A merry Christmas, a happy new year and a jovial Handsel Monday.

A black Christmas makes a fat churchyard.

If the ice bears a goose before Christmas, it will not bear a duck afterwards.

Big as a Christmas pig.

It’s good crying Yule on another mans stool.

A windy Christmas is the sign of a good new year.

Ghosts never appear on Christmas eve.

Busy as an English oven at Christmas.

A kiss at Christmas and an egg at Easter.

A light Christmas, a heavy sheaf.

She simpers like a frummetty kettle at Christmas.

He’s a fool that marries at Yule, for when the bairn’s to bear, the corn’s to shear.

If Christmas day on a Monday fall, a troublous winter we shall have all.


A new project – Prehistoric Postcards

L'Archi-Druide du Menez Hom

I have a new website, a work in progress. It’s called Prehistoric Postcards. https://thesmellofdextrin.wordpress.com/


Bronze Age Activity on the Eston Hills


In his 1991 report, Bronze Age Activity on the Eston Hills, Cleveland, (YAJ no.63) Blaise Vyner lists 39 burial mounds and probable burial mounds and 13 cairns on the Eston Hills.

In their book, Prehistoric Rock Art in the North York Moors (Tempus 2005), Paul Brown and Graeme Chappell list over 29 examples of Prehistoric Rock Art from the Eston Hills.

Prehistoric Rock Art


Figure 1. Carved slab splintered of a large piece of Sandstone from Robin Hood’s Bay, Yorkshire


Figures 1 & 2 Two stones with cups and concentric rings from the chamber of a cairn at Ravenhill, Yorkshire

Figure 3. Concentric circles on the end of a cist stone from the same locality

Figure 4. A stone with cup excavations from a chamber or cairn ay Cloughton Moor, near Scarborough

Figure 5. Urn from same locality as stones Nos. 1, 2 & 3

From British Archaic Sculpturings by Sir J. Y. Simpson Published 1867

Tessiman 1 Tessiman 2 Tessiman

Sketches of some of the Ravenhill stones from John Tissiman’s 1851 Excavations in Barrows in Yorkshire. Journal of the British Archaeological Association 6.

The unctuous sweat of the sun

Following a large moorland fire in 2003, my friend Graeme Chappell and I took a walk across Fylingdales Moor to look for unrecorded prehistoric carved rocks. The fire had burned so intensely that, in a number of areas, much of the peat had been removed revealing the prehistoric land surface below. During our visit we found the three items in the photograph below.  A small worked flint, a fragment of medieval Scarborough ware pottery and an amber pebble. The pebble was found within a previously unrecorded prehistoric ring cairn.

Stoup Brow moor finds

The pebble is a beautiful object to hold and roll around in the hand, it is one of my favorite finds.

Baltic amber, transported by glacial action, can be found on British beaches but how the pebble found its way into a prehistoric ring cairn 260m above sea level is not known.  We know that in prehistory both amber and jet were much used, amber beads have been excavated from Upper Paleolithic sites in Germany which have been dated to 15,000 BCE. Baltic amber has been traded and distributed throughout Europe from the Neolithic period to the present day.

It is possible that the pebble was deposited on the moor by glacial action. It is also possible that someone may have deliberately placed the pebble within the monument. Given that our ancestors placed a value on amber I would like to think that the latter possibility was the more likely, a small offering placed within a funerary monument as an act of protection or remembrance.

Both jet and amber are known to have been attributed magical powers in more recent times – mainly, it is thought, because of their electrostatic properties. Rub them, and they develop a static charge. Jet and amber were used for amulets by the Romans and Vikings, and were widely employed in the Middle Ages and down to the recent past for healing, divination or for turning away evil spirits.

Alison Sheridan. British Archaeology Magazine. May 2003


I’d definitely recommend Graeme Chappell and Paul Browns wonderful book about the Prehistoric Rock Art of the North Yorkshire Moors.