The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


1 Comment

Dolmen of Fontanaccia, Plain of Cauria, Corsica, (France)

Dolmen of Fontanaccia, Corsica, by Cardioceras (Commons Wikimedia)

Latitude: 41.529559N. Longitude: 8.918266E. On the Plain of Cauria (Plateau de Cauria), 15 kms to the southwest of  Sartè (Sartène) on the Island of Corsica, (France), stands the most famous Corsican Megalithic structure: the Dolmen of Fontanaccia, Funtanaccia Dolmen, or ‘Stazzona  del Diavolu’ (the Devil’s Forge), which dates from the late Neolithic/early Bronze Age. This very important prehistoric burial chamber (table tomb) is located in the Dept: Corse-du-Sud, near the end of the D48A road, southwest of Sartène, and near Tizzano on the southwestern coast. From Sartène follow the D21, D48 and D48A roads going southwest to the megalithic monument. The Dolmen of Fontanaccia with its huge, flat capstone-table and six massive stone supports, is thought to be up to 4,000 years old (the 2nd -1st millennia BC). About ½ km to the northeast of the domen is ‘The Alignment de Stantari’, a group of fifteen menhir statues, while 1 km to the south of those another prehistoric site composed of forty-six standing stones known as ‘The Rinaghju Alignment’.

Olivier Jehasse (1992) says of this prehistoric site that: “Between Sartè and the sea, left of the valley which arrives as far as the port of Tizza (Tizzano), extends the high plain of Cauria, an old place of the prehistoric period. This place overhung by a granite mass is above all famous for the Dolmen of Fontanaccia, that the popular tradition transmitted in the last century by P. Merimee, calls ‘”A Stazzona d’U Diavulu”‘ (the forge of the devil). This beautiful monument, well conserved, is composed of 6 slabs which support a table 3.40 meters long and 2.60 meters wide. The room sitting approximately 40 centimeters deep in the earth measures 2.60 meters long, 1.60 meters wide and 1.8 meters high. These funereal buildings, of which a dozen examples are known in Corsica and scattered in all of the western world, are slightly older than the Casteddi which are characteristic of the island’s prehistoric era.  If their roles in the rural communities of the 2nd and 1st millennia B.C. are difficult to understand, the presence of such monuments, in the middle of the plains, or in the hills or at a peak’s edge, bear witness to the presence of social structures on the island, magnified by these collective tombs, dating to late antiquity.”

Jehasse (1992) adds more with regard to the Bronze Age in Corsica, saying that: “Starting from 2200 B.C., the Bronze Age makes a turning point for architectural invention. This island is covered with castles, fortified complexes, and huts grouped around circular or rectangular buildings having various functions. Very well preserved in the south and in the regions of Porti Vecchju, Livia, and Taravu, these complexes are also to be found in Balagne, in the Golu Valley near Ponte Leccia, in the Niolu region and in the hills overlooking the Aleria hinterland. The appearance of these complexes, moreover, is a sign of the transformation of this island society, where human groups differentiate themselves one from another. This evolution is still more clear cut in the area of religion. Collective funerary monuments Stazzoni or dolmens were built. Southern Corsica is once again the region richest in vestiges of these monuments: Stazzona of Funtanaccia and Cardiccia near Sartè, the Stazzona at Taravu and Stazzona of Appiettu near Alacciu. They are also to be found in the northwest in the Agriate region near the village of Santu Pietru of Tenda and in the Niolu region near the village of Albertaccia. This presence of death in monumental form on the peaks and in the highlands is one of the hallmarks of this epoch.”  

About 1 kilometer to the northeast of the dolmen, at the center of the Caurian plain, is another prehistoric site called: ‘The Alignment de Stantari’, a group of fifteen granite menhir statues. These strange carved stones were probably erected some-where between the 13th and 7th centuries BC? Stantari meaning “man on his feet” in the island’s language. The stones measure between 2.78 and 2.91 in height. And another 1 kilometer to the south of these statues is yet another prehistoric site: ‘The Rinaghju Alignment’, which is composed of forty-six granite standing stones in two parallel rows. The tallest stone being 1.50 meters high, according to Olivier Jehasse in her work of 1992.

Sources and related websites:

Jehasse, Olivier, Corsica – Island of beauty, (English Translation: Ilene Steingut), Edition: Plurigraf, Narni – Terni, Italy, 1992.

Photo of Dolmen of Fontanaccia by Cardioceras at:-  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=The+Dolmen+of+Fontanaccia+in+Corsica+(Wikimedia)&dcr=1&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=ASbisxkJrL1XIM%253A%252CpTPng18DJJg4KM%252C_&usg=__vaeUDHgVv13_Xpkjoa7G0YoN3Co%3D&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiig_T_qq7aAhVIPBQKHb9kCckQ9QEIQzAE#imgrc=ASbisxkJrL1XIM:

https://translate.google.co.uk/translate?hl=en&sl=fr&u=https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dolmen_de_Fontanaccia&prev=search

http://www2.culture.gouv.fr/public/mistral/merimee_fr?ACTION=CHERCHER&FIELD_1=REF&VALUE_1=PA00099114

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=9501

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=9519

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.

