The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


Dyffryn Ardudwy Burial Chamber, Gwynedd, North Wales

Dyffryn Burial Chamber outskirts. Pjposullivan (Creative Commons)

   OS Grid Reference: SH 5887 2284. Neolithic monument consisting of two independent burial chambers stands in a field, 200 feet above sea-level, at the east side of Dyffryn Ardudwy village, Gwynedd, on the western slopes of Moelfre Hill which rises to 1932 feet. Dyffryn Ardudwy is 5 miles north of Barmouth. The ancient monument from about 4000 BC is also known as a ‘chambered cairn’, ‘portal dolmen’ and ‘cromlech’; it goes by several other names including Arthur’s Quoit, Carreg Arthur and Coaten Arthur. These megalithic burial chambers or dolmens can be reached by way of a lane running east off the A496 (coast road to Harlech) just before, or after Bro Arthur, depending on which way you are walking, and then by a short footpath into the fields (passing close by the village school) for maybe 100 metres east of the village. It is marked by a large cairn of stones spread widely about and two burial chambers that are set-apart, each of them having upright slab-stones and huge sloping capstones.

Dyffryn Ardudwy Burial Chamber, Gwynedd in North Wales. Plan.

   Some very good information is given in the following description by T. G. E. Powell, MA, FSA (Reader in Prehistoric Archaeology, University of Liverpool), and here quoted in full. He says: “It will be understood that the cairn  had been used over a long period as a quarry for stones to build the neighbouring walls and perhaps older structures no longer visible. Only the basal layers of cairn stones therefore survived, but sufficient to show that it had been roughly trapezoidal in plan, measuring  about 100ft in length, and in width some 35ft at the eastern end and 54ft at the western end. The cairn had a rough edge of small boulders. It’s bulk was made up of loose stones of kinds that could have been collected nearby. The megalithic slabs of which the chambers were built come from grits and slates of the Cambrian series and could have been obtained on the hillside. Excavation disclosed that there had been two periods of construction at the site. First, the smaller, western, chamber had been put up and surrounded by a small oval cairn. Later, but at perhaps no great lapse of time, the larger, eastern, chamber had been erected; then the trapezoidal cairn had been built to envelope everything. Whether this final cairn covered the capstones of both burial chambers cannot be proven, but it is likely that the cairn reached at least as high as their edges.

   “The construction of the western chamber shows it to be of a type often called for convenience a ‘Portal Dolmen’. At the higher, eastern end there is a pair of massive forward projecting stones with a high blocking stone between. These form a portal although one that is blind or non-functional. Access to the chamber was doubtless over the low slab forming the southern side. The floor of the chamber consists of a single large flat rock probably found here in its natural position by the original builders. The markedly sloped position of the capstone resting on the two portal stones and on the end stone of the chamber should be noted as characteristic of the Portal Dolmen type.

   “The eastern chamber was much more ambitious in construction, especially in the width to be spanned and in the weight of the capstone that was raised into position. It was found necessary in 1961-62 to provide additional support for this great roofing stone and a buttress was built on either side of the chamber for this purpose. This chamber stands some 28ft east of the other and is itself some 12ft long, splaying in width from 5 to 7ft. A low cross-slab with broken upper edge should be noted near the eastern end within the chamber. This may have stood to a greater height, thus acting as a partial closing stone. The gap between its free end and the southern side of the chamber was found to have been filled with blocks. A gap towards the rear in the walling of the north side of the chamber may have been intentional as it was spanned only by small flat slabs and no socket for a missing upright came to light. Eastwards of the cross-slab, the projecting walls of the chamber provided a kind of covered portico; then there was an open area bounded by small uprights of various heights, more or less continuing the shape of the portico. Finally, all this area the cross-slab outwards was sealed up with a massive blocking of sloped slabs and cairnstones. 

   “The original contents of the western chamber (Portal Dolmen) are unknown and had doubtless long been destroyed, but a pit under the cairn, just in front of the portal, produced a quantity of potsherds of a recognizable Neolithic ware. The original deposits in the eastern chamber had not been so much thrown out as thoroughly disturbed and mixed up with modern rubbish. Potsherds of several kinds were however found, as well as two polished stone pendants and some traces of cremation burials.”

