The Journal Of Antiquities

Ancient Sites In Great Britain & Southern Ireland


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Hawks Stones, Stansfield Moor, Near Todmorden, West Yorkshire

Hawks Stones (as seen from Kebs Road, near Todmorden).

Hawks Stones (as seen from Kebs Road, near Todmorden).

Hawks Stones, near Todmorden (strange shaped rocks).

Hawks Stones, near Todmorden (strange shaped rocks).

    OS grid reference: SD 9233 2735. A gritstone outcrop at the western edge of Stansfield Moor above Kebs Road, near Todmorden, in west Yorkshire. Like its near neighbour, Bride Stones, Hawks or Hawk Stones has many strange-shaped weather worn rocks and boulders that were first laid-down many millions of years ago, and then fashioned by a retreating glacier during the last Ice Age – some 13,000 to 15,000 years ago. There are the usual naturally-formed rock basins, and a few of the larger boulders appear to have ancient cup-marks, although it is often hard to differentiate between erosion-related holes and man-made rock-art. To reach Hawks Stones take the footpath from Kebs Road going east up the slope near the “old” Sportsman public house, then after 60m follow the ridge – going north-north-east to where you will soon reach the gritstone outcrop. However, the farmer has put up a lot of barbed-wire fencing, which makes it difficult, if impossible, to access some parts of the site.

Possible cup-marked rock at Hawk Stones, near Todmorden.

Possible cup-marked rock at Hawks Stones, near Todmorden.

Rock basin at Hawks Stones, near Todmorden, west Yorkshire.

Rock basin at Hawks Stones, near Todmorden, west Yorkshire.

    Hawks or Hawk Stones over to the east of Todmorden is an outcrop of millstone grit rocks and boulders that have taken on the form of some strange and odd shapes over many thousands of years; the erosion caused by weathering has added to the general eerie look of the place, which has, perhaps, been associated with the druids and their ritual and sacrificial worship back in the mists of time. The many rock pools and basins that are worn into the rocks maybe adding to that strange, mysterious feeling that one gets when visiting these lonely, moorland places. Some of the larger rocks and boulders look to have “possible” prehistoric cup-marks, some being more pronounced, while others are much more fainter. Or could these have been made by weather-related erosion over thousands of years? The place-name Hawks or Hawk Stones is thought ‘not’ to be associated with, or named after, the bird of prey!

    The Local author Geoff Boswell in his book ‘There and Back’, thinks that Hawk Stones are well-named: “because this area is the natural habitat of many moorland birds.”

Hawks Stones (naturally formed rock basins).

Hawks Stones (naturally formed rock basins).

Hawks Stones (possible cup-marks, or something else).

Hawks Stones (cup-marks, or something else).

    Author Paul Bennett in his outstanding work ‘The Old Stones of Elmet’, says that Hawk Stones are: “Illustrated on the 1717 Greenwood map, this huge outcrop of rocks was first described as “druidical” by Watson (1775), by inference to the local folklore of them being sites of ancient worship—which they may well have been. These sentiments were later echoed by Crabtree (1836). Then in 1864, the historian and folklorist, Thomas Wilkinson, gave a lecture to the Lancashire and Cheshire Historical Society, where he drew attention to the folklore of  these rocks. He was particularly interested in the “druidical rock basins” carved atop of some of them—or cup-and ring stones. The etymology of the site relates to “hollows” and not hawks as its name implies, which may be a description of such basins.”

Sources and related websites:-

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

Boswell, Geoff, There and Back, Delta G, Todmorden, 2000.

http://www.walkingenglishman.com/westyorkshire02.htm

https://thejournalofantiquities.com/2016/08/31/the-bridestones-near-todmorden-west-yorkshire/

                                                          © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities.


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The Bridestones, Near Todmorden, West Yorkshire

Bride Stones, west Yorks (Sphinx- like formation).

Bride Stones, west Yorks (Sphinx- like formation).

Bridestones, near Todmorden, west Yorks (OS trig point no: S4501)

Bridestones, near Todmorden, west Yorks (OS trig point no: S4501)

    OS grid reference: SD 9334 26750. Close to the Long Causeway and just east of Todmorden, West Yorkshire, are the Bridestones, outcrops of millstone grit rocks and boulders which are ½ a mile long. Amongst these rocky outcrops are a number of odd-shaped formations that have been caused by weather-related erosion over thousands, if not millions of years.  One huge boulder in particular, known as ‘The Great Bridestone’ is fantastically shaped at its base, looking like an up-turned bottle, as if it might topple over at any moment. There are a number of myths and legends associated with The Bridestones, many of these going back to the mists of time. More recently, perhaps, there are a number of local traditions that have become connected to the place and its many, strange-shaped rocks and boulders. The Bridestones are located about ½ a mile north-east of Eastwood Road – where a footpath runs across the often boggy moor to the outcrops. Another path connects the north-side of the outcrops from Kebs Road, and from just opposite Orchan House Farm at Fast Ends – it runs in a southerly direction across Bridestones Moor.

