The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


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Broch of Mousa, Island of Mousa, Shetland Isles, Scotland

Broch of Mousa on the Island of Mousa in the Shetland Islands.

NGR: HU 45730 23660. At the far western side of the Island of Mousa (south island), in Shetland, and overlooking the Sound of Mousa, stands the well preserved ‘Broch of Mousa’, dating from the late Iron Age; but these brochs have often wrongly been called Pictish towers by some historians, though the building of brochs had almost certainly ended by the 2nd Century AD, so it would seem the Picts merely took them over and lived in them as they were very strongly built and fortified. This particularly fine example of a broch has thankfully not been robbed of its stone-work and still stands to a height of nearly 44 feet or 13 metres, and is the only broch to have survived to its original height. The broch is a bell-shaped fortress-like tower, or round-house, that is built with thick drystone blocks of stone and has a double inner wall with a stairway – while on the outside there is a stonework surrounding wall forming a courtyard. To reach the uninhabited Island of Mousa you will need to take the motor boat from Sandsayre pier at Sandwick, 2 miles to the west. [Check first to see whether the boat is operational at this time of Covid-19].

Broch of Mousa, Shetland (exterior).

Broch of Mousa, Shetland (Interior).

Gordon Childe & Douglas Simpson (1959) tell us that: “The Broch of Mousa stands on the shore of a small rocky island, yet was defended on the landward side by a wall, now much dilapidated. It has often been taken as the most typical broch, so only diver-gences  from  the ideal  norm  need  be  mentioned.  The solid  “ground-floor” wall  is  exceptionally  high,  12   feet 4  inches. Immediately  above  the  present entrance there was once an entrance passage, but its mouth was built up in 1919. Again the entrance to the stairhouse cells in approximately on a level with the floor of this upper passage and some 6 feet above the primary floor, but just below the second scarcement. Below it are three intramural cells entered by descending steps. At the bottom of the court is a rock-cut cistern that is doubtless original. On the other hand the present hearth, a radial wall, and a low wall, concentric with and inside the main wall, seem to be secondary additions to the original plan.

“According to Egil’s Saga an eloping couple from Norway took refuge in the broch about A.D. 900, and, a similar incident about 1153 is recorded in the Orkneyinga Saga.” 

Timothy Darvill (1988) says of Mousa Broch, that it is: “Set on the tiny island of Mousa to the east of mainland Shetland, this great stone toweris built straight on to the rock overlooking Mousa Sound. Undoubtedly the best-preserved broch in Scot-land, it still stands over 12m high and is constructed of dry-stone walling of the very highest standard. The broch tower has an external diameter of 15.2m at the base, but tapers inwards slightly towards the top. To withstand the gales and high winds that blow in from the North Sea the wall is over 6m thick.

“Opening off the central courtyard are three large corbelled cells with low doorways. There are three wall-cupboards in the side of the inner court. Two ledges representing supports for upper floors or galleries can be seen. The upper ledge may have supported the roof. The inner wall-face also contains sets of openings or voids which may have been to allow light into the galleries contained within the walls. A stair rises clockwise inside the wall allowing access to the galleries. It is unlikely that these galleries were ever lived in, although they could have been used for storage. Judging from its superior design and craftsmanship, this broch was probably constructed fairly late in the tradition of broch building.”

Janet & Colin Bord (1984) add similar information, saying: “This broch now stands over 40 feet high, taller than most other brochs, and has been restored at various times. The only opening in the thick external wall is the doorway, and inside a passage leads to a central chamber. All round the walls, right to the top of the broch, are small chambers, and a stairway winds gradually to the top of the building.”

The Rough Guide (2000) informs us that these Iron Age brochs were: “Concentrated along the Atlantic coast and in the northern and western isles, the brochs were drystone fortifications (that is, built without mortar or cement often over 40ft in height.  Some historians claim they provided protection for small coastal settlements from the attentions of Roman slave traders.  Much the best-preserved broch is on the Shetland island of Mousa; its double walls rise to about 40ft, only a little short of their original height.  The Celts continued to migrate north almost up until Julius Caesar’s first incursion into Britain in 56 BC. 

“At the end of the prehistoric period, immediately prior to the arrival of the Romans, Scotland was divided among a number of warring Iron Age tribes, who apart from the raiding, were preoccupied with wresting a living from the land, growing barley and oats, rearing sheep, hunting deer and fishing for salmon.  The Romans were to write these people into history under the collective name Picti, or Picts, meaning painted people, after their body tattoos.” 

There is a second broch over on the east coast of Sandwick, a couple of miles to the west of the Island of Mousa, overlooking the Sound of Mousa at (NG: HU 44687 23214). This is known as the ‘Broch of Burraland’, Leebitten.

Sources / References & Related Websites:-

Airne, C. W., The Story Of Prehistoric & Roman Britain — Told In Pictures, Sankey, Hudson & Co. Ltd., Manchester.

Bord, Janet & Colin, Mysterious Britain, Paladin Books, London, 1984.

Childe, Gordon & Simpson, Douglas, Ancient Monuments — Scotland — Illustrated Guide Volume VI,  H.M.S.O., Edinburgh, 1959.

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

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

The Rough Guide (Humphreys, Reid & Tarrant), Scotland, The Rough Guides Ltd., London, 2000.

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

https://www.historicenvironment.scot/visit-a-place/places/mousa-broch/

https://canmore.org.uk/site/944/mousa-broch-of-mousa

https://www.shetland-heritage.co.uk/mousa

https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/mousa/mousabroch/index.html

https://www.mousa.co.uk/

https://www.mousa.co.uk/island-trip

Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.


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Belas Knap Long Barrow, Cleeve Common, Near Winchcombe, Gloucestershire

Belas Knap Long Barrow on Cleeve Common, near Winchcombe, Gloucestershire.

Plan of Belas Knap Long Barrow, Gloucestershire.

NGR: SP 02093 25434. Standing at the western side of Humblebee Wood on Cleeve Common, 1¾ miles south of Winchcombe, Glou-cestershire, is the ancient Megathlic monument known as ‘Belas Knap Long Barrow’,  a Neolithic chambered tomb of the Severn-Cotswold type and dating from 3,800 BC. The monument can be found on the Cotswold Way footpath – with Cleeve Hill over to the northwest. It is certainly the best known of all the Cotswold long barrows and, now that it has been restored, it is an amazing sight with its 51m long wedge-shaped mound, and its height of 4.3m. There are four burial chambers, three of these along its sides, and the fourth chamber at the south side. The N. end has a false entrance (portal). These chambers, excavated in the 1860s and 1920s, were found to contain the bones of at least 31 people. From Winchcombe in the N. take the B4632 road SW., then      the country lane S.E. over river Isbourne (watch out for signposts to Belas Knap) toward Corndean Hall, and then a steepish climb S. through the woodland to meet the Cotswold Way path heading E. to the ancient Long Barrow on a ridge of land.

Timothy Darvill (1988) tells us that it is: “Perhaps the most well known of all the Neolithic long barrows constructed on the Cotswolds, this site lies on a windswept ridge above the town of Winchcombe.  Now fully restored, Belas Knap displays many classic features of barrows constructed in the Cotswold-Severn tradition. The wedge-shaped mound, now grassed over, measures more than 50m long and stands nearly 4m high. At the north end is a deep forecourt between two rounded horns, and in the back of the forecourt is a false portal resembling the H-shaped setting at the front of a portal dolmen. The dry-stone walling in the forecourt is partly original Neolithic workmanship; only the upper portions have been subject to restoration.

“Three chambers, all of which can still be entered, open into the mound from its long sides, while a fourth chamber which lacks a roof opens from the narrow southern end. Although heavily restored, the three side chambers still preserve the gloom and dampness that must have pervaded them when in use. The remains of about 30 people were found in the burial chambers during excavations which took place early this century. The name Belas Knap derives from the Old English words bel meaning a beacon and cnaepp meaning a hilltop. In addition to Belas Knap itself, a small round barrow is visible in the ploughed field to the west of the site.” 

Belas Knap Long Barrow near Winchcombe from above in black & white.

Belas Knap Long Barrow in black and white and seen from above.

Jacquetta Hawkes (1973) tells us that after Notgrove Long Barrow: “The  second  notable long  barrow  is  called  Belas Knap  (it is worth noting that not very many of the Cotswold barrows have folk names attached to them) and it lies far to the west of the rest, about two miles south of Winchcombe and not more than half a dozen miles from the centre of Cheltenham. Luckily the mound is well preserved and judicious restoration has made a monument which gives at least some idea of what these tombs and holy places  looked like four thousand years ago.  It shows well the oblong form of the mound held within a low retaining wall of fine drystone masonry and it possesses the characteristic ‘horns’ or recessed forecourt at the larger end. This court makes the approach to a dignified megalithic portal with a pair of large jambs, transverse slab or door stone between them, and a large lintel across the top. But whereas at Notgrove an entrance in just this position must have led into the gallery and its cells, this construction at Belas Knap is a sham, it is built against the solid mass of the barrow and has never at any time given access to anything. It is, in fact, a classic example of the ‘false entrance’ for which we have already seen close parallels in the south-west and

Belas Knap Chambered Long Barrow. Entrance to the chambers.

in Kent. The true burial-chambers open from the long sides of the mound and are infinitely smaller and meaner than the central chambers of the Notgrove, Hetty Pegler and Nympsfield kind.  Some have compared these dummies to the false entrances to Egyptian pyramids, claiming that they, too, were made in an attempt to mislead tomb-robbers and keep the burial chambers; others have attributed the device to human laziness, seeing them as a degenerate form which kept the portal, essential for ritual purposes, but shirked the construction of a large and complex megalithic chamber. For myself I do not find either explanation satis-factory; primitive peoples do not violate their own sanctuaries and here in the Cotswolds there is no evidence to suggest the presence of alien invaders in any force at a time while long barrows were still being built; nor were these New Stone Age peoples in the habit of burying precious grave-goods with the dead which could provoke cupidity. On the other hand if the builders were still willing to raise tons of stone and earth to make the mounds.  I cannot think that the small amount of extra labour needed to make the dignified central chamber would have been found burdensome enough to promote such a radical change of plan. I believe that the false entrance was intended to mislead not human beings but supernatural creatures—spirits—but more than that I will not attempt to guess.”