Dept of Environ-ment & H.M.S.O leaflet

   T. G. E. Powell in his conclusion of the site at Dyffryn Ardudwy says that: “This chambered cairn is a com-posite burial monument first having consisted of a small megalithic chamber of Portal Dolmen type surrounded by a small oval cairn. The  Portal Dolmen type is widely distributed in the coastlands of Wales, in Cornwall, and in Ireland. The Neolithic pottery found in the pit associated with this chamber at Dyffryn Ardudwy is related  to similar  wares known from Pembrokeshire and Cornwall. It was not possible to obtain any material during the excavation suitable for radio-carbon measurement so that only a suggestion based on other evidence can be given about date. On present information it seems likely that this Portal Dolmen was erected the middle of the third mill. BC. Subsequently, a larger megalithic tomb was built and the cairn proper to this chamber was extended so as to envelope the older monument to the west. The somewhat irregular shape of this cairn may be explained by this factor in conjunction with the slope of the ground. Pottery recovered from the eastern chamber belonged to various types and suggested a period of use beginning a little later than that of the Portal Dolmen, continuing perhaps to the opening of the second mill. BC. The general structural characteristics of the eastern  chamber, and its trapezoidal cairn, suggest a mixing of building practices owing something to the Portal Dolmen tradition, but more to influences coming by pastoral routes through the mountains from the Cotswolds and south-eastern Wales.”

   Chris Barber & John Godfrey Williams (1989) say of this site that: “On early Ordnance Survey maps they are marked as Cromlech and as Burial Chamber on later ones.” Bill Anderton (1991) says that: “As part of an outbreak of light phenomena, columns of light were seen issuing from the ground here in 1905. The site stands on the Morchras geological fault.” Christopher Houlder (1978) describes it as a “long cairn” and also adds that: “The cairn lies in an area of some of the finest Iron Age cultivation terraces in the country, visible on the hillside above.” And Jacquetta Hawkes (1975) informs us that: “The Dyffryn long barrow is approached through the iron gates of the village school and will be found alongside the playground not many yards from the highway. Hawkes goes on to say: “The barrow was excavated in the 1960’s revealing a long and complex history.”

Sources and related websites:-

Anderton, Bill, Guide To Ancient Britain, Foulsham, Slough, Berkshire, 1991. 

Barber, Chris & Williams, John Godfrey, The Ancient Stones of Wales, Blorenge Books, Abergavenny, Gwent, 1989.

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

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

Powell, T. G. E., Dyffryn Cairn – the megalithic chambered cairn at Dyffryn Ardudwy, Merionethshire, Dept of the Environment Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings on behalf of the Welsh Office – for H. M. S. O, 1973.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dyffryn_Ardudwy      The photo (above) from the Wikipedia website is displayed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike License.

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

http://www.megalithics.com/wales/dyffryn/dyffmain.htm

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=4449

                                                                                     © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.

 


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Wind Hill Cairn, Cheesden, Near Rochdale, Greater Manchester

Wind Hill Cairn at Cheesden, near Roch- dale (the north-side).

   OS Grid Reference: SD 83262 14945. In a farmer’s field at the side of Ashworth road, Cheesden, near Rochdale, Greater Manchester, is Wind Hill Cairn, dating from the Beaker Period of the Bronze Age. Now it is nothing more than a low, grassy mound at either side of the more recent drystone wall. The cairn stands at the north side of Wind Hill, 298m above sea-level and overlooking Knowl Moor, with Knowl Hill itself rising over to the east beyond Edenfield road. A little further down the lane is Ashworth Moor Reservoir and, on the opposite side of Edenfield Road, is the famous Owd Betts public house. The cairn is in a damaged condition due partly, at its north-side, to farming, but on its south-side there is less damage and has, therefore, kept its circular identity. There is a footpath heading east across Wind Hill from Ashworth road, just above Wind Hill farm and the wind turbine, but the cairn is partly on private land (at its northern-side) where there is a locked metal gate next to the wall – beside Ashworth road.

Wind Hill Cairn, Cheesden (at the northeastern side).

