We called into The Moors National Park Centre at Danby yesterday to have a look at the Len Tabner exhibition, Paintings from the Wild Places. It’s rather wonderful and well worth a visit.
Part One of a short series of films made by Bob Fischer and Andrew T Smith for Local History Month.
Each episode also features an original soundtrack written and performed by Oli Heffernan aka Ivan the Tolerable.
In common with most people I feel as though many aspects of my life have been on hold for the past 12 months. My list of places to visit gets longer and longer. Now that lockdown is easing I seem to have a mental log-jam of what to do and what to see.
I have been planning on visiting the Cross Dyke of Horn Ridge for quite some time as it is one of the few local dykes that I haven’t visited. Once again, it was a chance online conversation with a friend that spurred me into action.
The sun was shining, the forecast was giving out wintery showers, this was perfect for me, half decent weather and less chance of meeting anyone on the moor-top.
I drove down to Farndale and walked up the keepers track that runs up the side of Monket House Crags. The track is not too steep and takes you through an area covered in spoil heaps from the 19th century jet workings. When I started walking the sun was shining, within a few minutes a wintery squall blew in from the north leaving a dusting of snow on the hillside. The squall was intense but short-lived, this became the pattern for the rest of the day.
I followed the track south along the gentle rise of Horn Ridge. From the high point the land begins to gently slope down to the south, the eye is drawn along the valley of the River Dove to the dale end with the moorland above Hutton Le Hole and the Vale of Pickering in the far distance.
As you walk down towards the very obvious earthwork you become very aware that you are on a narrowing promontory of moorland , the fertile dale on either side, hemmed in by the dark domineering presence of Rudland Rigg to the East and Blakey Ridge to the West. As you near the Dyke you can see through the central gap to a fairly level area with the barrow beyond, the effect is quite striking.
The Dyke itself runs the full width of the upland, terminating where the land drops off at either end. Its total length is approximately 300m.
Approaching it from the north it appears to be quite an impressive earthwork fronted by deep ditch has been dug along its whole length. When viewed from the south it appears less imposing.
A section of the Dyke was excavated by Raymond H. Hayes. He was unable to find any evidence that might give a date to the earthwork. He observed that with the ditch ‘its builders did not cut the rock as in Iron Age or Roman ditches.’
There are a couple of stone settings within the dyke on the south side but these look like a modern shelter or grouse butt and a trap built by keepers to catch small mammals. These moors are not a friendly place for any creature that threatens the grouse population. Last year 5 dead Buzzards were discovered hidden beneath a rock just 3km north of the Dyke.
Walking south towards the barrow, a squall blows in, the views are lost.
The barrow is a very sad sight. It is quite large, approx 10-15m diameter. It is hard to fully gauge its dimensions as it is in a terrible state of repair. The scheduling entry for the monument mentions ‘a central excavation hollow around 4m by 2m, with a second 1m diameter pit in its west side.’ The keepers have also recently built a trap into one of the holes in the mound.
I took a walk along the western edge of the ridge. There are reports of cairns and hut circles in this area. I was just starting to spot them when a heavy snow storm started. My mind turned to driving up the steep bank to Blakey Ridge. Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t mind being trapped in Farndale but with the current conditions i.e. the Feversham Arms being closed, I decided that the western edge of Horn Ridge was one for another day and turned for home.
A History of Helmsley Rievaulx and District. 1963. Editor – J McDonnell
The brides of place: cross ridge boundaries reviewed. – Blaise Vyner. In Moorland Monuments CBA Research Report 101. 1995
Crossing the muddy, cattle-churned field from the Hutton Road, there are various earthworks visible in the low winter sun. This was once the site of a Medieval leper hospital overlain by a nineteenth century tramway, built to transport ironstone from the local mines.
I follow the path uphill, the woodland sits in the winter shadow of the escarpment. I stumble up the steep, muddy track to the lichen-splattered, table-top outcrop, the Hanging Stone.
Many visitors have left their mark on the outcrop.
Out of the shadows, walking from Ryston Nab along Ryston Bank, warmed by the low winter sun. A line of prehistoric barrows follows the scarp edge, the ancestors watch over Bousdale. An intake wall, now in ruins, has been built across the barrows, the tumbled wall stones contain fossils. There were once other cairns here, marked on the early maps, erased by the forester’s plough.
I leave the footpath and follow a line of boundary stones across Hutton and Newton Moors. The stones follow a low ridge and have been erected on top of prehistoric mounds. The mounds are most likely Bronze Age in date, all have been disturbed by excavation. The boundary stones date from the mid-eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries and mark the parish boundaries between Newton, Pinchinthorpe, Hutton Lowcross, Guisborough and Great Ayton.
Ryston: rhiw – Welsh ‘hill, ascent’
Roseberry Topping – Othensberg 1119
A large earth-fast boulder on open moorland below Glaisdale Head
The stone marks an ancient boundary, it has been carved with the dates of estate perambulations.
The carvings read EGTON, RG 1713, 1719, 1735RC, E1745, F1752, 1779, 1799, 1821, 1844.
We needed a walk but didn’t want to travel far from home…Thunderbush Moor along the Whiteley Beck valley and then up to North Ings and the wonderful Bride Stones.
The trees planted in the valley are growing well. In a few years this will be a lovely broad leaf woodland
Someone has decorated a tree in memory of a lost friend. Amongst other things they have left a beautiful photograph, a joyful scene.
A painting has been added to the memorial to the two pals who lost their lives during the First World War
The heather is low on the edges of the prehistoric cairnfield, a trio of burial cairns poke through the peat beside the path.
We follow the Bride Stones from the valley head onto Skelderskew Moor .
I wrote a post on the history of this short valley here https://teessidepsychogeography.wordpress.com/2014/06/08/stones-shakespeare-and-men-of-the-moors/