Harold Priestley (1976) says Belas Knap is: “A very good example of a barrow with a false entrance and with entries to its chambers in the sides, reached by means of short passages. The barrow, more than 170 ft (51.8m) long, is orientated N–S; it had a revetment, a false entrance and a forecourt with two horn-like extensions at the N end. This may have been designed either to ward off evil spirits or to fool possible tomb robbers.  Two of the chamber entrances are let into the E side, one half-way along the W side and a fourth at the S end. The barrow had a revetment of stone all round it.”

A few miles to the northwest on Cleeve Hill (NGR SO 9847 2659), near Woodmancote, there is the ‘Ring Settlement’ which was probably an Iron Age or Romano-British village and, below the hill at the southeast side, is the ‘Cross Dyke’ earthwork. 

Sources / References & Related Websites:-

Darvill, Timothy, AA Glovebox Guide — Ancient Britain, The Publishing Division of the Automobile Asssociation, Basingstoke, Hampshire, 1988.

Hawkes, Jacquetta, A Guide To The Prehistoric And Roman Monuments In England And Wales, Cardinal (Sphere Books Ltd), London, 1973.

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

Wood, Eric S., Field Guide to Archaeology, Collins, London, 1968.

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

https://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/belas-knap-long-barrow/

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

https://ancientmonuments.uk/106414-belas-knap-long-barrow-600m-ese-of-hill-barn-farm-sudeley#.X0ajwVLsZjo

https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=327811

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=18

Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.


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Tooter Hill, Sharneyford, Near Bacup, Rossendale, Lancashire

Possible Bronze Age Ring Cairn on Tooter Hill, Sharneyford. Photo Credit: Stephen Oldfield

NGR:  SD 8903 2387. Tooter Hill  at Sharneyford, near Bacup, in Rossendale, Lancashire, was probably first settled in the Neolithic period of prehistory, but also, too, in the Bronze Age. There is evidence of an ancient field system at the western side of the hill and also a “possible” ring cairn type of burial on the summit. There must have been an ancient settlement or enclosure upon the hill because there have been many interesting finds over the past century or so, some of these archaeological finds being found by local people traversing the windswept hill, and quite a few deposited and displayed in the N.A.T.S. museum in the nearby town of Bacup. However, there are many quarry mounds and quarry holes upon the hill’s summit so it is not always easy to say just what-is-what; and there was mining up there in the 19th century, but there are a few other earthwork-type features, too, and these could have ancient origins? There are at least three footpaths running off Limers Gate Lane and one from the A681 (Todmorden Road) at Holden Gate; these foot paths all tend to skirt the periphery of the hill from around the N. E. and S. sides.

Tooter Hill (I have heard it called Toot Hill) is 430 feet (131.64m) in height, and is about 1 mile southeast of Sharneyford village on the A681, near Bacup. There may have been a Neolithic settlement on the summit, but more likely it was inhabited during the Bronze Age. There is a “possible” ring cairn at the northern side of the hill – if that’s what it is because there are many more recent mounds and depressions up there due to quarrying and mining, which took place in the Victorian period.  Many in-teresting ancient artefacts have been dug up from beneath the peat on Tooter Hill over the past century or so. A tanged and barbed arrowhead with serrated edges (probably an archery weapon) dating from the Neolithic period (4,500BC-2,500BC) was excavated along with an arrowhead from the Bronze-Age (2,500BC-700BC), and also a tranchet-shaped arrowhead (its date unknown). These are housed in the N.A.T.S. museum on Yorkshire Street, in Bacup, 1½ miles to the southwest. There is also a collection of small flint implements from the hill including a flint scraper, flint adze and a flint borer; but more recently flints have been found on the hill by local people.

Sources / References & Related Websites:-

(Many thanks to Stephen Oldfield for the use of his photo).

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=29213

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/tooter-hill/

http://www.bacupnaturalhistorysociety.co.uk/

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=30846

Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.

 


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Caer Llugwy Roman Fort, Capel Curig, Conwy (Bwrdeistref Sirol), North Wales

View of Roman fort at Caer Llugwy by Peter Mitchell. (Wikimedia Commons).

NGR: SH 74583 57237.  On a flat area of grassy land beside the Afon Llugwy and surrounded by woodland at the west and eastern sides are the almost rectangular earthworks of Caer Llugwy Roman fort. It was a minor posting fort – the site of which is now on private land a few miles east of Capel Curig – in the Conwy district of North Wales.  The nearly 4 acre earthworks of this Roman fort lie just southeast of the A5 road in the Llugwy Valley; and it is also called Bryn-y-Gefeiliau, taking its name from a nearby farm. It dates from 90 AD when it was built of earth and wood, but was extended on the E side, and built of stone around 120 AD whereas the western part was then annexed. This western section had a mansio-type building, which was like a lodging house or country hotel! There were excavations at the site back in 1861 and between 1920-22 but the fort was first recognized as such in the mid 17th Century by Lhuyd. To reach the site head west out of Betws-y-Coed on the A5 for a couple of miles until just before Pont-y-Pair Bridge where you turn left onto a lane for ½ a mile – the Roman fort (site) is on the right-hand side opposite Cae Awr woods. The earthworks are on private land. 

The Roman military machine marched into the Llugwy Valley towards the end of the 1st century AD in order to consolidate their hold on the north of Wales, in particular the Conwy Valley, and to build a small fort on level ground beside the river Llugwy (the course of which might have been different at that time). The first fort they built in 90 AD was of earth, turf and wood, and was at the western side of this flat area of land just where the river takes a large loop around; then in about 120 AD they added a second, smaller section of fort on the east side of the earlier section, which was built of stone; the western section was then annexed and a mansio with a courtyard built; the foundations of this building still stand 3 feet in height in the clump of trees. Roman auxiliaries would have built the fort. The fort and its annex were surrounded by an almost square-shaped defensive stone rampart and double ditch, which were rounded at the corners as was the norm for Roman forts. It’s sad that much of the stone-work has been robbed-away to build walls and farm buildings in the local area, and now only foundations remain of the mansio building. Caer Llugwy Roman fort is a ‘scheduled’ ancient monument.

Map showing Roman forts, camps and roads in North Wales.

A cohort of 500 auxiliary soldiers would have been stationed here by the early to mid 2nd Century AD. However, around 155-158 AD the fort beside the river had been abandoned and the soldiers sent to the north, probably to help strengthen and guard Hadrian’s Wall, or the Anto-nine Wall, or some other outpost. Or was the Llugwy Valley and the surrounding high ground to inhospitable? The “presumed” Roman road north from Tomen-y-Mur to Caer Llugwy and then north to Caerhun (CANOVIUM) would be extremely difficult in bad weather; and to compound this – the Ordovices tribe were still a major irritation to the Romans in the north-west of Wales. It would seem, however, the fort may have been re-occupied in some way during the 3rd and 4th Centuries AD.

There was a mansio at Caer Llugwy Roman fort. The word ‘Mansio’ comes from the Latin ‘mansus’ meaning a place to stay for rest and refreshment. A Mansio was an official stopping place on a Roman road maintained by the government for the use of officials and those on official business. It was essentially an Inn. The Mansio structure was similar to that of a standard villa design built with three wings arranged around a courtyard, but more specific with rooms for the traveller, stables for horses, and often a small bathhouse and a latrine. There may have been underground heating systems (hypocaust) built into these buildings, making for an almost cosy place to stay! Caer Llugwy had one! 

It is widely known that the Romans were mining for metals in the north of Wales. The copper mines were certainly being exploited by them and also gold and lead were being dug; and we also know they were looking for pearls in the river beds, especially the Afon Conwy! The fort at Caer Llugwy was almost certainly used as a base/station for these mining operations, which is borne-out by the name Bryn-y-Gefeiliau – Hill of the Smithies.

Christopher Houlder (1978) says: “The Roman road from Caerhun ……..southwards kept mainly to the hills, but where it dipped across the Llugwy valley at Bryn y Gefeilau (746 572) a minor fort was set up in the I century, possibly as a mining station.”     

Michael Senior (1984) tells us: “The Romans Arrive: They launched their first attack into North Wales under the leadership of Suetonius Paulinus, from the legionary headquarters at Chester, in the year 61 A.D. It is likely that the road across the hills originates from that expedition, and that a small field fort would have been established in the valley. Their purpose was to invade and subdue the island of Anglesey, which, Tacitus tells us, “was feeding the native resistance”. This first invasion however met with failure. With the Roman general and a large part of the army so far away, the Britons of the south-east, under their famous queen Boudicca, took the opportunity to revolt. Suetonius had hardly reached Anglesey when the news came, and the army in Wales had to withdraw at once and set out on that effective system of routes on the long march south.

“It is probable that the more substantial fort (Caerhun) at the river crossing dates from the second, more extended campaign. In the late summer of A.D. 77 he tribe whose territory was North Wales, known to the Romans as the Ordovices, ambushed and massacred, somewhere near our area, an outpost of Roman cavalry. This was a serious blow to Roman morale, and demanded action.

“The new Roman governor of Britain, Agricola, took the courageous decision of marching into North Wales late in the year, risking a winter campaign in the mountains. He pursued the Ordovices, perhaps taken off-guard, into their strongholds, and to ‘cut to pieces’, Tacitus says ‘almost the whole fighting force of the nation.’ To consolidate this victory he decided to carry through the earlier abortive attempt to occupy Anglesey.  One of the key elements in a strategy involving moving men between Chester and Anglesey was the protection of the crossing of the Conwy river, particularly as this point could also be supplied by sea. The crossing place which the Romans chose was a little upstream of later ferries and bridges, and would no doubt have been the junction of the lowest possible fording point with the highest navigable tidal water at that time. It lies at Caerhun, near to the present church and hall of that name (776703).”   