Wind Hill Cairn at Cheesden near Roch- dale (the south-side).

   Originally Wind Hill Bronze Age cairn had a diameter of 10.45m (34 feet) and a height of 0.75m (2-3 feet) but it is now less than that due to destruction at its N side. According to the ‘Lancashire Archaeological Bulletin’ (1984) with the primary reference: Tyson, N (1972) at the end of the excavations by Bury Archaeological Group between 1968-72: this is a ruined cairn with a kerb of horizontal slabs. There was an opening to the E which was 6 feet wide with a subrectangular area outside that was defined by inward-leaning slabs that are further enclosed by a “satellite kerb”. Both of these kerbs were finally concealed. No grave pits were found, but at the cairn’s centre a flint knife, pebble hammer and a V-bored ‘jet’ button were discovered. Further to this information: there was a cist of sand-stones at the E side. The central and W parts of the cairn were denuded; the E and S sides were in a better condition and still visible. The dry-stone wall running in a straight-line through the middle of the mound ‘was’ dug deep into the structure, causing further destruction, and some of the stonework from the cist may have ended up in the wall itself, or could still be in ‘situ’ in the mound? There looks to be another “possible” tumulus at SD 83461 15136, some 290m to the east.

Knowl Moor & Knowl Hill seen from Ashworth Road, Cheesden.

   In 1905 a Late Bronze Age socketed axe (palstave) was dug up by workmen building the Ash-worth Moor Reservoir, just along the road from Wind Hill cairn. There have also been a number of archaeological finds on Knowl Moor and on Knowl Hill itself including arrowheads in a variety of shapes: lozenge, leaf, stemmed and barbed, and many flints in varying sizes and a thumbstone. It would seem, though, that these finds have not originated from ‘settlements’, but from pre-historic man simply roaming the higher ground above the forested areas beside the river Roch – where today we see the highly populated towns of Rochdale, Heywood and Bury. On Hamer Hill (Rooley Moor) above the town of Rochdale – some recumbent stones were recently discovered which has led archaeologists to consider the distinct possibility that they form a stone circle, and on nearby Hunger Hill there are possible burial mounds. There have also been a number of coin finds from the Roman period in the Rochdale and Heywood areas.

Sources of information and related websites:-

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

Tyson, N., A Bronze Age Cairn at Wind Hill, Heywood, Lancs. Bury Archaeological Group, 1972.

http://www.buryarchaeologicalgroup.co.uk/windhill.html

http://heywoodmonkey.blogspot.co.uk/2012/04/bronze-age-heywood-beaker-th-moss.html

https://lancsarchaeology.wordpress.com/2009/02/13/recent-archaeolgical-discoveries-in-south-east-lancashire/

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

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=18858

                                                                                  © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.

 


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Blackheath Circle, Near Todmorden, West Yorkshire

Panoramic view of Blackheath Circle.

Panoramic view of Blackheath Circle.

   OS Grid Reference: SD 94338 25428. About 1 mile north of Todmorden, west Yorkshire, at the eastern edge of Todmorden Golf Course there is a Bronze Age cairn circle, ring cairn or round barrow. This is usually referred to as Blackheath Circle, but locally it is called Frying Pan Circle, because of its circular shape. It also sometimes goes under the name ‘Blackheath Ringbank Cemetery’. This circular feature is now incorporated into a raised, grassy golf barrow, but at ground-level it is hardly noticeable today apart from a slight raised bank at either side of the mound. The grass is often a brownish colour where the cairn’s outer raised ring shows up after being mowed. The site is situated at over 900 feet above sea-level. When excavated several cremation urns were found along with other artefacts. Blackheath Circle is best reached from Kebs Lane, Eastwood Road and then Hey Head Lane, which goes past the golf course. About halfway down the lane on the right-hand side there is a wall-stile and footpath along the edge of the golf course – the grassy golf barrow and Bronze Age circle, or what’s left of it, being 190m along this path.

