Bradup Stone Circle, Morton Moor, West Yorkshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 0898 4393

Also known as:

  1. Bradup Bridge
  2. Brass Castle
  3. Kirkstones Circle

Archaeology & History

Lay-out of the site, c.1929 (after Raistrick)

Lay-out of the site, c.1929 (after Raistrick)

Not far from the little-known site of Beacon Hill, this once important megalithic ring was described by Arthur Raistrick in 1929 as “the finest stone circle” in West Yorkshire.  Sadly however, the complete destruction of the place in recent years has now left us with nothing to go by (you would think such actions were illegal, but we’ll come to that shortly).

The site measured thirty feet across and, until only a few years back, had a distinct embankment surrounding it.  In 1885 Robert Collyer described 18 stones here; but in Raistrick’s (1929) survey only 12 were visible.  A newspaper account of the site in 1960 reported that 12 stones were still in situ and that “there are large holes from which the other stones have been removed.”  This fact was echoed by a local walker, Ken Pickles, who knew the site well and said:

“I first walked this moor in 1945,” he says. “In the late 1960s there were definitely 12 there. It was a perfect stone circle. It offends me that children should be denied things like this.”

As if to affirm the status and number of stones again, when archaeologist Ian Longworth (1965) wrote about it he told that,

“Twelve stones remain in this badly damaged circle, which measures about 30 feet across.   The stones are of local millstone grit.  Several seem to have been removed from the site to repair Bradup Bridge.”

Sid Jackson’s old drawing

By 1995 only one stone was in situ, but a very distinct circular embankment was still in evidence.   I sat here quite a few times when I was younger, munching mi sarnies, having a rest, alone and with friends (once in the company of holy wells author Edna Whelan and fellow rock art researcher and author Graeme Chappell) before journeying back home.  It seemed that at least one other stone was buried just beneath the grassy surface on the northeastern side of the banking.

Arthur Raistrick’s (1929) plan shows that at least two stones stood near the centre of the circle, which may have related to a solstice sunrise alignment with the old standing stone at nearby Black Knoll hill on Morton Moor (replaced at an unknown date in the past by a stone cross).  And when Mr Raistrick told this to be the best stone circle in the region, he knew what he talking about!  He had surveyed many other prehistoric remains and was the leading archaeological authority in the region at the time.  Today, we have no such professional authority in the region who is worthy of such an accolade.  The sorry series of events that led to the destruction of Bradup’s stone circle took a little time to emerge, but after a series of emails to various departments several years ago, the culpability seemed to spread across several people, each of whom made simple mistakes; but these were mistakes that have led directly to Bradup’s demise.  I hope some of you will forgive me telling its story…

I first received an email from a colleague in 2002 asking whether or not I was aware of what seemed to be the final destruction of the Bradup stone circle, as the land-owner from Upwood Farm had been over the field and uprooted some buried stones — plus the last visible upright in the ring — and moved them into a pile at the top southern-end of the field in which the circle previously stood.  So a small bunch of us went over to have a look and, much to our horror, found the report to be true.  The field itself had been completely levelled and the circular embankment flattened, with the upright stone and any buried ones dragged and dropped into the pile of stones that obviously constituted the megalithic structure we’d sat within and visited so many times down the years.  Someone — the land-owner it seemed — quite recently in early 2002, had destroyed the Bradup stone circle.

How the hell had this happened…!?

In 2006, Pippa Pemberton was the person working for English Heritage who had the stately title of ‘Field Monument Warden for West Yorkshire’ and elsewhere — and it was Pippa who told the sorry tale, albeit through the well-disguised erudition of avoiding blame to any of them!

I will publish full details of her email and the names of the people responsible for its destruction in the near future… (to be continued…)

Folklore

Also known as the Brass Castle and the Kirkstones (indicating it as a place of worship), this site was reputedly haunted. The name “Kirkstones” probably derives from the rock outcrop 800 yards north of here, where the stones which made this site may have come from.  A dowsing survey found there to be water beneath the circle, but this wasn’t mapped.

