The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


1 Comment

Currer Woods Rock Carving, Steeton And Eastburn, West Yorkshire

Currer Woods Rock Carving, near Eastburn, West Yorkshire.

Currer Woods Rock Carving, near Eastburn, West Yorkshire.

   OS grid reference: SE 02514 43844. A very strange little rock carving almost hidden away in a secluded corner of a field at the southern edge of Currer Woods, at Steeton, west Yorkshire. This seems to be one on its own, and there don’t appear to be any other carvings at this location, although you never know. To reach the stone carving walk up the footpath on the opposite side of the B6265 road from Airedale Hospital in Steeton; the path runs south up to the western edge of Currer Woods. Or you can reach it via Redcar Lane and then Intake Lane: take that same foot-path from the stile beside the rough track; going down the slope for a while, then via off north-east along the edge of Currer Woods and through the field with rocks; the carving is in the next field along, close to the wall, in what is a secluded corner with trees over-hanging the site.

Close up of the Currer Woods Rock Carving, near Eastburn.

Close up of the Currer Woods Rock Carving, near Eastburn.

   This interesting little rock carving can be found on a cluster of gritstone rocks close to a wall and just out of the tree-line. It would seem that the rock upon which the carving is situated has suffered from damage by being broken off in two or three places at one end, but thankfully the carving, which consists of maybe two or three tiny cup-marks which are partially surrounded by half rings or arcs, has not been destroyed and seems to be intact. From a distance it has the appearance of a face with eyes and a nose – the nose being formed by a notch just below but whether this was part of the original carving – I don’t know. It might be part of the stone itself? Or maybe it was meant to be. It was discovered in 2009 by Paul Bennett of  ‘The Northern Antiquarian’, whilst taking shelter from heavy rain! But for the rain it might never have been spotted. (See the link below). There do not appear to be any more rock carvings here, but further to the west (220m) on the slope above Eastburn Crags there might be a few “possible” cup-markings but these look to be more recent in date, and others have probably been caused by erosion. I have not, as yet, investigated any of the large moss-covered rocks in Currer Woods itself.

Sources and other related websites:-

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2009/08/05/currer-woods-cr/

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

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

                                                                   © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2016.


1 Comment

Kid Stone, Sutton Moor, West Yorkshire

Kid Stone on Sutton Moor, West Yorkshire.

Kid Stone on Sutton Moor, West Yorkshire.

   OS grid reference: SD 99632 241758. A glacial erratic rock at the east-side of Kid Stone Hill, above Long Gate, on Sutton Moor, west Yorkshire. It has been a parish boundary stone and way-marker for a long, long time although the actual boundary is ‘now’ some distance away to the south. There are “possible” faint cup-markings on the flat side of the rock, and at the other side there is a curious granite memorial stone to a local sheep farmer and a yew tree within some iron railings. The ‘Kid Stone’ might get its name from ‘a young goat’, or maybe some other localized name – similar perhaps to ‘Buck Stone’, ‘Cat Stone’ and ‘Wolf Stones’ to name but a few on the moor. To reach the stone: follow the footpath from Buckstone Lane towards Hitchin Stone, then south-east towards Quicken Stone, and then via off east across the moor onto Kid Stone Hill – the stone is in front of you. Or take the footpaths going north-west from Long Gate just above Far Slippery Ford.

Kid Stone on Sutton Moor (with yew tree).

Kid Stone on Sutton Moor (with yew tree).

Kid Stone on Sutton Moor (possible faint cup-marks)

Kid Stone on Sutton Moor (possible faint cup-marks)

   The weather-beaten glacial erratic boulder known as ‘Kid Stone’ stands on the eastern-side of Kid Stone Hill, on Sutton Moor. It stands upon the windswept moor at around 352 feet and is over 1,100 feet above sea-level. Originally this large gritstone rock marked the parish boundaries of Sutton and Newsholme, but today this boundary is a hundred yards or so further to the south. Geologically speaking the boulder was deposited here by a retreating glacier moving in south-ward direction some 12,000 years ago; this glacier is sometimes re-ferred to locally as ‘the Giant of Rombald’s Moor’ – to the north-east – as it came from there, although the boulder might have been scooped up from somewhere else along the way! The boulder is heavily worn, cracked, and has large grooves and channels running down its sides due to weather-related erosion (lots of rain). On its flat face there are a few “possible” faint cup-marks, or are these perhaps just more signs of erosion? 