   The following information is taken from ‘Life In Bronze Age Times – A Resource Book For Teachers’. It says of the site: “Blackheath is a Prehistoric  cemetery situated at 940 feet (287) O.D., on a south facing slope. On excavation it was found to comprise a circular bank of earth 3 feet (1m) high in which large stones were regularly arranged. The circle was 100 feet (30m) in diameter. There was no obvious entrance. A circular area with a floor of beaten clay was enclosed by the bank.

   “There were cairns both inside the circle and in the earth bank. These revealed pits and cists containing cremation burials. Nineteen were  found in all. Some of the cremations were found in urns. The urns were all upright and buried just below the surface. A characteristic feature of the urned cremations was the use of a small inverted vessel placed upside down in the urn    and serving as a lid.

    “The central urn is 11 inches (20 cm) high. The collar shows impressions made by twisted cord. As well as bones, the urn con-tained a small decorated pygmy vessel . In this vessel there was a bronze dagger, a bone pin and a bronze pin.

Plan of Blackheath Ringbank Cemeterey, near Todmorden.

Plan of Blackheath Ringbank Cemetery, near Todmorden.

Collared urns found at Blackheath Circle.

Collared urns found at Blackheath Circle.

Another urn also contained a pygmy vessel together with beads of faience, amber, jet and shale, two bone pins, flint flakes and a leaf shaped arrowhead. Two of the urns were covered by other vessels, one of which may have been a food vessel. With the exception of the two urns in the bank, all  the finds  were in the  eastern half  of the  circle. In the rest of the circle there were areas where the floor showed evidence of being baked by a great heat. These were covered with a layer of charcoal 1-2 inches thick. It was suggested that these may have been the areas where the bodies were cremated. Two deep pits were also found, possibly the holes where clay was dug out of the ground for making the pots. Areas of coarse sandstone were discovered. This could have been used for grinding down and mixing with the clay.  There was at least one (possibly four) kilns.  These were cist-like structures surrounded by baked floors where the pottery was fired.”

   Author Paul Bennett in his work ‘The Old Stones of Elmet”, says that: “The archaic West Yorkshire game of Knurr and Spell used to be played inside this circle. This is a game played with a wooden ball (the knurr) which is released by a spring from a small brass cup at the end of a tongue of steel (the spell). When the player touches the spring the ball flies in the air and is struck with a bat. Quite why they chose this place is unknown.”

   Mr Bennett goes on to say with regard to Blackheath Circle that: “It was accurately described for the first time by Robert Law (1898) in  the Halifax Naturalist; but a most eloquent detail of the site was given several years later by J. Lawson Russell (1906) who, even then, told that it had been “”cut into again and again by deep plough ruts, marked out by tufts and hummocks of varying height.” 

Blackheath Circle.

Blackheath Circle.

Blackheath Circle.

Blackheath Circle.

   “The first detailed excavation was done on July 7, 1898, when the site was examined in quadrants and turf cut accordingly. “”The diameter of the circle was 100ft (30.5m), ie. measuring ridge to ridge, from north to south, Russell told us.    ………There were a number of large stones set around the edge of the circle, some of which were still in situ in 1898. This led subsequent archaeologists to think the site was originally a stone circle. It may have been, but I’m sure the excavators of the period would have made such allusions.  Certainly they thought it had some ritual import.  How can we disagree!?”, says Mr Bennett. 

Sources and other related websites:-

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

Thomlinson, Sarah & O’ Donnell, John, Life In Bronze Age Times – A Resource Book For Teachers, Curriculum Development Centre, Burnley.

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2010/11/19/blackheath-circle/

http://www.pastscape.org.uk/hob.aspx?hob_id=46095

http://www.calderdale.gov.uk/v2/residents/leisure-and-culture/local-history-and-heritage/glimpse-past/archaeology

                                                                                   © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities, 2017.

