The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


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Halangy Down Ancient Village, St Mary’s, Scilly Isles

Halangy Down Ancient Village, St Mary’s, Scilly Isles (photo: F. Gibson).

NGR: SV 90983 12379. The ancient village/settlement of Halangy Down is situated about 1 mile north of Hugh Town on St Mary’s Island, in the Scilly Isles, and is close to the sea-shore between Toll’s Porth and Halangy Point; it is just a little down the slope from Bant’s Carn Burial Chamber, while a bit further to the south is the golf course at Carn Morval from which there are quite exceptional panoramic views of all the Scilly Islands. This ancient site was probably occupied originally in the Bronze Age, but the village itself was established in the late Iron Age and, continued to be occupied through the Roman period, and on into the Romano-British period. There are some well-preserved remains of a complex of buildings including circular huts, inter-connected structures, courtyards and stone drains, all of which seem to be well looked after. To get to St Mary’s take the ferry-boat from Penzance, Cornwall. It’s then a case of walking the footpaths and road (northwards) at the western side of the island from Hugh Town, keeping to the coastline, and passing Porthmellon, Porthloo, Seaways, the golf course, and Toll’s Porth, to reach Halangy Ancient Village.

Circular hut at Halangy Down Ancient Village, St Mary’s. (F. Gibson).

F. Gibson tells us quite a bit about this site, saying: “There is an extensive complex of stone built huts here, developed and modified during the course of some half-millennium. A courtyard house is the uppermost, with buildings lower down which were all inter-connected. A system of stone drains led under the main entrance of the house and beneath the courtyard. It is probable that both the house and the courtyard were roofed; roofing spars supported in the middle by posts would have supported a thatch of reeds or straw, held in position by straw ropes weighted down by boulders. During excavation a number of quartz implements were found; they were crude choppers, rounded blocks, rough scrapers and axe-like points. There were also a wide range of heavy tools and equipment made from the local granite, as well as numerous querns of the saddle, bowl and rotary types.

“The earliest inhabitants are considered to have arrived about 2000 B.C. and they sought sustenance from the sea. Shellfish were collected, and fish, birds and mammals were caught; whilst at the same time the land was not neglected, cereals being brought to the islands, where clearances were made to grow them. It would seem from the middens however that limpets were the main source of protein in their diet.” 

Gibson also adds that: “Evidence of the Roman period can be found in the islands. Ancient villages of this period are at Halangy Down on St Mary’s and on Nornour. The site at Halangy is on the higher slopes of a much larger settlement which reaches down to the Porth. The lower slopes were probably abandoned on encroachment of the sea. The people who lived there were growing grain, keeping cattle, pigs and sheep; and eating fishand limpets in vast quantities. From evidence of finds the economy appeared well adjusted to island life.”

Timothy Darvill (1988) with regard to Bant’s Cairn on St Mary’s, tells us that: “Nearby are the foundations of round and oval houses of a small Iron Age and Romano-British village.” Lord Harlech (1970) tells us much the same as Timothy Darvill (1988) apart from saying it……“was occupied in the middle of the Roman period.”

Nearby, just up the slope, at NGR: SV 90994 12302 is ‘Bant’s Carn Burial Chamber’, a Bronze Age tomb dating from around 2000 BC. There are four large capstones resting above a rectangular chamber with an entrance leading into it, and there is an inner and an outer wall of large slab-stones; the whole structure with its grassy mound being quite well-preserved. Close-by is a small section of ancient field terraces which were begun in the Bronze Age but, later, in the Iron Age and Romano-British periods – these field systems were obviously re-used by the occupiers of the Halangy Down Ancient Village.

Sources / References & Related Websites:-

Darvill, Timothy, AA Glove Box Guide — Ancient Britain, Publishing Division of the Automobile Association, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 1988.

Gibson, F., Visitors companion to the Isles Of Scilly, (publisher unknown, and date unknown).

Harlech, Lord (the late), Southern England — Illustrated Regional Guide to Ancient Monuments No. 2, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1970.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halangy_Down

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/bants-carn-burial-chamber-and-halangy-down-ancient-village/history/

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=6333313

https://www.citizan.org.uk/interactive-coastal-map/#zoom=10&lat=6435646.73888&lon=-700072.42535&layers=B00000TF

https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/antiquaries-journal/article/excavation-of-a-homestead-of-the-roman-era-at-halangy-down-st-marys-isles-of-scilly-1950/4676994F35C2F26A377B817179CFED2F

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.