   At one side of the boulder, inside some iron railings, there is a small yew tree growing and down at the base an odd/curious granite memorial stone to a local sheep farmer, Walter Rochester Airey, who died in 1994, but in what circumstances is not known. He lived at the farm back up the lane: New Bridge Farm on Buckstone Lane, Sutton-in-Craven. The memorial message on the stone says:- “In Loving Memory of Walter Rochester Airey, d 1994.”

Sources of information and related websites:-

https://www.sutton-in-craven.org.uk/historyDR.asp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sutton-in-Craven


Harnessing a Volcano by Fabricio Sarti.

Larderello, Italy (volcanic geyers & cooling towers).

Larderello in Italy.

“The following is an account of the remarkable industrial and commercial uses to which Italian engineers have succeeded in putting the volcanic forces which exist in the sub-soil of certain parts of Italy, together with some of the grotesque mishaps which were brought about by the applica-tion of volcanic power to domestic purposes.

    “If you could be heated, laundried, lighted, bathed, and have your cooking done, without any trouble, and all for next door to nothing; if into the bargain you could raise spring cabbages for a mere trifle, and new potatoes all the year round, not to speak of obtaining all the motive and hydraulic power you required, you would probably wish to move into a neighbourhood where such desirable conditions prevailed.

    “As a matter of fact, there is a place where all this—and a great deal more exists, but it is situated in a somewhat inaccessible part of Italy, rather too far off, under existing conditions, to catch the Tube to the City, or the Elevated Railroad to Broadway.

Larderello, Italy, (volcanic steam geyser).

Larderello, Italy, (volcanic steam geyser).

   “The district of Pisa, in Tuscany, is largerly of volcanic origins. In some parts of the province, and more especially in the neighbourhood of the little town of Larderello, the boiling  springs which exist in the subsoil issue to the surface in the form of numerous and powerful “gushers” or “geysers” of hot  vapour or steam. These gushers, or jets of steam, are known locally as “saffioni,” and the evaporated steam finds its way into a large number of small pools or “lagoni.” Though these jets of steam issuing through fissures in the granite, must have existed for many thousands of years, it was not  until about a hundred years ago that they were discovered to contain a substance of great commercial value. Some scientists visiting the pools, or “lagoni,” found out  that the waters contained, in a state of dissolution, a very considerable quantity of boracic acid. It was soon discovered that the boracic acid came from the jets of steam issuing from the soil near by, and, provided means could be invented to evaporate the waters of the “lagoni,” the boracic acid would fetch a good price.

   “Boracic acid was discovered in 1702, but as it has never been found possible to synthesize the product with a view to its artificial manufacture, chemists are dependent upon natural sources for its supply. Until comparatively recent times, boracic acid was in great request as an antiseptic, but has now been replaced by other and more powerful substances. Boracic acid continues, however, to be in great demand, both in its crude form and in the form of the various boraxes derived from it, for soldering, enameling, glazing, and dyeing purposes. It is likewise used in the manufacture of soap, and even as a substitute for that useful article.

   “Most of the boracic acid in use to-day comes from Italy, especially from the Pisa district. Recently, huge deposits have been located in Asia Minor, but the war has prevented the development of these deposits for industrial purposes.

   “The “saffioni” found around about Larderello are saturated with the acid, which, as the steam evaporates into the pools, settles at the bottom of the “lagoni.” It is supposed that the streams of hot steam passing at great pressure, and at a high temperature, through the underground fissures of the rock, act as a dissolvent upon the tourmaline in the granite, and separate the acid from the boron, carrying it automatically along to the surface.

   “The first attempts made to evaporate the waters of the “lagoni,” so as to secure the acid, were very primitive. Ovens were bored around the pools. These ovens were filled with wood, and kept alight until the waters had evaporated. This was a long and tedious process, and by the time the boracic acid was secured it proved so costly as scarcely to pay for production.

Larderello, Italy (a captured volcanic steam jet).

Larderello, Italy (a captured volcanic steam jet).