References:

  1. Anonymous, “Brass Castle,” in Telegraph & Argus, 9 September, 1960.
  2. Anonymous, “Stone Circle Wrecked, Says Walker,” in Telegraph & Argus, October 5, 1990.
  3. Anonymous, “Mystery Surrounds Vanishing Circle,” in Telegraph & Argus, 31 January 1998.
  4. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann 2001.
  5. Collyer, Robert, Ilkley, Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
  6. Longworth, Ian H., Regional Archaeologies: Yorkshire, Cory, Adams & MacKay: London 1965.
  7. Pemberton, Pippa, “Scheduling and Location of the Bradup Site,” personal email, March 2006.
  8. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘The Bronze Age in West Yorkshire,’ in Yorkshire Archaeology Journal, 1929.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

The Northern Antiquarian – Charity Number SCO-46359

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Ringstone Wood, Howden, East Yorkshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 748 282?

Archaeology & History

I’ve looked and looked for info on this seemingly lost site, but have found very little.  It lent its name to the very woodland within, or on whose edges, it could once be found.  First described as early as 1284 in the ‘Calendar of Patent Rolls’ – where is appeared as ‘Ringestainhirst‘ – and then in the Testamenta Eboracensia in 1391, it is mentioned several other times before falling into nothing but literary memory in the middle of the 19th century.

We don’t know for sure where the circle was located, though one Latin reference describes it in proximity to a hermitage once known as St. Mary Magdalen’s Chapel at Howden: “heremitae de Ryngstanhyrste.”  The site would likely have been on the highest point in the locality, which may put it where the great church now stands, or perhaps on the more northern and western outskirts of the township.  Are there any Howden historians reading this who might be able to throw a bit more light on the issue?

The great place-name authority A.H. Smith (1937) thought that the Ringstone Hurst (woodland) at Howden got its name from a “wood near the circular stone”; but modern etymologists would place a  much greater likelihood that the woodland owed its name to the now lost stone circle that was once in this locality.

References:

  1. Raine, James (ed.), Testamenta Eboracensia; or, Wills Registered at York, J.B. Nichols: London 1836.
  2. Smith, A.H., The Place-Names of the East Riding of Yorkshire, Cambridge University Press 1937.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

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Grey Stone, Harewood, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 3148 4307

Also Known as:

  • Carving no.399 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Various ways to get here, but I suppose the easist is by walking along the path just above the woods from the main A61 road, where there’s the junction turn-off to Wike.  You have to walk perhaps 1000 yards until eventually, a couple of hundred yards up the slope to your left (south) you’ll see the boulder stuck in the field.  You’re there!

Archaeology & History

The Grey Stone, Harewood

The Grey Stone, Harewood

Described first by Cowling & Hartley in 1960, this multiple-ringed carving gives the distinct impression that it aint quite as old as our more traditional cup-and-rings on the moors west and north of here – but I s’ppose we’ll never know for sure.  There isn’t a central cup to this concentric-ringed carving, which is quite unusual, and which is why I get the impression that it’s from a later archaeological period.  However, saying that, there are several other faint cup-markings on the southwest and east-faces of the boulder (which I forgot to photograph when I was there – idiot that I am!).  Boughey and Vickerman (2003) illustrate as many as 18 other cup-marks on the rock surface – which they list as stone 399 in their survey.

Although there seems to be no folklore attached to this isolated carving, rock-art authority Graeme Chappell noted how “the midwinter full moon set behind Almscliffe Crags at its extreme northerly setting point in Bronze Age times” from this Grey Stone.

The archaeologist S.A. Moorhouse (1981) also pointed out how some of the many Grey Stones (which usually means ‘a boundary stone’, sometimes very ancient ones) found in northern England, derive their name from the word har, which “can also mean ‘grey, hoar,’ used to describe natural boulders, possibly with cup-and-ring markings” – just as we have here!