Bridestones (human face rock formation).

Bridestones (human face rock formation).

Bridestones, west Yorkshire (the anvil-shaped rock)

Bridestones, west Yorkshire (the anvil-shaped rock)

    At over 1,400 feet above sea-level the Bride-stones on the windswept moors to the east of Todmorden and the Calder Valley, there is a ½ mile long escarpment of Millstone Grit outcrops that stand like rocky sentinels keeping watch over the Pennine moorland. These rock forma-tions have been made by the ‘ravages of time’ – wind and rain over thousands of years weathering away the soft grit-stone into strange and curious shapes, and there are indeed some strange-shaped rocks – some looking like human heads and faces (the sphinx), while others look like prehistoric birds, a giant tortoise, and a bear, and there’s even a huge anvil-shaped rock.

Bridestones, west Yorkshire (the rock-house).

Bridestones, west Yorkshire (the rock-house).

Bridestones, (a "possible" cup-marked rock).

Bridestones, (a “possible” cup-marked rock).

    There is even a ‘rock-house’ at Fast Ends above Bridestones Farm at (OS grid ref: SD 9277 2690). Local legend says that Nan Moor and Jack Stone lived at the rock-house a few hundred years ago as ‘guardians of the stones’, and they were proba-bly married there, too. They are said to have lived in a wooden structure or homestead that was connected between the two large rocks; one of the oblong-shaped rocks having square-shaped openings in its side, which must have taken a great deal of time to carve out. This wooden structure was dismantled in recent times. Just above the rock-house there are some large, flat rocks which look to have ancient cup-marks but there are also larger, circular depressions that are naturally-formed by rainwater – although it’s sometimes difficult to tell which are natural and which are man-made! And there are many interesting rock basins to be seen.

Great Bride Stone stands like an up-turned bottle.

Great Bride Stone stands like an up-turned bottle.

Great Bride Stone (from a different sideways angle).

Great Bride Stone (from a different sideways angle).

    The name ‘Bridestones’ might be derived from Bridia, Brighid, or Briga, the pre-Roman (Iron Age) diety who is more often known from history as ‘Brigantia’, goddess of the Brigantes tribe of northern England – just prior to, and up to, the Roman Conquest. Or they “might” perhaps take their name from bride as in ‘bride and groom’ at a wedding ceremony, which harks back to times, long ago, when weddings supposedly took place on the moor where the outcrops of rocks now known as ‘Bridestones’ are located. Indeed there is a 15 foot high oval-shaped, weathered rock called ‘Great Bride Stone’ and beside it a smaller rounded rock called ‘the groom stone’. But undoubtedly the Bridestones was a sacred, magical place, and no-doubt a few thousand years ago it was the abode of druids who worshipped heathen gods and also officiated in ritualistic and sacrificial ceremonies, but aside from that they were also poets, historians, magicians, physicians and astronomers.

    Local author John Billingsley in his work ‘Folk Tales from Calderdale’ – Volume 1, says that: “The Bridestones are first mentioned in local documents in 1491, and Smith in his ‘Place-names of the West Riding’ does not quibble with the derivation from ‘bryd’, a bride….. John Stansfeld, however, in 1885, suggested that Danish ‘bred’ and Icelandic ‘bryddr’ married well with Gaelic ‘braidh’ and modern ‘bride’ in meaning ‘edge of the top of the hill’; whether today’s etymologists feel this explanation is defensible or not, the descriptive does fit this location rather well.”

    Billingsley goes on to point out that: “Taylor [Ian Taylor, 1993], has suggested an identification of Bride with ‘the Old Wife’ or Gaelic Cailleach, a traditional spiritual denizen of wild places more usually associated with the Irish goddess Danu; a local appearance of this hag figure may well be the Old Woman.

    “The Bride has also been locally known as the Bottle Neck. Other rocks have been given names, too, arising from one perception or another. Modern climbers have named rocks themselves, like the Indian’s Head and Spy Hole Pinnacle, as well as giving equally vivid names, like the Obscene Cleft, to specific routes. F.A Leyland cites names known in the nineteenth century, like Table Rock and Toad Rock.