   “Other and more modern processes were afterwards tried, but none of them proved satisfactory until an Italian engineer hit upon the very simple idea of utilizing the “saffioni,” or steam jets themselves, as the heating power for the evaporization of the acid-laden waters. The natural pools into which the jets of steam projected the acid they contained were abandoned altogether, and around the aperture of each “saffioni” or jet of hot vapour, as it issued from the soil, there were built small reservoirs of rough masonry jointed with clay.These were filled with water from the pools, and the action of the hot vapour churning the water soon brought it almost to boiling-point. At the end of twenty-four hours it was found that the water contained about one and a half per cent. of acid. By means of a wooden pipe the water was conveyed into a second reservoir built round a second “saffioni,” where it was further enriched by acid. After being transferred into half-a-dozen different reservoirs built round different jets, the water was sent into a decanting tub or basin, where it deposited the earthy impurities held in suspense.

   “From the decanting basin the water is sent into special evaporators. These evaporators consist of long wide sheets of un-dulated lead, two hundred and fifty feet in length and eight feet wide, turned up at each side. These leaden sheets are placed on an incline, and the acid-charged waters trickle slowly over the wavy sheets of lead, which are heated by hot steampipes passing underneath. As the acid-charged water trickles over the hot, wavy, leaden plates it evaporates under the action of the heat, and deposits the boracic acid.

The Town of Larderello, Italy, with its volcanic steam geysers.

The Town of Larderello, Italy, with its volcanic steam geysers.

   “The hot steam is derived directly from the natural vapour underground, but instead of utilizing the ordinary “saffioni,” or vapour-jets, for the purposes, it was considered preferable to make separate artesian borings to a distance of one-hundred feet or so underground. The steam was tapped with such force, that unless special precautions had been taken beforehand the rush of subterranean vapour would have caused a serious accident. Indeed, the artesian borings brought up steam-jets with a pressure of no less than nine atmospheres at a speed of one-hundred and seventy-five yards to the second, and at the great heat, in some borings, of one-hundred and ninety degrees Centigrade or six-hundred and forty degrees Fahrenheit.

   “The discovery that such vast subterranean power lay at the disposal of the engineers soon led to the installation of powerful dynamos. It was first found necessary to purify the stream of its gaseous matters, for otherwise the machinery would have quickly become corroded.

   “Within a few years the engineers had tapped, by short artesian borings, quite a number of “hydro-volcanic” power-jets. A single one of these, the “Ponta Anna” bore, produces two-thousand three-hundred horse-power, whilst another, the “Venella” bore, produces one-thousand two-hundred and sixty horse-power. 

Interior of the Larderello power house.

Interior of the Larderello power house.

   “The power-houses were soon supplying hydro-volcanic energy to a considerable number of factories, and in what was formerly a deserted district there sprang up the town of Larderello. Not only so, but there ensued the natural desire to turn this volcanic power to domestic use, and some of the engineers and factory managers had their dwellings fitted up with piping, so as to get heat in winter and fuel for cooking, for the heat is sufficiently great to bake a joint in an oven in half an hour. It is, however, dangerous to “monkey about” with the subterranean forces of Nature, and early experiences were accompanied by a number of accidents and mishaps.

   “One of the factory engineers, whose house had been fitted with the hydro-volcanic heating apparatus, was aroused in the middle of a heavy sleep by a roaring sound like a locomotive blowing off steam. He turned on the electric light—which was also supplied by the dynamos worked by volcanic power—to discover a geyser of boiling water bubbling up in the middle of his bedroom and filling the room with steam. He had just time to jump out of bed and make his way out into the street in his dressing-gown, when the geyser assumed gigantic proportions and burst with a roar through the roof of the house, soon reducing the entire building to pulp. It seems that, in some way, the control cap of one of the main tubes, as the steam issued from the bore, had become partially unscrewed, with the result that the full force of the bore had found its way into the engineer’s house and burst the hot-water piping under the floor of his bedroom.

   “It took several hours before the geyser could be got under control.

   “On another occasion an Italian cook, on returning from market and entering her kitchen, was horrified and amazed to discover the whole of her pots and pans on the long kitchen range jumping about as though bewitched. The range was heated by steam radiators from one of the volcanic bores, and the metal of the radiators was of an undulating wavy form. Owing to a sudden increase in the subterranean velocity of the steam jet from the bore, the steam had ruptured the control cocks and had come throbbing through the heaters in jerks, imparting a gyratory movement to every one of the kitchen utensils on the range.

