Druidical Rock Basins.From John Harland's 'Lancashire Folklore' (1867).
Dr. Borlase, in his Antiquities of Cornwall, notices the existence of Druidical Rock Basins, which appear to have been scooped out of the granite rocks and boulders which lie on the tops of the hills in the county. Several such cavities in stones are found on Brimham Rocks, near Knaresborough, and they have also been found at Plumpton and Rigton, in Yorkshire, and on Stanton Moor, in Derbyshire.
The writer first drew attention to the fact of similar Druidical remains existing in Lancashire in a paper read before the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, in December, 1864. They are found in considerable numbers around Boulsworth, Gorple, Todmorden, and on the hills which separate Lancashire from Yorkshire between these places.
Commencing the enumeration of the groups of boulders, &c., containing rock basins, with the slopes of Boulsworth, about seven miles from Burnley, we have first the Standing Stones, mostly single blocks of millstone grit, at short distances from each other on the north-western side of the hill. one is locally termed the Buttock Stone, and near it is a block which has a circular cavity scooped out on its flat upper surface. Not far from these are the Joiner Stones, the Abbot Stone, the Weather Stones, and the Law Lad Stones (? from llad, British, sacrifices).
Next come the Great and Little Saucer Stones, so named from the cavities scooped out upon them. The Little Chair Stones, the Fox Stones, and the Broad Head Stones lie at no great distance, each group containing numerous like cavities. Several of these groups are locally named from resemblance to animals or other objects, as the Grey Stones and the Steeple Stones on Barn Hill, and one spur of Boulsworth is called Wycoller Ark, as resembling a farmer's chest or ark.
On Warcock Hill several groups of natural rocks and boulders are locally named Dave or Dew Stones. On the surface of one immense Dave Stone boulder is a perfect hemispherical cavity, ten inches in diameter. The surface of a nother contains an oblong basin of larger dimensions, with a long grooved channel leading from its curved contour towards the edge of the stone. On a third there are four circular cavities of varying dimensions, the largest in the centre, and three others surrounding it, but none of these is more than a few inches in diameter. At the Bride Stones, near Todmorden, thirteen cavities were counted on one block, and eleven on another. All the basins here and elsewhere are formed on the flat surfaces of the blocks; their upper surfaces always being parallel to the lamination of the stone.
Along Widdop Moor we find the Grey Stones, the Fold Hole Stones, the Clattering Stones, and the Rigging Stones; the last named from occupying the rig or ridge of the hills in the locality. Amongst the Bride Stones is an immense mass of rock which might almost be classed among the rocking stones. it is about twenty-five feet in height, at least twelve feet across its broadest part, and rests on a base only about two feet in diameter.
The Todmorden group contains the Hawk Stones, on Stansfield Moor, not far from Stiperden Cross, on the line of the Long Causeway (a Roman road); the Bride Stones, near Windy Harbour; the Chisley Stones, near Keelham; and Hoar Law, not far from Ashenhurst Royd and Todmorden. The rock basins on these boulders are very numerous, and of all sizes from a few inches in diameter and depth to upwards of two feet. The elliptical axes of some of these basins did not appear to the writer to have been caused by the action of wind or water, or to follow any regular law.
Lastly, taking for a centre, Gorple, about five miles south-east of Burnley is another extensive group of naked rocks and boulders. Close to the solitary farm-house there are the Gorple Stones; and at a short distance the Hanging Stones form conspicuous objects in the sombre landscape. On Thistleden Dean are the Upper, Middle, and Lower Whinberry Stones, so named from the "whinberry" shrubs, with which this moor abounds. The Higher and Lower Boggart Stones come next, and these are followed by the Wicken Clough, and other minor groups of stones. Above Gorple Bottom is another set of grey stones; and these are followed by the Upper, Middle, and Lower Hanging Stones, on Shuttleworth Moor. The rock basins here are very numerous, and mostly well defined. There are forty-three cavities in these Gorple, Gorple Gate, and Hanging Stones, ranging from four to forty inches in length, from four to twenty-five in breadth, and from two to thirteen inches in depth.
Posted by Rhiannon
27th February 2012ce