    “John Watson knew of the Bride and Groom in 1789, but does not give details of the legend, other than saying the Groom had been “thrown down by the country people”. In keeping with the spirit of the time, however, he saw the rocks as the natural haunt of “a large settlement” of Druids – “a vast variety of rocks and stones so scattered about the common, that at first view the whole looked something like a temple of the serpentine kind”.

    And another local author, Geoff Boswell, in his book ‘On The Tops – around Todmorden’, says: “We know that the early Britons lived in Todmorden. We have the exhibition of objects dug from the bronze age barrow in the library. Perhaps the name Bride is very old and derives from the early British Breiad, the Gaelic Braidh, the Icelandic Bryddir and the Danish Bred. All of which have similar meanings of “the edge , or margin, at the top of a mountain”. It is a sobering thought that the names  of our prominent rocks can derive from very early times and are far older than any written records we have.”

    Author Paul Bennett in his work ‘The Old Stones of Elmet’, says of the Bridestones that it is: “A beautiful, remarkable and powerful site of obvious veneration. First described in local deeds as early as 1491, there are a great number of severely weathered boulders all round, many like frozen giants haunting a magickal landscape.

    “Dedicated to Bride, goddess of the Brigantine people, like her triple-aspect we find a triple-aspect to the outcrops here: to the west are the Bride Stones; to the east, the Little Bride Stones; with the Great Bride Stones as the central group, surveying everything around here. The goddess’ divine qualities were those of healing, smithcraft, poetry, and mother-hood. There is no attendant lore here that relates to any of these elements.

    “Although local history records are silent over the ritual nature of these outcrops, tradition and folklore tell them as a place of pagan worship. People were said to have married here, although whether such lore evolved from a misrepre-sentation of the title, Bride, is unsure. In the present day though there have been a number of people who have married here in recent years.

    “If the Brigantian goddess was venerated here, the date of the most active festivities would have been February 1-2, or Old Wive’s Feast day as it was known in the north.”

Sources and related websites:-

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

Billingsley, John, Folk Tales From Calderdale, Volume 1, Northern Earth, Mytholmroyd, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire, 2008.

Boswell, Geoff, On The Tops – around Todmorden, (Revised Edition), Delta G, Hollinroyd Farm, Todmorden, 1988.

http://www.hebdenbridgehistory.org.uk/folklore/bridestones.html

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2011/03/10/great-bride-stones/

http://www.mypennines.co.uk/south-pennines/walks/301113.html#sthash.AKhGBLJg.dpbs

                                            © Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities.


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Robin Hood’s Stone, Near Riddlesden, West Yorkshire

Robin Hood's Stone at Holden Gate, near East Riddlesden.

Robin Hood’s Stone at Holden Gate, near  Riddlesden.

    OS grid reference SE 0620 4446. A large pointed stone shaped like the head of a dinosaur, or maybe a dragon, stands below a rocky outcrop on Pinfold Hill, close to Holden Lane at Holden Gate, near Riddlesden, West Yorkshire. It is locally called ‘Robin Hood’s Stone’ but whether the legendary outlaw of Sherwood Forest ever visited it we don’t know, although there is also a Robin Hood’s Wood about ¼ a mile to the north-east of the stone. To make the stone look more interesting some bright-spark has painted eyes and teeth on it! It can be reached by travelling north along Holden Lane to the north-west of Riddlesden, and is about 450m further along the road from Holden Gate, and just after the footpath on the right. You can’t really miss it!

Robin Hood's Stone (with possible cup-marks).

Robin Hood’s Stone (with possible cup-marks).

    A curious stone this is mainly because of its strange shape. It looks as if it has, at some point, slid down the hillside from the rocky outcrop above on Pinfold Hill, when there was a perhaps a Geological earth movement here. Or could it be a glacial erratic boulder? But it doesn’t look like an erratic boulder to me because it seems to be very well embedded into the ground. It stands at a crazy, precarious angle and because of that it looks as if it could slither down the hillside at any moment! The large pointed stone has taken on the look of a dinosaur’s head, or could it be a dragon’s head, or a bird’s head! Some bright-spark has painted eyes and teeth on the stone to make it look like that maybe. On the flat, sloping side of the stone there are some “possible” prehistoric cup-marks, or were a few of these round holes made by climbers who often practice on the rock?

Robin Hood's Stone (looking up at the stone).

Robin Hood’s Stone (looking up at the stone).

