I must express my gratitude to Terry Howard, eminence grise of Sheffield's ramblers, for bringing this to my attention and providing directions to its approximate whereabouts. It was he who discovered it many years ago when in the employment of the water board, who oversee neighbouring More Hall reservoir. He reported it promptly to Sheffield Council's archaeology service, who should hold a record of its discovery date. It was, apparently, the first rock art discovered in South Yorkshire, pre-dating the finding of Eccleshall Woods 1. Subsequent to his finding it, some ne'erdowell uprooted it from the univalate rampart of what appears to be an unrecorded promontory fort or settlement above, for which I will be providing a separate site entry, and it tumbled down onto a plateau some twenty feet below, where it now lies. I do wonder if it has gone completely off Sheffield Archaeology Service's radar, for reasons apparent if you keep reading...... To find it, park on the far side of the reservoir and walk across the dam. If you look to your right you will see, above and beyond the adjacent Broomhead dam and reservoir, the moors of the same name, my TMA rummaging hangout for the forseeable, and an area I'm becoming increasingly of the opinion is of great archaeological importance. Anyway, back to the star of the show. Terry said I should take the path on the far side of the dam that goes uphill to Brightholmlee, and then bear off it left into the wood following the 60-80' scarp E above the weir. I saw a worn path in that direction and followed it. It gradually became apparent that those keeping the path worn were, if humanoids, diminutive, as I had to duck under branches, and then as the path proved a challenge to the most agile limbo dancer, I realised that those responsible were four legged. Keeping parallel to it I came to a plateau with a sheer drop through the rhododendrons to my left. This plateau was full of big holes. The four legged creatures were evidently of the black and white striped faced variety. So t h a t s why the grass on top of the dam was so chavelled....As Terry directed, I carried on, but would return to this spot on completion of my search, as stonework and the univalate rampart along the scarp ahead greatly intrigued. First things first: the Great Stone Search. I crossed three babbling rills beyond the platform area that plunged about thirty feet down the drop to my left, and the rampart became progressively more distinct, and I walked along its top, mindful of avoiding being tripped by brambles and plunging over. Yes, there was a plateau, obviously man made, 25'ish below to my left, but where was the stone? There was a large tree in extremis, big boughs and branches hanging over or lying on this flat area, bits n bobs of brambles and ferns, but...no stone. It should have been visible, being described by Terry as about a metre long by half a metre thick, with, thankfully, the cup marks uppermost after it had been toppled. Should have. I was nearing the wood edge. Ahead, beyond a rough stone wall topped with remnants of an iron fence, which could easily have been 18thC, was pasture. I had to descend over the rampart and hunt in the wood below. It was clayey, leafmoulded and bloody slippery. I started to head back W, eyes peeled. Nada. I came to the point that those rills had tumbled to. Too far. Back E again, this time sticking to the flat area immediately below the rampart. The distressed tree's fallen boughs came into view, a layered jumble of branches up to thirty feet long overlay a huge bough. Something under its cleft end caught my eye. It was totally covered in moss. I could tell if it was wood or stone even. Could it be..? One thing for it, getting my hands dirty. What I do for a living. No problem. What was the problem was all the branches on top of it. Heaving them out the way took twenty minutes before I could lay hands on the object of my curiosity. It was raining and I didn't care. At last, I could start moss peeling. Stone. I will not forget gradually revealing what was underneath that moss. Cup mark, cup mark, cup mark, another, another, another....I scrabbled away, digging deeper into them, cleaning them out one by one, brushing off, looking....I counted fourteen, gingerly feeling under the huge bough that had missed resting directly on them by an inch or so. Only one cup mark was apparent when I cleared away the branch debris and then moss on the far side of the bough, which, judging by their spacing, could, if it existed, be directly resting on no more than one. Picture time. At last, the stone was ready for its closeup. Then, with reluctance, time to leave this rediscovered buried treasure. Pat, stroke, appreciate. I checked the old fenced stone wall by the pasture for any more cup marks, but found none. Certainly worth another look when I return, which I will - the wood will be a sea of bluebells in a few months..... I climbed back up to the rampart, walked back along it and then looked down after I passed that sad wreck of a tree. This time the formerly moss and branch covered stone looked back. I could see the cup marks from sixty feet away. Now I hope others will. Now for that fort.. Cheers, Terry.
Posted by spencer
8th February 2016ce