Three Cups Stone, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 12998 46314

Also Known as:

  • Carving no.138 (Hedges)
  • Carving no.298 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Dead easy!  Follow the directions to the unmissable Haystack Rock, then look at the small upright stone about 40 yards west, just off the footpath.

The Three Cup Stone

The Three Cup Stone

Archaeology & History

This is another one of the many carvings I first saw when I was a small lad, about 12 years old, in one of my countless walkabouts over these moors.  It’s thought by some to be a small cup-marked standing stone (it’s possible I s’ppose, but improbable), but it certainly has three distinct cup-markings on its east-facing vertical face.  There are what seems like lines cutting through the cups and running out to near the edge of the stone which may or may not be natural.  A small, cute little thing!  Boughey and Vickerman (2003) make a note that this carving may be recent — but if so, it was done some considerable time before 1975, when I first clapped eyes on it!

References:

Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Advertisements
Posted in Cup-and-Ring Stones, Yorkshire, West | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Urn Stone, Green Crag, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference – SE 12832 46163

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.130 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.287 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Drawing of the Urn Stone (after Hedges 1986)

Drawing of the Urn Stone (after Hedges 1986)

Follow the directions for getting to the Haystack Rock, then bear right (west) along the footpath, past the little Three Cups Stone, until the path bends and goes up onto the moor.  A hundred yards or so, walk left into the heather (you’re straddling the remains of considerable prehistoric walling and enclosure remains by now) and look around.  You’ll find it!

Archaeology & History

I was only about 12-years old when I first saw this and the nearby prehistoric carvings — but when I came to look for any references to it, anywhere, found none existed.  It was described about ten years later when John Hedges (1986) brought out his fine work on the cup-and-ring art of Ilkley Moor, although it seems that one of the top cup-marks has the remains of a ring around it, which isn’t on the Hedges image, above.  The carving is found amidst the remains of an extensive settlement or series of walled enclosures.

Excavations done on the prehistoric ‘enclosure’ close to this carved stone in the 1990s, uncovered the remains of a decent amount of ‘grooved ware’ pottery and worked flint (Edwards & Bradley 1999), dated between 2900 and 2600 BC.  As such pottery has been found elsewhere in Britain within and/or near earthworks and other prehistoric remains (obviously!), its incidence here isn’t really too much of a surprise.  However, Edwards & Bradley (1999) speculate — albeit vaguely — that there may be a link between the cup-and-rings here and the pottery, saying, “if so, the rock carvings (here) might be indicating a place of special significance.”

This may be so: considering the prevalence of rock-art along the geological ridge and its close association with the large number of burial cairns.  If it can be ascertained that the charred remains of humans were kept inside the pottery or vases, the relationship between death and the carvings (well established on this part of Ilkley Moor) would be reinforced.

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, West Yorkshire Archaeology Service 2003.
  2. Edwards, Gavin & Bradley, Richard, ‘Rock Carvings and Neolithic Artefacts on Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire,’ in Grooved Ware in Britain and Ireland (edited by Cleal, R. & MacSween, A.), Oxbow: Oxford 1999.
  3. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

* But if not, the notion must remain and/or be consigned as little more than a spurious one, until/unless data emerges to show otherwise.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Brigantia (Northern England), Cup-and-Ring Stones, Yorkshire, West | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Middlesknowes, Oxnam, Jedburgh, Roxburghshire

Standing Stone (destroyed?):  OS Grid Reference – NT 7420 1487

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 58143

Archaeology & History

There’s considerable Bronze- and Iron-Age archaeology all round here (cairns, settlements, earthworks and more), but it seems that the once-proud standing stone highlighted on the 1899 Ordnance Survey map found on the higher ground a half-mile north of Middlesknowes, no longer stands where it had been standing for all those thousands of years.  What, pray, has become of it…?

References:

  1. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Roxburghshire – volume 2, HMSO: Edinburgh 1956.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Roxburghshire, Scotland, Standing Stones | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Harlaw, Fairnington, Roxburghshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – NT 666 286

Archaeology & History

One of those site place-names with a familiar ring to it: Har, boundary; law, tumulus (though it can also be used to mean ‘a meeting place’).  Nevertheless, whatever the precise origin of the name, the site here seems to have been destroyed.

Although listed by the Royal Commission in 1956 as a stone circle, John Barnatt thinks it may have been a tomb of sorts – which is what the place-name infers if we’re puritanical about it.  Alexander Jeffrey (1864) told us the most, saying that:

“A field to the east of Fairnington village is called Harlaw, from a circle of large stones which stood within it, but which have been removed to serve farm purposes.”