Mr Senior (1984) goes on to say that: “Part of the explanation for this Roman presence on the bank of the Conwy may possibly be the importance to Rome of British pearls. A Latin historian records that Julius Caesar himself was impressed by their size. It is known that Conwy’s pearl industry, which took place up the river until modern times, was extremely ancient. The pearls grew in the large fresh-water ‘horse-mussels’, which some people claim may still be found in the Trefriw area.  Whatever the reason for their coming and remaining, there is no doubt that the effect of it was to put North Wales on the map. The existence of that road set the pattern for future communications, and facilitated movement into and out of the area from then on. The existence of that Roman community at Caerhun gave an impetus to a settlement pattern within the valley, and no doubt stimulated activity which helped to stir the valley from its long sleep.”     

Sources / References & Related Websites:-

Houlder, Christopher, Wales: An Archaeological Guide — the prehistoric, Roman and early medieval field monuments, Faber And Faber, London, 1978.

Senior, Michael, The Conwy Valley — Its Long History, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Capel Garmon, Llanrwst, 1984.

The BBC,  Roman Britain, The British Broadcasting Corporation, London, 1966.

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

https://coflein.gov.uk/en/site/95274/details/caer-llugwy-bryn-y-gefeiliau-roman-site

Check out this Link:  http://ardal-wales.co.uk/english/local-history/roman-period/

Link to Cadw:  https://cadw.gov.wales/sites/default/files/2019-04/InterpplanRomanConquestofWales_EN.pdf

https://ancientmonuments.uk/128314-bryn-y-gefeiliau-roman-site-capel-curig#.XxnJW1LsZjo

http://www.welshsecrets.com/places-to-visit/roman-wales/ad/caer-llugwy-bryn-y-gefeiliau-roman-fort,14

https://www.romanobritain.org/4-celt/clb_tribe_ordovices.php

Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.

 

 


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Ancient Cross at St Lawrence’s Church, Eyam, Derbyshire

Eyam Parish Church, Derbyshire, by C. Daniel.

NGR: SK 2178 7639. At the south side of St Lawrence’s parish church at Eyam in the Peak District, Derbyshire, there is a beautifully sculptured 8 foot-high Saxon cross which is said to date from either the 8th Century or the 10th? It is also known as a Mercian Cross. Some of the design-work on the shaft and head bears some similarity to Celtic design. In the 8th Century Christian missionaries (from the north) set up the cross at Crosslow to the west of Eyam. The cross-shaft was originally a couple of feet taller than it is at present but, despite that, it is one of the best-preserved of all the Mercian crosses in the Midlands. St Lawrence’s church (site) is possibly a Saxon one and a church from that time may have stood where the present building now stands and, with that in mind, the font inside the church was thought to date from the Late Saxon period, though it would seem more likely to be 11th-12th Century Norman, and to have come from Hathersage!  The present church is a mixture of 13th to 15th Century architecture and is located in the centre of the village of Eyam on Church Street, near Eyam Hall. Eyam is 9 miles southeast of Chapel-en-le-Frith.

Eyam Cross by C. Daniel.

Clarence Daniel (1966) informs us that: It is scarcely necessary to draw attention to the Saxon Cross—the most venerable landmark in the village. For over a thousand years it has stood shelterless and bareheaded, exposed to the ravages of wind and rain, the wayside witness to an unperishable story. Perhaps this simple translation of the Gospel was being wrought out of living stone about the same time that a spark inspiration kindled the emotions of Caedmon at Whitby. Fortunately it escaped mutilation when Puritan zealots were authorised by an act of Parliament passed in 1643 to remove and destroy ‘“all crosses in an open place’”, although the top portion of the shaft has since been broken up and used for cobble stones. Until the visit of John Howard, the prison reformer, it lay almost smothered by weeds in a corner of the churchyard, but his concern for the preservation of such a valuable relic inspired its erection in a more prominent position.

“Mercia was evangelized by missionaries from Lindisfarne, or Holy Island, and the Eyam cross resembles in certain characteristics the type for which Iona is famous. Upon the head and arms, figures of angels are sculp-tured in relief; whilst the upper portion of the shaft is adorned with a representation of the Virgin and Child, beneath which a figure holding a trumpet, or bugle-horn. Below these pictorial panels in an elaborate tracery of scroll-work woven into three circles. The carving on the reverse of the shaft consists of five foliated scrolls in each of which a trefoil design is cleverly triplicated.

Neville T. Sharpe (2002) says: “To the west of Eyam there is Crosslow House and a cross once stood on the opposite side of the road at SK20677. Another possible site is the open piece of ground in the middle of the village opposite Eyam Hall where the stocks stand, which is still called ‘“The Cross.”’ Wet Withins at SK225790 on Eyam Moor, a site of pre-Christian worship, has also been put forward. The first of these three sites stands beside the road from Eyam to Foolow where one might expect to find a wayside cross, but an ornate cross like the one in the church-yard would have looked well in the centre of the village.

“The front of the head facing west has four angels holding sceptres on their shoulders; one is in a circle in the middle of the head and one on each of the arms. On the top of the front of the shaft are two enthroned figures in panels with arched tops; the lower figure is holding a horn in front of his body. The remainder of the front of the shaft below is decorated with circular interlaced work. On the opposite side of the head are four angels; the centre one holding a sceptre and the other three blowing trumpets. The whole of the back of the shaft is decorated with foliage, the stems of which form five bold spiral coils, with leaves and bunches of grapes in the centre of each, and leaves and buds filling up the spandrels at the sides. On the end of the north arm of the cross is a figure holding a book, and on the end of the south arm an angel. The north and south faces of the shaft are covered with interlaced work composed of knots. Believed by some to date from the eighth century, this cross has much in common with those at Bakewell and Bradbourne.” 

Sharp (2002) adds that: “On the south wall of Eyam Church is a sundial made by William Shore, a local stone mason in 1775. It is a source of wonder to watch visitors gaze at this sundial for a few moments before checking     its accuracy with their watches, and finding to their amazement that it is correct. The cross stands beside the path through the churchyard on the south side of the church and it was in this position prior to the restoration of the church in 1872. The shaft is 6 feet high of an octagonal cross-section and badly pitted due to the elements. It stands on a base mounted on three square stone steps. It is certainly much older than the 1656 inscribed on it. A plaque on the base reads: “AD 1897 This ancient churchyard cross was restored in loving memory of Charles Lewis Cornish Priest Vicar of this Parish 1841-46.”’ There is another cross built into the exterior west wall of the vestry which formerly was on the gable of the chancel. Could this be the original head of the cross in the churchyard?  

Daniel (1966) also adds that: “In the vestry is a Saxon font, but this is a comparatively recent acquisition from Brookfield Manor, Hathersage, where it did service in the garden as a flower bowl. The Norman font was shorn     of its antiquary interest and value by an unimaginative mason who planed away the carving from its bowl when instructed to clean it of paint. It will also be noted that there is no drain; a fact which recalls those days when the water was only blessed twice a year and was kept under lock and key regardless of its possible contamination.”     

Sources / References & Related Websites:-   

Clarence, Daniel, The Story of Eyam Plague – with a Guide to the Village, Cratcliffe, Eyam, near Sheffield, 1966, with Illustrations by the author.

Sharpe, Neville T., Landmark Collector’s Library – Crosses of the Peak District, Landmark Publishing Ltd., Ashbourne, Derbyshire, 2002.

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

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2011/06/01/eyam-cross/

https://historicengland.org.uk/services-skills/education/educational-images/eyam-saxon-cross-church-street-eyam-6957

https://ancientmonuments.uk/106831-anglian-high-cross-in-st-laurences-churchyard-eyam/photos/3137#.XvUzclLsZjo

http://www.peakscan.freeuk.com/peak_district_history_.htm

Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.


4 Comments

Cowpe Lowe, Near Waterfoot, Rossendale, Lancashire

Possible Burial Mound on Cowpe Lowe, in Rossendale. Photo  copyright: Stephen Oldfield.

NGR:- SD 8265 2067. Recently a friend, Stephen Oldfield, has brought to my attention that there are two “possible” Bronze Age burial mounds (barrows) at the southeastern side of Cowpe Lowe, near Waterfoot, Rossendale, Lancashire. One of these mounds looks more like a long barrow – while the other a bit further along is a smaller, circular mound. There is also evidence of early human activity on the summit of Cowpe Lowe from as far back as the Mesolithic, with a number of finds coming to light in recent years, which would suggest, then, that there was a settlement on the summit of the hill.  The hill itself is 440m high (1,444 feet), and is just a couple of miles southwest of Waterfoot and overlooks the town of Rawtenstall in the Rossendale Valley. Some      of the finds from Cowpe Lowe were deposited in The Whitaker Museum, Rawtenstall. Stephen Oldfield gives directions, saying to: “Follow the fence (keeping it on your right) from the ‘nick’ between Black Hill and Cowpe Lowe and climb upwards onto Cowpe Lowe and you will pass it [the mound]. There is another smaller one further on.”  

Possible Burial Mound on Cowpe Lowe. Photo Copyright: Stephen Oldfield.

The two grassy mounds (possibly Bronze Age barrows) are situated some 280 metres along a footpath to the northeast of the OS Trig Point (SD 82349 20639) on Cowpe Lowe’s south side. These mounds do not appear on any maps and would be easily missed if you didn’t know what you were looking for because there are many quarry mounds on the hill’s summit. Nor are they mentioned by archaeologists so obviously they have not been examined or excavated and, with that being the case, nothing is known about them, despite the many finds of flints and arrow-heads on the hill’s windswept summit. But are they actually burial mounds from the prehistoric age?, or just grassed-over quarry mounds that are now long forgotten?  Stephen Oldfield says regarding the possible barrows: “these two are isolated lined-up E.W. and facing the High Point of Top Leach – and the ground where my uncles found scores of arrowheads in the 1960s.”   

References & Related Websites:-

Many thanks to Stephen Oldfield for the use of his two photos and comments etc. Thanks mate.

http://www.hill-bagging.co.uk/mountaindetails.php?qu=S&rf=16512

More info here: https://www.springhillhistory.org.uk/resources/up-to-1066/Early-settlements.pdf

http://trigpointing.uk/trig/2475

Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.

