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West Yorkshire


Archaeologists find 'tomb of tribal king' hidden on moor

Wharfedale and Airedale observer.

A prehistoric cairn circle which may have been the tomb of a tribal king has been identified on Askwith Moor.

The discovery at Snowden Crags was made by the same group of antiquarians who uncovered evidence of several other cairns, or ancient graveyards, on the moor earlier this year.

Antiquarian Paul Bennett – aided by friends Michala Douglas, Dave Hazell, Robert Hopkins, Paul Hornby and Geoff Watson in finding and examining the spot – is convinced the large circle is an important find.

He said: "The circle is still pretty much overgrown and requires a decent excavation. But it is, without doubt, a prehistoric cairn circle, probably Bronze Age, and appears to be the centre-piece in the middle of the Snowden Crags necropolis.

"For years, several of us have wondered whether or not a stone circle was the antiquity that was being described in the only singular reference of the place, mentioned almost in passing in Eric Cowling's fine survey of this area – Rombald's Way, 1946 – more than 50 years back. But despite various explorations on these moors over the last 20 to 30 years, Cowling's curious singular reference has remained a mystery – until now.

"Thankfully now we have a good view of the place. The site was relocated during one of our exploratory walks assessing the extensive walling, settlement pattern and prehistoric graveyard that scatters the central and north-western section of the moors here.

"Michala had stumbled upon an average-sized ring of stones, between one and three feet tall, and about 13 yards across, with what seemed like an entrance on its southern side, seemingly untouched in the middle of the mass of decaying bracken.

"It took longer than expected to shift all the bracken, but eventually, once we'd done it, we were looking at a very distinct man-made circular monument, measuring 13 yards by 12 yards across and, at its highest point, not even three feet above the present ground level.

"But today's ground level is certainly much higher than it was when these stones were first placed here."

Mr Bennett, from Oakworth, now hopes someone will fund a proper archaeological dig at the site although, with a long waiting list and limited money available for such endeavours, he is not holding his breath.

He said: "What we have so far is this: a large flattened circle consisting of at least a dozen upright stones that define the edges. Between these are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of smaller stones.

"Inside the circle is a scattered mass of many small stones, typical of cairn material, filling the entirety of the monument, but the central region has been dug into at some time in the past.

"It sits on a flat plain of moorland amidst the Snowden Crags necropolis with around 30 other small cairns. But this particular site is several times larger than all the others, probably indicating that whoever was buried or cremated here was of some considerable importance in the tribal group – a local king, queen, tribal elder or shaman."

More details about Paul's local discoveries can be found at
Posted by Arcturus
28th September 2010ce
Edited 28th September 2010ce

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