Wheeldale

The first element is fron OE hwoel ‘a wheel’ and the valley derives its name from the fact that its course forms a large arc of a circle; hweol, dael.

The Place-Names of the North Riding of Yorkshire. A H Smith. 1928

Wheeldale

Allan Tofts

I recently came across some images that I’d taken of the Prehistoric Rock Art at Allan Tofts on the North York Moors in 2006. Many of these stones are now overgrown and very difficult to find. As with the nearby rock art on Fylingdales Moor, many of the carved rocks appeared to be associated with low-lying cairns.

Crabdale

I took myself up to Crabdale today to search for a couple of cup marked stones that are marked on the NYMNP Historic Environment Map.

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The valley sides are covered in a thick mat of dead bracken so finding any stones, let alone cup marked stones, was a little problematic.

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This was the only stone I could find that bears any resemblance to a cup marked stone. I suspect the origins of the cup marks on this stone are relatively recent, perhaps someone using the stone for target practice.

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I failed to find the stones mentioned on the map  There are a number of other stones in this area so I will be back again.

As I was heading back a pair of cuckoos flew past me, landed nearby and sang me out of the valley.

Siss Cross

High Thorn under Will’s Hut passing Harlow Bush to the tank road. South passing Robin Hood’s Butts to Sandy Slack Head, west at Elm Ledge crossing Black Beck Swang peat pits to Siss Cross Road.

trees

Swang

butt

..the last earth fort

podzol

Podzol

sheep

Born waiting to die

Viewshed sunwise – Gerrick Moor – Elm Ledge – Beacon Hill – Glaisdale Rigg – Great Fryup Dale – Heads –  Danby High Moor – Danby Rigg – Ainthorpe Rigg – Danby Dale – Castleton Rigg – Westerdale Moor – Kempswithen – Kildale Moor – Haw Rigg – High Moor – Siss Cross Hill

White Cross

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White Cross survives as a base of local fine gritstone…The shaft is dressed in a chevron pattern indicating a post medieval date probably in the 19th century. The base is dateable to the medieval period. The east face of the base has the inscription – White Cross. Each face of the shaft is carved with a simple cross with equal arms 0.22m across. The east face has an OS bench mark cut near the ground. The cross has been whitewashed over the years according to the practice of the Downe Estate. The cross stands in its original position 2m from the edge of the old route from Castleton across Danby Low Moor. It also acts as a boundary marker for the medieval parishes of Danby and Commondale and now the county constituency of Cleveland and Whitby. The original shaft for this cross is in a museum at Whitby.

EXTRACT FROM ENGLISH HERITAGE’S RECORD OF SCHEDULED MONUMENTS

Chasing the Solstice Sun

Solstice sol (“sun”) and sistere (“to stand still”).

On a gloomy day I had little expectation of seeing the Solstice sun. I decided to seek out a Prehistoric Rock Art panel near Roxby. The site is located across from a narrow ridge that runs from the moorland to the coast. The ridge was formed by Roxby and Easington Becks running in parallel towards the coast cutting deep ravines into the glacial till. At some points the ridge narrows to the width of the track with near-sheer drops on both sides.

There are three known Prehistoric burial mounds in this valley. One in the woodland 250m to the west of the carved stone and another pair 1km south where the Birch Hall and Scaling Becks merge to form the Roxby Beck.

Woods

I follow the muddy footpath from Ridge lane down through the woods to a small gorge where a wooden bridge crosses the beck. The sound of running water is everywhere. The low solstice sun finally makes an appearance.

Roxby Beck

At the top of the bank the woods give way to fields. The field is pegged out for pheasant shooting. I spot a wooden structure on the hillside roughly where the stone should be.

Roxby stone uphillThe stone sits on swampy ground at the foot a low hill. The landowner has erected a fence around it to prevent damage from livestock.

Roxby stone

The stone is beautiful, it contains a number of different motifs, different sized cups, some with rings, linear motifs and a couple of faint rings that seem to ‘zone’ certain areas of the stone. Many of the cups are quite eroded, you have to move around the stone to catch the light falling across the surface, revealing the fainter carvings.

Roxby stone springQuite a lot of stone has been dumped on the boggy ground. A spring breaks through at the stone and runs down through the field to the Beck.

Solstice SunThe Solstice sun breaks through beside a dump of large boulders.

When showing people rock art for the first time, they invariably come up with their own definitive interpretation of the meaning, usually a map/chart related explanation. Show them a second and third panel and they begin to develop doubts.

Roxby stone ii

Over the years I have visited many rock art sites both home and abroad. I’ve concluded that we will probably never really know the true meaning of the carvings because we can never know the mindset of the people who created them. The best explanation that I can come up with is that the carvings may be an abstract representation of an invisible reality for the people who carved them and that the meaning may change depending on the locality. On the North York Moors there seems to be an association with burial monuments and trackways but this is not always the case.

Roxby stone i

A couple of years ago I attended a workshop at MIMA  They invited people to help create a timeline for local art. My suggestion was Prehistoric Rock Art along with prehistoric pottery, sadly neither suggestions were included in the final timeline.

Blasted

 

Sleights Moor

 

A friend and I took a walk around Sleights moor starting at the High Bride Stones, a group of Prehistoric Standing Stones that have been interpreted as the possible ruins of two Four-Poster Stone Circles or the remains of a number of Stone Rows.

HBS c1s

We followed the lines of stones to the edge of the moor and the descent into the Murk Esk valley.

Larsen sA Ladder trap, one of two in this small area, both thankfully empty.

Low Bridestones 7sDescending the bank to the Low Bride Stones on Sheephowe Rigg.

Like the High Bride Stones on the moor above, this is a very ruinous site. Archaeological surveys have revealed over 100 stones including a mutilated cairn.  The current best guess is that many of the stones once formed part of a prehistoric enclosure.

We moved north along the top of Lowther Crag to the disused Bolton Crag quarry, one source of the beautiful Middle Jurassic moorland sandstone. Across the Esk valley we can see the quarries at Aislaby. Stone from these quarries was used to build the 11th century Abbey at Whitby, the foundations of the old Waterloo and London Bridges and the piers at Whitby.

White Flint sWalking up onto the moor top we found small, loose boulders made of ‘white flint’. This stone was prized by the steel industry, its high silica content, up to 98%, meant that it was ideal for making refractory bricks and moulding sand.

Flat Howe s

We moved across the highest part of the moor to Black Brow and its two Bronze Age kerbed burial mounds, the Flat Howes. This is the highest section of the moor, there are uninterrupted views along the Esk Valley to the Kildale Gap, across the moors towards Fylingdales and down to the coast into Whitby, a fitting place to spend eternity.