   “One morning, too, a stout factory manager had such a fright, whilst in his bath, that he resolved never again to take any baths the water of which was supplied by hydro-volcanic process. The bath was fitted with a hot and cold douche apparatus which, instead of descending from the roof over the bath, came from an aperture in the bottom of the bath-tub, in the form of an “ascending” douche, as it is called.

   “On that particular occasion the main geyser from one of the bores had suddenly taken on a “spurt” of two or three minutes, causing the hot water in the main pipe to rush with increased velocity, and rupturing the control tap. The water, in the form of a hot and cold mixed “douche,” suddenly shot up from below the bath with such tremendous force as to rupture the rivets and send the man taking his bath three or four feet into the air before he could recover himself. Happily the mixture of cold with hot water prevented what might have been a serious accident.

   “The municipal laundry, in which all the hot water is supplied from the bores, is another luxury due to the existence of hydro or thermo-volcanic power. Before the scientific system of controlling the steam at the output of the bores was brought to its present state of perfection, it not infrequently happened that a sudden wave  of “power” would play havoc with the machinery which supplied the hot water to the laundry. On one occasion all the “laundry” of the town of Larderello was sent flying in all directions, and there being a high wind blowing at the time – many of the articles were recovered in the plain several miles away. All these little mishaps no longer occur, so perfectly are the main thermic-power bores now under control. 

   “The Larderello “saffioni” are invaluable to the local market gardeners, who are so able to regulate the heat of their hot-houses as to produce fruit and vegetables in abundance all the year round.

   “The Larderello vapour jets and the intelligent industrial use to which they have been put by Italian engineers have attracted the attention  of scientists to the immense possibilities that lie in the systematic and rational utilization of the hidden subterranean forces of Nature.”

Source of information:-

Sarti, Fabricio, The article ‘Harnessing a Volcano’ was published in ‘The Wide World Magazine – An illustrated Monthly Of True Narrative’, Vol. XLII – October 1918 To March 1919. George Newnes Ltd., Southampton St., Strand, London.

                                                                  © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2016.

                       


1 Comment

Doubler Stones, Addingham High Moor, West Yorkshire

Doubler Stones on Addingham High Moor, west Yorkshire.

Doubler Stones on Addingham High Moor, west Yorkshire.

   OS Grid Reference: SE07230 46525. On the windswept Addingham High Moor, west Yorkshire, there stands the heavily weather-worn rocks known as ‘Doubler Stones’ – part of an outcrop of grit and sandstone rocks; their enigmatic rock-shapes being something of a great curiousity to moorland walkers down the years. These strange, weathered stones lie at the south-western edge of Rombald’s Moor. At least one of the Doubler Stones has cup-and-ring carvings, and a few other rocks here and further up the hill might have “possible” faint cup-marks. To reach the stones from the town of Silsden: take the Bolton Road going north-east, then east along Brown Bank Lane, then take Light Bank Lane over the moor to the south-east. Just after White Crag House: take the concrete track up to the gate, then walk along here to the house on the left. Take one of two footpaths north for a short while to Doubler Stones. 

Ghostly shaped Doubler Stones in west Yorkshire.

Ghostly shaped Doubler Stones in west Yorkshire.

   These strange-shaped rocks are part of an outcrop of gritstone and sandstone rocks that stand like weather-worn sentinels watching over the moorland. They have taken on the shape of giant mushrooms or salt and pepper pots, but here they are locally called ‘Doubler Stones’ but whether this is because there are two of them – is not certain. It’s more likely that the name “Doubler” is derived from saucer or dish-shaped stones and this is indeed what they are; the tops of the stones are gritstone rocks that are now eroded and saucer-shaped, while the lower parts are made of very soft Sandstone, and this is why the middle sections have eroded down quite severly and become, over thousands of years, like ‘thin waistlines’ or bottle-neck shapes. One of the Doubler Stones has what looks to be a cluster of tiny cup-marks and a few other “possible” cups with rings and interlinking channels or grooves. A few other rocks here might have faint cup-marks – although these could be geological features. Another outcrop of rocks just up the moor to the east is also of interest as there are a few more “possible” cup-markings on the larger rocks.

One of the Doubler Stones on Addingham High Moor.

One of the Doubler Stones on Addingham High Moor.