 


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Cashtal-yn-Ard, Near Glen Mona, Isle Of Man

Cashtal-yn-Ard, Isle of Man (photo by Chris Gunns (Wikipedia)

Cashtal-yn-Ard (photo by Chris Gunns – Wikipedia)

   OS Grid Reference: SC 46222 89226. The ancient burial chamber known as ‘Cashtal-yn-Ard’ stands on the edge of a hill to the northeast of Glen Mona, just to the south of Cornaa in the parish of Maughold, and close to the eastern coastline of Isle of Man. It is said to date back some 4,000 years to the New Stone Age (the Neolithic). It is quite a large megalithic structure at 130 feet in length. The name ‘Cashtal-yn-Ard is thought to mean ‘The Castle of the Heights’. However, today this megalithic burial cairn is minus its conical mound of earth and stones, but it still looks very impressive. From the A2 Laxey to Ramsey road at Glen Mona village: take the country lane towards Cornaa for 1 mile. Halfway along, and just after and opposite the entrance to Rhenab Farm on the left-hand side, walk northwest up the footpath for 180m to the southern edge of the hill – there in front of you stands the chambered burial cairn of Cashtal-yn-Ard.

   Cashtal-yn-Ard is a large, oblong shaped chambered cairn dating from the late Neolithic Age – roughly between 1,800-2,000 BC. It covers a large area some 40m (131 ft) long and 14m (46 ft) wide, and still has its outer kerb stones, forecourt, entrance and 5 burial chambers (compartments). The side stones (or slabs) of these burial chambers are angled inwards and some have jagged edges, though sadly all but one of the roof-slabs have been lost, although this long flat-slab might not be the original one. Some of the large standing stones at the entrance have been re-erected or replaced. However, its large conical mound of earth and stones, probably more stones than earth, has gone – the stones now lost to local walls and maybe farm buildings? The monument is very well-preserved and is said to be the largest of its kind in Britain.

   Here at Cashtal-yn-Ard it is thought chieftains of the New Stone Age (the Neolithic) were buried maybe with members of their close families. Indeed during excavations back in 1932-35 funerey urns and other artefacts were found. It was also excavated more recently in 1999. At the E. side there is a small grassy mound consisting of earth and stones.  The orientation of this monu-ment is said to be almost W-E. There are two more Neolithic tombs on the island – similar in size to this one.

   In the publication ‘The Ancient And Historic Monuments of the Isle of Man’, there is more information on this site. It says that this is an: “Outstanding example of a megalithic chambered cairn, of ‘Clyde-Carlingford’ type, burial place of chieftains of the New Stone Age, about 2000 B.C. A semi-circular forecourt at the western end gives access, through a ‘portal’ of two standing stones, to a burial chamber of five compartments, originally slab-roofed. Here unburnt bones, pottery and flints were found. East of the the burial chambers is a mound of earth and stones reddened and fused by heat. The whole monument, apart from the forecourt, was originally covered by a massive oblong cairn 130 feet long.”

Sources and related websites:-

Hulme, Peter J., More Rambling In The Isle Of Man, The Manx Experience, Douglas, Isle of Man, 1993.

The Ancient And Historic Monuments – of the Isle of Man, (Fourth (Revised) Edition, The Manx Museum And National Trust, Douglas, 1973.

The Viking Heritage – Isle Of Man – Millennium Of Tynwald, Shearwater Press, Douglas, Isle of Man, 1979.

https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashtal_yn_Ard

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=5944

http://www.iomguide.com/cashtalynard.php

http://www.isle-of-man.com/manxnotebook/history/arch/aj16n4.htm

                                                                                       © Ray Spencer, The Journal of Antiquities, 2016.


Whitelow Cairn near Shuttleworth, Greater Manchester

Whitelow Hill and Cairn, Shuttleworth, from a nearby hill.

Whitelow Hill and Cairn, Shuttleworth, from a nearby hill.

Whitelow Cairn (looking up to the Western side).

Whitelow Cairn (looking up at the Western side).

    OS grid reference: SD 8049 1627. On Whitelow Hill up above the village of Shuttleworth, near Ramsbottom, Greater Manchester, there is a prehistoric cairn, cairn circle, or ring cairn, on what was a sacred hill to the ancient people – the “low” part of the the site’s name being evident in this case. The burial mound is quite a ‘large and prominent feature’ and in the centre there is a cist grave, which is now almost destroyed. Whitelow cairn can be reached from the A56 (Manchester Road) in Shuttleworth, opposite the Bury Old Road turning. Walk up the “very rocky” Whitelow road to the east for 180m, branching off to the right around the edge of Whitelow Hill for another 220m. There is a gate on the right. It is best to proceed by this gate up to the hill and the cairn, which is at the north side.