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The Old Man of Gugh Standing Stone, Isle of Gugh, Scilly Islands

The Old Man of Gugh Standing Stone (by F. Gibson).

NGR: SV 8904 0848. At the east side of the little Island of Gugh (below Kittern Hill, south-east side) which is connected by a sand bar (tombolo) to the larger St Agnes Island, in the Scilly Islands, is a tall granite standing stone (menhir) called ‘The Old Man of Gugh’, that is thought to date from the Bronze Age. This odd-shaped pillar stone is 9 foot high and is slender and jagged, and leans at an angle towards the east. It is aparently ‘the only’ standing stone in the Scilly Islands, but there are 17 other prehistoric monuments close by, on Kittern Hill, including ‘Obadiah’s Barrow’. The standing stone was first recorded in 1756, but it was not excavated until the beginning of the 1900s at which time nothing much was found. Coming over from Penzance, Cornwall, one is able to reach the Island of Gugh, firstly, by ferry-boat to St Mary’s, the main island of the Scillies, and then the local boat service must be availed of to get you to St Agnes Island, and then [“at low tide”] walk along the sand/shingle bar to the Isle of Gugh, following the main footpath across the island, to reach the standing stone, at the east side, close to the sea cliffs.

F. Gibson tell us that: “Gugh has many Megalithic remains. Unfortunately none are cared for by the Ministry of the Envi-ronment, as on St. Mary’s, but they can be seen amongst the bramble and bracken…….. In the centre of the island is a single stone monolith, considered to have been placed there in the Bronze Age. It is about nine feet high. This is the Old Man of Gugh. It is an interesting fact that this monument stands on the southernmost point of the British Isles, and that a similar stone stands on the most northern point in the Shetland Isles.”

Dixe Wills (2018) says with regard to the sea-birds nesting on the island’s cliffs and their angry calls, that ……“you can strike up an altogether less frenzied acquaintance with the Old Man of Gugh, a 9ft-high leaning menhir (or standing stone). Etched with long grooves and placed here sometime during the Bronze Age, he may have served as a memorial or merely as a territorial marker. Apparently, there are over a dozen ley lines radiating from the Old Man, but when the ground around the stone was excavated no further clues were found.” 

Wills goes on to say that: “A walk around the island is like a trip in a broken time machine, hunting its occupants backwards and forwards apparently at random. Head towards the heather-strewn hillock at the southern end of Gugh and you’ll come upon the Carn of Works Civil War Battery. Built by Cavalier troops to hold two guns that would defend the southern approaches to the Isles of Scilly, the battery’s designers appear to have pressed an ancient entrance grave within its walls into use as a magazine, which one would have thought was an act of sacrilege. Perhaps such matters matter less in times of war.” 

The Historic England monument list no. is: 1014791.

Sources / References & related websites:

Gibson, F., Visitors companion to the Isles Of Scilly, (publisher not known, and un-dated).

Wills, Dixe, Tiny Islands — 60 Remarkable Little Worlds Around Britain, AA Publishing, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 2018.

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1014791

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gugh

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=6333302

http://www.cornwallinfocus.co.uk/history/ancientsites.php?r=IO

http://scillypedia.co.uk/PhotoOldManGughl.htm

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.

 


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Celtic Cross, Lanherne (St Mawgan-in-Pydar), Cornwall

NGR SW 87219 65926. Standing between the churchyard of St Mauganus & St Nicholas’ Church and the convent garden at Lan-herne or Lannhorne, in the village of St Mawgan-in-Pydar, near Newquay, Cornwall, is a Celtic wayside cross, which is thought to date from the 10th or 11th Century AD. It is a wheel-headed or four-holed cross with a tapering shaft, a carving of Christ, curious inscriptions in ancient lettering similar to the runic-type, and carved decoration. The carvings on the opposite side are very faint. There is a five-boss cross on the head and another inscription at the bottom. However, the cross is not in its original setting, as it used to be located at Roseworthy, 20 miles to the north. The convent of Lanherne, just opposite the church was a manor house built in Elizabethian times, but Carmelite nuns from Belgium moved in in 1794; today it is still home to the Fran-ciscan sisters. St Maugan’s Church stands on the site of a 5th-6th Century Celtic monastery, founded by an Irish saint who came here from south-west Wales! The saint’s holy well can be found near the lych-gate, and there is a 15th Century lantern cross in the churchyard.