Its exact location is unknown, though the Royal Commission lads thought it probably “stood somewhere near the present Harelaw Plantation,” about a mile east of the village.  Any more info on this lost site would be most welcome!

References:

  1. Burl, Aubrey, The Stone Circles of Britain, Ireland and Brittany, Yale University Press 2000.
  2. Gelling, Margaret, Place-Names in the Landscape, Phoenix: London 2000.
  3. Jeffrey, Alexander, The History and Antiquities of Roxburghshire – volume 3, Seton & MacKenzie: Edinburgh 1864.
  4. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Roxburghshire – volume 2, HMSO: Edinburgh 1956.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

The Northern Antiquarian – Charity Number SCO-46359

Posted in Cairns, Tombs, Tumuli, Roxburghshire, Scotland, Stone Circles | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Young Idol Stone, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13264 45943

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.158 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.323 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

The Young Idol Stone (bottom) and its parental Idol Stone above

The Young Idol Stone (bottom) and its parental Idol Stone above

Take the directions to reach the Haystack Rock, then head onto the moor following the southeast footpath for a few hundred yards, towards where the moor slopes uphill.  20-30 yards before the uphill slope, a yard to the right of the path, a coupla yards below the well-known Idol Stone carving – you’ll find it!

Archaeology & History

Described simply as a “small, rounded, smooth grit rock,” this long-tooth-shaped stone has just two cup-markings on its upper face: one on the more southern tip, and the second smaller cup several inches below it – as shown on the photo.  The adjacent carving seen at the top of the photo is the parent guardian, Idol Stone! If you visit this, or any adjacent carvings here, please remember that all along this moorland plain are numerous unexcavated prehistoric tombs. You’re effectively stood at the edge of, or within, a huge prehistoric cemetery.

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
  2. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Brigantia (Northern England), Cup-and-Ring Stones, Yorkshire, West | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Green Crag Top Stone, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 131 458

Getting Here

Green Crag Top stone - from above

Green Crag Top stone – from above

Head for the binary-like Idol Stone carving and keep walking on the footpath, up the hill.  Once on top of the ridge, walk along it to your right (west) for about 300 yards, then walk south (left) into the flat heathland plain.  Look around!

Archaeology & History

I’m probably not reading it right – but it seems this large stone with several distinct cup-marks on its vertical south-face, isn’t in the surveys of either Hedges (1986) or Boughey & Vickerman (2003).  If someone can correct me on this one – please do!

Green Crag Top Stone, looking north

Green Crag Top Stone, looking north

This is quite a large boulder, as the photos here show.  At least two average-sized cup-markings have been etched onto the south face, and two larger ones accompany them on the same edge.  There’s another larger cup-mark on the northeast side of the stone, and a possible companion, which may or may not be artificial.  Then on top of the stone we have several large cups and a ‘bowl’ — though some of these upper markings may be natural, or just well-eroded cup-marks.  It’s hard to tell for sure!

Now I’m gonna have another look in the Hedges, Boughey & Vickerman surveys.  They surely can’t have missed this!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Brigantia (Northern England), Cup-and-Ring Stones, Yorkshire, West | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lidstone, Chipping Norton, Oxfordshire

Standing Stones:  OS Grid Reference – SP 35487 24627

Also Known as:

  1. King Lud’s Stone
  2. Leodwine’s stone

Getting Here

Just get to the top of the hill thru the village and where the sharp bend turns, you’ll find one of the monoliths up against the wall above the roadside (hard to find in the undergrowth sometimes!).  The other stone is on the eastern side of the road through Lidstone from the A44, halfway into the village itself.

Archaeology & History

Lidstone monolith

Lidstone monolith

There are two small stones to be found in the lovely little hamlet of Lidstone.  The main one—Leodwin’s Stone—is at coordinate SP 35517 24656; and the smaller stone further up the hill is at SP 35487 24627.  First described in a treatise from 1235 AD as Lidenstan, the great place-name writer Ekwall (1940) thought this derived from ‘Leodwine’s Stone.” A few years later Gelling (1954) told us that “there is a monolith at Lidstone”, which she thought gave rise to the place-name, and not some chap named Leodwine.  Whichever it may be, we certainly have two small upright stones here — both worth having a look at if such things take your interest. (Tom Wilson and I included them in our short survey of the standing stones of the region in 1999) Further up at the top of the hill from here are the remains of an old tumulus.

