Ellers Wood (619), Washburn Valley, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Carving:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1902 5102

Also Known as:

  • Airship Carving
  • Carving no.619 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Old photo of CR-619

Follow the same directions for the Ellers Wood 614 and 618 carvings, as it’s nearby. The best way to check them out is simply to walk down past the haunted Dobpark Lodge, where it turns into a footpath and then when you reach the lovely old packhorse bridge at the valley bottom, walk upstream for 3-400 yards until you reach the next small wooded region.  Once there, look around…..

Archaeology & History

Ellers Wood is at the very northern edge of the beautiful parish of Askwith and has a very particular ambience of its own. The small cluster of at least 5 cup-and-ring stones in this lovely little woodland gives you the impression that they stood out on their own, living here respresenting the genius loci of this luscious watery vale, all-but-hidden from all but the lucky few.

Cowling's 1937 sketch

1991 sketch of CR-619

Beautifully preserved, this carving was first described in an article by Cowling & Hartley (1937), then included in Cowling’s Rombald’s Way (1946).  As with the other cup-and-rings close by, the characteristic grouping of certain cups is here focused into three sections by enclosing rings.  This was something I used to call ‘central design’ features, which occur in different locales with their own individual geographical patterns/structures.  These central designs are non-numeric in function, though have a tendency to cluster in patterns of 2, 3 and 4.  (I need to write a decent essay on this to outline what I’m on about with greater clarity!)

References:

Boughey, K.J.S. & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Exeter 2003
Cowling, E.T., ‘A Classification of West Yorkshire Cup and Ring Stones,’ in Yorks. Arch. Journal 1940
Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946
Cowling, E.T. & Hartley, C.A., ‘Cup and Ring Markings to the North of Otley,’ in Yorks. Arch. Journal 33, 1937
Grainge, William, The History and Topography of the Forest of Knareborough, J.R. Smith: London 1871
Grainge, William, History and Topography of the Townships of Little Timble, Great Timble and the Hamlet of Snowden, William Walker: Otley 1895.

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Ellers Wood (618), Washburn Valley, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Carving:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1901 5101

Getting Here

Sketch of CR-618, c.1990

Follow the same directions to reach the other Ellers Woods carvings, staying on the western-side of the river close to where it meets with Snowden Beck, just north of the footpath. Check it out in winter and early Spring — any later in the year and it might be a little overgrown.

Archaeology & History

A truly lovely, lichen enriched carved rock in a lovely little part of the Fewston valley.  The place has a distinct genius loci that’s very different from its carved rock companions on the moorland hills a short distance away.  As I’ve said elsewhere: the surroundings of trees and richer fertile growth is something we must remember to ascribe to these carvings when we encounter them, as the landscape in places such as Ellers Wood is much closer to the scattered forested landscape that profused when first these stones were inscribed.

Section of CR-618

First described by Cowling & Hartley in 1937, it was later included in Cowling’s (1946) more extensive prehistoric survey of mid-Wharfedale.  There may be as many as 38 cup-markings cut onto the rock here, along with several lines and grooves.  A meditative dreaming site indeed…

References:

Boughey, K.J.S. & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Exeter 2003
Cowling, E.T., ‘A Classification of West Yorkshire Cup and Ring Stones,’ in Yorks. Arch. Journal 1940
Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946
Cowling, E.T. & Hartley, C.A., ‘Cup and Ring Markings to the North of Otley,’ in Yorks. Arch. Journal 33, 1937
Grainge, William, The History and Topography of the Forest of Knareborough, J.R. Smith: London 1871
Grainge, William, History and Topography of the Townships of Little Timble, Great Timble and the Hamlet of Snowden, William Walker: Otley 1895

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Eilean Musdile, Lismore, Argyll

Standing Stone (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference NM 779 351

Archaeology & History

Once to be seen on the highest point of the island, this impressive 9-foot tall standing stone is thought to have been removed during construction of the old lighthouse around 1833.  First described by a traveller here in 1784, it was mentioned just once again during survey work in 1829. The monolith appears to have recorded the midwinter sunset.

References:

Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll – volume 2: Lorn, HMSO: Edinburgh 1975.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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East Adderbury Cursus, Banbury, Oxfordshire

Cursus: OS Grid Reference – SP 473 372

Also known as:

  1. Bodicote Cursus

Found a few miles south of Banbury and running in a southeast to northwest alignment, Paul Devereux wrote that,

“the crop marks of this cursus fragment were first photographed by James Pickering in 1972…between the villages of East Adderbury and Bodicote…close to the River Cherwell.  The southeast end is square; the other terminus is unknown.”