The Lanherne Celtic cross.

The Cross of Lanherne is located in ‘a peaceful setting’ at the northeastern side of the convent garden, close by the churchyard. It is just under 5 foot high and is made from a single lump of stone from Pentewan in Cornwall. The SW face: (head) shows in high relief a delicately carved figure of Christ crucified with arms outstretched (forming the actual cross-head but leaving holes visible), his longish body and legs, and with his feet resting upon some outstandingly beautiful Celtic two-cord plaitwork (banding) and three-cord plaitwork – all intertwining (with flat cord-knots at intervals) in a sort of ‘zig-zag’ fashion. Below that a large panel of ancient-style lettering similar, perhaps, to Scandinavian runic letters, which might spell out a personal name? While the opposite side: NE face (head) has a simple rounded cross with five tiny bosses forming the actual head, with the holes left showing, and below that, but now very faint a longer in length area of cord-plaitwork intertwining and twisting in and out in a ‘zig-zag’ fashion with flat-cord knots and, at the bottom, a small panel of ancient lettering similar to that on the main face. The edges of the cross have more cord-plait banding, interlacing and knotwork.

The Historic England Monument List No is: 1020866. See the Link, below. 

Sources / references & related websites:

The AA, The Illustrated Road Book Of England & Wales, The Automobile Association, London, 1961.

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1020866

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/modules.php?op=modload&name=a312&file=index&do=showpic&pid=100139

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lanherne

https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/CON/MawganinPydar

http://www.friendsoflanherne.org/p/the-sisters-at-lanherne.html

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.

 


Marrick Priory, Swaledale, North Yorkshire

Old Plan of Marrick Priory, Richmondshire, Yorkshire (c.1590).

NGR: SE 06686 97759. About 1 mile southwest of Marrick village, on the north bank of the river, in Swaledale (formerly Richmondshire), North Yorkshire, are the now ‘very scanty’ ruins of Marrick Priory, a 12th Century house of Benedictine nuns that was founded by Roger de Aske and, dedicated to St Andrew & St Mary the Virgin. The religious buildings, or what’s left of them, are now incorporated into more modern buildings that are an Outdoor Education and Resi-dential Centre for young people. The former priory church (St Andrew’s) has largely survived and was still in use up until 1948 as the parish church, though the tower was rebuilt in the early 19th Century, and the rest of the building much renovated more recently. One is still able to see the fragmentary remains of some of the monastic buildings in particular the cloister and chancel and fishponds. The priory ruins are on [private land] but you can view them from the lane: by heading southeast from Reeth via Fremington and Grinton on the B6270, or southwest from Marrick via the 375 nuns’ stone steps (causeway) down through the woods, and then onto Sikelands Lane.

Marie Hartley & Joan Ingilby (1963) tell us that: “The Priory of St Andrew, a house for Benedictine nuns, was founded c. 1154 by Roger Aske, who endowed it with a hundred acres of land and the advowson of the parish church of Marrick. Other gifts of land here and elsewhere followed. Bear Park in Wensleydale was their most valuable property. Although one of the smaller houses exempted from suppression, it was surrendered 17 November 1540; it then had a prioress and twelve nuns, and the gross annual value was £48 18s. 2d.

“The parish CHURCH is still there, and recently the interior has been renovated and altered for an Outward Bound centre for young people. The tower was pulled down and rebuilt in 1811, and old arches were used to form a chancel arch. A chapel of ease in Marrick village, formerly a Roman Catholic church, bought in 1893, has replaced it. Some of the priory buildings are incorporated in the farmhouse; other remains may be picked out amongst the farm buildings, and the ruins of the old chancel, swathed in ivy, stand at the E. end of the church. Note: fishponds between house and river.”