 


Leave a comment

Pompey’s Pillar And Sphinxes, The Serapeum, Alexandria, Egypt

Pompey’s Pillar and Sphinx at Alexandria in Egypt.

Latitude:31.182515  Longitude:29.896394. On the rocky hill called ‘The Serapeum’ near the center of Alexandria, Egypt, are three monuments dating from the Roman period. The ornate granite ‘triumphal pillar’ or monolithic column (over 20m high) has wrongly been called ‘Pompey’s Pillar’ (it was probably erected to honour the Emperor Diocletion (297-300 AD) when he saved the city from famine. The pillar is also known as Awud as-Sawari (The Horseman’s Pillar). The two monuments (at either side) are Roman copies of the Sphinx, although much smaller than the more well-known Great Sphinx at Giza. Both are made from pink granite and of an earlier date than the pillar; they show the body of a lion and the head of a man. The Serapeum, at the south-west side of the city, on Shari Amûd al Sawari, northeast of the Catacombs of Kom al Shuqqafa, was the site of the Temple of Serapis and the Sanctuary and Library buildings, which were built either by Ptolemy I or III, the ruins of which are now the Acropolis Archaeological site. The  city of Alexandria was conquered by Rome in 30 BC. Pompey the Great was murdered in Egypt (48 BC).

Old Postcard showing Pompey’s Pillar at Alexandria, Egypt.

The Insight Guide – Egypt (1988) says of the site that: “Long before Alexander arrived on the scene, this hill was the citadel of Rhakotis, dedicated to the worship of Osiris. The Ptolemies in their turn built a temple of Serapis on its summit. Here, with a collection of 200,000 manuscripts given to her by Mark Antony, Cleopatra endowed the second great Alexandrian library, which was to remain attached to the Serapeum until the temple itself was destroyed by a Christian mob; and thus here, for 400 years, was the most learned spot on earth. Today not much of the Serapeum remains: some tunnels in the rocks with crypts and niches and a few marble pillars. What the Christians wiped out in 391 A.D. later vicissitudes have put paid to. But the principal attraction, a solitary 72-foot (22 meter) high pillar of pink Aswan granite, seems to touch the sky defiantly and when European travelers arrived in the 15th century it caught their attention. No scholars they, but since they had heard of Pompey, they named the pillar after him and said his head was enclosed in a ball at the top. It actually has nothing to do with Pompey: according to an inscription on its base, it was dedicated to the Emperor Diocletian in 297 A.D. and it may once have had an equestrian statue on top, which would explain its Arabic name. Even less is left of the temple to Isis that once stood on the hill than of the Serapeum. You can see a statue of Isis Pharia, found near the site of the Pharos, as well as two granite sphinxes.”  

Alice Taylor (1964) adds to that that: “Among the best-preserved remains of the Roman period in Alexandria are Pompey’s Pillar and the sphinx. The red granite pillar, eighty-five feet high, was erected by Diocletian in 297 A.D. Excavations here have unearthed dozens of fragments of other Roman objects and buildings, but they are only fragments.”

And Taylor (1964) also says that: “In the last years of the Ptolemaic era a succession of rival rulers, constantly at war with each other, fell under the rising power of Rome. Cleopatra VI, the last of them, a woman of remarkable ability, tried her best to save the dynasty.”

And further to that Alice Taylor adds with regard to Egypt that: “Most of the Roman rulers, like the Greek, considered Egypt a “”cow to be milked””, although at times the people appear to have been fairly prosperous. Gradually, despite persecutions, Christianity gained converts. Many sought refuge in the harsh lonely desert, where they created the world’s first Christian monasteries. Later, Christianity became the official religion, known as the Egyptian (Coptic) Church, and the non-Christians in turn were persecuted.”

View of Pompey’s Pillar c 1850. (Wikimedia).

Edith Flamarion (1997) writes regarding Pompey the Great that: “One man especially became the champion of Egyptian independence: the roman imperator (commander) Pompey the Great, wreathed in glory after suppressing a revolt in Rome, clearing the Mediterranean of pirates, and crushing the powerful Asian king Mithradates. In 64 BCE he over-threw the Seleucid kingdom; the following year, he reduced Syria to the status of a Roman province—thereby creating a Roman stronghold in the Middle East, at the gates of Egypt—and took Jerusalem. Auletes made an alliance with Pompey, sending him 8,000 cavalry for his wars and many gifts, among them a heavy gold crown. 

In 60 BCE, though, the pharaoh had reason to tremble, for Pompey allied himself with Julius Caesar, who became consul the following year. The Egyptian king sent to Rome the huge sum of 8,000 talents, which brought him official acknowledge-ment of his authority. Julian law declared Ptolemy XII Auletes “”an ally and friend of the Roman people,””  which made him, in reality, a vassal.

“The looming military presence of Rome may have alarmed the Alexandrians, who rebelled against the ruler. Driven out by his subjects, Auletes fled Egypt for Rome. There, beginning in 57 BCE he launched a campaign of politicking and corruption, seeking to regain the throne of Egypt and to rally to his cause every powerful citizen of the Roman capital. Auletes bribed senators, spending so much that he was obliged to borrow from Rabirius, a wealthy Roman financier. 

