The Cammon Stone is located in an area with some of the earliest evidence of human activity on the North Yorkshire Moors. It sits beside an upland trackway that runs from the Vale of Pickering in the south to the upper Esk Valley and The Vale of Cleveland in the north. The track was used as a drover's road; Raymond Hayes wrote that it was being used as an important drove road in 1276 and was still being used for the same purpose as late as the 1930's.
The stone sits in a depression beside the trackway and is leaning at an angle. I reckon that when the stone was upright it would have stood at about 6 feet high. Beside the stone is another large slab, a number of learned folk have speculated that this stone may also have once stood upright, if so they would have made a fine pair.
The stone itself is beautiful; the southern face has a deep water worn groove running from a small basin on the top of the stone, dividing the stone into two. I had walked to the stone from Farndale some four miles away and maybe the icy wind, fog and driving sleet had got to me but in my minds eye I saw the stone resembling a huge sleeping bat which could unfurl itself at any moment and fly away, a kind of prehistoric gargoyle… hypothermia may be a killer but it can also be fun in small doses!
Unfortunately on my last visit the views from the stone were extremely limited but if you find yourself at the stone on a good day there are some lovely views along the the isolated valley of Bransdale to the south west, Farndale to the south east and the moorland uplands to the north. The Barrows of the Three Howes also mark the horizon to the south.
Access to the stone involves a certain amount of effort; the rutted trackway beside the stone is wide and still used by as a keepers track. The shortest route to the stone is probably via one of the footpaths from the head of Farndale.
A mile to the north east of the stone are the nationally important flint sites of White Gill. Studies of the White Gill flint scatters have revealed evidence of early Mesolithic occupation, a number of flints showing affinities with the flint tools of Star Carr. This implies that the people of Star Carr may have used this route to access the uplands and establish summer camps.
A mile to the south of the Cammon stone is the flint site of Ouse Gill Head. The flint from this site indicated Mesolithic occupation continuing into the Neolithic and Bronze ages.
So what we have is a lovely ancient stone situated beside major routeway with evidence of use starting ten thousand years ago and continuing to the present day.
"At 1314ft is a really ancient boulder set up the east side of the rigg road the Cammon Stone from the Celtic 'cam' meaning bank stone. On its leaning side is a Hebrew inscription HALLELUJAH. Was the source of much controversy. it was thought to be Phoenician but can be compared to the Hebrew lettering on the Bransdale Mill inscription. It is most likely the work of Rev. W. Strickland a 19th century vicar of Ingleby".
Old Roads & Pannierways in North Yorkshire
Raymond H. Hayes