Folklore

Said by Caroline Pumphrey (1990) to be the resting place of old King Lud, one of England’s last great pagan kings; another local writer Elsie Corbett (1962) also told a tale well-known to folklore students about this little monolith.  She related how a local man they knew as Mr Hitchcock told them,

“that they used to kid the boys there by telling them that when the stone hears the clock strike twelve it goes down to the stream to drink, and that it was just a ‘catch’ because there was no striking clock in the first place; but it is a ‘catch’ tacked onto some tale that must have been told in the hamlet long ages before there were clocks at all.”

The said stream is a short distance due north of here, down the little valley.  The tale may come from it once acting as a shadow-marker, highlighting midday when the sun was high in the sky due south.  Makes sense of the folktale anyway!

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul & Wilson, Tom, The Old Stones of Rollright and District, Cockley: London 1999.
  2. Corbett, Elsie, A History of Spelsbury, Cheney & Sons: Banbury 1962.
  3. Ekwall, Eilert, Oxford Dictionary of Place-Names, OUP: Oxford 1940.
  4. Gelling, Margaret, The Place-Names of Oxfordshire – volume 2, Cambridge University Press 1954.
  5. Pumphrey, Caroline, Charlbury of our Childhood, Sessions Books: York 1990.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Posted in England (south), Oxfordshire, Standing Stones | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Loch Seil, Kilninver, Argyll

Crannog (submerged):  OS Grid Reference – NM 80390 20292

Also Known as:

  1. Canmore ID 22994

Getting Here

A beautiful place found along the roadside towards Seil Island, on the B844 a few miles south of Oban.  When you get near the south end of the loch right by the road, have a gander!  If the waters are low you can sometimes see the ghostly island appear above the waves…

Archaeology & History

You’re lucky to see owt here – the isle has all but submerged.  This old artificial island could once be clearly seen less than 400 yards south of Duachy farmhouse, near the southwestern edge of the loch.  It measured roughly 10 yards by 8 yards, was built of stones, seemingly “with a boat-slip on the west side and a ‘square place’ on the east as if for a landing stage.”  All trace of the causeway linking it to the shore has apparently vanished.  But if you do stop here, check out the Duachy Standing Stones on the hillside behind you!

References:

  1. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments of Scotland, Argyll – volume 2: Lorn, HMSO: Edinburgh 1974.#

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

The Northern Antiquarian – Charity Number SCO-46359

Posted in Argyll & Bute, Crannogs, Scotland | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Minning Low, Ballidon, Derbyshire

Cairns:  OS Grid Reference – SK 2091 5731

Also Known as:

  • Minninglow
  • Roystone Cairn

Getting Here

Minning Low from the air, looking NE (photo © Pete Glastonbury)

You can see the copse of trees here from all directions it seems, and there seem various ways in.  Don’t think there’s a direct footpath, but from all accounts the locals are friendly and you can cross the fields from various directions.  From either Pikehall to the north, Aldwark to the east, or Brassington from the south, head towards the distinct wooded copse atop of the hill and you’ll get there!

Archaeology & History

This superb-looking view catches the remains of at least two prehistoric tombs.  In Marsden’s (1977) brief notes of the site he describes,

“Disturbed mound in plantation with exposed limestone cist.  Primary cist rifled.  Secondary cremation.  A second barrow had been raised against the earlier cairn, containing a primary cremation in situ., with a burnt bronze razor, 2 flint knives and a bone tool.”

Barnatt & Collis (1986) give more detailed descriptions of the respective tombs.  The first is categorized as a passage grave chambered cairn:

“This large but mutilated barrow measures c.45 x 38m and in parts is over 2m high.  It had been much robbed for stone before the site was first recorded in the late 18th century.  The ruined remains of four chambers can be seen.  In 1843 Bateman located a fifth partially-collapsed chamber passage, now lost somewhere within the mound.  Rooke recorded a further one of two structures to the north and possibly west sides of the mound (Douglas 1793), that had gone or been reburied in Bateman’s day.  Small excavations by Marsden in 1973-4 clarified the design of the four visible chambers.  Each originally had tall portals, back stone, side slabs, low septal slabs and short entrance passages.  Drystone walling had been used to fill gaps between orthostats and in places to increase the heights of the sides.”

Although human remains were found here, the authors tell how the site was initially plundered as far back as the Romano-British period.  It had once been a long cairn, aligned ENE-WSW, but they give no notice of any potential astronomical orientation (does anyone know?).

