I was back on the moor today in search of Elgees enclosures in Bella Dale Slack http://www.themodernantiquarian.com/post/12986. The slack is completely waterlogged, thank god for G-Wax.
There is quite a defined bank & ditch on the westerly margins of the slack but as for his other enclosure walls, I'm not so sure.
I took a look at the pit alignment, one of the pits appears to have been excavated, I'm not sure whether this was done in the past or recently, I can't recall it being there before.
This is a site that has puzzled the antiquarians for at least a hundred and fifty years, mainly because of it's famous pits, but we come to that presently.
To get there you should park up in the Scaling Dam Sailing club car park, walk back out of the main gate, turn left past the wee clump of trees and then turn left again along the bridleway (quarry road). Follow the footpath over the various bridges and duckboards past the Boghouse beck and the end of the reservior. Turn south and head up onto the moor. You will see a number of prominant dykes and ditches along the way. I dont know the age of these features but judging from the standing stones along their margins, some of them are ancient.
The standing stones are marked on the map as BS, boundary stones, but unlike typical NYM boundary stones they are unworked natural monoliths with no markings upon them. Follow this track as it turns west and crosses the Bella Dale slack.
Presently you'll come to the Long Stone, a handsome 3 1/2 -4m stone with some weathered lettering on the south face (the letter 'c' I think).
400m to your south you'll see the Three barrows of Three Howes Rigg. I recommend you wander over to them and check out the famous pits.
Basically what you've got is a double alignment of circular pits bounded by a low dyke. The pits run in the same NNE SSW alignment as the barrows.
There is no sign of spoil around the pits and they are 3-4 m apart so I don't think they are the result of mining activity. If anyone did want to mine the thin iron stone bands, they would have worked the two valleys that bound the area and I could find no evidence of any such activity. The pits are circular, about 3m diameter and 'flush' with the ground. About 200m from the eastern end of the pits is a large mound which I presume is another barrow. The theory that these pits were habitations seems a little bizzare, they seem more defensive, but defending what?
Beats the hell out of me!
Anyway check it out ,its a lovely place and the area is covered in barrows and lovely stones.
"Two miles east of the Herd Howe and one mile north of Danby Beacon is the celebrated 'British Village' on Easington High Moor, first described by Young, the scene of so many antiquarian pilgrimages, and the subject of so much discussion. This 'village' consists of two more or less paralell rows of circular pits lying across the central part of a spur between two small streams at an altitude of about 750 feet. The pits are in two groups, and on the outer side of each row runs a small wall of earth and stones. One of the pits near the middle of the south row is much larger than the others and interrupts the continuity of the outer wall. Excavations and probings show that the average depth of the pits is from 4-5 feet and that they vary from 10-12 feet in diameter.
In addition to this main group there is another group on the opposite side of the valley that bounds the spur to the east. As described by Young (1817) they begin near the verge of the sloping bank and extend eastward for over a hundred paces in a double row of 28 pits with an outer wall on both sides. a little to the south east is a similar double row of 6 pits also provided with outer walls.
Young was confident that these holes were ancient habitations. He commented on their proximety to the Three Howes, to standing or druidical stones (one of which, the Long Stone, stands a little to the north), and to two semilunar enclosures in the valley on the east, all of which he thinks were made and used by the same people."
Early Man In North East Yorkshire
The walk to the Nan Stone from Scaling Dam is beautiful at this time of year.
If you start from the Scaling Dam car park and then follow the circular walk signs they will lead you into Quarry Lane. Alternatively you can access Quarry lane from the main A171. From Quarry Lane just follow the path and you will eventually come to the moor.
There's lots to see here as the walk to the moor takes you along the edge of the Scaling nature reserve. If you love wild flowers then this is definitely a place to be. It's times like this when I wish I knew the names of many more of our wildflowers. Also at this time of the year it is almost impossible to avoid stepping on small black frogs, they are less than 1cm long and are everywhere.
To get to the Nan Stone you should turn right and follow the earthwork when you get to the open moor. If you can't see the earthwork to your right then you haven't arrived yet, keep walking.
Once you have turned right and begun to follow the earthwork you will notice an upright standing stone. The Nan Stone is part of this boundary so keep walking. The earthwork turns off to your right but you must keep walking ahead to the top of a small hill, this is where you will find the next stone. This large stone is now leaning but the weathering on the top shows that it was once erect.
Keep walking along the same line and you will eventually come to a well-made keepers track. Cross the track and climb the small knoll. From the top of this knoll you should be looking out over a large marshy area of sedges, moss and a couple of dwarf trees. You should be able to see the stones slightly to your left on the rising ground on the opposite side.
The next bit is up to you. I bog-trotted across the sphagnum swang wearing just a pair of trainers. It was a blistering hot day and my feet soon dried. Sensible folk can pick their way around the swang and keep their feet relatively dry.
The stones are both standing and are about 1 metre tall. The squared stone is a modern boundary stone that was probably erected during the eighteenth century. The Nan Stone is its rather squat neighbour. The stone has a flat face with a + carved into it, there is also some very weathered carving close to the base of the stone and some cup-like depressions on the top of the stone which are probably solution cups caused by natural erosion processes.
There are two things about the Nan stone that I really like.
The first is the journey to the stone. The walk is not particularly long or challenging but it takes you along an old road lined with ancient hawthorns hanging with honeysuckle. You then walk through an area of wetlands which are rich in wildflowers, butterflies, birds and fly-infested sheep that refuse to give ground to you but will happily transfer half of their blue-arsed lodgers to your keeping.
You then walk onto the lovely moody open moor with it's vast expanse of heather, bilberry and bracken . And then your final challenge is crossing a lush sphagnum bog.
The second thing that appeals to me is that this moor is rich in prehistoric remains and this stone may well have been used as a boundary marker way back in ..? who knows.
It is possible that when we walk this boundary we are walking along something that was established in prehistory and is still in active use today. My OS map has this boundary marked as Euro ER, Co Const CP & UA Bdy. I'm not too sure what all of that means but what I do know is that this ancient boundary still has meaning today
The Nan stone has been transformed from a stone that possibly legitimised the claims of one small group of prehistoric North Yorkshire people to a patch of moorland territory to a stone that helps define a European political constituancy. Onwards and upwards.
The Nan Stone is lovely, get yersels there.