References:

Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
Cowling, E.T. & Hartley, C.E., ‘A Ring-Marked Rock: The Grey Stone,’ in YAJ 1960.
Moorhouse, S.A., ‘Boundaries,’ in Faull & Moorhouse’s West Yorkshire: An Archaeological Survey, volume 2, 1981.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Map Stone, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1296 4639

Also known as:

  1. Carving No.137 (Hedges)
  2. Carving No.295 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  3. Planet Stone
  4. The Planets Rock

Getting Here

Map Stone, looking east

Map Stone, looking east

Best visited in winter and spring – thereafter the vegetation can hide it a little – but even then, it’s not too hard to find.  Start from the Cow & Calf Hotel and walk across the road onto the moor, and head over as if you’re gonna walk above the Cow & Calf Rocks, onto the moorland proper.  When you’ve gone a few hundred yards, walk up the slope (there are several footpaths – you can take your choice).  Once on the ridge on top of the moor proper, you’ll see the Haystack Rock: it’s on the same ridge, right near where the moor drops down the slope about 250 yards west of here, just about next to the footpath that runs along the edge.  Look around!

Archaeology & History

Unlike some folk who’ve seen this old stone, I find this carving superb.  Its one of my favourites up here!  Its alternative name – the Planet Stone – perhaps lends you to expect something more, but this is down to the astronomer who thought this was some type of heavenly image (which is most unlikely).  I prefer to call it the ‘Map Stone’ because the correlates this carving has with indigenous aboriginal cup-and-rings is impressive and — to Aborigines anyway — would have all the hallmarks of a map.  But not a ‘map’ in the traditional sense of modern humans.  The incidence of cups and rings linked by curvaceous lines, typifies routes between water-holes or settlement spots made by ancestral beings — which is just what we find at this carving here.  These ancestral beings need to be seen in a quite mythic sense: they may be creation deities (giants, gods, etc), animal spirits, the routes of shaman spirits, or other expressions of homo-religiosus.

Map Stone (note the carved line along the very edge of the rock)

…and again from another angle

In the Map Stone here, we see that the very edge of the rock (fig.2 & 3) is ‘encircled’, perhaps (and I say perhaps) symbolic of the edge of the world.  The lines and rings upon the top of the rock may symbolize journeys to and from important places.  Another impression I get of this carving, with the “map” idea, is that the large pecked diamond-shaped ‘cup’ near the middle of the carving is a large body of water around which the archaic routeways passed.  The next time anyone visits this stone, have a look at it with this idea in mind.  Its simple, straightforward and makes sense (mind you – that doesn’t mean to say it’s right!).

The first account I’ve found of this comes from the pen of J. Romilly Allen (1882), where this stone “measuring 5ft 3in by 5ft, and 1ft 9in high” was described thus:

“On its upper surface, which is nearly horizontal, are carved thirteen cups, varying in diameter from 2 to 2½ in, eleven of which are surrounded by rings.  There is also an elaborate arrangment of connecting grooves.”

Although we can only work our nine cup-and-rings here today, Mr Allen seemed suitably impressed with this old carving. Stan Beckensall (1999) seemed to have a good feel of this design too, describing it thus:

“Two thirds of the surface of this earthfast sandstone have been used in a design that partly encloses the marked part of the rock with long curvilinear grooves along its edge, and the inner grooves link single rings around cups.  The effect is one of inter-connection and fluidity.”

The Map, or Planets Stone (after Hedges 1986)

The Map, or Planets Stone (after Hedges 1986)

The Map Stone was also looked at to examine the potential for Alexander Thom’s proposal of a megalithic inch: a unit of measure speculated to have been used in neolithic and Bronze Age times for the carving of cup-and-ring stones.  Using nine other carvings on these moor as samples, Alan Davies (1983, 1988) explored this hypothesis and gave the idea his approval.  However the selectivity of his data, not only in the carvings chosen, throws considerable doubt on the idea.  Unfortunately the idea doesn’t hold water.  The ‘geometry’ in the size of cup-and-rings relates more to the biometrics of the human hand and not early scientific geometry, sadly….