References:

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

© Paul Bennett,  The Northern Antiquarian 2016

The Northern Antiquarian – Charity Number SCO-46359

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Dun Mac Sniachan, Benderloch, Argyll

Hillfort:  OS Grid Reference – NM 9032 3822

Also Known as:

  • Dun mac Uisneachan
  • Dun Uisnach
  • Beregonium

Early plan of the Fort, 1885

Early plan of the Fort, 1885

Archaeology & History

This is a fine-looking monument amidst a fine piece of landscape!  The site was constructed over various centuries, beginning in the Iron Age, with the earliest parts being the traces of walling on the outer edges.  This first section of the fort “measures about 245m in length by a maximum of 50m in width internally,” and much of it can still be traced all along the full length and breath of the geological ridge upon which it sits.  However, the timber-laced walls that stood all round the edges have, obviously, all but disintegrated.  This earlier part of the fort, wrote Richard Feacham (1977),

“was superceded by a small subrectangular, now vitrified fort, about 170 feet long by 60 feet wide, and by a circular and probably vitrified dun measuring about 60 feet in diameter.”

View of the Dun (Smith 1885)

Looking out from the dun

There was ample water supply for the people who may have lived on this ridged fortress, as there is still a fresh water spring on the southeast edge of the hill.  And it seems pretty obvious that this fort was occupied for some considerable time into the Common Era, as material remains found amidst excavation work here at the end of the 19th century, “including metalwork of Roman date…suggests an occupation in the early first millenium AD.” (Harding 1997)

Folklore

The folklore and legends of this site (aswell as the surrounding district) are considerable, and for now I must refrain from writing all there is (it’d take me ages!). Needless to say, R. Angus Smith’s (1885) fine old history and folklore work  is the source of much material.  Smith told us that,

“There are many stories about it.  It has been called the beginning of the kingdom of Scotland, the palace of a long race of kings; also the Halls of Selma, in which Fingal lived; the stately capital of of a Queen Hynde, having towers and halls and much civilization, with a christianity before Ireland; whilst it has also been considered to be that which the native name implies, simply the fort of the sons of Uisnach, who came from Ireland, and whose names are found all over the district, and who in the legend are reported to have come to a wild part of Alban.”

References:

Feacham, Richard, Guide to Prehistoric Scotland, Batsford: London 1977.
Harding, D.W., “Forts, Duns, Brochs and Crannogs,” in The Archaeology of Argyll (edited by Graham Ritchie[Edinburgh University Press 1997]).
Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Argyll- volume 2, HMSO: 1974.
Smith, R. Angus, Loch Etive and the Sons of Uisnach, Alexander Gardner: London & Paisley 1885.

Links:

  1. PSAS: Dun mac Sniachan & other Local Antiquities

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Dun Gallain, Colonsay, Argyll

Hillfort:  OS Grid Reference – NR 348 931

Getting Here

Bittova trek this one.  Once on Colonsay, head out onto the B8086 road west of Scalasaig until you, past Machrins, and onto the gold course. Take the footpath across it (south), until you hit the little airstrip where you need to veer right (west) right onto the spur of the coast about 800 yards away.  Your damn close!

Archaeology & History

This site occupies a prominent position.  Its summit is surrounded by a line of oval walling enclosing an area of about 90 square yards.  There are also remains of of outer walling to the eastern and southern sides.  The ‘cairn’ on the highest spot in the middle of the hillfort is a modern construction.

Folklore

The great Scottish folklorist A.A. MacGregor (1947) narrated the tale behind this denuded fort on the western edge of the island. According to the islanders who told him the tale, they alleged it Norwegian in origin, though the fortress is much older than that. MacGregor told that, “in this fort there once lived an elderly and voluptuous tyrant named Grey Somerled, who is said to have been related to the first of the Lords of the Isles.

“Grey Somerled came to Colonsay, they say, in the capacity of factor. But he neglected his duties, imposed penalties and hardships on the innocent and defenceless tenants, and generally made himself so disagreeable that at last it was decided to take revenge upon him, previous warnings having been no deterrent.

“Like Rory Mor of Dunvegan, who slept best when he was within hearing of his ‘nurse’, the waterfall, Grey Somerled was wont to be lulled to sleep by the grinding noise of a quern placed near his head. When he retired for the night, one of the servants had to turn the quern-stone by his pillow, and keep on turning it, lest he woke.

“It was recognised that any attempt to surprise Grey Somerled during daylight was foredoomed to failure. So, a plot was laid to circumvent him during the night-time. His enemies entered into a conspiracy with one of the servants that she should allow them to invade Dun Gallain after he had fallen asleep. When they arrived, one of their number relieved the woman at the quern, and proceeded to turn the stone without intermission. But he was not too skillful at the turning; and his harsh and irregular grinding soon woke the sleeper. Ere Gey Somerled had had time to consider the matter of resistance, his foes were upon him. They carried him away from Dun Gallain; and tradition in the islands of Argyll has it that, in great privation, he spent the remainder of his days in a bee-hive house of stone, situated on the farmlands of Machrins.

“One night – so the story concludes – a huge boulder from the roof of the bee-hive fell in, killing its unhappy inmate. So as to identify the spot where this tragedy happened, the islanders raised on it the cairn now indicated on the Ordnance Survey Map as Carn Shomhairle Liath – that is to say, Grey Somerled’s Cairn.”

