I was back up at the Beeld today and have a couple more observations to add to my original fieldnotes.
Temple Beeld Hill hardly lives up to its title however, it is slightly higher that the surrounding area and is surrounded by bogs to the west, north and east. The land to the south is very wet, the Beeld effectively forms an island, a dry refuge for the few hardy sheep that roam this part of the moor.
That said, the 'hill' is within a basin therefore the views, though extensive across the flat moors to the west and east, are limited as compared to the view from the nearby rising ground to the south of the Beeld.
Unusually for an area so rich in prehistoric remains, this site does not appear to share intervisibility with any of the nearby monuments. I was unable to spot any of the local barrows from the Beeld.
Regarding the possible cup marks on the central stone, I'd say almost definitely natural weathering processes at work here as opposed to the hand of man.
Orientation of the stones;
The GPS stuff is
NZ 75725 10141 (accuracy 5m)
The easiest way to access this site is to take the back road from Danby to Lealholm that skirts Lealholm Moor and park somewhere close to the junction at NZ763087. If you are car-less you can walk from Lealholm station, it's not too far. If your mobility is restricted then this could be a tricky site to get to.
If you don't know the area I would advise that you take the footpath that continues from the metalled road and follow it onto Black Dike Moor. Temple Beeld is in the watershed of Black Dike Slack and once you are in the area shouldn't be too hard to spot.
The site itself is impressive from a distance and is basically a large, dry stone cross aligned loosely to the cardinal points. It's purpose is to shelter sheep but Temple Beeld is no ordinary sheep fold.
It stands in a known area of prehistoric activity with other standing stones, pit allignments, possible habitation site at NZ743096 and a Mesolithic flint scatter at NZ0758098.
The Beeld has been constructed by filing in the gaps between 5 standing stones, four at the points of the cross and one at the centre. The gaps have been filled with lovely dry stone walling much of which has been robbed but is intact at the southern end and stands at 2m in height.
There is no other structure on the North York Moors that has been constructed in this shape.
It's dimensions are 26m N-S and 16m E-W. The alignment to the cardinal points is about 10 degrees off true.
The stones themselves are all fairly different in character the two E-W stones are about 1.4m in height and are slab-like in shape
The N-S stones are of a similar height but are more rectangular in profile and may have had some degree of shaping.
The centre stone is the smallest 1m and is closest in shape to the E-W stones.
I get the impression that the E-W and centre stones are the oldest and they don't have a straight alignment so the wall curves in a crescent of equal proportions from the centre stone.
I would also guess that the dry stone walling is no more than a couple of hundred years old.
All in all it's an intriguing place with good views across the moor.
If you're visiting the Bleed I'd recommend you walk on to check out the Long Stone and the pit alignments on Easington High Moor but if you want to return to the road, I suggest you follow the line of grouse butts just south of the Bleed, this will lead you to the metalled track and back to the start of your trek via a couple of fairly non-descript barrows.
As a point of interest at the junction of the metalled road and the moors road there is a medieval flagged path or 'trod' leading up to a single standing stone. I don't believe this stone to be prehistoric but the flagged trod and the views across the Esk Valley are worth seeing .
Stanhope White commenting on Thom
" The reader who wants to persue the matter (astroarchaeology) should read Hadingham's book, easily the best unbiased survey of the whole field. he mentions a set of five standing stones in Scotland arranged in the form of a cross known to the locals as a Temple. On our moors we have a similar arrangement; the spaces between the four outer stones and the one at the centre of the cross have been filled in to give a sheep shelter, or beeld. Temple Beeld, as it is known, stands at NZ 756103. With the help of members of one of my classes, I took sight along every possible combination of sight lines, and then asked the Royal Observatory in any of these could be related to any significant lunar or stella position at say 1500BC. The answer, not suprisingly, was none".
The North York Moors
Dalesman Books 1979