   The author Paul Bennett in his renowned work ‘The Old Stones of Elmet’, gives his account of Doubler Stones: “One of the stones is a giant earth-fast mushroom, eight feet tall, whose upper surface is covered in a number of cup-markings. Ten yards away at the small crag we find the second Doubler Stone, atop of which are two large ‘bowls’ and perhaps some faint cup-markings, but these are debatable.” Bennett goes on to say that: “Nicholas Size (1934) described the stones to be haunted. It is very likely that this site would have possessed the spirits of some ancestral being, hero or other diety in ancient times. Ritual magickians have used the Doubler Stones to great effect. Amidst a decidedly yin landscape, the Doublers intrude with a potent yang quality. A brilliant site and well worth visiting!”

Sources and other related websites:-

Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann Publishing, Milverton, Somerset, 2001.

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2009/02/01/doubler-stones-ilkley-moor/

http://www.stone-circles.org.uk/stone/doublerstones.htm

http://www.happyhiker.co.uk/MyWalks/WestYorkshire/SteetontoIlkleyviaDoublerStones/Hiking%20Pages%20-%20Steeton%20to%20Ilkley%20via%20the%20Doubler%20Stones.htm

                                                                          © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2016.


The Lake of Soda by George Frederic Lees

A block of Soda from the lake.

A block of Soda from the lake.

                               The Story of a Wonderful Natural Curiosity of British East Africa                                      “The following  article is a  striking instance of  the immense and  sometimes  inexhaustible wealth which is waiting to be exploited in British possessions in Africa. Much of that wealth is  still hidden, but in the case of Lake Magadi—a lake of solid natural soda covering an area of some thirty square miles—it was there for any enterprising explorer to discover and report to the right quarters. The story of the commercial development of this great Colonial asset adds a fresh chapter to the ever-enthralling romance of British industry.

   “In every quarter of the City of London, Romance is to be found by those who search for it dili-gently. Many an engrossing story of adventure or exploration, involving the lives of men, the overcoming of wellnigh insu-perable difficulties, and the expenditure of vast sums of money, which in itself  required no small amount of courage, lies hidden in office records, until the historian of the so-called minor events of the world happens upon it and forthwith disen-tangles it from a mass of commercial verbiage, always tedious of perusal and often covered with the dust of years. A romantic episode may lurk beneath the most innocent-looking phrase in the minute – book of a board of directors—some such common-place note as this:

    “”The attention of the board, at its meeting on such-and-such a date, was called to the commercial possibilities of this or that, in consequence of which they decided to dispatch a confidential agent to the spot mentioned to verify the statements made to them.”

   “Could there be a less promising starting-point for a story of discovery and adventure? So devoid of the slightest tinge of romance is such a bald statement that there is a risk of the searcher passing it over disdainfully. And yet, if he continues his investigations, he may indeed find that a very pretty tale of human endeavor, coupled with the unfolding of many curious said-issues, hangs thereon for his own and his readers’ delectation.

   “To take a concrete case, it happened that, some ten years ago, a certain explorer entered the office of a firm of City mer-chants, and made certain “”representations of the great importance and value”” of a curious lake in British East Africa. So it was set down in the minute-book, but what he actually said to the heads of the firm was somewhat as follows:—

Lake Magidi in Uganda.

Lake Magadi in Uganda.

   “”The lake looks for all the world like an ice-field, and when the photographer showed us his  prints I might have imagine, but for the figures of the natives with their bare legs and scantily-clothed bodies, that we were a part of explorers in the Arctic regions. Mile upon mile of the great white expanse of soda and the hot springs of Magadi stretch around, with here and there a big block of alkaline deposit. A most remarkable sight. There must be millions upon millions of tons of the stuff. Of course, it opens up vast possibilities commercially. Only you will have to get the soda to the coast and so on to the ships, and that means building a branch to the Uganda Railway’s ocean port at Kilindini, or thereabouts.”

   “This declaration naturally aroused the greatest interest. It is not every day that a discovery with “vast possibilities commercially” is announced in the City, and if this lake of soda did really exist, was not a mere figment of the explorer’s imagination, his listeners had no need to be told that it might become a veritable gold-mine. The demand for soda is universal. Instinctively the partners began to pass the manifold users of soda in review.

   “Soda crystals are used in practically every household the world over for washing purposes. Carbonate of soda (otherwise known as soda ash) and caustic soda are largely used in numerous industries, as, for instance, by soap, glass, and paper makers, as well as by textile manufacturers for printing, bleaching, and dyeing, etc; whilst bicarbonate of soda is used for the manufacture of baking powder and mineral water.