“In the meantime, the Alexandrians put his eldest daughter, Berenice IV, on the throne, and sent a delegation to Rome to request the Senate to arbitrate the conflict between father and daughter. While Rome hesitated, equivocated, and consulted sacred texts, Auletes simply arranged to have a number of the delegates assassinated. But Rome was reluctant to commit a large armed force to returning Auletes to power. In despair, the deposed pharaoh left Rome for Ephesus, in Asia Minor. Cleopatra, then about ten years old, remained in Alexandria, where her half-sister now reigned.

“It was then that Rome decided upon a military intervention. One of Pompey’s lieutenants, Gabinius, governor of Syria, marched on Egypt at the head of a mighty army—an expedition in which the ten thousand talents promised by Auletes undoubtedly played a part. Leading the cavalry was a fiery twenty-four-year-old officer named Mark Antony. Gabinius took Pelusium, then Alexandria; Archilaus, Berenice’s husband, died in combat. Auletes entered the Egyptian capital as its conqueror, and immediately had his daughter executed.

“With the pharaoh back on the throne, Gabinius quit Egypt, leaving behind a military guard composed in the main of German and Gallic mercenaries. The Roman Rabirius, Auletes’ creditor became his prime-minister in Egypt.”” And the rest ‘they’ say is History! 

Sources & Related Websites:

Flamarion, Edith, Cleopatra – From History to Legend, (New Horizons), English Translation – Harry N. Abrams, Inc., New York, 1997.

Ingram, David, (Insight Compact Guide), Egypt,  APA Publications GmbH & Co. Verlag KG Singapore, (Reprint 2008).

Taylor, Alice, United Arab Republic, (Around The World Program), Nelson Doubleday, Inc And Odhams Books Ltd., 1964. 

Youssef, Hisham & Rodenbeck, John, (Insight Guides – First Edition Reprint), Egypt, Hans Johannes Hoefer, APA Publications (HK) Ltd., 1988.

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pompey%27s_Pillar_(column)

https://www.ask-aladdin.com/Alex-Travel-Information/PompeyPillar.html

http://brewminate.com/serapea-of-ancient-egypt/

http://tvatravels.com/adventures/egypt/alexandria-city-lost-glory/

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.


The Coronation Stone, Kingston Upon Thames, Greater London

The Coronation Stone at Kingston-Upon-Thames.

OS Grid Reference: TQ 17867 69069. On High Street, just opposite the Guild Hall, in the town centre of the south London suburb of Kingston-Upon-Thames, Greater London, is the 10th century stone monument known as ‘The Coronation Stone’ or ‘The King Stone’. Traditionally seven, or maybe eight, Anglo-Saxons kings (AD 900-1016) were crowned whilst seated upon the stone. This 3½ foot high block of grey-black sarsen stone ‘now’ stands on a grassy area of land close to the Hogsmill River, and is surrounded by ornate blue Victorian railings. The Greater London suburb of Kingston-Upon-Thames, once part of Surrey, obviously taking its name from the stone that has, from an early date, also been called the King Stone or King’s Stone. Originally it stood in the ancient Chapel of St Mary (which had fallen into ruin by 1730) and, in 1850 the Market Place, but in 1936 it was moved to its present position on the High Street; though it could be moved again in the near future to All Saints Church, a building which also has ancient origins.

Coronation Stone, Kingston-Upon-Thames (photo by Philip Halling – Geograph).

According to tradition seven Anglo Saxon kings of Wessex and Mercia were crowned on the Coronation Stone in the ancient Saxon Chapel of St Mary Magdalene which stood in the grounds of All Saints Church, Kingston-Upon-Thames, in the 10th century: Edward the Elder (8th June, 900), Aethelstan (4th Sept, 925), Edmund I (29th Nov, 939), Eadred (16th Aug, 946), Edwy also known as Eadwig (26th Jan, 956), Edward the Martyr (975), Ethelred the Unready (April 978) and, possibly Edmund Ironside (14th Apr, 1016)? However, it is known from History that a couple of these kings were ‘not’ crowned at Kingston-Upon-Thames, as was often thought. King Edgar, who is not in the list above, was crowned at Bath (959), and King Edmund II (Ironside) often thought to have been crowned at Kingston was, in fact, crowned in the ancient 7th century Saxon St Paul’s Church, London, the forerunner of the present-day St Paul’s Cathedral. The first St Paul’s church to be styled as a Cathedral was not built until 1087 AD.

The Coronation Stone, which is probably a lump of prehistoric sarsen stone, sits upon a large, modern granite base-stone which has the names running round it (in large lead letters) of the seven kings whom its thought were crowned whilst seated upon the stone – at various dates between AD 900 and 978, but in more recent times it was used as a mounting block for horses! The badge or coat of arms representing the Royal Borough of Kingston-Upon-Thames displays three salmon symbols, and can be seen at many strategic points in and around the town. 