Frank Botttomley (1981) has the following entry information for Marrick, Yorkshire North Riding c1155-1540. “Large P (CN, possibly BN) with dependent H at Rerecross. Some remains cannibalized by C19 church, ruins of chapel in situ, incorp-orated in new secular building.”  Key: P – priory, CN – Cistercian nuns, BN – Benedictine nuns, H – house.

Frank Bottomley adds regarding Benedictine priories, that: “Their chaplains may have been Benedictine priests but some of the older nunneries were provided with secular chaplains with prebends in the monastic estates. Such benefices generally became the perquisites of royal clerks who provided vicars for the nunneries.”

The following information is from the Genuki Website: “The Church (St. Andrew) occupies a portion of the site, and seems also to have served for the conventual chapel as well as the parish church. The old structure having become much dilapidated, the greater part of it was taken down in the early part of this century, and the present small church built on its site, mixed with parts of the old fabric. It consists of a nave, with north aisle, chancel, and the ancient tower, In the latter are three bells, one of which dates from old Catholic times, and bears the invocation in Latin, “St. Peter, Pray for us.” The chancel was restored and improved in 1885, at the expense of the impropriator. A few ancient tombstones remain. On the chancel floor, cut in relief, are the arms and sword of Sir Roger de Aske; and near the door are the places from which some vandal hand has torn the funeral brasses of the founder and his wife. In the nave is a slab, which a Latin inscription, in Old English characters, tells us covers the remains of Isabella, one of the nuns of the priory, and sister of Thomas de Pudsay, of Barforth; and on another, forming part of the step of the altar rail, are an incised cross, with chalice, book, a square object charged with a quartrefoil, and another object, apparently a pax. Against the wall is a tablet to the memory of Mr. Thomas Fawcett, of Oxque, in this parish, who died in 1783. He was, the inscription tells us, “a celebrated cultivator of bees, for which he received many testimonies from the Society in London for the encouragement of Arts and Sciences.” See Genuki – UK & Ireland Genealogy Website Link, below.

The Yorkshire Dales Official Guide says that: “The Priory has a most delightful situation a short distance from the river, and was founded in King Stephen’s reign by Roger de Aske. Built into the shell of the Priory is a two-storey structure to provide hostel-type accommodation for youth organisations as a kind of spiritual Outward Bound Centre. A refectory, quiet room, chapel and two dormitories provide accommodation for 35 young people of both sexes.”

Sources / References and related websites:

Bottomley, Frank, The Abbey Explorer’s Guide, Kaye & Ward, London, 1981.

Genuki Website:  https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/YKS/NRY/Marrick/Marrick90                                         

Hartley, Marie & Ingilby, Joan, The Yorkshire Dales, J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., London, 1963.

The Yorkshire Dales Official Guide, (Compiled by: Eric Lodge F.R.G.S.), The Yorkshire Dales Tourist Association, Burnsall, Skipton.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marrick_Priory

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1012182

https://library.leeds.ac.uk/special-collections/collection/6

Click on:   https://marrickpriory.co.uk/history/

Click on:   https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marrick_Priory_-_geograph.org.uk_-_142879.jpg

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.


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The Flasby Hall Iron-Age Sword, Near Skipton, North Yorkshire

Flasby Hall Iron-Age sword and scabbard in The Craven Museum.

NGR: SD 942 563. In 1848 a well-preserved late Iron-Age sword and scabbard were dug up in the grounds of Flasby Hall, near Skipton, North Yorkshire. This ancient antiquity was said to date from the 1st Century AD. The Victorian edifice of Flasby Hall, dating from about 1843, is a couple of miles to the northeast of Eshton and some 3 miles to the southeast of Winterburn. It is thought that the iron sword belonged to a Celtic warrior or chieftain of the Brigantean tribe who lived at a nearby settlement, possibly the one at Sharp Haw, and around the time when the Roman army was marching north and eastwards through the Dales in order to consolidate their grip on the north of England and, ‘put down’ the Brigantes tribe, who had held sway here. But did this Celtic warrior bury his sword here in order to retrieve it at a later time? or was it just thrown into a pit maybe as an offering to some pagan god? That we will probably never know.