   “The prospect was alluring. True, this commercial proposition  would mean the investment of a few hundred thousand pounds—probably up to half a million sterling—in addition to a good deal of hard work. But think of the return : a steady annual profit running into millions ! Unquestionably (the firm decided, after discussing the matter in all its bearings) they must institute an inquiry and, if the report they had heard were substantiated, see what could be done to secure the rights over these invaluable soda deposits.

Surveying party on Lake Magadi in Uganda.

Surveying the lake.

   “Accordingly, Messrs. M. Samuel and Co. sent a confidential representative to British East Africa to verify the explorer’s statements. And this he did, many months later, by bringing back with him large samples taken from thirty-five different places over the whole area of Lake Magadi, which he described in even more glowing colours than his predecessor had done.

   “This conclusive evidence clinched the matter. The firm at once entered on protracted negotiations with the Colonial Office, and obtained from the Crown Agents for the Colonies, acting on behalf of the Government, an agreement, giving them the option of acquiring  direct from the Government about three hundred and twenty-four square miles of territory, including Lake Magadi, for a period of ninety-nine years, with the right of working the soda (subject to the rights of natives to take soda from the deposit for their own purposes), and of constructing a line of railway connecting the deposit with the main line of the Uganda Railway.

   “These preliminary steps having been taken, a fully-equipped surveying expedition was sent out in November, 1909, under Mr. Frederic Shelford, a well-known railway engineer who had done valuable survey work in Africa. The other leading members of the expedition were Mr. W. H. Levy and Mr. A. E. Herz, two directors of the company that had been formed to exploit the lake of soda; Mr. A. H. Endemann, who had studied on the spot the question of the most suitable mechanical appliances for dealing with the deposits; and Mr. Arthur Trobridge, who  had been engaged in the soda business for many years, and whose report was therefore looked forward to with considerable interest.

   “The expedition reached its destination, after an uneventful march from Magadi Junction, the nearest point on the Uganda Railway, on December 1st, and found , immediately prior to its arrival, that considerable rain had fallen. Consequently the whole of the lake, inclusive of some sand flats at its southern end, was covered with water, in depth from six inches to one foot. This was distinctly disappointing. However, it soon became evident that this was only a temporary inconvenience, and, indeed, by the time the explorers left the district ten days afterwards the water had considerably subsided, and a large area of the surface was already dry.

Excavating soda blocks from Lake Magadi.

Excavating soda blocks from Lake Magadi.

   “According to Mr. Trobridge, who drew up an exceedingly interesting report, the surface of the lake always become dry in this way shortly after the stoppage of the rains; and this conclusion was borne out by his former visit in October, 1904, “”when the whole of the surface was dry with the exception of a margin about thirty yards wide. The solid portion, which comprised practically the whole of the lake, was perfectly level and dry on the surface; but wherever the surface was broken up liquor rose to its level, and when the crystalline blocks were removed the liquor drained from the interstices of the crystals. The great purity of the crystalline soda is un-doubtedly due to the presence of this comparatively large quantity of soda in solution —technically known as ‘mother liquor’—distributed throughout the mass. Apart from the fact that the surface of the soda deposit becomes dry very soon after the rains have ceased. I also ascertained that during the rains the surface is never covered with so much water as to interfere in any way with the economic working of the deposit. For many years Indians have been removing soda from the lake, and they do so without paying any attention to the season.”

   “As to the chemical and physical character of the soda, they were found to be uniform over the whole surface of the deposit, as has been confirmed by the examination of numerous samples taken at widely-distant points both in 1909 and on the occasion of Mr. Trobridge’s previous visit in 1904. The crystalline deposit cleaved readily into blocks from which the “mother liquor” drained rapidly, leaving a friable mass of crystals.

   “The explorers also came to the noteworthy conclusion that there was good reason to assume that the deposit of soda extends to the full depth of the lake, the above-mentioned “mother liquor” only filling the interstices of the crystals. They sank a bore-hole in the lake through a continuous mass of crystalline soda to a depth of nine-feet, but with the primitive boring tools at their disposal they found it very difficult to proceed farther. Indeed, in view of the enormous bulk of soda thus disclosed they saw no practical object to be attained by boring to a greater depth.