Janet & Colin Bord (1991) say with regard to The King Stone or Coronation Stone that: “It is claimed that seven kings were crowned at this stone during the tenth century, but this is disputed in some quarters. The stone was originally located in the Saxon Chapel of St Mary, but since 1730 it has had several outdoor locations, moving in 1936 to its present site. Whatever its true history, it has now assumed a role as the relic from which the town took its name.”

And also Reader’s Digest (1977) say: “In Kingston market can be seen the stone which gave the royal borough its name. From Edward the Elder (AD 900) to Edmund Ironside (1016), English kings were crowned seated upon the stone.”

Sources & related websites:

Bord, Janet & Colin, Ancient Mysteries of Britain, Diamond Books, 1991.

Reader’s Digest, Folklore Myths and Legends of Britain, Reader’s Digest Association Limited, London, 1977.

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

http//www.geograph.org.uk/photo/2591257   Photo (above) of Coronation Stone is © Copyright Philip Halling and licensed for reuse under their Creative Commons Licence

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronation_Stone,_Kingston_upon_Thames

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1080066

https://lookup.london/kings-stone-kingston/

http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=7208.0;wap2

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.

 

 


1 Comment

Waugh’s Well, Scout Moor, Near Edenfield, Lancashire

Waugh’s Well (photo by P Smith). (Wikipedia).

OS Grid Reference: SD 8287 1957. On windswept Scout Moor between Edenfield and Cowpe in the Rossendale Valley, Lancashire, stands the Victorian memorial known as Waugh’s Well, named after the famous Rochdale-born dialect poet Edwin Waugh (1817-1890), who was the son of a shoemaker. The poet often came to stay at a farm on the moors and, very often would visit and sit beside a spring of water, at Foe Edge. In 1866 a wellhead with a carved stone-head of the poet and a gritstone wall at either side, was built to honour the man who would come to be known as the Lancashire Poet Laureate and also Lancashire’s very own “Burns”. Following his death at New Brighton the well became a place of pilgrimage for devotees of the poet, but it was here on the moor at Foe Edge that Waugh composed some of his famous dialect poems, all having a strong Lancashire feel about them. The well lies about ¼ of a mile to the east of Scout Moor High Level Reservoir on the Rossendale Way footpath. The site is probably best reached from the A680 road and the footpath going past Edenfield Cricket Club, and then eastwards onto the moor itself for a few miles towards Cowpe.

Nick Howorth writing in a magazine article (1996) says of Waugh’s Well that: “The well, originally a spring, was converted into a memorial to Waugh in 1866. This was an extraordinary tribute to a man who was not only still in mid-career at the time, but who had only been famous as a writer of Lancashire dialect songs and poems for 10 years. His fame grew to the extent that by the time he died in 1890 he was variously called “”The Laureate of Lancashire”” or “”The Burns of Lanca-shire””, although he never achieved an international reputation. The well was rebuilt in 1966 and shows a bronze figurehead of Waugh  with his dates, 1817-1890. His connection with the spring on Scout Moor was that he often stayed with friends living at Fo Edge Farm near the well, finding the solitude good for composing songs and poems.

The name ‘Waugh’ is variously pronounced in Lancashire to rhyme with ‘draw’, ‘laugh’ or cough,…..but today ‘Waw’ is more usual. Edwin was born in 1817 in a cottage at the foot of Toad Lane, Rochdale, the second son of a prosperous clog-maker. All was well until his father died of a fever aged 37 when Edwin was nine years old. Years of penury followed but Edwin’s mother, Mary, held the family together. She was a devout Methodist, intelligent, and a good singer. By being careful, she kept Edwin at school until he was 12. She then educated him at home herself, fostering in him the seeds of artistic talent.”

Howorth goes on to say that: “His early career was a struggle against poverty. He was apprenticed to a Rochdale printer, Thomas Holden, when aged 14. This gave him opportunities to read widely although he was often ‘ticked off’ for reading during the shop hours. He also met local literary figures and politicians. Waugh held strong Liberal views but his boss was a Tory; they did not get on well. Between the ages of 20 and 30, Waugh worked in London and the south of England as a printer, but in 1844 he returned to Rochdale to work at Holden’s. They fell out over politics and Waugh left in 1847. In that year he abruptly married Mary Ann Hill, but although he loved her deeply, their natures were so far apart that the marriage was a disaster.

Edwin Waugh.

“For the next five years Waugh worked for the Lancashire Public School Association whose aim was to make a good quality primary education available to poor children. Waugh worked in Manchester, which he hated, but he met many of the city’s literary and intellectual leaders and talked literature, education and politics with other struggling writers. He was beginning to get articles and poems published in Manchester. He worked partime as a journeyman printer, earning money by printing copies of  “Tim Bobbin” (John Collier’s masterpiece of 1746). In 1855 he borrowed £120 and published his first volume of essays, “”Sketches of Lancashire Life and Localities””. Then in June 1856 came the big breakthrough when “”Come Whoam to thi Childer an’ Me,”” was published in the Manchester Examiner, bringing him national prominence. The poem was republished as a penny card, earning him £5 for 5,000 cards.

