A Walk to Warsett Hill

On the coast between the Tees and Whitby there are two main high points, Warsett Hill above Brotton and Rockcliffe Hill above Boulby. These hills are also mutually visible, each with a group of Bronze Age barrows on their summits.  The two summits are also intervisible with a number of moorland prehistoric sites.

There were once the remains of seven mounds on Warsett Hill but they have been ploughed-out leaving no trace on the ground. The group consisted of a cluster of six small mounds and one larger mound. The first recorded investigations of the group was by Canon Atkinson. Atkinson looked at the six small mounds and found nothing.

William Hornsby and Richard Stanton excavated the mounds in 1917, they found a few flints in the smaller mounds. The larger mound, which had been left untouched by Atkinson, was more fruitful. On opening the mound they discovered a ring of stones 30 ft in diameter, at the centre of which was a cremation burial with two food vessels. Other finds in this mound included a sherd of domestic pottery, a knife, a saw and many flints including scrapers, cores, and two leaf shaped arrowheads.

Sources

Pastscape.org.uk

Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 24. 1917

Bronze Age Barrows in Cleveland. G.M. Crawford. 1980

Map reproduced with the permission of the National Library of Scotland

Skinningrove to Saltburn

Anyone who is unfamiliar with the history of Skinningrove may be confused by the cliffs that tower over Cattersty beach. The horizontally bedded Jurassic cliffs of the coast have been replaced by what appears to be the remnants of ancient lava flows.

The origin of the cliffs are not Volcanic, I guess they could be called Vulcanic. There was once a large iron works on the clifftop, slag from the blast furnaces would be tipped, by trains, over the cliff edge completely covering the existing strata.  The blast furnaces have long gone, the cliffs are home to nesting fulmars and the occasional peregrine falcon.

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Vulcan – God of Fire, Volcanoes and Metalworkers

Skinningrove, a little creek formed by the Liverton Beck, has gained a weird picturesqueness by its ironworks on the verge of the cliff and its mountains of spoil from an iron mine. The Cleveland ironstone is used in conjunction with imported ironstone and if access can be obtained to the dressing-sheds – where the Cleveland ore is picked over by boys for the elimination of unprofitable stone – characteristic fossils, particularly the ammonite Amaltheus spinatus, can be obtained.

Geology of Yorkshire. PF Kendall & HE Wroot. 1924

Warsett trainThe train from Boulby potash mine skirts the edge of Warsett Hill passing the fan house that used to ventilate the ironstone mine.  Mining has existed in North Yorkshire for almost a thousand years, steel tracks for railways are still made at Skinningrove.

FlowersTragically, two young local men were recently found dead at the foot of the cliffs at Saltburn.

Huntcliff

The Mortuary house was built to store bodies that had been washed up by the sea, prior to this bodies were stored in the nearby pub. The building was sandwiched between the Lifeboat house and the Rocket Brigade house, both of which have been demolished.

The people of the Bronze Age buried their dead on Warsett Hill.

Walking the field margins dreaming of axe blades and scrapers. The cliff top fields are littered with the remnants of Teesside’s second Iron Age.

The cliff edge creeps ever closer, the sea will eventually take the railway, just as it took the Roman signal station that was once on the edge of Huntcliff.

The Guibal fan house was built to ventilate the cliff top ironstone mine.