   “Further, there were evidences, runs the report, that the quantity of soda already in the lake is being continually augmented. In addition to many surface springs and streams discharging considerable quantities of soda into the lake, there were evidences of large springs in the bed of the lake itself, which intrude saturated soda liquor. On the removal of the soda already crystallized the liquor which takes its place at once starts to reform the crust. The Indians engaged in this soda industry informed Mr. Trobridge that the crystalline mass is replaced so rapidly that they rework the same spots year after year. Of this he found full confirmation on examining several poles which they had been using to break up the soda and had left in the holes thus made. These poles were firmly set in a solid mass of crystals which had been formed around them, and Mr. Trobridge and his colleagues removed several large blocks of soda in which such poles were embedded. On examination they found this reformed soda of the same composition and purity as the permanent deposit.

   “In view of the fact that the crystalline soda is divided into several distinct horizontal layers, which are readily separated from each other, and for economy in working. Mr. Trobridge recommended that operations be confined to the upper layers, which he estimated contain about forty million tons in sight. As this vast quantity would be continually replaced, the lower layers would appear to have little more than theoretical interest. Should, however, it be deemed necessary to work these lower layers to the depth of nine feet, as disclosed by their bore-hole, he estimated that the total crystalline soda would be about two hundred million tons.

   “Two hundred million tons of soda capable of being converted, by very simple treatment, into a “soda ash” of great density, and equal in chemical purity to any soda ash on the market—a practically inexhaustible stock, since, as soon as part of the deposit is removed, it begins to form again. Think of the enormous profit to be drawn from such a source of wealth as that. Counting all expenses, the fortunate merchants who had got wind of this business deal came to the conclusion that a profit of at least twenty shillings per ton of soda products might be expected. Rarely does it fall to the lot of a City firm to see a profit of at least two hundred millions sterling in view.

   “Mr. Frederic Shelford’s report on the feasibility and cost of constructing the branch railway whereby the vast soda deposits of Lake Magadi could be rendered accessible was equally encouraging. He examined the country between the lake and the Uganda Railway, and eventually selected a route which was afterwards carefully surveyed in detail by the railway survey party.

   “No further evidence was required to prove that a great industrial future awaited the properly-organized exploration of this lake of soda of British East Africa. So work was started on the railway, which in due course was completed; wharves at the coastal terminus and oil tanks at Kilindini were constructed, and works, offices, etc., were erected at Magadi. Moreover, the company that had been formed erected extensive works at Irlam, near Manchester, and in Calcutta for the manufacture of soda crystals and bicarbonate of soda from Magadi soda ash. In brief, after 1911-12 the business was in full swing and quickly proved that those who had embarked on the enterprise were not mistaken in taking a sanguine view of the future prospects of this part of East Africa. But with the coming of war, work was naturally interfered with. Lake Magadi, lying within thirty miles of the frontier of German East Africa, came within the war zone, and what that means need not be unduly dwelt upon. Suffice it to say that the branch line from the lake to the Uganda Railway and vice versâ was found useful for the transport of other things than soda.”

Source of information:-

Lees, George Frederic, The article ‘The Lake of Soda’ was published in ‘The Wide World Magazine – An Illustrated Monthly Of True Narrative’, Vol. XLII – October 1918 To March 1919. George Newnes Ltd., Southampton St., Strand, London.

                                                 © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2016.

 

 

 


Dragon Stone, Near Steeton, West Yorkshire

Dragon Stone - cup-marked rock near Steeton, west Yorkshire

Dragon Stone (cup-marked rock) near Steeton, west Yorkshire

    OS grid reference: SE 03604 03695. In a farmer’s field above Little Snowden Hill, near Steeton, west Yorkshire, there is a cluster of rocks in an area of rough ground which have prehistoric cup-marks, one of these rocks being locally known as ‘Dragon Stone’. And in the next field along there is another cluster of rocks which also look to have faint cup-marks. This so-called ‘Dragon Stone’ has several quite prominent little cups and there are also some grooves which may be part of the carvings here. However these carved rocks are on private farm-land and there is no designated footpath. To reach the rocks you “might” be able to walk along the overgrown track leading off from Hollins Bank Lane, nearly opposite the entrance to Tower Farm, if the wooden gate opens? Walk along the track past the house and barn of Hollins Bank Farm, then soon after the wooded area you’ll need to via off across the field to the south for 90m beyond the first field wall. Otherwise, you’ll need to find another way of reaching the site from the lane, if that’s possible?

