08/05/2015 - Starting from the village of Guisborough, we set out for a day strolling about the moor looking at cairns and really just taking in the fine views from the top. No set plan, just a day taken slow.
The low cloud from the day before was still hanging around as we climbed the hill but by the time we broke clear of the trees the early morning sun had worked a bit of magic and the rest of the day was left to us and the sunshine to go for a walk.
Making our way south across Gisborough Moor, we stopped to look at the cairns called Three Howes just past the trigpoint. Whilst there we got chatting to the game keeper (top man) after he saw us looking at the cairns (the place is covered in them!). Seeing we were interested in old stones, he told us about this stone circle and gave us great directions, so we duly set off to see if we could find it.
Though it's in a open area of the moor which the track to the north looks down upon, I could easily have walked past and never known it was there. Look for a couple of old gate posts, either side of the track and look southish. It is about 200 meters away.
This is a lovely stone circle of about 18 small stones and a wonderful place to sit and while away the day. A really fantastic spot for it too with fine views. It was hard not to drift asleep as we sat there in the warmth of the sun. A real favourite. It was tough to leave to make the slow walk back over the moor.
i'd just like to add, being the pedant that i am, that the cairn on the north-western edge of the circle is in fact prehistoric, and possibly roughly contemporary with the circle. bill pearson investigated it along with the circle in 1967 with the teeside archaeological society, & found that it was built on the prehistoric land surface. a number of flints were also found within the cairn, although no burials. the care with which the cairn had apparently been constructed suggests that it may have had a ritual purpose rather than being simply a clearance cairn.
it would be interesting to know if the cairn lines up with the summit of rosebery topping from the circle. i didn't think to check when i visited the circle last year as i wasn't privy to this information at that point and thought that the cairn was modern. it looks as though it might from the pictures i took but it's hard to be certain. i do like the idea that the circle represents the area bounded by the ridges along the horizon, with the sacred hill reproduced in miniature on the periphary.
pearson, bill 1995. two early bronze age sites in sleddale, in b. vyner (ed.), moorland monuments: studies in the archaeology of north-east yorkshire in honour of raymond hayes and don spratt. york: council for british archaeology research report 101.
I visited this site some years ago, and had great trouble finding it, mainly because the heather was so high that most of the stones were invisible until I was right upon them.
Returning yesterday was much easier- the heather's been burnt relatively recently (right into the circle!), and the stones are currently clearly visible from the path to the north.
I was a bit suspicious of the grid ref on my first visit- the circle was slightly further east than I expected. GPS confirmed this yesterday- the centre of the circle was at NZ 63778 10848 (+/- 7m); nearer to NZ638108.
Commondale Stone Circle...Easer bank holliday Monday 090407...Found it... with O/S map, one look at the compas and a good knowledge of the area... Oh yes, and a three year old son, stroppy twelve year old daughter who loved it when she got there and a very cold, bewildered but understanding wife (she was ok supping whine in Tomms afterwards)...Watch this space for our wonderfull family account of the search for the Commondale Stone Circle........and we found it.
View the location with multimap, click on 'aeriel photo'. Just to the right of the red circle you'll see a brown shape of heather, with a lighter rectangle within it. At the top of this lighter shape you'll see some spots, zoom in on those - and THERE's the circle!
The large white spot on the left is a pile of stones on the edge of the circle, and the other spots are some of the larger stones.
There is quite a large mound on the southern boundary of the circle, which might hide another low stone - or at least that's what my backside thinks as it felt very uncomfortable in places!
As alirich says, just to the south of the circle are two rowan trees which are inline with the circle, follow those uphill and you'll spot the pile of stones... hopefully anyway!
And do watch out for that bog/pool - don't do a me and slip into it - it smells!
Absolutely gorgeous views looking out through Kildale to the outer edge of the Cleveland Hills. You can see Captain Cook's monument and Roseberry Topping too.
Further north of the site is a ridge that runs across the moor to the Commondale - Kildale road, nice walk back that is.
The nearest to my home and it has been the hardest to find! The tallest stone is only around two foot high, which looks as if it has recently been re-erected. The other stones, are only around a foot in hight, which keeps them quite well hidden amongst the heather. An occurance that I've never seen before, is that some of the stones seem to be surrounded by what looks like coarse sun-bleached grass, althought the entire circle is amongst heather. One of these stones has a small hole in the top where people have left a number of coins (although they havent been forced in). There is a pile of stones to the west of the circle, which helps to locate the site from afar, if coming from the road, head towards a couple of Rowan trees that stand alone on the moor and the circle is a little further north. The moor can be quite boggy at times and watch out for a small bog by the edge of the circle. Its a truely enchanting place, especially if you stop to watch the sun go down.