“His reputation was made and he never looked back. His first collection of poems and Lancashire songs followed in 1859. A few of the titles give the flavor: “”God bless these poor folk!””, “”while takin’ a wift o’ my pipe”” and “”Aw’ve worn my bits o’ shoon away.””

“Apart from courtship and family life, his great love was nature. Many of his essays described excursions far beyond the Lancashire moors, such as Scotland and Ireland. Essays were often published as pamphlets selling for 6d or 1s, eg ‘Over Sands to the Lakes’, ‘Seaside Lakes and Mountains of Cumberland’, ‘Norbreck: A Sketch of the Lancashire Coast’ cost 1d.

“Waugh’s third area of composition was poetry in standard English. A few titles are: ‘The Moorland Flowers’, ‘Keen Blows the North Wind’, ‘God Bless Thee, Old England’ and ‘The Wanderer’s Hymn’. Subjects like these no doubt reflected the tastes of Victorian England.”

Nick Howorth (1996) also adds that: “Another important Waugh activity for many years was giving public readings of his works, rather like his contemporary, Charles Dickens. Although these did not pay very well, they kept his name in the public eye. His big, open, friendly face and soft Lancashire accent made him a popular performer. He did not dress up for these public performances, was always an unkempt figure with big boots, thick tweeds and a heavy walking stick. This emphasized his humble origins to his audiences. In 1869, he read in public almost fortnightly in town halls all over the midlands and the north.

Waugh was an important figure in Lancashire’s literary history because he popularized dialect poetry and made it a valid part of English literature. Before Waugh, Lancashire dialect was difficult to follow, because it contained so many obscure words and spellings. Tim Bobbin, dating from 1746, is the best example of the “”old dialect”’. Readers have to refer con-stantly to the author’s glossary. Waugh simplified and standardized how Lancashire dialect should be written down, and  it has hardly changed since then.

“George Milner (1889) in an essay setting out his views “”on dialect as a vehicle for poetry”” in his collection of Waugh’s poems and songs showed that dialect can express feelings with a simplicity and directness not so easily achieved in Standard English.”

Poets Memorial

At the western edge of Broadfield Park, Rochdale, overlooking the Esplanade there is a very fine four-sided monument commemorating Edwin Waugh and three other local poets. This monument is called ‘The Lancashire Dialect Writers Memorial’. It was designed by Edward Sykes and erected on the land above the Esplanade in 1900. The pedestal is made of red granite and is topped by an obelisk. The four local poets are: Edwin Waugh (d. 1890), Oliver Ormerod (d. 1879), Margaret Lahee (d. 1895) and John Clegg (d. 1895). This fine memorial is inscribed with various poems and information regarding each writer, with their carved heads. A bit further along the path is a statue of John Bright (1811-1889 the Liberal MP for Manchester. Bright was a reformer and campaigner for the repeal of The Corn Laws (1839). In St Chad’s churchyard, Sparrow Hill, is the grave of Tim Bobbin alias John Collier (1708-1786), the satirical dialect poet who frequented the inns of Rochdale. His grave, with its now worn epitaph, is behind iron railings; but ‘the’ grave has become a place of pilgrimage for devotees of his life and works.

Sources/References and related websites:-

Nick Howorth, ‘Edwin Waugh – a man of ink, and his well’, Really Lancashire – A Magazine for the Red Rose County, Landy Publishing, Staining, Blackpool, Issue No. 2, August 1996.

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

http://www.edwinwaughdialectsociety.com/waugh.html

http://holcombevillagelancs.org.uk/?page_id=370

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.


Winckley Lowes II, Near Hurst Green, Lancashire

Map of Winckley Lowes, Bronze Age barrows, Lancashire.

OS Grid Reference: SD 70843 37313. In a farmer’s field 1 mile to the south-east of Hurst Green, Lancashire, is a large tree-clad mound (bowl barrow) which is called Winckley Lowes II or Loe Hill. This particular mound has only recently been identified as a Bronze Age burial site. It lies some 200m to the southeast of a smaller burial mound (tumulus) called Winckley Lowes I. Both sites are located in fields opposite the River Ribble. In the Summer and Autumn the local farmer grows tall maze crops here and so the two burial mounds are difficult to see and, as they are on private land, they can not really be reached. The Winckley Lowes II mound was examined by local antiquarians in the early and late 19th century, but no University-based excavations have, as yet, taken place here. At least two footpaths heading south-eastwards from the B6242 road between Hurst Green and Great Mitton, near the bridges, are the best bet to reach the site; then follow The Ribble Way running east beside the river to the former boathouse (now a private house). The tree-clad mound of Winckley Lowes II lies across the fields 140m to the northeast of this building. 

It’s not a good idea, however, to visit the mounds when the maze crops are growing tall. When the crops have been cut back in the Autumn it is possible to see both mounds from the footpath beside the river Ribble, or from either of the two metal gates at either side of the boathouse; and if you do go further into the fields to get a closer view it is probably best to walk along the edges of the fields when ‘they’ have been ploughed. 