The sword and its scabbard were kept for many years at Flasby Hall by Captain Preston, but then in more recent times it was donated to The Craven Museum, Skipton, where it is still on display in a glass cabinet along with the Malham Pipe (flute) from the Seaty Hill tumulus, and also a Celtic stone-head. According to the ‘Out of Oblivion’ website’ “The scabbard is made from beaten and cast copper alloy, lined with wood and is decorated in typical ‘celtic’ style. The sword itself is of iron. Such a sword would have been the prized possession of a local Iron Age warrior and an important symbol of his status. It is similar to several others found in the area occupied by the tribe known as the Brigantes.” See ‘Out of Oblivion’ and ‘Wikipedia’ websites, below.

Sources & References:-

http://www.outofoblivion.org.uk/record.asp?id=311

https://www.cravenmuseum.org/archaeology/fact-sheets/the-flasby-sword/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flasby

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craven_Museum_%26_Gallery

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=35748

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.


The Laycock Cross, Laycock, Near Keighley, West Yorkshire

The Laycock Cross in West Yorkshire.

NGR: SE 0328 4105. Built onto the top of the wall at the east side of Laycock Lane in the village of Laycock, near Keighley, west Yorkshire, there is a three-armed wayside cross that looks to have some age about it, but whether it is Anglo Saxon or medieval, we don’t really know with any certainty. A few historians had suggested that it might date from the 7th-9th century AD, and to have been set up by early Christian missionaries, although it could actually date from the 11th or 12th century? It is a curious little cross with its bulbous-shaped shaft and short, stubby arms, but all-in-all it is a rather nice looking monument, and different. It has, however, suffered a bit of damage down the centuries, but not enough to spoil the look of the cross. The Laycock Cross is most likely located on a former pilgrims route, the itinerary of which would have included Jennet’s Well at Calversyke, True Well at Goose Eye, Goff Well at Hainworth and Exley Head Cross. Laycock village is first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. Its place-name meaning is taken to be ‘a small stream’, but it could also be a personal family name with the obvious local origins.

References & related websites:-

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laycock,_West_Yorkshire

http://www.village.laycock.com/

http://www.keighleysharedchurch.org.uk/history.html

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=17831

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.


Rieve Edge Cross, Thursden Valley, Lancashire

Rieve Edge Cross above Thursden Valley.

NGR: SD 9076 3457. Rieve Edge is a steep hill overlooking Thursden Valley at the north side of Extwistle Moor, in Lancashire. At its summit is an outcrop of Gritstone rocks with more rock debris on its lower flank, down as far as the Pennine Bridleway, which skirts the lower side of this hill. On one of the large flat rocks on the lower slope of Rieve Edge there is a large carved cross which is “possibly” Medieval, or could it be more recent? And on another rock a bit further up the hill there is a carving of a head with a helmet and some letters; this particular carving being more recent though. There don’t appear to be any prehistoric carvings on the rock outcrop though there are erosion-related holes in some of the rocks. There is a stone with a single cup-mark beside the bridleway. No designated footpath goes up to Rieve Edge from Ridehalgh Lane, in Thursden Valley, so it’s just a case of climbing up the steep hillside with the rock outcrop up ahead of you, but it’s worth the climb just for the views!

Carved head on stone at Rieve Edge, above Thursden Valley.

The crude cross that is carved onto a large flat stone about a quarter of the way up Rieve Edge is what’s referred to as a “Potent” style cross and is similar to the St Chad’s Cross, although their designs are slightly different. Could this cross have been carved by monks from either Whalley abbey or Sawley abbey and, could it mark the extent of their lands, the boundaries of their monastic estates? However, we don’t know when the cross was carved though it could be late Medieval, or maybe more recent? And was it carved by a Whalley monk, or a pilgrim making his way to the abbey? There is another similar cross carved on a rock further up Ridehalgh Lane, although it’s very faint. Going further up the slope of Rieve Edge there is another curious carving on a rock of a helmeted, mustachioed head (probably a knight) with the letters ‘BR’ above. This carving is obviously quite recent in date, but why it was carved, and what it signifies is anyone’s guess. The name “Rieve” as in the context of ‘Rieve Edge’ is taken to mean “a bank of snow”, which sounds about right, but it can mean a few other things too.

Sources / References:-

Post, W. Ellwood, Saints Signs And Symbols, (Second Edition), SPCK, London & Morehouse-Barlow Co, 1974.

https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/rieve

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2019.