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The Old Wife's Neck

Standing Stones

<b>The Old Wife's Neck</b>Posted by fitzcoraldoImage © fitzcoraldo
Also known as:
  • Old Wife's Stone

Nearest Town:Whitby (9km NNW)
OS Ref (GB):   NZ902022 / Sheet: 94
Latitude:54° 24' 25.21" N
Longitude:   0° 36' 36.62" W

Added by fitzcoraldo


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Photographs:<b>The Old Wife's Neck</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>The Old Wife's Neck</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>The Old Wife's Neck</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>The Old Wife's Neck</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>The Old Wife's Neck</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>The Old Wife's Neck</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>The Old Wife's Neck</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo <b>The Old Wife's Neck</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo Maps / Plans / Diagrams:<b>The Old Wife's Neck</b>Posted by fitzcoraldo

Fieldnotes

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I was up here again yesterday in search of the other stones of the triple dykes. The dead bracken and winter heather were ablaze with colour in the low winter sunshine. The whole moor seemed to glow with a chimney/brick red light.
I walked from the May Beck car park up onto the moor via John Cross and then followed the path to Biller Howe Dale Slack. I then followed the slack east for about 1km until I had had enough of stepping into knee deep bogs and decided to track north to intercept the dykes and then follow them back to the Robin Hoods Bay Road footpath.
I found 6 large stones along the length of the dykes 5 of which were still erect and one recumbent.
I left the moor as the sun was dropping behind the far-off tabular hills. I was cold, weary and had lost the sensation in my toes, a happy gadgie.
Johnny Cash came to mind "Like that lucky old sun, give me nothing to do but roll around heaven all day".
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
18th December 2004ce
Edited 18th December 2004ce

The Old Wife's Neck is two standing stones incorporated into a linear earthwork. To get there, start at the Maybeck Forest Walk car park and then hike back up the road to New Maybeck Farm, the scruffiest farm you ever saw! Turn right here and follow the path along and past the woods until you come to the moor and the sad remains of John Cross. Turn right and follow the path parallel to the forest.
You cannot see the stones until you arrive at the double dyke earthworks, then you will see them on your right.
The long linear dyke is orientated East - West and is approx 1km long.
The stones on on the western end and are within the dyke feature.
There are two stones, the first is approx 0.9m high and the second 1.2m high.
Observed from either the east or west the larger stone appears not unlike a human head and neck although from the north or south it appears to be a squat 'L' shape.
The stones are orientated to a pair of mounds on the western horizon ? Foster Howes. The view to the east is obscured by the rise of the hill and the dyke feature. If you walk a few meters up onto the dyke you can see across to Robin Hood's Bay and the sea.
You can also see Standing Stones Rigg from here ( the site of Ramsdale Stone circle).
This is a lovely bleak spot, the sound of the wind blowing through the nearby forest reminds me of the sea and you can hear the whistles of the steam trains coming over the moors from Goathland.
If you want to make a nice circular walk of your visit you can follow the path right around the margins of the forest and take in Louven Howe, Lilla Cross which is on Lilla Howe, Ann's cross also on a mound (two examples of christianised barrows) Foster Howe, Robbed Howe, and the igneous Cleveland Dyke.
Alternatively, if you've got the kids with you and just fancy a short circular walk, continue along the path from the stones and then cross into the forest on the marked path, when you come to the ruins of John Bond's sheep house take the right hand fork. This will take you along the Blea hill beck. Its a lovely path following the beck . It criss crosses the Beck and takes you through lovely glades of daffodils and primroses. The valley is absolutely gorgeous at this time of year. The path brings you back to the car park.
Lovely!
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
21st April 2002ce

Folklore

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"There ev'ry herd by sad experience knows,
How wing'd with fate, their elf shot arrows fly,
When the sick ewe her summer food forgoes,
Or stretch'd on earth the heart-smit heifers lie"

From
Flint Chips, A guide to Prehistoric Archaeology
by Edward T. stevens
1870

An elf shot is a flint arrow head.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
3rd May 2003ce
Edited 3rd May 2003ce

Elf-stones
" When I was a boy, I was an ardent archaeologist. I remember on one occasion having been told that chipped flints were to be found in a field near Blois Hall, in the North Riding.
Hurrying thither the first whole holiday, I was fortunate enough on that occasion to find a flint arrow head-the only one I ever did find. This I showed to an old fellow who was hedging; without hesitation he pronounced it to be an elf-stone, declaring that the elves were evil spirits, who in days past used to throw them at the kie-I had up to that time always been told they were shot at cattle-but my informant stuck to throwing. I well remember that he also said the elves got them out of whirlpools, where they were originally made by the water spirits, but he could not say what the water spirits used them for, though he knew of several instances in which both cattle and horses had been injured by the elves throwing elf-stones at them. He further informed me that when the elves got them from the whirlpools, they had much longer shanks than the one I had found: this was so that better aim might be taken with them. 'But' said he, 'tha're nivver fund wi' lang shanks on, acoz t' fairies awlus brak' em off, seea ez t' elves wadn't be yabble ti potch 'em at t' beeasts neea mair' and he had been told that fairies often wore them as ornaments. Sore eyes could be cured by the touch from an elf-stone, if a fairy had worn it, and they were also a potent love-charm if worn so they rested near the heart. "

Yorkshire Wit, Character, Folklore & Customs
R. Blakeborough
1911
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
19th November 2002ce

Miscellaneous

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Writing in the nineteenth century, Robert Knox notes,
The Old Wife's Neck stands on the High Moor westward of Ramsdale Hill. The seat of this, since my map first made it's name known to our virtuosi, has been removed, and its chair-shaped destroyed.
His sketch, complete with chair, is here
http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/38979

"Virtuosi" lovely
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
3rd August 2005ce
Edited 3rd August 2005ce

"This is the system the system of earthworks on Fylingdales Moor at NZ905022 consisting of triple trenches in which stands one or two stones, the most prominent of which bears the name Old Wifes Neck. According to Elgee, an entry in the Gentlemans Magazine for 1857 speaks of hundreds of flint arrow heads having been found below these fortifications in Biller Howe Dale. If this is correct, then this is the only place where any sign of war during the Bronze Age or even earlier."

The North York Moors, An Introduction
Stanhope White
1979
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
25th April 2002ce

"Only the stone base remains of John Cross, a wayside cross of early christian origins, probably destroyed by puritans in the 17th century. The stone which now fits in the base is of a later date and is a boundary marker between the parishes of Sneaton and Fylingdales."

"Walk The North York Moors"
Brian Spencer
1991

Puritans eh!
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
21st April 2002ce