 

 

 

 

 


The Tarr Steps, Exmoor National Park, Somerset, England

The Tarr Steps bridge over the River Barle, in Somerset.

NGR:- SS 86770 32113.  The Tarr Steps are an ancient Clapper Bridge that spans the river Barle in Exmoor National Park, about 4 miles northwest of Dulverton and 2½ miles south of Withypool, in Somerset. The slab-stone bridge could be prehistoric in age and date back 3,000 years to the Iron Age; however, some historians now consider the Tarr Steps to be Mediaeval in age and only dating back to the beginning of the 15th Century. The Tarr Steps slab bridge is 135 feet in length from bank to bank though Dr Sweetapple-Horlock (1928) said its length across the river was 180 feet. The stone slabs or clappers are between 6-10 foot long and the larger slabs are estimated to weigh between 1-2 tons; they lie on pillars with one or two slabs on top. Writing in 1924 Sir William Boyd Dawkins was the first to suggest prehistoric origins for the clapper bridge, or the earlier trackway over the ford, that crossed the river Barle, and its links with the Bronze Age round barrows (dating back to 2,500 BC) over to the west on Fyldon Ridge – while another trackway heads northeast from Tarr Steps bridge to the ‘Caratacus Stone’, an inscribed standing stone on Winsford Hill.

The Story of Tarr Steps by Michael Harrison (1985).

Michael Harrison (1985) says regarding the Position of Steps  The theory adduced by some writers is that it is a link track between the ridgeway over Winsford Hill (note the wam-barrows and Caratacus Stone), presumably to harbours in the Bristol Channel, with the other ridgeway over Molland Common via Anstey Barrows, White Post and over Fyldon Ridge (the present County Boundary) and on to Barnstaple. The significant point in common is that both tracks have Bronze Age Round Barrows alongside which date them around 2500 B.C., making the bridge seem comparatively modern and the ford across the river of very ancient origin.  Whether the original trackway went up the hill to the Church or whether it went up Hardway to Pennycombe Brook, which was the more direct line and not quite so steep, to White Post and the Ridgeway, must be a matter for speculation. The former route would meet the way over Hawkridge ridge coming up from the woods, where the Danesbrook joins the Barle guarded by the Iron Age earthworks of Mounsey Castle and Brewers Castle. showing that this track must have been of importance in very ancient times.  The writer apologizes for this diversion in the story of the Steps, but it must relate to the question of why the trackway was made there by the people who lived in these parts so many years ago. The answer is presumably because the river was easily fordable there, and the bridge later constructed to enable travellers to cross dryshod. 

Tarr Steps, Somerset. Description by Clery Welch.

“Description Of Steps  Back from the wilds of Exmoor let us return to Dr. Sweetapple’s Guide and a description of the Bridge, which consists of 17 spans, the covering stones laid flat without mortar or cement of any kind, on pillars of rough stone placed directly on the river bed. The pillars are from 4ft to 6ft apart, 3ft to 4ft high and about 3ft in breadth. Most of the pillars are spanned by one stone only but some have two laid side by side and one has three. The great slabs are from 6ft to 8ft long. One is over 10ft in length, nearly a foot thick, and estimated to weigh two tons or more. One stone about the centre of the Bridge is laid crosswise and is said to mark the boundary between the Parishes of Dulverton [now Winsford] and Hawkridge. This last mentioned stone seems to have been left out in one of the later reconstructions.

The Tarr Steps (illustrated by Clery Welch).

“At each pillar a long stone is slanted lengthways, one end resting on the river bed with its higher end projecting just above the flat stones of the bridge (the present writer’s theory on this aspect of the construction is that this was to allow tree branches and other debris to slide up the sloping stones in times of flood and be washed over the flat stones rather than pile up against them and risk damage to the bridge). The sloping stones were also to break the force of the water against the pillars.  The Bridge is 180ft long according to Dr. Sweet-apple and Grinsell, but the actual length from bank to bank, is about 135ft. The discrepancy     is accounted for by the stones lying flush with the surface of the ground on the Hawkridge side, which, if included, come to approximately 180ft.  The writer discovered, during a conversation with Mr. A. Oakes, who was tenant of Tarr Farm for many years, that originally a branch of the river ran under these stones and across the present meadow leaving a large island. Dr. Sweetapple had the old channel under these stones and across the meadow, filled in to make the present much larger and more useful field.  

“Building Of The Steps  The position of the bridge was evidently carefully chosen as the pool above is one of the longest and stillest in the river, and the flow of the water would be slowed before it reached the bridge. “‘The labour of building such a bridge must have been colossal’”, says the Guide, “‘in an age when machinery was un-known and it is hardly to be wondered at that local tradition ascribes the work to the devil. As he was bringing         the stones in his apron the string broke and the large square stone thus dropped can still be seen between the holly trees on the left bank making a useful seat’”. This stone is now below the island having been carried there in the Lynmouth flood. 

“The devil seems to have been held responsible on a number of occasions on Exmoor for rocks and stones in un-usual places, but why he should have built anything so useful as a bridge remains another mystery.  In the case      of Tarr Steps he is said to have built it in one night, saying it was for his exclusive use and that he would destroy the first creature crossing it. An unfortunate car attempted it and was torn to pieces, in one account, or struck by lightning in another. This appears to have broken the spell, for a Parson then crossed in safety, exchanging com-pliments with the builder. “‘The devil called the Parson a black crow, to which the Parson replied that he was not blacker than the devil’”. 

“Name Of The Steps  The Bridge and its name is another chapter in the Guide. Signposts to the steps varied between Torr and Tarr. Dr. Sweetapple points out that Torr means a boulder or rock outcrop, never stones such as could be used for bridge building. It seems more likely to be derived from the Celtic ‘toucher’ anglicised to ‘toher’ meaning a causeway, and the word ‘Steps’ added at a later date when they had been built. The other suggestion is that it may have taken its name from the family of Tarr connected with the district for many years. L. V. Grinsell, mentioned earlier, speculates in more detail in his book. Certainly all the earlier writers on Ex-moor—Collins, the Rev. Jack Russell, and MacDermot, call it Tarr Steps. Maps made in 1782 and 1822 show the form Tar Steps.

“The Guide [Dr. Sweetapple’s] itself mentions that occasionaly, after a combination of heavy rain and melting snow, the river overflows the bridge and that fifty years ago it was rare for the water even to cover the bridge, but this was before the moors were drained and in consequence the flow of water was more constant. Also the river was wider and deeper. Since drainage grants came in with the Second World War, the run off from the uplands has been greatly accelerated and this in turn causes flash floods of greater violence and more often than in the old days, bringing down driftwood and even trees which crash into the structure with great force, breaching it on several occasions in recent times.  The unforseeable happening was the Lynmouth flood……….” 

Sources / References & Related Websites:-

Harrison, Michael, The Story Of Tarr Steps, (with illustrations by Clery Welch), 1985.

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

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1021325

More info here at:  https://www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/enjoying/tarr-steps

https://archaeology-travel.com/england/tarr-steps-exmoor

https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/tarr-steps

Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.


The Charing Cross (Eleanor Cross), Westminster, London E.C.2

The Charing Cross or The Eleanor Cross.

NGR: TQ 30197 80498. On the forecourt of Charing Cross Railway Station on the Strand, in Westminster, London E.C.2., is the sculptured monument known as ‘The Charing Cross’ or the ‘Eleanor Cross’ which        is a replica of the original one that stood nearby, and one of only four such crosses to remain, although the other three are originals. It was named after Queen Eleanor of Castile, the wife of King Edward I, and was erected as a memorial to her in 1291 the year after her death at Harby in Nottinghamshire at the age of 49. Queen Eleanor was buried in Westminster Abbey. However, this 70 foot (21 metre) high richly decorated monument dating from 1865 is made of granite and Portland stone. But it is said ‘not to be as good’ as the original, which was pulled down and broken up about 1647. A statue of King Charles I on horseback was erected where the original Charing Cross used to stand, near Trafalgar Square. The present Charing Cross was recently restored. Charing as a place-name is thought to be derived from ‘cerring’, an Early English word meaning “bend or turn in the road.” The monument is Grade II listed.

Arthur Mee (1949) says that: “…….in the courtyard of Charing Cross Station is the lovely Eleanor Cross, a copy of the last of that pathetic series set up by Edward the First to mark the resting-place of his Queen Eleanor on her last ride through our countryside. She came from Harby in Notts, the village where she died, and rested nine nights on the way. Three of the nine crosses remain in the country; this is a copy of the old one destroyed in 1647. It stood where Charles Stuart sits on horse-back a little way off,  and this copy of it was designed by Edward Barry and sculptured by Thomas Erpe.  The cross is seventy feet high and rises in two stages surmounted by a spire. Below are coats of heraldry, and above are eight statues of the queen with a kneeling angel at the foot on each statue. The figures are all under canopies, and four show Eleanor as a sovereign and the others as a gracious lady.”

Eleanor Cross, Charing Cross Railway Station.

Mary Fox-Davies (1910) says that: “You know, I expect, the story of these crosses: how King Edward I. brought the coffin of his dead queen, Eleanor, from Nottinghamshire to her burial-place in Westminster Abbey, and on each spot where the coffin was placed to rest during the long, weary journey the King erected one of these crosses, and the little village of Charing was the last halt on the way. The original Charing cross stood nearer to White-hall, on the spot now occupied by the statue of Charles I.; it was removed in 1647, when the copy was placed in its present position. Ten of these ”Eleanor Crosses“ were erected by King Edward, but only three now remain — one at Geddington, one at Northampton, and one at Waltham Cross.” 

Garry Hogg (1968) tells us the locations of the other Eleanor Crosses, saying the: “Eleanor Cross, Geddington, Northants, three miles north-east of Kettering. Only three of the original eleven memorial crosses erected by Queen Eleanor’s funeral cortege between Hardby, Lincolnshire, and West-minster Abbey survive today (the third is at Waltham, Essex). Eleanor Cross, Hardingstone, Northants, on the A50, one mile south of Northampton. The earliest one, carved in 1291 by John Battle.”  Please note there is an error by the author: it should read Harby, Nottinghamshire, not Hardby, Lincolnshire. 