The grassy mound, bowl barrow or round barrow, has trees growing from its sides and summit. It is about 6m (20 feet) high and has dimensions of approx. 42 x 38 metres (137 ft x 124 ft). It has the look of being a naturally-formed hillock or knoll that was formed many thousands of years ago. 

The late John Dixon (1993) says of this site that: “The second, larger, mound is known as Loe Hill and has only recently been declared man-made. No major excavation work has been carried out on the mound and its purpose remains uncertain. Some suppose that it was built after the Battle of Billington in A.D. 798; towards the close of the 8th century the Anglo-British kingdom of Northumbria was fraught with internal conflict.”

Mr Dixon adds that: “It is also possible to see the mound as a Bronze Age earthen bowl-barrow; consequently, one could put the barrow into the wider pattern of Bronze Age settlement in the area. Its close proximity to Winckley Lowe might indicate that the site had some ritual significance. Given the lack of dateable remains the site must remain the subject of speculation.”

Author Ron Freethy (1988) further adds to that uncertainty and says that: “Billington has its roots way back in Saxon times; the important battle of Billangahoh was fought there in 798 AD. The tumuli found close to the spot are said to be the burial mounds but no bones or artefacts have yet come to light. The name of Billington was mentioned in Domesday as was nearby Langho with its ancient church, repaired in 1684 using stones from the ruins of Whalley Abbey.”

The site entry for Winkley Lowes II mound (in the parish of Aighton, Bailey and Chaigley) in ‘Lancashire Archaeological Bulletin’ (1984) says:- “(b) Excavated by Whitaker in 1815. The whole, as far the investigation proceeded, was made up of large water gravel, mixed with exceedingly tough marle, of which there is a bed by the river side. The labour and expense of removing such materials was found so great, that we were compelled to desist before we had arrived at the centre, so that unfortunately nothing was found. Also excavated by Fr. Luck (from Stoneyhurst College. See link, below), September, 1894. Trench 10 feet wide from south-east to centre in four steps. Found earlier excavators’ trench with mussel shells, potsherds, clay pipes and two coins of 1806 (? Whitaker, but why not coins of 1815?). Combination of slate-coloured clay and ice-striated limestone convinced excavator that mound is natural.”  

John Dixon (1993) adds further to the above sites saying that: “A third mound once stood across the river at Brockhall Eases. During the summer of 1836 Thomas Hubbersty, the farmer at Brockhall, was removing a large mound of earth when he discovered a stone-lined cist. This was said to contain human bones and the rusty remains of some spearheads of iron. The whole crumbled to dust on exposure to air. Given that the spearheads were made of iron, one is tempted to describe it as a 1st millennium B.C. burial.”

Sources/references and related websites:-

Dixon, John & Phillip, Journeys Through Brigantia (Volume Nine) The Ribble Valley, Aussteiger Publications, Barnoldswick, 1993.

Freethy, Ron, The River Ribble, Terence Dalton Limited, Lavenham, Suffolk, 1988.

Lancashire Archeological Bulletin, Vol. 10 No. 2/3, May & July 1984.

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/modules.php?op=modload&name=a312&file=index&do=showpic&pid=12695

http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/3015/loe_hill.html#images

http://www.jesuit.org.uk/pause-for-prayer/3753/prayer/nojs

https://thejournalofantiquities.com/2017/09/14/winckley-lowes-i-near-hurst-green-lancashire/

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.

 

 


2 Comments

The Maiden Stone, Chapel Of Garioch, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The Maiden Stone, Chapel of Garioch.

OS Grid Reference: NJ 70378 24714. About 1 mile to the northwest of the village called Chapel of Garioch, near Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, there is a very tall carved stone slab known as The Maiden Stone or The Drumdurno Stone, which has Pictish symbols on one side and a Christian cross on the other. This carved stone, standing beside a country road, is thought to date from the 8th or 9th century AD, and was probably carved at the time when the Picts of eastern Scotland were being Christianized. There are one or two Legends about a confrontation that took place here between a local maiden and the devil and, this seems to be where the name ‘Maiden Stone’ originates. As it is located near Drumdurno farm the stone gets its other name from that local place-name. Chapel of Garioch is 4 miles northwest of Inverurie and just off the A96. To reach the monument head to Chapel of Garioch village and, at the old post office, follow the minor road northwest for ½ a mile. The stone stands beside the road on the opposite side of the woodland, just before the entrance to Crowmallie House.

This tall Class II Pictish symbol stone and cross-slab is highly decorated although some of the carvings are now quite faint due to weathering. It is 10 foot high (3.2m) and is made of a pinkish-red granite. A triangular chunk or notch of stone is missing from the monument at one side about three-quarters of the way up and maybe some of the carvings too. The carving of a man with outstretched arms on the front of the stone may be a depiction of Christ; the carving of a ringed cross also on the front face would suggest that the Picts of eastern Scotland were Christianized at the time that this carving was made – perhaps in the early 8th century AD?

The Maiden Stone by Alexander inkson-Mccon-nochie (1890).