References:

  1. Allen, J.R., ‘Prehistoric Rock Sculptures of Ilkley,’ in Journal British Arch. Assoc., 35, 1879.
  2. Allen, J.R., ‘Notice of Sculptured Rocks near Ilkley, with some Remarks on Rocking Stones,’ in Journal British Arch. Assoc., 38, 1882.
  3. Allen, J.R., ‘Cup and Ring Sculptures on Ilkley Moor,’ in Reliquary Illus. Archaeology, 2, 1896.
  4. Beckensall, Stan, British Prehistoric Rock Art, Tempus: Stroud 1999.
  5. Boughey, K.J.S. & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Exeter 2003.
  6. Collyer, Robert & Turner, J.H., Ilkley: Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
  7. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  8. Davis, Alan, ‘The Metrology of Cup & Ring Carvings near Ilkley in Yorkshire,’ Science Journal 25, 1983.
  9. Davies, Alan, ‘The Metrology of Cup and Ring Carvings,’ in Ruggles, C., Records in Stone, Cambridge 1988.
  10. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
Alan Davies' image of the carving - with carved 'lake' near centre

Alan Davies’ image of the carving – with carved ‘lake’ near centre

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Horncliffe Circle, Hawskworth Moor, West Yorkshire

Circle:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1334 4353

Getting Here

Get to the famous Dick Hudson’s pub on the south-side of Ilkley Moor and go east for about 700 yards till you get to Weecher reservoir (posh doods go yachting there).  From here cross the road and walk on for 150 yards till you reach the stile which takes you onto the moors. Walk!  Follow the footpath and you’ll go over another wall before eventually hitting the beautiful fresh waters of Horncliffe Well (this has never dried up – even in the summers of ’76 and ’95).  Sit here for a while before heading for the circle which is on the east-side of the moorland fence just a coupla hundred yards up onto the moor (you’ll cross a coupla streams before reaching the site).  You’ll know you’re close when, to your left by the fence, you’ll see a boundary stone with the name ‘Thos. Pulleyn’ engraved on it.

Archaeology & History

Early drawing of Horncliffe Circle (Speight 1898)

Early drawing of Horncliffe Circle (Speight 1898)

Horncliffe is a bittova strange site, inasmuch as we don’t honestly know precisely what it is, nor its age.  It used to be categorized as a ‘stone circle’, but this was abandoned many moons ago.  The inner circle of this ellipse-shaped monument was thought to have perhaps contained a burial, but Victorian excavations here found no such evidence; no burials have ever been found, though fires were evidently burned in the small central ring.

Nowadays I’m of the opinion that this was more for living-in, than any ritual site.  It ‘smells’ like that anyway (modern OS-maps now term it as an ‘enclosure’); and this may be borne out by the ancient name of the trackway travelling north from here called ‘Castle Gate’, meaning ‘entrance or path by the fortification.’  Faint ‘cup-markings’ reported by Harry Speight (1898) on the outer edge of the ring are very likely Nature’s handiwork.

Horncliffe is a double-ringed ellipse structure, surrounded on its northern side by a natural embankment of earth.  It was first mentioned in J.N.M. Colls’ (1846) survey, but more was said of it by James Wardell in 1869, who told that,

“there is a circle of stones of various sizes, from three-feet to five-feet in height; they are chiefly set upon their edges and are of sandstone grit.  This circle is forty-three feet in diameter and within it there is a smaller circle, composed of stones of the same composition…and set in the same manner.”