The HE (Historic England) List No is:- 1236708. See the Link, below.

Sources / References & Related Websites:-

Fox-Davies, Mary, London — Shown To The Children, T. C. & E. C. Jack, Ltd., London And Edinburgh, 1910.

Hogg, Garry, Odd Aspects of England, David & Charles (Publishers) Limited., Newton Abbot, Devon, 1968.

Mee, Arthur, The King’s England — London, Hodder And Stoughton Limited, London E.C.4., 1949.

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1236708

https://lookup.london/the-eleanor-cross-of-charing-cross/

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

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

More info here: https://www.strandlines.london/2019/11/18/the-eleanor-charing-cross/

Copyright © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.


St Patrick’s Well, Heysham, Lancashire

St Patrick’s Well or Church Well at Heysham, Lancashire.

NGR: SD 41093 61591.  At the corner of Main Street in Heysham, Lancashire, and just down the slope from St Peter’s Church is St Patrick’s Well (also known as Church Well). It is built into the wall at the side of the street at the bottom of the rectory garden (Glebe Garden).  However, it would seem that it has never been a holy well despite being named after the Irish patron saint, but merely ‘a spring’ that was used by the local church, St Peter’s, and its rectory.  Perhaps it should be called St Peter’s Well. The village, it would seem, needed the divine help of a great saint such as St Patrick and, after all the ruined Saxon chapel on the headland above the parish church already bore his name. Today, in the rectangular-shaped arched walled recess above two stone steps and pebble-filled basin there is a hand-operated pump contraptiuon, but whether this still pumps water is anyone’s guess – though it might do!? The present structure only dates from the early 1900s but it stands in the place of an earlier 18th Century well that had collapsed. It is Grade II listed.  Heysham is a very attractive village situated about 1¾ miles to the southwest of Morecambe on the A589.  

The ‘British Listed Buildings’ website has the following information: “Well head. Possibly C18. Well set in a roughly semi-circular recess in a rubble retaining wall, spanned by a lintel.  The kerb stone at the front of the wall is level with the top     of a second lower wall which contains a recess with two steps in front of the well.” See their website:   https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101355054-st-patricks-well-lancaster-heysham-central-ward#.XqoLVlLsZjo

Eileen J. Dent (2003) says of St Patrick that: “The popular myth that St Patrick came to Heysham can be discounted by his “Confessions” written towards the end of his life:

“‘Wherefore then, even if I wished to leave them to go to Britain–and how I would have loved to visit my country and my parents and also Gaul in order to visit my brethren and to see the face of the saints of                my Lord. God knows it that I desired it, but I am bound by the Spirit, who gives evidence against me if                       I do this, telling me that I shall be guilty; and I am afraid of losing the labour which I have begun – nay,                not I but Christ the Lord who bade me come here and stay with them for the rest of my life,  if the Lord             will, and will guard me from every evil way that I may not sin before Him.”’   

“This was St Patrick’s reply to his fellow bishops who had criticised him for remaining in Ireland and not evangelizing abroad.”

Ken Fields (1987) tells us that: “A saint whose name has become linked with holy wells is the patron of Ireland, Saint Patrick. Little is known about his early life before he rose to become the great missionary, but we have a tradition that an important episode in his youth occurred on the north-west coast.

St Patrick’s Well at Heysham, Lancashire (b/w photo view).

“Patrick was born about AD385 of noble stock at a place named Banavem Taberniae, which some people say is the village of Bewcastle near Carlisle. The story of his capture by pirates while still a boy, and his imprisonment in Ireland is well docu-mented. Just how he managed to escape by sea and was subsequently ship-wrecked is less well known and his landing place is not documented at all.  Some historians claim it was Gaul, but others disagree, pointing to what is now part of the Lancashire coast as a likely spot.  It is at a point close to lovely Hey-sham Village that the young Patrick is said to have landed; a stony bank visible only at low water is still known as St Patrick’s Skier. The ruin of an ancient chapel on the cliff edge marks the spot where he came ashore and alongside are some unusual graves hewn out of the rock.  Now empty these probably once held the bodies of monks.  After his landing at Heysham, the weary saint began the long journey home on foot.  The route he took can still be followed on a map, for many of his stopping places recall his name. At Hest Bank, a few miles north of Heysham lies the first St. Patrick’s Well, a place where the holy man stopped to drink. Near the small town of Milnthorpe lies Preston Patrick, and the magnificent valley of Patterdale in the heart of Lakeland was originally St. Patrick’s Dale.  Patterdale church is dedicated to the saint,  and on the road to nearby Glenridding is yet another St. Patrick’s Well. The village of Bampton near Haweswater, has a pub named St. Patrick’s Well, and its Anglican church is one of only ten in all England dedicated to the saint. North of Maryport, lies the town of Aspatria, which is said to be yet another settlement derived from his name. Thus it is possible to travel northwards from Heysham, following in the saint’s footsteps through some of our most attractive countryside. Here is a link with a journey that took place sixteen centuries ago.”  

There used to be another well in Heysham which was called Sainty Well or Saintly Well, but this was capped and covered over in recent times. This second ‘holy well’ is now on private land half-way along St Mary’s Road, Heysham. See History of Heysham website Link: http://www.sandhak.co.uk/html/history_of_heysham.html

Sources / References & Related Websites:

‘British Listed Buildings’ website Link:  https://britishlistedbuildings.co.uk/101355054-st-patricks-well-lancaster-heysham-central-ward#.XqoLVlLsZjo

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

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

‘History of Heysham’ website Link:  http://www.sandhak.co.uk/html/history_of_heysham.html

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2010/04/29/st-patricks-well-heysham/

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=48439

https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=41448#aRt

http://www.heyshamheritage.org.uk/html/visiting_heysham.html

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

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.


St Ebba’s Chapel, Ebb’s Nook, Beadnell, Northumberland

St Ebba’s Chapel near Beadnell (looking west). Photo Credit: Anne T.

NGR: NU 23964 28707.  The grassed-over scanty remains of St Ebba’s Chapel are situated on a narrow promontory known as Ebb’s Nook (Snook), which juts out into the North Sea, on the opposite side of Beadnell Harbour, near Seahouses. Northumberland. These grassy humps and lumps are all that remains of a 12th or 13th century chapel named after St Ebba or Æbba, a Northumbrian princess who died in 683 AD. There are also some earthworks surrounding the ruined chapel (E side) which are said to be those of a small pre-Conquest monastery possibly founded by St Æbba, the step-daughter of King Æthelfrith of Bernicia, who is ‘one and the same’ as St Abb, abbess of a monastery at Coldingham, near Eyemouth, on the East Berwickshire coast. She was also the sister of St Oswald, King and Martyr (d 642).

The chapel site can be reached by going through Beadnell village (north end): going (south) along Harbour Road and then Marl-borough Road. At the south end where the road bends to the southwest take the footpath (south) for a short while between the buildings, and then (east) along the promontory (Beadnell Point), with Little Rock in the distance; the chapel ruins are about half-way along this narrow, grassy promontory.

Nigel & Mary Kerr (1982) tell us that: “The situation of the small ruined chapel at Ebb’s Nook is all-important. It stands bleakly beside the North Sea, looking up the forlorn and storm-swept coast of Northumbria, and we may well wonder at the piety and faith which made men choose this of all places to build a chapel. There can be few more powerful examples of the juxtaposition of the spiritual and elemental than this small outpost of Christianity.

“The ruins of the chapel, originally a simple two-roomed structure of nave and chancel which was later extended by a western annexe, were uncovered in 1853. There is no certain date for the building, but the place name recording its associations with St Ebba, stepdaughter of Ethelfrith, king of Northumbria, suggests a site of ancient usage.

The first view of St Ebba’s Chapel near Beadnell. Photo credit: Anne T.

“St Ebba, whose feast day is 25th August, fled from Northumbria to Scotland when Edwin invaded the kingdom in 616. She later became a nun and was famed for her wisdom. She reputedly secured the release of St Wilfrid one occasion by telling Ecgfrith, the king who had imprisoned him, that his wife’s illness was a divine punishment for depriving the saint of his freedom: he was speedily released! Later, however, St Ebba was criticized for relaxed state of her community of nuns at Ely. Particular attention was drawn to the nuns’ weaving of fine clothes with which they sought to attract attentions of ‘strange men’. Despite this temporary lapse from grace, Ebba’s reputation for holiness continued after her death, and she was especially venerated during the 12th century in the north of England and south Scotland following the discovery of her relics.

“Perhaps, therefore, the little chapel on Ebb’s Nook is of the 12th century, and was constructed when her cult underwent a revival. But in lieu of direct evidence to the contrary, we will follow the confident assertion of the 19th-century excavators that this was the site of a chapel dedicated to her during the halcyon days of Northumbria in the 7th century.”

Northumberland National Park Guide (1990) tells us that:  “The small pile of grass-covered rubble near the point is the re-mains of Ebba’s Chapel, a 13th century structure excavated in 1853 after being buried for many years. Ebba was the sister of King Oswald; she may have been responsible for the building of a small chapel on this site in the 7th century. The stones and debris of the chapel have been colonised by thrift and scurvy-grass.”

St Ebba’s Chapel (north doorway and wall). Photo credit:  Anne T.

David Hugh Farmer (1982) has much more on St Ebba or Ebbe, saying she was: “first abbess of Coldingham (Berwickshire). Daughter of Ethelfrith, king of Northumbria, she fled to Scotland on his death in 616, when Edwin conquered Northumbria. Later she became a nun at Cold-ingham and subsequently abbess of this double monastery. In 672 Etheldreda was separated from her husband, King Egfrith, with the counsel of Wilfrid, and became a nun under Ebbe (who was her aunt) before founding her own monastery at Ely. In 681 Egfrith visited Cold-ingham with his second wife Ermenburga, who was then seized with some kind of sudden illness. Ebba, now famous for wisdom, interpreted this as a punishment for the imprisonment of Wilfrid, disobedience to Roman decisions in his favour, and the theft of his relics and reli-quaries by Ermenburga. Egfrith released Wilfrid; Ermenburga restored the relics and soon recovered.