Elizabeth Sutherland (1997) gives her description of the stone and its carvings: “Front: divided into five panels: (1) above a cross find a man with arms outstretched and fish monsters with spiral tails on either side of him; (2) a ringed cross with round hollow armpits with all ornamentation defaced; in (3) and (4) no trace of sculpture remains; (5) spiral and knot-work decoration. Back: four panels reading from the top: (1) several defaced beasts; (2) a notched rectangle & Z-rod. A triangular section has been broken off the stone between these top two panels on the right following a natural crack in the granite; (3) a Pictish beast and (4) a mirror & double-edged comb. Both sides: decorated with very worn interlace. Comment: The Maiden Stone is one of the few Class II cross-slabs to be found in Aberdeenshire and may belong to the second half of the 9th century, thus post-dating the reign of Kenneth Mac Alpin. Political changes in the south may have had little immediate effect on the artistic traditions of the Picts here.”

Author Joyce Miller (2000) has a slightly different view of the stone carvings. She says that: “At the head of the front of the stone, a man stands with arms outstretched, holding a sea-monster in each hand. Below this group is a ringed cross, with traces of interlaced decoration at either side. At the foot of the cross there appears to have been a large and intricately patterned disc, with triangular knots filling out the external corners. The back of the stone is less weathered and shows several beasts of various descriptions in the top panel; below is a large notched rectangle and z-rod; below that is a fine Pictish beast; and at the bottom is a mirror and double-sided comb.”

The site entry for Maiden Stone (HMSO 1959), says this is: “The most famous of the Early Christian monuments in Aber-deenshire, this stone is associated with several weird legends formerly current in the Garioch. On one side it displays a richly ornamented Celtic cross and other decoration in the same style, and on the other side are Pictish symbols.”

Miller (2000) also tells of a story about the stone. She says that: “One story concerning the origin of the stone is that a daughter of the Lord of Balquhain made a bet with the devil that she could bake bread before he could build a road to the summit of the high hill of Bennachie. The devil won the bet, of course, and when the woman fled she was turned into the stone, either by the devil or to prevent her going to hell.”  Another story/legend tells that the maiden married a stranger who turned out to be the devil and that he finished the road and claimed the forfeit. The maiden ran from the devil and prayed to be saved. The legend finishes by saying that God turned her to stone, and the notch in the stone is where the devil grasped her shoulder as she tried to run away, according to Wikipedia.

Sources and related websites:

 H. M. S. O.,  Ancient Monuments – Scotland, (Volume VI),  H. M. Stationary Office, Edinburgh, 1959.

Jackson, Anthony, The Pictish Trail, The Orkney Press Ltd., St Ola, Kirkwall, Orkney, 1989.

Miller, Joyce, Myth and Magic – Scotland’s Ancient Beliefs & Sacred Places, Goblinshead, Musselburgh, Scotland, 2000.

Sutherland, Elizabeth, The Pictish Guide, Birlinn Limited, Edinburgh, Scotland, 1997.

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

http://wasleys.org.uk/eleanor/presocialhistory/prehistory/stonesandcircles/pictish/maiden/index.html

https://canmore.org.uk/site/18978/chapel-of-garioch-the-maiden-stone

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/maiden-stone/

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018. 


1 Comment

The Sagranus Stone, St Dogmael’s, Pembrokeshire (Sir Benfro), Wales

The Sagranus Stone at St Dogmael’s.

OS Grid Reference: SN 16404 45914. In the mid-19th century parish church of St Thomas the Apostle in the village of St Dogmael’s (Llandudoch), Pembrokeshire, is The Sagranus Stone, a 5th century pillar-stone which is inscribed with both Ogham and Latin inscriptions to the memory of Sagranus, son of Cunotamus. There are some other Early Medieval stones in this church though these would be called cross-slabs rather than inscribed stones. Close by the church are the ruins of the 12th century St Mary’s abbey of the French Tironesian religious order but, a long time before that, there was a Celtic ‘clas-type’ monastery here in the 5th century which had been established by St Dogmael, a Welsh monk who was born in the local area. This early Christian monastery was, however, destroyed by the invading Danes in 987 AD. The village of St Dogmael’s, also called Llandudoch, lies 1 mile southwest of Cardigan (over the river Teifi) and 3 miles northwest of Cilgerran. St Thomas’ parish church is located on Church Street and the abbey ruins are next to the church. 

Sagranus Stone.

The Sagranus Stone stands in the west end of the nave of St Thomas’ parish church and it has for some time now been recognized by scholars of Early Christian inscribed stones as being of great importance. It is a 7 feet high dolerite pillar-stone and is thought to date from the late 5th or early 6th century AD, that being the immediate years following the Roman retreat from Wales. This ancient stone probably came from the original cell (llan) of the Celtic monastery. There are two holes in the slab which means that in the past it was used as a gate post, and it may even have been in use as a sort of stepping stone over a stream; maybe this caused the stone to be broken into two pieces. But as a bilingual inscribed stone with its Ogham cipher inscription of notches or strokes on its edges and the Latin (Roman) inscription on its face – it’s safety is now assured. Back in 1848 the strokes on the ancient pillar-stone enabled scholars and historians to de-cipher (interpret) the Ogham alphabet. Ogham was the early Goidelic/Gaelic) language of Ireland. Both inscriptions, once they are translated, read as the same. 