A few years later, the Yorkshire literary giant Harry Speight (1898) penned his first words about this curious circle, saying:

“The best example of a stone circle in the vicinity of Bingley lies on the moor close to the parish boundary, on land belonging to Mr Fawkes, of Farnley Hall.  It is a complete circle, consisting of about twenty stones, placed close together (a very unusual arrangement), from two to four feet high, the circumference being about 35 yards.  An excavation was made in the middle of it some years ago, when bits of flint were found, but no trace of burial.  It is built on a slight slope of the moor, facing the south, and is now much concealed by heather.  It is, doubtless, the oldest known evidence of man’s handiwork remaining in the neighbourhood of Bingley, and there is small doubt that it was originally intended to fence a burial, such “Druids’ Circles” being primarily meant to enclose places of sepulchre in the same way that walled enclosures came to be adopted round our churchyards.  A large flat stone on the top side, about three yards distant, is marked with cups and channels, and probably was in the centre of the circle originally.”

When Arthur Raistrick (1929) visited the circle, his measurements differed somewhat from those of Mr Wardell, telling the site to have diameters of 25 feet (east-west) and 32 feet (north-south), with 46 stones in the outer ring and 17 in the inner circle.

This is one of many sites on these moors that I slept at over the years when I was a kid.  It used to be a really peaceful spot that was rarely troubled by other visitors (not sure if it’s still the same though).

Folklore

Although we have nothing specific to the circle, around the nearby Horncliffe Well a coupla hundred yards away we had accounts told us by the old warden whose job it was to look after this moorland, that will-o-the-wisps had been seen here.  There is a seeming alignment to the equinoxes from here to Reva Hill – though this is more fortuitous than deliberate.  A dowsing survey found aquastats in and around the circle, but no plan of these were ever made.

References:

Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
Colls, J.N.M., ‘Letter upon some Early Remains Discovered in Yorkshire,’ in Archaeologia 31, 1846.
Raistrick, Arthur, ‘The Bronze Age in West Yorkshire,’ in YAJ 1929.
Speight, Harry, Chronicles and Stories of Old Bingley, Elliot Stock: London 1898.
Wardell, James, Historical Notices on Ilkley, Rombald’s Moor, Baildon Common, etc., Leeds 1869.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Wycoller Bridge, Trawden, Lancashire

Cup-Marked Stones:  OS Grid Reference – SD 932 393

Getting Here

Easy enough to find once you’ve actually got to Wycoller.  By car, the only real way to get here is from Colne, through the village of Winewall, and along the Wycoller road, which runs to a dead end.  Once here, the old packhorse bridge with these cup-marks on it can’t be missed!

Archaeology & History

Wycoller Bridge's cup-marked stones (after Jackson, 1962)

Wycoller Bridge's cup-marked stones (after Jackson, 1962)

Weird one this! On the famous packhorse bridge close to the old hall, four of the stones have cup-markings etched onto them. It seems that at least three of the carvings are archaic; cups on one of them seems somewhat deep and appears to be medieval. A short article describing them was in the Bradford Cartwright Hall Archaeology Bulletin (1962) where they were just as puzzled about them.  In 1979, J.A. Heginbottom described them in his survey on the prehistoric rock-art of upper Calderdale.  The stones on which the cups were carved may have been taken from a prehistoric tomb on the edge of the moor further up the valley from here.

Folklore

Just next to this bridge is another, much older one, known locally as the Clapper or Druid’s Bridge which perhaps has some bearing on the curious cup-markings.  Legend tells that this older construction was so called “because legend has it that it led to an amphitheatre where the druids held human sacrifices” – and the field just up from here (to the southwest) was known as the Dripping Stone Field.  Hmmmmm…..

References:

Bentley, John, Portrait of Wycoller, Nelson Local History Society 1975.
Heginbottom, J.A., The Prehistoric Rock Art of Upper Calderdale, unpublished report: 1979.
Jackson, Sidney, ‘Cup-Marked Stones at Wycoller,’ in Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, October 1962.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Woman Stone, Askwith Moor, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 17103 50541

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.520 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Takes a bit of finding this – but if you like your rock art, it’s worth the search!  You can follow directions for the getting to the Man Stone then, when you reach it, look to the near horizon to the east.  Get to the bottom of the sloping hillside where a large rounded boulder sits and walk up the slope about 10 yards.  Look around here cos you’re very close.

