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.
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.”
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.
© Ray Spencer, The Journal Of Antiquities.