“Not long afterwards, the aged Ebbe was warned by the priest Adomnan of the relaxed state of her community. The nuns were said to spend their time weaving fine clothes, to adorn themselves like brides or to attract the attention of strange men, while both monks and nuns alike neglected vigils and prayers. In spite of Adomnan’s threat of divine punishment, the community mended its ways only for a little while. A few years after Ebbe’s death, the monastery was burnt down (686). These failures of Ebbe’s community did not destroy her reputation for holiness. Her name was given to Ebchester and to St Abb’s Head, where the remains of a fort possibly indicate the site of her monastery. Interest revived in her during the 12th century, following the discovery of her relics in the late 11th. At this time, according to an account attributed to Reginald of Durham, she was known from York to Lanark. Calendar evidence for her feast comes from Durham, Aberdeen, and Winch-combe, while Durham and Coldingham shared her relics.  She is also the titular of a church and street in Oxford.  The present church at Coldingham (part of the priory founded by Durham) is more than a mile away from Ebbe’s monastery. Feast 25th August.”   

The 19th Century parish church in the centre of Beadnell village is also dedicated to the local saint, Ebba. There are three late 18th Century (restored) limekilns at Beadnell Harbour (east side).

Sources / References & Related Websites:-

Photos (above) are the © copyright of Anne T. Many thanks Anne for your help and kindness. Please see the Link:  https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=50082&m_distance=0.0

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

Kerr, Nigel & Mary, A Guide to Anglo-Saxon Sites, Granada Publishing Limited, St Alban’s, Hearts, 1982.

Northumberland National Park, Walks on the Northumberland Coast, Northumberland County Council National Park and Countryside Department, Eastburn, South Park, Hexham, 1990.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C3%86bbe_of_Coldingham

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

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1008563

https://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=8230

https://www.channel4.com/programmes/time-team/articles/series-19/st-ebbas-chapel-by-the-sea/453

More info here:  https://www.scribd.com/document/239530531/Time-Team-St-Ebba-s-Chapel-Beadell

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.

 


The Long Stoop, Yeadon, West Yorkshire

Photo credit, see below.

NGR: SE 22127 41831. At the side of the roundabout on the very edge of the Leeds-Bradford Airport at Yeadon, west Yorkshire, stands a rather curious gritstone pillar that looks rather out-of-place being located where it is, but it has, in fact, been moved in order to facilitate its predicament of being in the way of an airport runway extension; the most recent move being in the early 1980s.  This tall, roughly-hewn stoop stone is actually a boundary stone or guide stone whose base is all that remains of the original stoop from the early part of the 19th Century, which had, at that time, stood at Coney Lodge Farm about a ¼ of a mile to the northeast, but was apparently destroyed by lightning. The ‘Long Stoop’ Stone stands beside what looks to be a mounting block! on the verge of the A658 roundabout at the junction of Victoria Avenue (Harrogate Road) and Warren House Lane at the northwestern perifery of the Leeds & Bradford Airport complex, just to the east of Yeadon.

The original ‘Long Stoop’ Stone which had stood for a few hundred years at Coney Lodge Farm, near Yeadon, was destroyed by lightning around 1836 after which a replacement stoop was erected a ¼ of a mile to the west on the Harrogate Road turnpike     at Crown Point (east side of Yeadon), but in 1983 it was moved once again a short distance to the side of the A658 roundabout when an extension to the airport’s runway was being built. It is a boundary or guide stone and is a tallish, rough-hewn gritstone pillar with a flat top, and is set into a base stone from the original old stoop; but it has been blackened by the chimney smoke from nearby Bradford and Leeds which occurred during the Industrial Revolution. Today, however, it is probably something of an oddity or curiosity to the people in their cars going round the roundabout. See the very excellent ‘Aireborough Historical Society’s’ website, below, for further historical information and old photos.

Sources / References & Related Websites:

Photo by Patrick John Leonard. Thanks mate.

https://www.aireboroughhistoricalsociety.co.uk/yeadon/long-stoop-1900.aspx

https://www.aireboroughhistoricalsociety.co.uk/yeadon/long-stoop-1979.aspx

http://www.leodis.net/display.aspx?resourceIdentifier=20041019_84974307

https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC6C6DJ_yeadon-stoop?guid=228e1a7c-5db9-47c4-8ed8-0113448d5e09

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

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.


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Ancient Cross St Oswald’s Church, Guiseley, West Yorkshire

Photo credit (see below).

NGR: SE 19415 42151. The 13th to 15th Century parish church of St Oswald King & Martyr on Church Street, Guiseley, West Yorkshire, houses a 9th Century Anglo-Danish cross-shaft with some heavily worn carved decoration on its two faces, although the head, or rather a cross-arm, is obviously from another cross, and    one other fragment. This carved cross-arm shows a strange serpent-like creature which is Danish in design, while the shaft itself has the more typical Saxon cord-work interlacing and is perhaps earlier than the head. The sides of the shaft are now very eroded. There was a church here in the early 12th Century and perhaps even one before that? There is some fine Norman architecture in the south doorway and arcade, and Early English south transept, while the N tower and arcade are 15th Century Perpendicular. St Oswald’s church, which is Grade 1 listed, was extended and modified in the early 20th Century. St Oswald’s Parish Church is located on Church Street, just south of Queensway, at the northeastern side of the west Yorkshire town.

Photo: (see below).

At the west end of the church nave stands a rather blackened and worn cross-shaft set into a chunky stone base, and on top another fragment which is a carved cross-arm from somewhere else, and which together stand at almost 6 feet high; but the arm is obviously from another cross – the main part of that would now seem to be lost. The cross-shaft itself is made-up of fragments of carved stonework from the Anglo Saxon period, which, had earlier been found inside the church where it had been in use as a door lintel,  but did it originally stand out in the churchyard?  The front face, as it stands, has intricate cord-work interlacing formed into a sort of trellis – or, according to W. G. Collingwood, “a scimitile trellis”, and nice cord-work scrolls – although those at the top of the trellis are smaller; or are they spirals? Collingwood said there was a sword through the centre of the trellis. Above that (lower cross-arm) a smaller section of curving cord-work interlacing which is better than that below, and what is probably a line of knots? There is now very worn flat mouldings on the edges. See The Corpus of Anglo Saxon Stone Sculpture’ website, below.

The cross-arm (top) shows a dragon-headed serpent eating its tail. This is probably the ‘Midgard Serpent’ and likely to be 10th Century and Danish. Beneath the serpent is a half circle or archway. The opposite side (against the wall, and not visible) has a panel with similar carvings to the front, but damaged. There is a moulding on the left-hand side (edge). The cross-arm (top) shows a possible animal carving that is damaged. See ‘guiseleywithesholt’ website, below. Also see ‘The Corpus of Anglo Saxon Stone Sculpture’ website, below.

John & Caitlin Matthews (1988) say:Midgard Serpent (N) Also called Jormundgand. The monstrous son of Loki and Angrboda. He grew until his body encircled the earth and he could capture his own tail. Placed in the sea by Odin, he writhed so as to cause tempests. He will only be destroyed by Ragnorok, according to Crossley Holland (1980).  Please         note: (N) Norse.

Robert A Carter (1976) tells us St Oswald’s was: “Extensively restored in the second half of last century and much enlarged in 1910 by Sir Charles Nicholson. Nevertheless it retains Norman and Early English work. The pulpit and a pew in the south chapel with the initials of Sir Walter Calverley on the door are seventeenth century but most of the other Jacobean style woodwork is by Nicholson. Good woodcarving, including the rood beam erected in 1921, by the Italian artist Gulielimo Tosi. Fragments of Anglo Saxon sculpture. Two literary associations: Patrick Bronte married Maria Bramwell here in 1812 and this was the parish church of many ancestors of the American poet, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.”    

Also of interest in the church below the arch (at the side of the entrance) can be found a large stone bearing a consecration cross; there were originally seven of these tiny crosses.

Sources / References & Related Websites:-

Photos are by Patrick John Leonard. Many thanks Patrick.

Carter, Robert A., A visitor’s guide to Yorkshire Churches, Watmoughs Limited, Idle, Bradford, West Yorkshire, 1976.

Matthews, John & Caitlin, The Aquarian Guide To British And Irish Mythology, The Aquarian Press (Thorsons), Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, 1988.

http://www.ascorpus.ac.uk/catvol8.php?pageNum_urls=91

More info here:  http://guiseleywithesholt.org.uk/our-churches/st-oswalds-church-guiseley/the-guiseley-cross/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St_Oswald%27s_Church,_Guiseley

https://www.genuki.org.uk/big/eng/YKS/WRY/Guiseley/PhotoFrames/GuiseleyStOswald

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=16750

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.

 

  


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Chichen Itza, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, South America

Stepped pyramid of El  Castillo at Chichen Itza. Photo credit: James Stephen Strickland.

‘Temple of the Warriors’ at Chichen Itza, Yucatan, before all the trees were cleared away.

Latitude 20.684285. Longitude -88.567783. In the north of the Yu-catan Peninsula, Mexico, South America, lie the ancient ruins of the Mayan city of ‘Chichen Itza’ (meaning “at the mouth of the well of the Itza”), which is located in Tinúm Municipality (Yucatan State) some 38 kilometers (24 miles) to the west of Valladolid on the 180 road – just to the southeast of the village of Piste. This remarkable, and quite mysterious site, is a large complex of Mayan temples, halls, strange beast sculptures, human-figure statues (there is a reclining stone figure of Chac Mool at the Temple of the Warriors), and also carved walls, and, in the centre of the court-yard is the stepped pyramid of ‘El Castillo’ (also called the ‘Temple of Kukulkan’). The ruined buildings and temples are thought to date from the Pre-Columbian period 550 AD to 1250 AD and to span three historical Mayan periods: Late Classic, Terminal Classic and Post Classic. Today, this much-visited archaeological site, covering four-square miles, comes under the guardian-ship of ‘The National Institute of Anthropology and History’. Chichen Itza was by far the largest of all the Mayan cities. There are antiquities displayed from Chichen Itza in the National Museum of Anthropology, Mexico City.