Woman Stone carving

Carving highlighted in chalk

Alternatively, from the Askwith Moor Road, follow the path to the triangulation pillar on Shooting House Hill.  Keep going for another 100 yards and check a small path to your left (south).  Follow this down until you get to the top of the slope.  Go to the bottom of the slope and look around!

This carving is best checked out in winter and early spring: if you go here in summer & autumn there’s bracken covering the entire site & you’ll never find it!

Archaeology & History

Drawing by Inmaculada Ibanez-Sanchez

This stone was first discovered by Graeme Chappell and I during one of our many ambling explorations here in the early 1990s and was first mentioned in my Old Stones of Elmet (pp.149-152).  Marija Gimbutas would have loved this seemingly matriarchal-looking cup-and-ring carving, suggestive of many Mother Goddess images she found across Europe – hence its title!

Woman Stone design (after Boughey & Vickerman)

Woman Stone design (after Boughey & Vickerman)

I don’t think that the old-school archaeological types would lower themselves to say such a thing, but as I aint one of them I’m quite confident in saying that this carving does seem to be a pictorial representation of a female figure: one of the earliest of its kind in the British Isles? (check its nearby male compatriot, the Man Stone – a distinctly human figure and one of the earliest of its kind in the British Isles)  Very close by we are left with old place-name remnants pointing directly at the presence of pre-christian goddess remains in the mythic landscape – an issue I’ll expand on in the near future.

In the survey by more recent rock art students Boughey & Vickerman (2003), their illustration of the carving makes it look even more like an early female figure! (though I hear they don’t like people giving the carvings names – unless, of course, one of them lot names it…)

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  3. Gimbutas, Marija, The Language of the Goddess, Harper-Collins: San Francisco 1989.
  4. Gimbutas, Marija, The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe, Harper-Collins: San Franciscoo 1991.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Windy Hill Circle, Baildon Moor, West Yorkshire

Stone Circle (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – SE 138 403

Archaeology & History

J.N.M. Colls (1846) described a ‘druidical circle’ of stones due east of the Dobrudden prehistoric graveyard, but it seems to have been completely destroyed soon after writing his essay, with the stones taken away for use in road-building.  He told that here was,

“a double circle of stones, the outer ring numbering eighteen, with six stones making up the inner circle.”

…and his illustration shows shows just that!  It’s possible that this inner ring may have covered a burial.  Harry Speight — aka, ‘Johnnie Gray’ (1891) — is the only other writer I’ve found that refers to megalithic remains up here, though he gives no further details.

Windy Hill Circle (after Colls, 1846)

Windy Hill Circle (after Colls, 1846)

The site was to be found across the High Plain and Windy Hill, on the western edge of Baildon Hill, where there was once a greater profusion of seemingly neolithic and Bronze Age remains.  Another possible early early reference to the site is in Collyer & Turner’s Ilkley (1885), where they talk of a circle “on the highest part of the eastern moor,” fifty-six feet across with a similar appearence to the Pennythorn Hill circle, although they describe it as overlooking the hamlet of Sconce, which is hardly possible from the Windy Hill side of Baildon Moor.

The site looked across the horizon from south, through west to north and if used astronomically would have been used to observe sun and moonset times.  Although we find a number of cup-and-ring stones in the vicinity, it really does seem that this site has bit the dust!

References:

Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Chieveley 2001.
Colls, J.N.M., ‘Letter upon some Early Remains Discovered in Yorkshire,’ in Archaeologia 31, 1846.
Collyer, Robert & Turner, J. Horsfall, Ilkley, Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
Gray, Johnnie, Through Airedale, from Goole to Malham, Elliot Stock: London 1891.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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William Walker Stone, Keighley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SD 99904 40659 –  NEW FIND