    Legend says that Robin Hood the outlaw of Sherwood Forest came here and took shelter beneath the stone; well he wouldn’t have had too far to travel from Kirkless, near Leeds. And Robin was maybe born in Wakefield! And just up the hill to the north-east of the stone we have a Robin Hood Wood. Paul Bennett of ‘The Northern Antiquarian’ has suggested that the stone was moved here in the Victorian period from near Barden Tower (Bolton Abbey way), and he goes on to say that Robin Hood’s Stone was once nearly broken up and taken away for building material – had it not been for local people who objected to its removal. He also thinks the stone “was” a meeting place at the pagan festival of Beltane (1st May). Check out TNA website (below).

Sources and related websites:-

https://megalithix.wordpress.com/2009/06/14/robin-hoods-stone-riddlesden/

http://www.bbc.co.uk/bradford/content/articles/2006/09/20/robin_hood_wakefield_feature.shtml


Ayres Rock, Northern Territory, Australia

Ayres Rock, Australia

Ayres Rock, Australia

Latitude: 25.344683. Longitude: 130.037370. Ayres Rock is a ‘world famous’ natural rock formation (which includes Kata Tjuta) in the Australian outback – the southern part of the Northern Territory, central Australia, some 208 miles (in a straight line) south of Alice Springs, by road it is more like 280 miles! This sacred sandstone rock is located close to State Route highway 4 (Lesseter Highway) but more often called Uluru Road, a few miles south-east of Yulara.

The Aboriginal people of Australia regard Ayres rock, also called Uluru, as a sacred place. There are many deep springs and watering holes (billabongs) located on and around the rock that are known to have sacred healing qualities, and there are caves with rock-art. Ayres Rock Campground and Uluru-Kata Tjuta Cultural Centre at Yulara are in a rocky area to the north, spread out over several miles, just east of State Route 4 in The Kata Tjuta National Park. Ayres Rock is now a World Heritage Site. The 19th century explorer Sir William Gosse named the great rock after Sir Henry Ayres, premier of South Australia.

At an elevation of 2,830 feet, 860 metres above sea level, a height of 1,142 feet (348 metres) and a length of 3.6 km (2.2 miles) Ayres Rock monolith is a massive natural rock formation that can be seen a very long way away, sixty miles or more due to the terrain of the Northern Territory. It is ‘said’ to be upto 450 million years old, with a circumference of 9.4km (over 5 miles) and estimated to be 6kms below ground level.

The make-up of the rock, geologically speaking, is very interesting in that it is made of reddish ‘arkose’ sandstone, although seperately Kata (the Olgas) is a conglomerate mix of small stones and boulders fused together with mud etc. Uluru is distinctly reddish at certain times of the day due to the high iron, red oxide content of the rock, but at other times it is grey. The rock also has a rich feldspar content whic adds to the rock’s distinctly reddish hue, although the colours change at different times of the day. Over millions of years there has been much erosion due to weathering and it is ‘this’ that has caused the strange formations of gulleys, ridges and furrows that we see today. The rock is virtually bare with no vegitation whatsoever.

Uluru (Helicopter View) Photo Copyright: Wikipedia

Uluru (Helicopter View) Photo Copyright: Wikipedia

There are many deep honeycomb hollows and, also a number of deep caves in Ayres Rock which have been made over millions of years, especially near the base where some contain fantastic rock paintings made by the ancestors of today’s Aboriginal people, namely the Yankunytjatjara (carpet-snake people) and the Pitjantjatjara (hair-wallaby people) who lived in what was at that time called the ‘Dreamtime’ (Tjukurpa); their paintings depicting scenes from life. These pictographs and paintings are “…..Mute testimony to primitive man’s reverence to Ayres Rock, these archaeological relics add to the majestic beauty of the colossus of the Australian outback” according to the ‘Book of Natural Wonders,’ 1980. And there are, apparently, many sacred springs that seep out from deep in the rock’s surface; these are sacred springs to which the powers of healing have been attributed, and around the great rock there are watering holes (billabongs) for the thirsty – man or beast – for this place is a very hot, unrelenting desert. Water being a matter of ‘life and death.’

The book ‘Strange Worlds Amazing Places,’ 1994, informs us that: ….“As the sun spreads its dawn rays across the sky, Uluru begin to lighten. Shifting from black to deep mauve, the giant monolith gradually becomes more distinct. When the first rays of the sun strike, the stone burtsts into a riot of reds and pinks that chase each other across the surface with startling speed. Shadows flee the hollows until the whole rock is bathed in desert daylight. The colour changes continue throughout the day, and by evening have run the spectrum from golden and pinky reds through ruby to crimson red and purples.”

Sources:

Book of Natural Wonders, The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc, New York & Montreal, 1980.

Strange Worlds Amazing Places, The Reader’s Digest Association Limited, London W1, 1994.

Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uluru

The Megalithic Portal:  http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=11621

Wikipedia:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billabong