Wonders Of The World (1930) says of Chichen Itza: “The city, as it stands to-day, consists of a group of six stone buildings which are more or less intact, and the remains of numerous other stone structures in various states of ruin. All authorities agree that these buildings were the palaces of chiefs and officials, temples for the worship of the Maya gods and religious establishments for the housing of the priestly castes, the abodes of the poorer classes being palm-leaf huts, which have long since disappeared, but which in all probability were built in the same manner as the natives erect them to-day. 

Temple of the Warriors at Chichen Itza, before the restoration work had taken place.

Stepped Pyramid of El Castillo at Chichen Itza. Photo Credit: James Stephen Strickland.

“The Eyes of Jade: The building which is the most magnificent is, to give it its Spanish name, El Castillo. This is a truncated pyramid faced with solid slabs of stone with a building on top. From the ground-level to the top of the building it is over one hundred feet high, while the base lines of the pyramid are round about two hundred feet each. The four sides all but face the four cardinal points, and on each of them is a gigantic stairway leading to the summit. The main entrance to this building is on the northern side, looking towards the sacrificial pool.  The doorway, which has now partly fallen, still bearing traces of its former magnificence.  It is twenty feet wide and the lintel was supported by two pillars carved in the pattern of snakes and ending at their bases with enormous, open-mouthed, flattened heads of these reptiles, the now empty eye-sockets being at one time filled with eyes of polished jade.                                                        

A carved stone serpent (snake). Photo: James Stephen Strickland.

The stone carved animal heads.

“The building was erected for the purpose of a temple, and inside the doorway is the Maya Holy of Holies which was used only for the per-formance of the most sacred rites.  Whether the ghastly sacrificial acts celebrated on the pyramids of Mexico, in honour of the God of War and the Sun Diety, were enacted in this temple is not known, but it would seem probable that those flattened heads of serpents on the platform of the pyramid  served another purpose than that of  an ornamental base for the door-pillars.  If it was a fact that human sacrifices similar to those performed in Mexico were practiced in Yucatan, then it was on the flattened heads of these serpents that the ceremony of tearing the palpitating heart out of the human sacrificial victim’s body was performed by the Maya priests, and the body, scarcely lifeless, was rolled down the side of the pyramid to be sacramentally eaten by the hundreds of worshippers congregated on the plain below.

El Castillo (Temple of Kukulkan). Photo: James Stephen Strickland.

“Home of the Rain God: From the northern base of El Castillo a forest path, showing traces here and there of the remains of a cemented roadway, leads to one of the grimmest pools in the world. It is one of the wells, or cenotes, from which Chichen takes its name. An enormous circular basin, two hundred feet in diameter, its sides drop sheer and perpendicular over one hundred feet to its limestone basin. As you stand adventurously on the brink and, clutching the branch of a tree for safety, gaze over its precipitous edge into the black water seventy feet below, you do not wonder that the ancient Maya saw in its sepia depths the home of their Rain God. In a report sent to Madrid from Yucatan, in 1579, the sacrificial ceremony of throwing human victims into the cenote to appease the wrath of the Rain God in times of drought was described, but for centuries there was nothing to verify this tale. In 1906 the dredging of the bottom of the cenote was commenced, and several human skulls and bones were brought to the surface. On closer examination these human remains proved without exception to be those of females of immature age, and this confirmed once and for all the truth of the early Spanish report.

“To the south-west, one hundred and thirty yards from El Castillo, is what is now known as the Tennis Court. Running north and south are two parallel walls twenty-five feet high, thirty feet thick, two hundred and seventy-four feet long and one hundred and twenty feet apart. The court was used for a ball game of which the ancient Maya were very fond. It was played by teams whose object it was to get a ball made of rubber through a hole in a stone disc jutting out from the upper part of the wall. 

Chichen Itza ‘Wall of the Skulls’. Photo: James Stephen Strickland.

“The Mayas at Play: One of these big stone discs, measuring all but an inch of four feet in diameter, pierced through its eleven and a half inches of thickness with a hole one foot seven inches in diameter, is still in position. The Spanish historian tells us that the ball was bounced from the hips of the players through the ring, and the winning team had the right to take as their prize all the clothes of the spectators. At each end of the court stand the remains of a small temple, and on the eastern wall at the southern end is a building called the Temple of the Tigers, which gets its name from an elaborately carved frieze design of these animals around the wall coping. On the walls of the interior of this building are the most remarkable Maya paintings that have so far been discovered. They depict the scenes of everyday life as it was lived by the Mayas before the coming of the Spaniards, in greens, reds, blues, and yellows. The designs are crude and out of proportion, but much can be gleaned of the life of the past inhabitants of Chichen.

The Nuns House (Casa de las Monjas) at Chichen Itza, Yucatan.

El Caracol or ‘The Observatory’ at Chichen Itza, in Yucatan.

Workers without Tools:  To the south of El Castillo stands a ruined building, known as the Caracol, from a ‘“winding staircase”’ by which the top is reached from the interior. The building is turret-shaped and stands on two terraces one above the other, the lower one measuring two hundred and twenty feet by one hundred and fifty feet. The top of the building was about sixty feet from the ground-level and on it was originally an observation platform, which was, it is believed, used for the study of the heavens and was possibly connected with sun and star worship. Only a short distance from the Caracol is another building which is a fine example of Mayan architecture. It is known as the Casa de las Monjas (‘“Nuns’ House”’), probably on account of its having been set apart for the housing of that body of young maidens who were known to have performed special services in the temples, and whose ultimate fate was in all probability the cenote. It has well withstood the elements for four centuries, and given a good idea of Maya architectural ornamentation.

“The other buildings standing to-day at Chichen Itza are: the Akad-zib (‘“House of Mysterious Writing”’), which gets its name from a series of Mayan hieroglyphics over the doorway; the Chichanchob (‘“Red House”’), in allusion to the remarkable, possibly symbolic, decorations on the interior walls, which take the form of a hand painted in red, which design is, curiously enough, found also in parts of Asia; and a small building close against the Casa de las Monjas.”

There is an article (1952) in the book ‘Gods, Graves, And Scholars’ by Ceram, recalling the expedition to Chichen Itza of Edward Herbert Thompson, the American explorer. The following is a part of that article, in which we are told that: “A full moon was shining down on the jungle. Accompanied only by an Indian guide, the American explorer and archaeologist Edward Herbert Thompson—fifteen hundred years after the Mayas had left their cities and made a break for the country farther north—was riding through the New Empire that they had built for themselves, which had collapsed after the arrival of the Spaniards. He was searching for Chichén Itzá, the largest, most beautiful, mightiest, and most splendid of all Mayan cities. Horses and men had been suffering intense hardships on the trail. Thompson’s head sagged on his breast from fatigue, and each time his horse stumbled he all but fell out of the saddle. Suddenly his guide shouted to him. Thompson woke up with a start. He looked ahead and saw a fairyland.

“Above the dark tree-tops rose a mound, high and steep, and on top of the mound was a temple, bathed in cool moonlight. In the hush of the night it towered over the tree-tops like the Panthenon of some Mayan acropolis. The Indian guide dismounted, unsaddled his horse, and rolled out his blanket for the night’s sleep. Thompson could not tear his fascinated gaze from the great structure………Steep stairs overgrown with grass and bushes, and in part fallen into ruins, led from the base of the mound up to the temple. Thompson was acquainted with this architectural form, which was obviously some kind of pyramid. He was familiar, too, with the function of pyramids as known in Egypt. But this Mayan version was not a tomb, like the pyramids of Gizeh. Externally it rather brought to mind a ziggurat, but to much greater degree than the Babylonian ziggurats it seemed to serve mostly as a stony back providing support for the enormous stairs rising higher and higher, towards the gods of the sun and moon.

“Thompson climbed up the steps. He looked at the ornamentation, the rich reliefs. From the top, almost 96 feet above the jungle, he surveyed the scene. He counted a dozen scattered buildings, half-hidden in shadow, often revealed by nothing more than a gleam of moonlight on stone. This, then, was Chichén-Itzá. From its original status as advance outpost at the beginning of the great trek to the north, it had grown into a shining metropolis, the heart of the New Empire. Again and again during the next few days Thompson climbed on to the old ruins. ‘“I stood upon the roof of this temple one morning,”’ he writes, ‘“just as the first rays of the sun reddened the distant horizon. The morning stillness was profound…..Then the great round sun came up, flaming splendidly, and instantly the whole world sang and hummed. The birds in the trees and the insects on the ground sang a grand Te Deum. Nature herself taught primal man to be a sun-worshipper and man in his heart of hearts still follows the ancient teaching.”’

Sacred Well of Sacrifice or (Cenote) at Chichen Itza, which was dredged by E. H. Thompson.

Ceram (1952) adds that: “In one respect at least, Edward Herbert Thompson was very much the Schliemann of Yucatan, for when he pushed forward to Chichén-Itzá he was staking everything on a book that no one but himself took at all seriously. Schliemann himself could not have acted more credulously. Thompson also brings Layard to mind, for like Layard, who set out on his first expedition with only £60 in his purse and one companion to guide him, he plunged into the depths of the jungle with the most meager backing. And when he ran into difficulties that would have cowed any other man, he reacted with all of Petrie’s stub-bornness. We have seen that when the world was excited by Stephens’s first discoveries, the question was hotly debated whether the Mayas were the descendants of the people of the lost Atlantis, one of the lost tribes of Israel, an offshoot of the primordial American Indian stock, or what not. As a budding archaeologist, Thompson defended the Atlantean theory of Mayan descent in an article published in 1879 in a popular periodical. This was one of his very first ventures into print. The special problem of origins slipped into the background of his critical consciousness, however, when he actually went to Yucatán in 1885. At this time he was twenty-five years old, the youngest man in the American consular service. Once on the spot, he had no time for theory. It was an instinct rather than a considered judgment that drew Thompson to Yucatán. He took a long chance on the validity of Diego de Landa’s reports. In one of the volumes written by the archbishop he discovered the story of the Sacred Well, the cenote of Chichén-Itzá. Basing his account on old Mayan stories, de Landa described how, in times of drought or disaster, processions of priests and common people went to the Sacred Well of Sacrifice to propitiate the angry gods who lived in the depths. The marchers brought offerings with them to appease the diety, including beautiful maidens and captive warrior youths. After solemn ceremonies the maidens, de Landa said, were cast into the well, which was so deep that no victim ever rose to the surface.