Getting Here

William Walker's Cup-and-Ring

William Walker’s Cup-and-Ring

You need to get to the eastern edge of Keighley Moor by taking the country road northwest out of Oakworth (one of two roads) and head to the end of Newsholme Dean Valley at Slippery Ford.  You can park up at Slippery Ford at Morkin Bridge, then walk up the road for 250 yards, turning sharp left up the dirt-track.  Walk along its wibbly route for another 250 yards and watch out for the large boulder in one of the fields on the left.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

Sketching the design

I came across this previously unrecorded carving in August 2006 after returning from an amble over the moors in the pouring rain and was fortunate to be able to make out the faint design, for, as with most cup-and-ring carvings, depending on the daylight conditions determines whether the carving is visible or not.  Although some of the cup-marks on here are quite distinct, several are very faded and — as usual! — there are a number of dubious ones to work out!

Central design of cups & ring

Main design of cups & ring

The carving gets its name due to the rock having a carved epitaph for an old local farmer — called William Walker — on its eastern face.  There are also the letters “I.W.” carved on its sloping upper face, which looks typical of boundary mark notation, though this stone aint been on any boundary for at least 160 years (I aint checked earlier records).  But much older on top of the rock we find perhaps as many as 20 cup-markings, which at first I first thought might be natural, but this was suddenly halted when I noticed in the bad light a large circle with several cups along it, inside of which were two other cups.  On the southern edge of the rock it seems there may be another 3 or 4 cup-marks, one with a line running down (possibly natural).  I took a couple of pictures when I first found it but they weren’t too well-defined.  The ones here are a little better.

Artist's impression - by Angela Hainsworth

Artist’s impression by Angela Hainsworth

Close-up of ring, cups & lines

The main feature here is obviously the curious ‘ring’ above a small eroded basin, consisting of several cups, with two in the centre.  On closer examination it appears that the ‘ring’ is in fact an unfinished circle with the two central cups having lines running from them to the incomplete ring, leaving a gap or opening at the bottom.  The lack of other cup-and-ring carvings in the vicinity (apart from the simple Cob Stone, 750 yards away below Grey Stones Hill) is an oddity.  A few more ventures onto the local hills are definitely required to see if anything else can be found!

AcknowledgementsWith thanks to Angela Hainsworth for her assistance and sketch of the design.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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Whole Stone, Golcar, West Yorkshire

Legendary Rock:  OS Grid Reference – SE 077 163

A place that I thought was no longer visible – though one local tells me that aint the case.  This legendary site – also known as the ‘Holed’ or ‘Holy Stone’ – is preserved in the place-name of Rocking Stone Hill and, unlike many other alleged rocking stones, actually swayed to and fro if the old records are owt to go by. When the site was described by John Watson in 1775 it had already been damaged, but not destroyed; though even then he described it as “the finest druidical remain in these parts.”

It stood as an ancient boundary mark dividing the townships of Golcar and Slaithwaite.  Prior to Watson’s grand survey the Whole Stone had been measured by a Mr Thomas Percival, who described it as being,

“ten and a half feet long, containing nearly six cubits, druidical measure; nine feet four or five inches broad, containing nearly five cubits; and five feet three inches thick, answering to three cubits . . .  Its weight…is eighteen tons, and one hundred and ninety pounds.  It rests on so small a centre that at one particular point a man may cause it to rock.”

Mr John Crabtree (1836) included it in his survey, and it was illustrated on the very first Ordnance Survey map in the 1840s where it was described as ‘Supposed Druidical’; but in 1886 most of this region was destroyed by quarrying.

The Huddersfield historian Philip Ahier (1942) told how, when he explored this region for any possible remains of the site, he chanced upon an old local man, “who informed me that he had sat on the stone when a youth and had caused it to rock.”

References:

  1. Ahier, Philip, Legends and Traditions of Huddersfield & District, Advertiser Press: Huddersfield 1942.
  2. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  3. Crabtree, John, Concise History of the Parish & Vicarage of Halifax, Hartley & Walker: Halifax 1836.
  4. Watson, Rev. John, History & Antiquities of the Parish of Halifax, T.Lowndes: London 1775.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

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