Interestingly, there is a long-cist burial at Machrins (plus small settlement) a few hundred yards east of the fort, and excavations here found them to date from the Viking period; though the Scottish Royal Commission thought that although the “small finds associated with the burial suggest that it is Viking, the plan-form of the houses is perhaps more likely to indicate a native tradition.”

References:

MacGregor, Alasdair Alpin, The Peat-Fire Flame, Ettrick Press: Edinburgh 1947.
Royal Commission of Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Argyll – volume 5, HMSO: Edinburgh 1984.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Dun Chonallaich, Ford, Argyll

Hillfort:  OS Grid Reference – NM 8544 0366

Getting Here

Dun Chonallaich on 1875 map

Dun Chonallaich on 1875 map

There’s two real ways to get up here: one from the Oban-Kilmartin roadside; the other from Ford village. I’d go for the latter as it avoids the traffic. Walk up the track to Salachary from the village centre, heading west. It’s a gradual uphill climb and after about half-a-mile (past six or seven cup-marked rocks) the great hill rises to your left.  Dun Dubh is to your right.  Climb over the fence and head for the hilltop.

Archaeology & History

It’s my opinion that this fort, above all others in the region apart from Dunadd, was of paramount importance to our prehistoric ancestors.  The reason being that it’s the great pyramidal hill to which the line of tombs in the Kilmartin Valley align, three miles to the south.  This prehistoric alignment was quite intentional (if you’ve got your doubts, gerrup there & have a look for y’self — you’ll soon change yer mind).

Curious carved stone found here

Curious carved stone found here

The main part of the structure is an irregularly-shaped construction with walling on all sides, measuring about 40 yards by 20 yards.  Much of it is pretty well defined – though has been vandalized by various doods in the past: one bunch being a film-crew who used the site in the early 1980s!  Inside the main walled fortress are several ruins.  The Royal Commission (1988) report told:

“Much of the interior is occupied by a rock spine which is surmounted by a modern cairn, but the NW half is relatively level and it contains, in addition to the modern round-house…and and an S-shaped structure associated with film-making, a number of ruined stone foundations.  On the north side there is a rectilinear building, and between the modern round-house and this rectilinear building, there is a further structure…an arc of walling, but its precise shape cannot now be determined without excavation.”

Dun Chonallaich means “the fort of King Connal’s people,” and although much denuded, is well worth the clamber for a short archaeological day out. A curious “gaming-board” was found here (see photo). A portable cup-marked stone in the fort’s southern wall is a modern artifact.

It’s a lovely view from up here too.  This is one of many places I’ve sat during a raging thunderstorm.  One helluva buzz, believe me!

References:

  1. Gillies, H. Cameron,The Place-Names of Argyll, David Nutt: London 1906.
  2. Royal Commission for Ancient & Historic Monuments, Scotland, Argyll, volume 6, HMSO 1988, pp.160-61.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Drumderg I, Tullymurdoch, Perthshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NO 1852 5497

Archaeology & History

Found amidst a cluster of other prehistoric sites in the Forest of Alyth, the Scottish Royal Commission lads reported (North-East Perth, 1990:26-7) that,

“this heavily weathered cup-and-ring marked boulder lies 150m south of the hut circles… The carvings are on the southwest face of the boulder and comprise: at least four cups surrounded by single rings; two cups surrounded by triple rings; an oval cup measuring 100mm by 70mm surrounded by four rings; and twenty-two plain cups marks, the largest 60mm in diameter.”

References:

Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, North-East Perth: An Archaeological Landscape, HMSO: Edinburgh 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Druimyeonbeg, Isle of Gigha, Argyll

Cairn (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NR 648 495

Archaeology & History

An old tomb could once be seen where now we have yet another one of those environmentally damaging golf courses! (I get many emails from people who are very upset at finding the destruction of our archaeological heritage because of golf courses)  The tomb was reported in 1953 to have been, “discovered in the southwest corner of a field south of Druimyeonbeg farmhouse.”  Any relics that may have been there were destroyed and there’s now no trace of anything.

References:

Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll – Volume 1: Kintyre, Glasgow 1971.

© The Northern Antiquarian

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Druid’s Stone, Bungay, Suffolk

Sacred Rock:  OS Grid Reference – TM 337 898

Folklore

Described in 1926 by local antiquarian and early ley-hunter, W.A.  (1926), as “a fallen monolith” — this old stone is probably just a glacial erratic.  Found in the churchyard of St. Mary’s, tradition tells that in ages past young girls danced twelve times around this old stone, then placed their ears upon it to hear the answers to their questions and wishes. A similar legend tells how children danced around the stone seven times on a certain day of the year to conjure up the devil.  Mr Dutt thought the great rock may have been “a ley or direction stone.”

References:

Dutt, W.A., The Ancient Mark-Stones of East Anglia, Flood & Sons: Lowestoft 1926.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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