Whitelow Cairn (north-west side).

Whitelow Cairn (outer bank north-west side).

Whitelow Cairn (outer bank south-east side).

Whitelow Cairn (outer bank south-east side).

    The large oval-shaped cairn here at Whitelow measures 26m x 24m and has a diameter of 27m. It has a well-defined outer ‘stone’ bank or kerb, especially N and E sides, that is slightly raised. There are some large stones embedded at intervals at the S side, some beneath the grass, whereas the kerb at the E, N and W sides has smaller stones, in little piles, at intervals on top of the slightly raised bank; the kerb at the N side is quite a prominent feature and can be seen from the hill to the north-west. At the centre of the ring cairn is an inner cairn or cist burial, now almost destroyed but still with its pile of stones. The hole or hollow can clearly be seen underneath the stones. Some of these stones clearly look to be shaped and would have originally made up the burial chamber, the large stone looks as if it originally covered the grave? but nothing much remains of that now as many of the stones have gone to be used in nearby walls. Adjacent to the cist, just a few feet away, is a larger stone on its own.

Whitelow Cairn (cist grave at the centre).

Whitelow Cairn (cist grave at the centre).

Whitelow Cairn (cist grave from the north).

Whitelow Cairn (cist grave from the north).

    Excavations were carried out at Whitelow Hill between 1960-62 by Bury Archaeological Group. Twelve or thirteen cremations were discovered – five or six of these cremations being in collared urns. Also found were flint and chert flakes, two clay studs, and two halves of a bronze awl, all dating from the early Bronze-Age (the first half of the second millennium BC). Apparently there used to be at least three more cairns in this area, all situated close to the lane (the old Bury road) which runs to the east of the main site, though these have, sadly, been lost to quarrying and farming. That being the case with Bank Lane Cairn, just north of Whitelow Hill. However, there are what ‘might be’ two cairns (tumuli), although now very faint, in the field over to the southeast at SD 8058 1612 close by the kennels on Bury Old Road. However these two “possible” circular features are not recognizable at ground-level. The finds from Whitelow Cairn are housed in Bury Museum.

Sources and related websites:-

http://www.chronologyandidentity.wordpress.com

http://www.buryarchaeologicalgroup.co.uk/whitelow.html

http://www.gmmg.org.uk/our-connected-history/item/cinerary-urn/

http://www.oocities.org/ramsbottom_bury_uk/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shuttleworth,_Greater_Manchester


Worsthorne Hill Stone Circle, Near Burnley, Lancashire

Worsthorne Hill Stone Circle.

Worsthorne Hill Stone Circle, near Burnley, in Lancashire.

    OS grid reference: SD 8845 3276. On Worsthorne Hill to the east of Burnley, Lancashire, and close to Swinden Reservoirs, stands a prehistoric stone circle. Though it is not the usual type of stone circle with stones standing up-right. This site is also known as ‘Hameldon Pasture Stone Circle’ and sometimes ‘Slipper Hill Stone Circle’. It has also been referred to as a ‘cairn circle’- and was stated as such on earlier OS maps. To reach the site take the Gorple Road at St John’s Church in Worsthorne. Continue eastwards on this often quite rough track for about ¾ of a mile. Take the track on the left just after Brown Edge Farm, climb over two stiles and continue along the here for 270m, climbing a 3rd wall stile. At the old rusting steam-roller walk to the right down the dry water course for 150m. Here in front of you is what remains of the stone circle – now partly surrounded by a land-fill site and field debris scattered about, which is quite appalling to say the least, being right next to an ancient site. A second rusty old road repairing vehicle can be seen beyond the circle!

Worsthorne Hill Stone Circle, near Burnley.

Worsthorne Hill Stone Circle, near Burnley.

The "possible" cup-marked stone in the stone circle.

The “possible” cup-marked stone in the stone circle.

