|This moor, sandwiched between the beautiful Wharfedale valley to the north and Bradford city to the south, is one of the most inspiring, mystery-riddled places I know of. The famous Ilkley Moor is merely a part of it - although it is this particular area, to the north near Ilkley town and the River Wharfe (sacred to the snake goddess Verbeia) that is most densely populated with fabulous cup-and-ring carvings and strange, strange tales both old and new. The best I can do here is recommend a few spots (get OS Sheet SE 04/14 Pathfinder 671 of Keighley & Ilkley):
- Up Backstone Beck, opposite the dishevelled but still-buzzing Backstone Circle (OS 1261 4613), are the remains of a Bronze Age dwelling (OS 1310 4590). It goes much further back than that, though - archaeologists have found evidence of Mesolithic dwellings here, perhaps 10,000 years old or more.
- As you approach the more from Ilkley town, the White Wells (old spa bath, presently a tea-and-cakes place) become obvious. To the west is a clump of trees with a waterfall beneath it flowing onto a ford (OS 1155 4660). This mound is a really special place. Local people leave wreaths to dead loved ones here. At the top of the mound is a massive carved boulder, too. When looking at the mound from below, I imagine the waterfall to be sacred fluids flowing from a cunt, and the mound to be the prone form of the local goddess Verbeia. The two stream either side even correspond to the image on her altar (which you can still see in All Saints' Church in Ilkley town, next to the bridge over the Wharfe - well worth a peek).
- The Badger Stone (OS 1108 4605) is fantastic, such a seductive curve to the boulder - though sadly the prolific carvings are fast fading. A very powerful place, I've found - treat it with respect.
- The Swastika Stone (OS 0956 4695) is a must - a wonderful curvy armed cross carved at least 3000 years before the Nazi's decided they had a monopoly on this ancient symbol. Extreme right-wing graffiti and stickers have been spotted up here - but their attempts to associate themselves with the archaic petroglyph merely underlines their simple-minded dumbfuckness. Sadly enclose by railings due to graffiti - be sure to look past the Victorian copy at the front to the fainter original.
- The Doubler Stones (OS 0722 4649) are great. Totally natural (apart from the basins and cups on top), they basically look like two ginormous mushies. Watch out for the close-by farmer, especially if you're looking for the smaller organic cousins of the stones...
- The Buck Stones (OS 0920 4560) are again a natural formation, and again are great. A bit of a mess compared to the beautifully sculpted Doubler Stones, but there's the power - a very primal, raggedy place.
There's much more to discover, and I'll leave my review brief so that you have fun exploring for yourselves. And remember to take more litter away than you bring!
Posted by gyrus
12th April 2000ce