive of bee or hill of ant or byke of wasp.’ Soon, women from all over the isles began to arrive in Islay. Some came to see, many more to be seen, and a few came truly seeking wisdom.

“When the day dawned the hill opened, and into the wonderful hall within streamed the women. And a very wonderful hall it was, hung with bright cloths woven from nettles and fairy lint and dyed with blood of shell-fish and sap of plants in such colours as only the Little People can achieve. Skins of beasts were spread on floors and seats, a banquet set on shells of pearl lay ready on the many tables of wood and stone, and for each guest there was placed ready a beautiful cup formed from a blue-eyed limpet’s shell. A soft green light pervaded the hall. When all were ready and the watchers saw no more coracles on the waters or maidens climbing the green slope, the doors to the outer world were closed and in walked the Queen Herself. She was smaller than any of Her guests but far, far more impressive. She wore a dress of long ago but it suited well Her gentle, kindly dignity and Her face shone with a strange and lovely light. She carried in Her two hands a wonderful flagon and after her came her maids, each holding a similar one. Other maids hastily distributed the cups of shell and then the Queen walked slowly by, pouring into the cup of each of those who, in her heart truly desired wisdom, a few drops of the precious fluid from Her flagon, which held the distilled wisdom of the world throughout the ages. And as each woman drank those few drops she suddenly grew wise and saw and understood much she had never known before. Some were able to see much, others but a little, yet all benefited in their degree. At last, all who sought wisdom had received it and the elixir was finished. Just as the ceremony ended there came a hammering on the walls and the doors. The Little People looked out and, behold!, their hill was covered with late-comers who had arrived after the doors were closed and so had been unable to enter and were now too late to receive the gift. There is still a saying in Gaelic about a stupid woman: ‘She was out on the knoll when wisdom was distributed.'”

A saying I remember my old grandad telling a few folk a few times when I was young!

References:

Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll – volume 5: Islay, Jura, Colonsay and Oronsay, HMSO: Edinburgh 1984.
Swire, O.F., The Inner Hebrides and their Legends, Collins: London & Glasgow 1964.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Clach-na-Cruich, Fearnan, Perthshire

Cup-Marked Rock:  OS grid reference – NN 718 447

Also known as:

  • Clach-na-Gruich
  • St. Ciaran’s Seat
  • Measles Stone

Getting Here

Pretty easy to get to.  It’s in one of the fields above the old farmhouse of Boreland on the western edge of Fearnan, a couple of hundred yards away on the other side of the road from the Clach an Tuirc.

Archaeology & History

Clach-na-Cruich in 1884

In the field we find this great chair-shaped boulder with a great ‘bowl’ on it where the seating section is, and on its top and sides are a few cup-markings — MacMillan (1884) noted seven of them, two of which had half-rings around them, “associated together in a singular manner, and forming a figure like the eyes of a pair of spectacles.”

Folklore

Regarded in local legends to be an ancient initiation seat, this was taken over and ordained as being the seat of St. Ciaran at some time when the Celtic church started having influence up here.

The ‘seat’ of this great stone regularly fills up with rainwater and was, wrote William A. Gillies, “regarded as an effectual cure for measles, and there are persons still residing at Fearnan who were taken as children to drink from the water in the hollow of Clach-na-Gruich, the Measles Stone.”  His lengthy account of the site told:

“In the district of Breadalbane, Perthshire – which has in it the Pool of St Fillans, famous for its supposed power of curing mentally afflicted persons – there are two boulders with water-filled cavities, which have a local reputation for their healing virtues. One is at Fernan, situated on the north side of Loch Tay, about three miles from Kenmore. It is a large rough stone with an irregular outline, somewhat like a rude chair, in the middle of a field immediately below the farmhouse of Mr Campbell, Borland. The rest of the field is ploughed; but the spot on which it stands is carefully preserved as an oasis amid the furrows. The material of which it is composed is a coarse clay slate; and the stone has evidently been a boulder transported to the spot from a considerable distance.

“In the centre on one side there is a deep square cavity capable of holding about two quarts of water. I found it nearly full, although the weather had been unusually dry for several weeks previously. There were some clods of earth around it, and a few small stones and a quantity of rubbish in the cavity itself, which defiled the water. This I carefully scooped out, and found the cavity showing unmistakeable evidence of being artificial. On the upper surface of the stone I also discovered seven faint cup-marks, very much weather-worn; two of them associated together in a singular manner, and forming a figure like the eyes of a pair of spectacles.

“The boulder goes in the locality by the name of Clach-na-Cruich, or the Stone of the Measles; and the rain-water contained in its cavity, when drunk by the patient, was supposed to be a sovereign remedy for that disease. At one time it had a wide reputation, and persons afflicted with the disease came from all parts of the district to drink its water. Indeed, there are many persons still alive who were taken in their youth, when suffering from this infantile disease, to the stone at Fernan; and I have met a man not much past forty, who remembers distinctly having drunk the water in the cavity when suffering from measles.

“It is is only within the lifetime of the present generation that the Clach-na-Cruich has fallen into disuse. I am not sure, indeed, whether any one has resorted to it within the last thirty years. Its neglected state would seem to indicate that all faith in it had for many years been abandoned.”

References:

Gillies, William A., In Famed Breadalbane, Munro Press: Perth 1938.
MacMillan, Hugh, ‘Notice of Two Boulders having Rain-Filled Cavities on the Shores of Loch Tay, Formerly Associated with the Cure of Disease,’ in PSAS 18, 1884.

Links:

  1. Archaeology & Folklore of Clach-na-Cruich: An article by Rev. Hugh MacMillan – Notice of Two Boulders having Rain-Filled Cavities on the Shores of Loch Tay, Formerly Associated with the Cure of Disease – describing the archaeology and folklore of this, and another nearby carving, from the brilliant ‘Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland’.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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