References:

Barnatt, John & Collis, John, Barrows in the Peak District, J.R. Collis: Sheffield 1986.
Bateman, Thomas, Vestiges of the Antiquities of Derbyshire, London 1848.
Douglas, J., Naenia Britannica, London 1793.
Marsden, Barry M., The Burial Mounds of Derbyshire, privately printed: Bingley 1977.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Cairns, Tombs, Tumuli, Derbyshire | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Haworth Moor Spa Wells, West Yorkshire

Healing Wells:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0041 3513

Getting Here

Go through Haworth and head for the well-known Penistone Hill country park.  On the far western side of the hill up near the top of Moorside Lane, there’s a car-park.  Right across the road from this there are two footpaths: one heads you into the moor, whilst the other (going the same direction) follows the edge of walling onto the moors.  Take this path. Walk on and downhill, past the end of the reservoir, then the path continues uphill. You’ll hit a nice cheery tree beside the path a few hundred yards up.  Stop here, look into the boggy region with bits of walling on the moor in front of you.  That’s where you’re heading!

Archaeology & History

The first, weaker of the Spa Wells

The first, weaker of the Spa Wells

This was a really curious spot to me, as I found absolutely nothing about the damn place!  But thanks to the assistance of local historian and writer Steven Wood (2009), that’s changed.  Shown on the 1852 OS-map, at least two springs of clear water trickle slowly from the wet slope above you into the boggy reeds.  Close by there are overgrown remains of old buildings, covered with the time of moorland vegetation, seemingly telling that the waters were collected for bathing rooms.  But who the hell even started the notion that they’d be able to get Victorian rich-folk up here at the crack-of-dawn to drink or bathe in the waters is seemingly forgotten.  And, as is evident from the lack of local history, the project was a failed one which seemed not to have lasted too long. 

Folklore

The stronger of the Spa Wells

The stronger Spa Well

It was quite obvious that of all the springs around here and despite the strong-flowing streams either side of these spa well, that the local animals drink here more than the other nearby springs of water, as there were literally hundreds of animal tracks all across the boggy ground of the spas.*  The waters also seem to have the usual ‘spa’ qualities of stinking, but once we’d cleaned out the overgrown springs — which looked as if they hadn’t been touched for 100 years or more the waters were clear and tasted good, and were curiously slightly warm!

Although my initial search for information on this site drew a blank, Steve Wood pointed us in the right direction for info on the place.  As with many other holy wells and spas in Yorkshire, it turned out that this was another spot much revered around Beltane, indicating strongly there would have been  earlier pre-christian rites practiced at this site.   Steve pointed me to Martha Heaton’s (2006) local history work, which told:

“For many years the first Sunday in May was a special day. It was known as Spa Sunday, for on this day people gathered up in the hills overlooking what is now Leeshaw Reservoir, here was a well, known as Spa Well, and the stream which now feeds the reservoir is known as Spa Beck. People came from Haworth, Oxenhope, Stanbury, and other villages sitting round the well, they sang songs, some bringing their musical instruments to accompany the singing. Children brought bottles with hard spanish in the bottom filling the bottle with water from the well, shaking it until all the spanish or liquorice had been dissolved. This mixture was known as ‘Poppa Lol’ and would be kept for weeks after a little sugar had been added, then it was used sparingly as medicine.  The custom seems to have died out when Bradford Corporation took over the water and made Leeshaw Compensation Reservoir in 1875, though up to about 1930 two men from Haworth would wend their way to the spot on the moor, the first Sunday in May. The men were John Mitchell and Riley Sunderland, better known, in those days as ‘Johnny o’Paul’s’ and ‘Rile Sun’.

It was a great day for many people, the Keighley News of May 1867 mentioned it, the report of local news reads thus: ‘A large assembly met on Spa Sunday on the moors about two miles from Haworth, and a party of musicians from Denholme performed sacred music’.

This locality was often visited during the summer months by the Bronte family.”

References:

  1. Heaton, Martha, Recollections and History of Oxenhope, privately printed 2006.
  2. Wood, Steven & Palmer, Ian, Oxenhope and Stanbury through Time, Amberley Publishing 2009.

Acknowledgements: – Huge thanks to Steven Wood for his help; and to Hazel Holmes for permission to quote from Martha Heaton’s work.

* A common creation myth behind many healing wells is that animals with breaks or illness drag themselves to drink from otherwise small or insignificant springs and wells, despite of the copious streams or rivers which may be nearer.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Posted in Brigantia (Northern England), Holy Wells, Yorkshire, West | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment