The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


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Jacob’s Well, Near Littleborough, Lancashire-Yorkshire Border

Jacob’s Well beside the A58 near Littleborough.

   OS Grid Reference: SD 96381 17068. At the side of the A58 (Halifax Road) close to Blackstone Edge Roman road, near Littleborough, and not far from the Lancashire-Yorkshire border is the now almost forgotten ‘Jacob’s Well’, a sacred spring that is hidden in the grass and fearns at the side of the busy, windswept moorland road that links the two counties. Some 280 metres east of the well is the so-called Roman road that climbs over Blackstone Edge and then heads to the fort at Ilkley. Presumably the Roman soldiers who marched along this Roman road knew of the presence of this ancient spring, which they may have even dedicated to one of their gods and, before that, the Celts would have also recognized it as a sacred spring. In more recent times it has acquired the dedication to Jacob, who might be the biblical prophet of the Old Testament, and is sometimes called St Jacob by Orthodox Churches. The well is to be found about halfway up the A58 road (right-hand side) and just 100m past where a wooden gate and footpath leads off to the east to meet up with the Roman road. At the top of the A58 road, on the opposite side, is the well-known landmark White House public house.

Jacob’s Well (close-up).

   At the front of the well there is a very long sandstone slab that has the inscription ‘Jacob’s Well’ carved onto it and some other letters just below that, but its difficult to tell what this says. It looks as though the inscription was carved in more recent times. The water is held in what looks to be a large and deep stone trough just behind the carved slab, but there is much foliage surrounding the well and so it is difficult to give any measurements. On the day of my visit the water was slimy green in colour and most certainly “not” drinkable.  There doesn’t appear to be any record of this well, whether it be holy or sacred, is not really known and the dedication to Jacob is uncertain. It could perhaps be named after the Biblical Jacob (Yacob) who was the Hebrew prophet and patriarch of the Old Testament. He is venerated as St Jacob by the Orthodox Churches. There are other wells named after Jacob, one at Bradford, west Yorkshire, and another at Matlock Bath, Derbyshire, but there are a few others in England. The name “Jacob” is also “James”, so these wells could be dedicated to a person with that name, perhaps even St James?

    According to tradition Jacob lived in the land called Canaan in Palestine, but died at Goshen in Egypt at a very great age. He was the son of Isaac and Rebecca, grandson of Abraham, twin brother of Esau, and nephew of Ishmael. He had twelve sons and one daughter, called Dinah. This therefore makes his sons (and maybe a grandson) the progenitors of ‘The Twelve Tribes of Israel’. The Bible tells us that God gave Jacob the name “Israel.” It is said [traditionally] that Jacob died in 1,711 BC at the great age of 147, his body brought back to Canaan by his sons or grandsons, and buried in the Cave of Machpelahphet where the Prophet Abraham lay, and also Rebecca, his mother, and Leah, his first wife; his second wife was Rachel. The famous ‘Jacob’s Ladder’ story is often told recalling a dream that he had about a ladder which reached from earth to heaven. Tell Balata 1½ miles southeast of Nablus, Palestine, is the site of the ancient Canaanite city of Shechem (Sichem) and Jacob’s Fountain (Bir Ya’qub). This is perhaps the well where Jesus spoke to a Samaritan women called Photini and drank water to quench his thirst (John’s Gospel). 

Sources and related websites:-

Aid to Bible Understanding, Watchtower Bible And Tract Society of New York, Inc & International Bible Students Association, Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A., 1971.

Rogerson, John, Atlas of the Bible, Time-Life Books, Amsterdam, 1993

https://thejournalofantiquities.com/2014/12/07/blackstone-edge-roman-road-littleborough-lancs-yorks-border/

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

https://www.thoughtco.com/jacob-father-of-12-tribes-of-israel-70116

                                                   © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.


Affetside Cross, Near Bury, Greater Manchester

Affetside Medieval Cross, near Bury, in Greater Manchester.

   OS Grid Reference: SD 75471 13676. At the edge of Affetside village green, near Bury, Greater Manchester, stands an old cross of uncertain date. It is probably Medieval but, because it stands on the old Roman road (Watling Street), some historians have even considered it to be a Roman cross or milestone, or even a Roman column, but that seems unlikely. It is probably a pilgrims cross. Watling Street runs southeast from Affetside towards Manchester, and northwest in the opposite direction towards Ribchester. The village green has some modern standing stones and a large pond. Affetside Cross is best reached from the A 676 (Ramsbottom road) and then southeast for ½ a mile along the almost straight-running lane that is the Roman road, bringing you into the picturesque little village, where you’ll find the old cross beside the green – you can’t really miss it!

Affetside Cross.

   Affetside cross is about 4¼ feet high on its three steps, well actually two steps, as the top step is in effect the base which the gritstone shaft is socketed into, while the two lower circular, tiered steps are well worn with age. The shaft is formed from one complete length of local stone. At the top of the shaft there is a collar with a round or bun-shaped capital which may originally have held a stone cross, or maybe it never did? This is perhaps why the cross-shaft has taken on the appearance of a Roman column! There looks to be some faint carving on the shaft, or is this simply the mason’s tool marks. Thought to be Medieval in date and probably a pilgrims cross that was used ‘as a place to stop and pray for a safe journey’ by those weary but very religious travelers – making their way to Whalley Abbey by way of Bury, Ramsbottom, Helmshore, Holcombe Moor and Accrington – from the late 13th/early 14th century until the Dissolution of that holy place in 1537, when pilgrimages ceased. It would seem though the present monument is a market cross and more recent in age maybe 17th century, being re-erected about 1890, according to Pastscape.

Information Plaque (now very hard to make out).

   The village of Affetside stands on the Roman road Watling Street which runs from here into Manchester (Mamucium) where there was a Roman fort and settlement, while in the opposite direction it runs to the fort at Ribchester (Bremetennacum). Is it possible that the pillar of the Affetside cross was a Roman milestone as the village is actually about halfway between the two forts; maybe it was re-fashioned by Medieval masons into what we see today. Or does the cross mark the site of a beacon – at which time an earlier monument or cross had stood here, apparently. These questions can never really be answered with certainty, we can only guess.

   Authoress Jessica Lofthouse (1964) does not say anything about Affetside cross but she mentions the village and Roman road, saying that: “Driving the civilizing power of Rome through the north-west came Julius Agricola and his road-builders in 79 A.D. Follow the line of the Manchester-Ribchester highway through Affetside and north by Blacksnape and Over Darwen.”

Sources and related websites:-

Lofthouse, Jessica, Lancashire Countrygoer, Robert Hale Limited, London, 1964.

Shotter, D. C. A., Romans in Lancashire, Dalesman Publishing Company Ltd., Clapham, Yorkshire, 1973.

http://affetside.org.uk/cross_history.htm

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

http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=44366&sort=4&search=all&criteria=affetside&rational=q&recordsperpage=10

http://www.bury.gov.uk/index.aspx?articleid=11677

                                                    © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.

 

 

 


St Patrick’s Chapel And Rock Graves, Heysham, Lancashire


St Patrick’s Chapel on Chapel Hill, Heysham.

   OS Grid Reference: SD 40980 61628. On the headland above St Peter’s parish church at Heysham, in Lancashire, stand the ancient ruins of St Patrick’s Chapel, a Saxon building dating from either the 8th or 10th century AD. Also upon Chapel Hill, overlooking Heysham Sands, and just opposite the ruined chapel there are two sets of rock-hewn graves that are said to date from the 11th century AD. It is thought to be very unlikely that Ireland’s patron saint ever set foot on Heysham Head, as much as that makes for a very good story, although beneath the ruined chapel’s stonework there are the foundations of an earlier Celtic-style chapel – maybe dating back to the 6th century AD. To reach St Patrick’s Chapel: from Main Street take the rough track that heads west past St Peter’s churchyard entrance, and then slightly up hill for a while, then take the footpath that veers off the rough track for a few metres up to Chapel Hill and the ruined chapel with the curious rock-cut graves close by.

St Patrick’s Chapel, Heysham, from a different angle.

   The chapel measures 27 feet by 6 feet and is built from large, rough-hewn lumps of sandstone, with thinner rubble coursework sections between and at the top, but the curved Saxon doorway is by far the best part of the structure. According to Richard Peace (1997) the sandstone blocks that make up the chapel are: “fused together by molten shells.” However, a large part of the chapel has now gone through robbery of the stonework, or it has been used elsewhere in the vicinity, or maybe just lost to time. But beneath the ruin there are the foundations of an earlier Celtic-style chapel of the 5th or 6th century AD. It had been thought that the little building dated back to c750 AD, but in reality it probably dates from the 10th century AD, which would make it “contemporary with the earliest part of St Peter’s Church”, according to Eileen J. Dent (2003).

   The original Celtic chapel beneath the present ruin was most likely “due to the efforts of monks from Ireland, acting as missionaries to St Patrick”, says Eileen J. Dent. It’s almost certain that St Patrick of Ireland never set foot in Heysham, although traditionally he was shipwrecked off the Lancashire coast in the 5th century AD. More likely his followers came here. There are, however, a few holy wells named for him in the area. Nikolaus Pevsner (1979) says of the chapel that it is: “A plain rectangle, 27½ by 9 ft. The S doorway has an arch made of one with concentric grooves. Dating varies between the c8 and c9.”                                                                                              

   Author Eileen J. Dent says that: “In 1977-8 archaeologists found decorated plaster among the foundations of the earlier building. From discoveries, it would seem that the chapel was used only for worship and burial, and never used as a place of habitation. For example it could not have been a hermitage. There is no registration of the chapel as a chantry.

   “The chapel and the ground to the south were used as burial places. Some skeletons were found within the chapel and many more in the ground outside. The soil level is very shallow, and although the skeletons were in layers, none was buried deep.

   “G. Grainger, in an as yet unpublished paper [1977-8], says that the skeletons were generally in a poor condition, but there was probably a total of between 78 and 84 individuals, of various ages, and of both sexes. His tests showed that about one fifth of the population died before the age of 10 and that none survived beyond the age of about 45. After examination the bones were re-interred in the present churchyard.”

Rock-cut graves at Heysham, Lancashire

   Opposite St Patrick’s Chapel are six rock-hewn graves that are carved out of a large flat sandstone rock. Two of these are straight-sided and four body-shaped, each having a hole at the top, which might have been for a wooden cross. Close by there are another set of two graves but these look to be of a later, Medieval date, maybe from the 13th century? The set of six graves are thought to date from the 9th-11th centuries AD, but more likely to be of the latter century, which would make them Viking in origin. The question must be then, were the priests that served St Patrick’s chapel buried in these graves? That we don’t know but I would think they probably were. Today the rock graves are often filled with rainwater. The graves are Grade II listed and a Scheduled Ancient Monument.

   Author Eileen J. Dent says that: “The stone-cut graves were also examined in the 1977-8 dig. These are not unique. There are other rock-cut graves in the Isle of Man, and similar ones in Spain (Aragon). Archaeologists say that ‘a primary date is likely’, that is, contemporary with the first occupation of the site, but little is known about them, except that they were more likely to be reliquaries than containers for whole bodies.”

Illustration of the Hog-back tombstone in St Peter’s, Heysham.

   Below Chapel Hill stands the ancient parish church of St Peter parts of which date back to the Saxon period. Beside the pathway to the church there is the stump of an Anglo Saxon cross-shaft, which might be of the 9th century AD. It stands at just over 2½ feet high and is in the form of a house with windows and a door carved onto it – with faces and figures looking out. There is perhaps an association here with the visit of the three Marys to the sepulcher, or the raising of Lazarus, according to Nigel & Mary Kerr (1982). The upper three windows have faces looking out and a shrouded figure in the doorway below. There is also a round-headed panel (west face) with a saint holding a book, and below that and on the sides are foliage scrolls, say Nigel & Mary Kerr. Housed within the church (south aisle) is a hog-back tombstone of the 10th or 11th century AD. This used to stand out in the graveyard but was brought into the church (1961). It is richly decorated with scenes of stag-hunting from the Norse Legend of Sigurd. There is also zigzag carving, and at either end strange creatures cling to the stone, but whether they are hogs or bears is open to question. Almost certainly it was the gravestone of a wealthy Viking warrior.

Sources and related websites:-

Dent, Eileen, J., Heysham – a History, The Rector & Parochial Church Council of St Peter’s Church, Heysham, & Heysham Heritage Association, 2003.

Fields, Ken, The Mysterious North, Countryside Publications, 1987. 

Kerr, Nigel & Mary, A Guide To Anglo Saxon Sites, Paladin (Granada Publishing Limited), St Albans, Herts, 1982.

Peace, Richard, Lancashire Curiosities, The Dovecote Press Ltd., Stanbridge, Wimborne, Dorset, 1997.

Pevsner, Nikolaus, The Buildings of England – North Lancashire, Penguin Books Ltd., Harmondsworth, Middlesex, 1979. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Patrick%27s_Chapel,_Heysham

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1020535

http://www.sandhak.co.uk/html/history_of_heysham.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Peter%27s_Church,_Heysham

                                                                                © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017. 

 


Brownshill Dolmen, County Carlow, Southern Ireland

Brownshill Dolmen in Co Carlow, Southern Ireland

   Irish Grid Reference: S 75440 76846. In a field a little to the east of the village of Browneshill in County Carlow, Southern Ireland, is the Neolithic monument known as ‘Brownshill Dolmen’ or ‘Brownshill Portal Tomb’ and sometimes as Browne’s Hill Dolmen. But it also goes under the name of Kernanstown Cromlech. The monument has a huge capstone weighing over 100 tonnes, But sadly, however, it has lost its covering mound of earth and a few of its upright supports have collapsed under the enormous weight of the top-stone, although three uprights at the front are still supporting it – two of which form the portal (entrance) to the tomb. The dolmen is located almost 2 miles east of Carlow town near the R726 road. It is best reached to the east of Browneshill village: from the R726 (Hacketstown road) at Ballinakillbeg take the footpath for 550m that heads south from the road, then heads west for quite a distance, and then north to the ancient monument – which stands in the corner of the field.

Brownshill Dolmen. Photo by Sarah777 (Creative Commons).

   The Brownshill Dolmen is really much like a ‘stone table’ or ‘tombstone on legs’ resting horizontally (vertically) on up-right stones’; but it is also called a cromlech and portal tomb (a tomb with an entrance). In the Nicholson ‘Guide To Ireland’, we are told that the: “Browne’s Hill Dolmen……with largest capstone in Ireland, if not Europe, 5 feet thick, 20 feet square and weighing over 100 ton. Two up-right portal stones (orthostats) support the huge granite capstone at the front, while the third supporting stone is a ‘gate-stone’ or ‘blocking stone’; these three entrance stones are between 5-6 feet high. There is a fourth stone at the front which may have been part of the forecourt, although this points at an angle away from the tomb. At the back of the monument two recumbent stones support the capstone near ground-level, but whether these two stones collapsed under the weight or were originally placed like this, is not known. I would think they were placed as such. Originally the tomb was covered by a mound of earth. The megalithic monument is said to be almost 4,000 years old and was the burial place of a Stone Age chieftain, according to Reader’s Digest ‘Illustrated Guide To Ireland’.

Sources of Information and related websites:-

Nicholson, Guide To Ireland, Robert Nicholson Publications Limited, London, 1983.

Reader’s Digest, Illustrated Guide To Ireland, The Reader’s Digest Association Limited, London, 1992. 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownshill_Dolmen                                                                                                                         https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brownshill_Dolmen#/media/File:IMG_BrownshillDolmen.jpg

https://irisharchaeology.ie/2016/04/brownshill-portal-tomb-co-carlow/

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=6333452

                                                                                       © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.


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Saxon Sundial at St Gregory’s Minster, Kirkdale, North Yorkshire

Anglo-Saxon Sundial at St Gregory’s Church, Kirkdale, north Yorks.

   OS Grid Reference: SE 67688 85776. Above the inner south door of the the ancient minster-church at Kirkdale near Kirkbymoorside, north Yorkshire, there is an Anglo-Saxon sundial of unique standing that is most beautifully carved and inscribed. It was reputedly carved in 1060 AD, just before the Norman Conquest of Britain. Also in the church which is dedicated to St Gregory are two carved Saxon grave-slabs and a number of fragments of Anglo Saxon cross-heads, and other antiquities most of which probably date from the late medieval period. The church of St Gregory is built on the site of an Anglo-Saxon church and monastery that was perhaps founded by St Cedd, or St Aiden, sometime after 650 AD. Though St Cedd was thought to have founded Lastingham church (659). This secluded church is 1½ miles to the west of Kirbymoorside village and just north of the A170 Helmsley to Kirkdale road. It can be reached on narrow country lanes – one of which is called Back Lane – the church being located at the northern end of ‘this’ country lane and in the opposite field above. 

   The church guide book compiled by Mr Arthur Penn in 1970 is very helpful here. It says  that: “The dial seems to be in its original position, and consists of a stone slab, seven feet long, divided into three portions. The centre one is the dial, while the outer ones contain an inscription recording the rebuilding of the church, and giving a fairly exact date.

   “The dial itself is divided into eight, which accords with the octaval system of time division, common among the Angles. The double cross on the first line denotes ‘daegmael’ or ‘day-time,’ and may be the time of the first service. The inscription above reads:- ‘This is day’s sun marker at every time.’

Kirkdale Sundial by:- Charles J. Wall (1912). Wikipedia.

   “The outer panels are curious in that the lettering on the first is even and well-spaced, while that on the third is compressed and yet it still was not able to hold the whole inscription, which was continued at the foot of the second panel. Clearly the work was never planned out. The inscription in modern language reads:- Orm Gamal’s son bought S. Gregory’s Minster when it was all broken down and fallen and he let it be made anew from the ground to Christ and to S. Gregory in the days of Edward the King and of Tosti the Earl. And Haward me wrought and Brand Priests. 

   “The inscription also tells us that  the work was carried out in the days of King Edward (the Confessor) and of Earl Tosti. Tosti or Tostig, who became  Earl of Northumberland in 1055, was banished for a variety of crimes, including the murder of Orm’s father, Gamal, in 1065, but returned with Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, in the following year. The Norwegian army fought against Tostig’s brother, Harold  Godwinson, King of England, at Stamford Bridge, and there both Tostig and his Norwegian ally were killed. After the battle Harold Godwinson carried out his forced march to Hastings, where he was killed in battle by the Norman army of William the Conqueror. The sundial thus dates the building between 1055 and 1065. Its inscription in Northumbrian English has traces of runic characters, but is not difficult to decipher.”

Kirkdale Saxon Sundial (a close-up of the dial).

   Nigel & Mary Kerr (1982) tell us more about the hours of the day shown on the sundial. They say that: “The lines with cross bars correspond with 6 a.m., noon , 3 pm., and 6 p.m., the uncrossed lines divide each tide into one-and-a-half-hour periods. The line with a cross on it on the left-hand side of the dial  denotes 7.30 a.m., which marked the beginning of ‘day time'”. They also say with regard to the panels at either side of the dial: “that Orm rebuilt the church in the reign of Edward the Confessor, and the central inscription reads, in translation: ‘This is the day’s sun-marking at every hour. And Hawaro made me, and Brand, priest [?].'” 

   St Gregory’s minster-church houses a number of antiquities from the Anglo Saxon period. There are two sculptured coffin lids in the north aisle one of which is called ‘The Ethelwald Stone’ which dates from the 10th century and recalls Aethelwald, King of Deira, while another called ‘The Cedd Stone’ has interlacing and is thought to date from the 10th century. This also has carvings on its side including V-shaped tassels with little ball-ends. This may be a representation of a pall, which was a cloth draped over a coffin. If it was, then the work was doubtless very fine, providing another outlet for the needleworking skills of Anglo-Saxon ladies, say Nigel & Mary Kerr (1982). In the north aisle there are a number of fragments of cross-heads from the 11th century  – one of which has been fashioned from pock-marks rather than the usual design of one continuous line. Also in the north aisle is ‘The Archer’s Stone’, while at the eastern end of the aisle a 14th century fragment with the Virgin and Child carved upon it. The octagonal font is Transitional and 13th century in date.

   Ella Pontefract, writing in 1937, says of the minster that:- “Kirkdale is a satisfying church in a most beautiful situation, and it should not be missed.” Malcolm Boyes & Hazel Chester (1996) also reflect on the beauty of the place and its location in the peaceful valley beside Hodge Beck.

 Sources of information and related websites:-

Boyes, Malcolm & Chester, Hazel, Discovering The North York Moors, Smith Settle Ltd., Otley, West Yorkshire, 1996.

Jones, Lawrence E. & Tricker, Roy, County Guide To English Churches, Countryside Books, Newbury, Berkshire, 1992.

Kerr, Nigel & Mary,  A Guide to Anglo Saxon Sites, Paladin (Granada Publishing Limited), London, 1982.

Penn, Arthur (Compiler), St Gregory’s Minster Kirkdale, Parochial Church Council, 1970.

Pontefract, Ella, The Charm of Yorkshire Churches, The Yorkshire Weekly Post, Leeds, 1936-7.

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

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Gregory%27s_Minster,_Kirkdale

http://greatenglishchurches.co.uk/html/kirkdale.html

http://www.ling.upenn.edu/~kroch/scand/kirkdale.html

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=13357

                                                                                       © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.


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Din Lligwy Ancient Settlement, Near Moelfre, Anglesey, Wales

House foundations at   Din Lligwy by Velela (Wikimedia Commons).

   OS Grid Reference: SH 49717 86134. At the eastern edge of Coed cae’r-gaer woods near Rhos Lligwy, Anglesey, stands the well-preserved ancient settlement of Din Lligwy, dating for the most part from the 3rd and 4th centuries AD when it was occupied by a Romano-British tribe, though the first settlers here were people from the late Iron Age period. Set within a walled enclosure there are a couple of hut circles, rectangular structures, and a gatehouse-type building at the entrance. The site is located to the east of the A5025 road about 1 mile west of Moelfre, and not far from the east coast of Anglesey. A little to the northeast of Din Lligwy is Hen Capel Lligwy, a ruined medieval chapel while just over to the east stands the Lligwy Neolithic burial chamber. There is a car-parking area and information boards on the lane over to the east of the site, and a footpath run to the west for 300m, passing close to the ruined chapel, and then to Din Lligwy ancient settlement which nestles in a woodland clearing.

Plan of Din Lligwy Ancient Settlement, Anglesey.

   The ancient settlement or village of Din Lligwy covers about ½ an acre and measures roughly 56m x 53m and is pentagonal-shaped (with five-sides). It sits upon a limestone plateau at the edge of a low hill. Although its limestone walls were built for a partly defensive (fortified) purpose at the time, its more likely they were simply built to ‘enclose’ the buildings, but they obviously followed the standard pattern of earlier Iron Age construction. Inside the enclosure walls are two well-preserved hut circles, or round-houses, built from large limestone slabs around the sides, and also four rectangular-shaped buildings, one of which was perhaps the chieftain’s house, while beside the original entrance (NE side) another building that was probably a gate-house; the entrance (SW side) is later as is the little exterior building. The enclosure walls are a staggering 4-5 feet thick.

    Jacquetta Hawkes in her work ‘A Guide To The Prehistoric And Roman Monuments In England And Wales’, says of this site that: “Within a stout enclosure wall, there is a group of houses, two of them circular, but the rest rectangular in plan and all spacious, splendidly built and almost intact. Nearly all the walls show a massive construction with an inner and outer facing of large slabs and a packing of smaller stones. Din Lligwy shows signs of having buildings of more than one period, but it is known to have been inhabited during the Roman occupation down to the fourth century A.D.; it must surely have been the stronghold of some chieftain of unusual standing—one would like to think that the lord himself lived in the larger round house, a place quite worthy to rank as a Celtic palace.”

   The author Christopher Houlder writing in 1978 says of Din Lligwy: “The two round huts used as living quarters are likely to have been part of an open settlement of early Roman date, included in the strong pentagonal enclosure in the late IV century A.D. Six hearths in two of the rectangular buildings show that they were used for iron workshops, but one was a gatehouse.”

   We don’t know much about the people who lived at Din Lligwy apart from they were Romano-British, but they were probably subservient to the Romans and almost certainly supplied the army with iron weapons and tools made in their own smelting workshops. In this case, then, they were very useful to the Romans and so were more or less left in peace. To the people of Din Lligwy though this situation ‘served as a means to an end’. Then at some point between 385-400 AD they abandoned their settlement/homestead. The Roman army withdrew back to Gaul at about the same time. “There is no evidence that this outstanding site was lived in after about AD 400”, according to Harold Priestley (1976). The site was excavated between 1905-7 when “finds here have included Roman pottery and coins which may be an indication that the occupants were on friendly terms with the Romans”, says Chris Barber (1987).

   Hen Capel Lligwy (Old Lligwy Chapel) over to the northeast is a ruined 12th century chapel with some interesting Norman features. On the opposite side of the lane to the east (at OS grid ref: SH 50135 86039) is the Lligwy Neolithic burial chamber or cromlech. This has a huge capstone that is said to be 18 feet in length, and weighing 28 tons, according to Janet & Colin Bord (1994). “When excavated, the remains of 30 persons were discovered together with animal bones and pottery”, says Harold Priestley (1976).

Sources of information and related websites:-

Barber, Chris, More Mysterious Wales, Paladin, London, 1987.

Bord, Janet & Colin, Ancient Mysteries of Britain, Diamond Books, 1994.

Hawkes, Jacquetta,  A Guide To The Prehistoric And Roman Monuments In England And Wales, Cardinal (Sphere Books Ltd., London, 1975.

Houlder, Christopher, Wales: An Archaeological Guide, Faber & Faber, London, 1978. 

Priestley, Harold, The Observer’s Book of Ancient & Roman Britain, Warne & Co Ltd., London, 1976.

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

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=1494

http://www.anglesey-hidden-gem.com/din-lligwy.html

http://cadw.gov.wales/daysout/dinlligwyhutgroup/?lang=en

http://www.coflein.gov.uk/en/site/95541/details/din-lligwy-settlement-moelfre

                                                                                         © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.

 


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The Craw Stane, Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland

The Craw Stane at Rhynie, Aberdeenshire.

   OS Grid Reference: NJ 49718 26343. In a field just to the south of the village of Rhynie, Aber-deenshire, beside the earthworks of the ancient settlement overlooking the Water of Bogie, stands The Craw Stane or Crow Stone, a granite slab with Pictish symbols that are thought to have been carved in the 5th century AD. Several more Pictish stones have been found in this area including one called ‘Rhynie Man’, which now stands in the Council HQ in Aberdeen. The Craw Stane stands at the south-side of what is probably a prehistoric mound or cairn.  It can be reached along Manse Road, south out of Rhynie for ¼ of a mile. After St Luag’s church and cemetery follow the footpath heading to the southwest; the stone can be seen in front of you. Or it can be viewed from the side of the road by going south for 100m out of the village on the A97 (Main Street) and from nearly opposite the entrance to Mains of Rhynie.

   The Craw Stane or Crow Stone (also called Rhynie No 1) stands on the south-facing slope of the hill above the Bogie Valley and at the E side of the ancient earthworks of a Settlement and Enclosure (where there have been a number of archaeological finds) – at the W and SW sides of which are a couple of burial mounds from a much earlier date – the southwestern mound is quite large and could be a long cairn; at the southern edge of this the stone is to be found. It is a granite slab measuring 5 feet 7 inches high by 3 feet wide and stands on a stone base. This Class I symbol stone has two quite distinct symbols: a fish and a beast. The fish is probably a salmon while beneath that the beast might be any large animal, but the suggestion is that it is an elephant, but it is more likely to be a mythical creature. These carvings were probably done in the 5th or early 6th century AD, long before the Picts were Christianized.

   Several more Pictish stones can be found in and around the village of Rhynie. One known as Rhynie Man or Rhynie No 7 has a carving of an ogre with a big nose, sharp teeth, and a rather fragile axe; this now stands in the Regional Council HQ at Aber-deen. Another, The Barflat Stone or Rhynie Barflat No 8, is another Class I symbol stone that was ploughed up at Barflat farm in 1978 and had a beast, curvilinear symbol and comb, but is now also at Regional Council HQ, says Elizabeth Sutherland. Two stones that are damaged can be found at the entrance to the graveyard of Rhynie Old Church which is dedicated to St Luag (OS grid ref: NJ 4994 2650). Both were removed from the foundations of the original church when it was demolished in 1878, so says Elizabeth Sutherland. No 5 has a beast’s head, double disc and Z rod beside a mirror and single-edged comb, while No 6 has part of a double-disc and Z rod above a crescent and V-rod with a mirror below. Two more stones Nos 2 & 3 stand on Rhynie village green (OS grid ref: NJ 4980 2715) but are damaged. No 2 has carvings of a double-disc and V-rod, now invisible, while No 3 shows a man’s back, spear and disc, again according to Elizabeth Sutherland in her excellent work “The Pictish Guide’. There is also further information in ‘The Pictish Trail’ by Anthony Jackson.

Sources of Information and related websites:-

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

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

The AA, Illustrated Road Book Of Scotland, The Automobile Association, London, 1963.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhynie,_Aberdeenshire

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=12063

https://canmore.org.uk/site/17199/rhynie-craw-stane

http://portal.historicenvironment.scot/designation/SM69

                                                                                    © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.