HMSO/DoE (1975) says that: “1 Rough pillar stone of the early sixth century……. On the face is an inscription in two lines of Roman capitals, running downwards: SAGRANI FILI CVNOTAMI. On the dexter edge is an inscription in Ogham characters, which reads:  SAGRAGNI MAQI CVNATAMI. Both indicate that the stone was set up to mark the grave of the local chieftain, Sagranus, the son of Cunotamus. Ogham is a cipher, in which strokes arranged in relation to a vertical stem—in this case the angle of the stone—are used to represent the letters of the Latin alphabet. The system, which was evolved in Ireland, is found on a number of early inscriptions in Wales where it is generally employed, as here, with a Latin transliteration.” 

HMSO/DoE also give details of the other pre-Romanesque stones in the church: “2 Part of headstone now in the parish church near the south door. On the face is slightly incised Maltese cross in a circle. Small headstones of this type were in common use from the ninth to the eleventh century; this example is early in the series. 3 Base of a tall stone pillar now standing reversed near the pulpit in the parish church. On the face is incised the lower arm of a cross with a swollen foot enclosing spirals and a basal knob; the out-turned lines at the broken upper edge of the pillar indicate the beginning of the cross. Pillars of this type with incised crosses were set up for commemorative purposes in the cemetery and in other parts of Celtic monasteries. The elaborate cross is probably not earlier than the ninth century. 4 Part of the cover slab of a grave, originally some 6ft by 14in by 11in thick. On the upper surface is a Maltese cross in a circle with a long shaft and swollen foot enclosing spirals and a basal knob. Rather later than number 3; probably eleventh century.” There are several other Medieval stones but they are located in the abbey precinct outside. 

Donald Gregory (1991) adds that: “Between the south door of the church and the north entrance to the abbey ruins should be noted a very old yew, which is so large that it has had a three feet high brick wall built to contain it.” 

The abbey of St Mary was founded in 1115 by Robert Fitz Martin, Lord of Cemais, as a daughter house of the Abbey of Tiron in France, on the site of a Celtic (clas) monastery. However, the Celtic monastery was destroyed by the invading Vikings in 987 AD. The monks of St Mary’s were members of the Tironesian Order, founded at Tiron between Chartres and Le Mans (1114) by St Bernard of Abbeville (1046-1117). The order of Tiron followed closely the Benedictine Rule and, in accordance with that, the monks at St Mary’s led a simple and austere life much influenced by the self-disciplined austerity of St Benedict. St Mary’s had dependencies at Caldey and Pill in Wales. In 1536 the abbey was dissolved but the church and conventual buildings remained intact with some reconstruction taking place; and then it was put into parochial (parish) use, while the rest of the monastic buildings were allowed to fall into a ruinous state. The 14th century doorway of the abbey church retains its carved flower ornamentation. In the north transept there are Medieval carvings on corbels which depict Christ’s apostles, the eagle of St John the Evangelist and St Michael. Later, in 1848 a new church, dedicated to St Thomas the Apostle, was built from the stone of the old abbey. 

Not that much is actually known about St Dogmael, Dogfael, Dogwell or Toel, who has given his name to this Pembrokeshire village, apart from that he was a native of Ceredigion (Cardigan) just across the river Teifi. He was the son of King Ithel ab Ceredig ab Cunedda Wledig. Apparently he gained his monastic training in Ireland, but came back to settle on the Isle of Anglesey – where Llandogwel church is dedicated to him. Then, later he sailed down the Cardigan coast and established a monastery inland at what became St Dogmael’s (Llandudoch) near the river Teifi. Another church is named after him at St Dogwells, Pembrokeshire, but it seems he died in Brittany about 505 AD, where he goes under the name of St Toel. He is titular saint of the church of Pommerit Jaudy in the diocese of Trequier, Brittany. David Hugh Farmer (1982) says that: “It is likely, but not certain, that he moved to Brittany where a St. Dogmeel or Toel has had a considerable cultus, and is invoked to help children to learn to walk.” His feast day is celebrated on 14th June.

Sources and related websites:-

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

Farmer, David Hugh, The Oxford Dictionary of Saints, Oxford University Press, 1982.

Gregory, Donald, Country Churchyards In Wales, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Capel Garmon, Llanrwst, Gwynedd, Wales, 1991.

H.M.S.O./DoE, St Dogmael’s Abbey, C. A. Ralegh Radford, Her Majesty’s Stationery Office, London, 1975.

Spencer, Ray, A Guide to the Saints Of Wales and the West Country, Llanerch Enterprises, Felinfach, Lampeter, Dyfed, 1991.

https://howardwilliamsblog.wordpress.com/2015/10/25/sagranus-commemorated-at-st-dogmaels/

http://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/401267/details/sagranus-stone-st-thomas-the-apostle-church-st-dogmaels

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

http://grandterrier.net/wiki/index.php?title=Sant_Dogvael

http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=2919

© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2018.