|Messrs Chappell, Stroud and I recently met up for one of our infrequent rock art forays into the Yorkshire countryside. I generally prefer solitary wanderings but never turn down a chance to walk with these two fine fellas, their depth of knowledge never fails to enlighten and the craic is always of the highest quality, modesty forbids me from detailing our discussion regarding proposed naming of new finds using the standard Bennettian nomenclature.
Our destination this time was Skyreholme. Individually we'd all visited this area, none of us had covered all of the ground and seen all of the carvings, we decided to put that to rights.
We parked up in the lay-by just by the junction of the Black Hill track and the B6265 and traipsed off across Black Hill.
The majority of the carvings are situated on or around Black Hill with another group running on east on either side of Forest Road track. The association of the carvings and the trackways may give some hint as to the antiquity of these routes.
For most of the southerly sites the views are across the Wharfe valley and the dominating presence is the craggy tops of Simon's Seat. This particular hill has prehistoric associations, a Bronze Age cairn known as the Devil's Apronful sits on its south west flank. On the southerly side of the hill are a number of named stones including a rocking stone and, although not prehistoric, the becks that drain the southern flank run down through the beautifully named Valley of Desolation where they join the River Wharfe just above Lud stream brow.
One observation that we made at a number of the carvings was the presence in the west of the distinctive, conical Elbolton Hill. The hill stands out quite clearly from the surrounding round topped hills.
This hill was definitely significant in prehistory, the Elbolton Cave has yielded early Neolithic to early Bronze age artifacts including flints, pottery, animal bones, 11 inhumation burials and 1 cremation burial.
The hill is clearly visible from the Appletreewick stone circle and may also be visible from other monuments further along the Wharfe valley such as Dumpit Hill and Yarnbury Henge. My gut feeling was that this hill may have some significance to the Skyreholme rock art sites.
Another potentially significant location in the local landscape is Trollers Gill, a limestone ravine, rich in folklore (see below), on the western edge of Black Hill. None of us had walked through the gill so we took the opportunity of dropping down along a steep, dry valley from Black Hill into its shady glades at the southern end of the gill.
During periods of high rainfall the gill is made inaccessible by the fast flowing beck that courses through the ravine. On our visit the beck was low and had disappeared underground through a pot hole at the head of the ravine and then reappeared at the bottom of the gill.
The southern end of the gill opens out into a very pleasant meadow hemmed in by limestone walls, however the whole place takes on an otherworldly atmosphere as you walk into the cool, damp, overhung mouth of the narrowing ravine. We all agreed that it was an extremely pleasant place to escape the heat on a dry summers day but would probably feel very different on a stormy winters evening.
Regarding the gills possible associations with the Rock Art. I can think of two other places where you get rock art and ravines, Roughting Linn in Northumberland and Fylingdales Moor in North Yorkshire. Ethnologically there are also similar associations in other parts of the world, one that springs to mind is the Rainbow Snake myths of Australia, I'm sure Graeme can provide many other examples from his vast knowledge of world rock art mythologies.
This from http://www.yorkshire-dales.com/trollers-gill.html
Troller's Gill is a sinister little ravine at the head of Trollerdale. Legend has it that this narrow limestone gorge is the haunt of the "Barquest" or "Barguest" - the terrifying spectral hound of Craven (which is said to have "eyes as big as saucers").
The nooks, caves and crannies of Troller's Gill are also said to be the home of Scandinavian trolls, evil bloodsucking gnomes, flesh-eating boggarts, hideous gargoyle-like rock sprites, deranged goblins, predatory pixies and maliciously twisted imps - and perhaps even other sorts of similarly diabolical and fiendishly unpleasant beings lying in wait for the unsuspecting rambler...
Near the head of the gill there are a series of disused mine workings as well as natural caves and potholes - including the ominously named "Hell Hole"
All in all, this part of the Yorkshire Dales area is rich in pre and post historic sites, folklore, caves, and wonderful upland landscapes.
Tourists are fairly scarce in this area so once you leave the roads you can usually wander wherever you please.
Posted by fitzcoraldo
19th August 2009ce
Edited 20th August 2009ce
fitzcoraldo's TMA Blog
1-10 of 15 Posts |