Dragon Stone, near Steeton, west Yorks.

Dragon Stone, near Steeton, west Yorks.

Cup-marked rock opposite Dragon Stone.

Cup-marked rock opposite Dragon Stone.

    In the corner of a farmer’s field above Little Snowden Hill there is an outcrop of gritstone rocks, or a cluster of rocks maybe. One of these known as ‘Dragon Stone’ bears many ancient cup-markings (rock-art). There are as many as 20 cup-marks on the this worn, flat rock, and around the sides and in the middle there are faint grooves running in a sort of circular fashion, but whether these were caused by erosion, or whether they are part of the carving, is not really known; and there is a crack in the rock which adds to the strange look of the stone. And why it is locally called ‘Dragon Stone’ is not known, although the rock might take on the look of a dragon at certain angles. On another rock, just opposite, and close by the wall there are a few more cup-marks, maybe up to 4 or more, although these can only be seen in a certain light and at an angle. This rock also has one or maybe two faint bowl-shapes made by erosion though these are often hidden away under a layer of lichen and grass. In the field beyond the wall (at SE 0354 4360) another cluster of rocks, one of which at least shows signs of a few faint cup-marks?

Sources and related websites:-

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2010/09/04/dragon-stone-steeton/

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2010/04/10/bowl-stone-steeton/

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


Cob Stone, Near Far Slippery Ford, Newsholme Dean, West Yorkshire

Cob Stone near Grey Stones Lane, Far Slippery Ford.

Cob Stone near Grey Stones Lane, Far Slippery Ford, west Yorkshire.

    OS grid reference: SE 00549 40890. In a field beside Grey Stones Lane and below an outcrop of rocks called Grey Stones Hill, near Far Slippery Ford, west Yorkshire, is a gritstone rock that is locally called Cob Stone. Whether it takes its name from a small round loaf of bread, or some-thing else, I don’t know with any certainty, but I am also told that the word “Cob” means ‘Devil’ in this part of the country, so it could mean “Devil’s Stone”. The rock has a cluster of quite well-defined cup-marks on top and maybe a few fainter cups-marks lower down. To reach the stone you can take the footpath going east from Long Gate Lane at Far Slippery Ford. This will bring you to the bottom of the field. Other than that, you could see if the wooden gate opens on Grey Stones Lane next to the track going down to Grey Stones Farm. If it opens, then please make sure it is secured after entering, and on going back out again!

Cob Stone, beside Grey Stones Lane (cluster of cup-markings).

Cob Stone, beside Grey Stones Lane (cluster of cup-markings).

Large boulder near Cob Stone (with pos- sible cup-markings)

Large boulder near Cob Stone (with “possible” cup-markings).

    Cob Stone or Devil’s Stone is a glacial erratic gritstone rock that was deposited by a retreating glacier many thousands of years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. On top of the stone there is a cluster of 7 or 8 small cup-marks and further down a few fainter cups can just be made out. However, these faint cup-marks might have been caused by erosion – it’s often difficult to tell one way or the other, and the rock itself is now very smooth on its side due to thousands of years of weathering. Some 68m to the south-west there is an even larger boulder; maybe it’s another Cob Stone?, and this is indeed roughly shaped like a loaf of bread! This large boulder looks to have a few cup-marks on top and on its side, or are these due to erosion? And there are a few other rocks in the same field that have “possible” cup-markings; it’s just a case of walking around and looking closely at the many small and large rocks, and there are indeed “many” to look at. Cob Stone is recorded in Boughey & Vickerman’s  2003 survey.

    And of further interest to the lover of rock-art is another large rock some 80 metres to the south-east. This can be found at the north side of the large barn belonging to Greystones Farm. See the link below:-

Cup-Marked rock in the field near Cob Stone.

Cup-Marked rock in the field near Cob Stone, Grey Stones Lane near Far Slippery Ford.

Stone near Cob Stone (possible faint cup-marks)

Stone near Cob Stone at Grey Stones Lane, Far Slippery Ford (possible faint cup-marks)

                                                                                      

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                                                         

  

Sources and related websites:-

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2008/09/29/cob-stone/

Greystones Farm Cup-Marked Rocks, Near Newsholme Dean, West Yorkshire

                                                                            © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2016.