|In the past I have overcome many obstacles that have been presented to me on my stone circle odyssey, rivers, farmers, keepers, bulls, barbed wire, bogs, dogs, nettles and even fighting sheep. But today's challenge was a big one, possibly my biggest to date.
How to get safely across the trans-Pennine, four lane, full-on gladiatorial madness of the A66. I parked in a lay-by on the westbound carriageway of the road and got out of the car. Ray Mears could not help me here, there is no urban bushcraft solution to this one unless I could sit and whittle a set of traffic lights or a lollypop lady out of the discarded hubcaps and stripped wagon tyres. Standing there amongst the detritus of the road watching the wagons and cars hurtle by at frightening speed. ..Ah bollocks! I decided that all I could do was run for it.
I made it across the road and walked along the verge to the substantial earthworks of the Roman camp. The fence at the camp is low and quite easy to step over; armed with a copy of the SMR summary I located the most easterly entrance of the north wall and paced the 30 meters to the south.
Stone circle? What stone circle? I had risked becoming a road pizza for this?
If had walked past this site on a moor I would have barely given it a second glance.
I can't sit and write a decent description of this site because there is very little to say about the physical remains of the site other than it's pretty much unrecognizable as a stone circle.
There are two important things about this site.
1. It's location
2. Continuity of use.
This site is 400 metres above sea level on one of the bleakest Pennine moors in England. So why put a monument here?
This is the point where you can see both the Cumbrian Fells and the North Yorkshire Moors, this is the point where east coast meets west. Surely a place of some power. We know that there was an network of trade and exchange between the peoples of the west and east coasts of our islands. I think that this may have been one of the main prehistoric routes. This monument may have inspired and offered hope to travelers crossing the bleak Pennine uplands.
The continuity of use links in with the location. The Romans knew it and placed a heavily fortified road along the route of what is now the A66. It was also a significant route for later travelers as can be seen by the Anglian, Rey Cross.
A hundred or so metres west of the circle is the boundary between Cumbria and Durham and this route was also once the border between Scotland and England. So east meets west, north meets south all within sight of the wrecked circle.
On the face of it the Rey Cross circle is definitely 'one for the enthusiast' in terms of it's state of preservation. But on the other hand it is a site of extreme importance to anyone who is interested in the prehistoric and early northern peoples of our islands.
"Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, though they come from the ends of the earth!"
The Ballard of East and West
Posted by fitzcoraldo
16th May 2005ce
Edited 7th June 2005ce