There is not a great deal to see of this so-called stone circle, if that’s what it is.?  Today only 5 recumbent stones remain in a sort of circle, though there may be 2 or 3 others buried under the grass tufts. The largest of the 5 stones at the E side may also have originally been underneath the grass; this stone is about 2 ft vertically. It could ‘possibly’ have a number of tiny cup-marks on its surface where the circular lichen features are visible, or were these made by something else? There is a faint earthen circle, but this feature of is ‘now’ difficult to make out; and it has been suggested by some that the stones were part of an outer kerb. It roughly measures 15m x 12m. So was this a cairn circle? Probably not as there is no burial mound nor any visible sign of one now. This ancient monument probably dates from the Bronze Age.

[At the time of my visit it looked like a vehicle, of sorts, had been driven across the circle as they’re were tyre marks].

Sources:-

http://www.ancientmonuments.info/en23723-ring-cairn-on-slipper-hill

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


Hameldon Pasture Round Barrows, Worsthorne, Lancashire

Hameldon Pasture Round Barrow I

Hameldon Pasture Round Barrow I

    OS grid reference: SD 8914 3262. Upon the windswept Hameldon Pasture near Worsthorne, Lancashire, are two prehistoric round barrows, but often referred to as cairn circles or round cairns. The small hill on which they are located is also known as Little Hameldon Hill, and to the local people it is Worsthorne Hill. Unfortunately, both monuments are now ‘much’ destroyed and robbed of their stonework. The larger barrow is called Hameldon Pasture I while the smaller one is Hameldon Pasture II. To reach the site take the Gorple Road at St John’s Church in Wors-thorne. Continue eastwards along this often quite rough track for about 1½ miles. Take the second footpath over the ladder stile on left-hand side (after power cables), then walk-on northwards for 290m to the hill and round barrows. The ladder stile was broken at the time of my visit and the footpath often quite boggy.

Hameldon Pasture Barrow I showing the boulder at the centre.

Hameldon Pasture Barrow I (showing the boulder at the centre).

    The larger of the two barrows (Hameldon Pasture I) is 0.3m high and has a circumference of 21m (almost 69 ft) but it is now much destroyed and difficult to make out in the grass. It was originally a bowl-shaped tumulus consisting of earth and stones – many of its stones having been robbed away and used in the walls down slope. At the centre there is a hollowed-out area 5m x 4m (16 ft x 13 ft) with two weather-worn gritstone boulders, the bigger one looks to have some tiny cup-marks at one side? A third, smaller boulder lies close by. When this barrow was excavated in 1886 a cist grave was found. This had two large flat stones covering it and other flat slabs at the sides and the ends. A number of arrowheads and tiny flints were also found.

Hameldon Pasture Round Barrow II.

Hameldon Pasture Round Barrow II.

    The second barrow lies 55m to the south-west at (SD 8912 3259) and is identified as ‘Hameldon Pasture II’. But it is also known as a round cairn or cairn circle. This much destroyed round barrow measures 12.5m x 10.8m (41 ft x 35 ft) and is 0.3m high. The large hollow (depression) at the centre is 2.5m x 1.5m (8 ft x 5 ft); there are traces of a second hollow. Several stones lie in the centre and around the edges – indicative of an outer kerb. When the cairn was excavated in 1843 by Mr Studley Martin*, of Liverpool, an undecorated urn containing the bones of an adult and child was found in a stone cist, but the stones from this have been robbed away for other use in the ‘immediate’ locality.

Hameldon Pasture Round Barrow II.

Hameldon Pasture Round Barrow II.

    *Mr Studley Martin the 19th century Liverpool writer and antiquarian was a guest of the Reverend William Thursby of Ormerod House near Hurstwood, Burnley, Lancashire, in 1843. During his sojourn in the Burnley area he visited the two prehistoric barrows upon Hameldon Pasture, and was ‘seemingly’ delighted to find an undecorated funery urn in the smaller of the two tumuli. Martin was also associated with the prehistoric Calder Stones at Allerton, Liverpool.

Sources:-

Hall, Brian, Burnley (A Short History), Burnley and District Historical Society, 1977.

https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/the-list/list-entry/1008919

http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=11195

http://www.burnleyexpress.net/news/nostalgia/worsthorne-a-village-history-1-1688523

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Worsthorne-with-Hurstwood