“But there was to be more to de Landa’s story.  It was a custom, he said,  to throw in rich offerings after the sacrificial victims—household utensils, ornaments, gold. Thompson had read that ‘“if this land once contained gold, the largest part of it must be in the Well.”’ Generally this description had been dismissed as a quaint old tale with a great deal of rhetorical flourish and little factual basis. But Thompson accepted it as gospel truth, and he was determined to prove the validity of his belief. When he looked down on the Way to the Well of Sacrifice from the pyramid platform, little did he know what toil was to be his before arriving at the goal.” 

Sources / References & Related Websites:-

All the coloured photos are by James Stephen Strickland. Many thanks James. 

Ceram C. W., Gods, Graves, And Scholars — The Story of Archaeology, Victor Gollancz Limited in association with Sidgwick And Jackson Limited, London, 1952.

Wonders Of The World (forward by Sir Philip Gibbs, K.B.E.,) Odhams Press & Hutchinson & Co. (Publishers) Ltd., London, 1930.

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

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

https://www.visitmexico.com/en/main-destinations/yucatan/chichen-itza

https://www.chichenitza.com/

http://www.haciendachichen.com/ruins.htm

More info here: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/03/06/science/chichen-itza-mexico-mayan.html

http://museu.ms/museum/details/16762/national-museum-of-anthropology

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/travel/world-heritage/chichen-itza/

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.

 

 

 


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Cup-And-Ring Stone in Museum Gardens, York, North Yorkshire

Photo: See below.

NGR: SE 5996 5209. In the Yorkshire Museum Gardens, on Museum Street, at York, North Yorkshire, there’s a very nice cup-and-ring marked stone with well-defined carvings (petroglyphs) that date from the Bronze Age. There were originally two carved stones here, but the other one has been lost; the other stones alongside (which people sit on) are not of any real interest. This rectangular block/slab of stone stands beneath a tree at the side of one of the main footpaths at the southwest side of the Yorkshire Museum. There are at least six small cups and a number of concentric circles, and one connecting groove carved on this rough hewn slab of stone. However, there is much uncertainty as to just where the stone came from. Some think it came from a larger block of rock on the north York Moors, to the north of Whitby, while another thinks that it came from the Ravenscar area on the east Yorkshire coast. Could it have come from a cist grave on the moors? And why, and how, did it come to be in the museum gardens at York? At least a couple of these questions cannot really be answered with any great certainty.

Having probably been hewn from a larger rock-face somewhere above Robin Hood’s Bay, or from the Ravenscar area, on the East Yorkshire coast in the late 19th Century – the stone was presented to the York Philosophical Society, who in turn in I would imagine, gave it to the Yorkshire Museum. But the carving should really be undercover inside the museum. There are six small cup-markings with several concentric rings around each of them, and the middle carving, which has four rings, has a groove running to the edge of another ring (where there is a break in the stone) and then out to the edge of the stone itself,  and there looks to be another ‘possible’ (shorter) groove running from a cup-mark and then out to the edge.  So, all-in-all, this is a very interesting panel of rock-art. The stone is also numbered ROB2A in Chappell & Brown’s ‘Prehistoric Rock Art in the North York Moors’ 2005 (PRANYM), according to the excellent website: stone circles.org.uk. See their website link, below.

Source / References & Related Websites:-

Photo is courtesy of Patrick John Leonard. Many thanks Patrick.

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

https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=16935  

https://www.themodernantiquarian.com/site/7246/york_museum_gardens.html    

http://secretyork.com/tag/neolithic/

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.

 


The Washington Family Coat-of-Arms Stone at St Oswald’s Church, Warton, Lancashire

Washington coat of arms, Warton Church by Karl & Ali (Geograph).

NGR: SD 49819 72316. On Main Street at the southwest side of Warton village, near Lancaster, Lanca-shire, is the 14th Century church of St Oswald, and housed inside is a heavily-worn stone plaque or shield which used to show the Washington family’s Coat-of-Arms; this very worn stone has become a place of pilgrimage for visiting American tourists. The stone was originally on the outer (west) wall of the church-tower, but because of the vulnerability to the carving from weather-related erosion in 1955 it had to be placed on the tower wall inside the church, and now has a glass cover over it. This, then, (the) Washington Family Coat-of-Arms is generally believed to be the source of the ‘Stars and Stripes’ emblem of the United States flag. Robert de Washington was (of a branch of the Washingtons of County Durham) and he settled in Westmorland in the late 15th Century, and later owned land at Warton.  It was from this branch of the Washington family that George Washington was descended.  Robert de Washington of Warton was a generous benefactor to the village church and also had the stone plaque   or shield placed on the exterior tower wall. 

Washington shield at Warton Church, Lancs.

Sydney Moorhouse (1958) says that: “Here, on the outside of the western wall of the fifteenth century tower is a stone shield greatly worn by the weather, displaying the armorial bearings of the Washington family — “Arg. 2 bars, Gul, 3 mullions of the 2nd, with crescent for difference” which according to Lucus, the Warton historian of the early eighteenth century, ‘“is a plain indication that this family, ancient and yet creditable in the town, where the Rev. Laurence Washington has a good estate, have been largerly contributory towards the building of this fabric”’. It is generally believed that this coat of arms was the source of the Stars and Stripes emblem of the United States.

“The Washingtons originated from a small village named Wessington, in County Durham, and even to-day there are Old Washington and Washington marked on the maps of that county. A branch of the family settled in Westmorland and eventually came into the possession of lands around Kendal and in the vicinity of Warton. It was from the branch that George Washington was descended.

“Towards the end of the fifteenth century, one Robert de Washington, according to Mr. T. Pape’s excellent little publi-   cation on ‘“George Washington’s Ancestors and Their Memorials in England”’, held the lordship of Tewitfield in the    Manor of Warton by Knights Service and fivepence yearly instead of doing his duty at Lancaster. This same man owned fifteen burgages in Warton and ‘“in all probability the Washington Coat of Arms carved in stone on the outer western wall of Warton Church tower was a record of this Robert Washington’s generosity in the building of a Church”’.

Moorhouse goes on to say that: “It was the grandson of this Robert Washington who married a member of the Kitson family, who had large estates in Northamptonshire, and his son Laurence left Warton in the reign of Henry VIII for Northamp-tonshire and later settled at Sulgrave Manor. These were the ancestors of the illustrious George. Need I continue the story? I do so to show that the line of ancestry is unbroken and quote from a description of Sulgrave in ‘“English Country Houses”’ by Ralph Dutton and Angus Holden:

‘“Laurence Washington died in 1584 and was buried in the parish church. He was succeeded by his son       Robert, who in 1610 sold the Manor to his nephew, Laurence Makepeace.  It was in 1657, during the Commonwealth, that John Washington, great-grandson of Robert, sailed to America and settled at           Bridges Creek, Virginia, where the famous great-grandson, George Washington, was born in 1732.”’

“Although the main branch gravitated to Northamptonshire, some Washingtons remained in Warton until just over a century ago. Lucas refers to one in his History. The last was Thomas, who was vicar from 1799 to 1823 and is buried there. 

Maxwell Fraser (Miss) writing in 1939, says: “There is a closer link with America at Warton, about a mile from Carnforth which, although not actually in the Lake District, is within easy reach of Grange, either across the sands, or by the road round the head of the estuary. There was a branch of the Washington family settled at Warton centuries ago, and the arms of Robert Washington were carved on the tower of Warton church, where they are now protected from the ravages of weather and tourists by a sheet of glass. Lawrence Washington left Warton in the reign of Henry VIII for Northampton, and later settled at Sulgrave, but a branch of the family remained at Warton, and Thomas, the last of the Warton Washingtons, was vicar from 1799 to 1823 and is buried there.”

Miss Fraser adds that in St Martin’s church at Bowness-on-Windermere, Cumbria: “………every American visitor is attracted by the stained-glass panels in the east window (top) which show the arms of the Washington family.” This would be the crest/shield of George Washington, who became the 1st President of the United States of America in 1789, and whose ancestor one John Washington of Warton, had it placed here in the 15th Century.

And, finally, Pevsner (1979) tells us more about Warton church, saying: “St Oswald. The oldest evidence is early C14: the S chapel Sedilia (pre-1300?), the s arcade, if it represents original evidence (it is C19), and a S aisle window. Perp W tower, chancel, and N arcade . — In one PEW set-in shields — from older bench ends? — TWO BENCH ENDS, dated 1571 and 1612, are in the vestry.* — FONT. The base is typical of 1661, its date in the one elementary geometrical pattern. Also dated 1661 the lead interior, and this has much finer, indeed very delicate, patterns. — PLATE. Unmarked Chalice; Paten of 1716 by S.L.; Flagon inscribed 1802.”

Sources / References & Related Websites:-

Fraser, Maxwell (Miss), Companion Into Lakeland, Methuen & Co. Ltd., London, (Second Edition) 1939.

Moorhouse, Sydney, Twenty Miles around Morecambe Bay — a Guide To Local Beauty Spots & How To Reach Them, The Morecambe Bay Printers Ltd., (Fourth Edition) 1958.

Pevsner, Nikolaus, The Buildings of England — North Lancashire, Penguin Books Ltd., Harmondsworth, Middlesex, (Reprint) 1979.

Photo (top) by Karl & Ali: https://www.geograph.org.uk/photo/4555166

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warton,_Lancaster

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

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

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

https://www.lancashirelife.co.uk/out-about/places/the-george-washington-connection-to-the-north-lancashire-village-of-warton-1-2370404

More info here: https://bitaboutbritain.com/imagine-if-george-washington-had-been-lancastrian/

© Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2020.