The Poind (Burial mound) is easily visible from the track from Bolam West houses, where permission to wander about the field can be sought. The Man (Standing stone) is on the other side of the Poind, not visible as you come along the track. It's a very weathered bit of sandstone with what look like iron deposits, visible as raised veins. It's wide face faces the Poind, from the side, the deeply eroded runnels form a jagged silhouette. The other thing that stood out, was the cleft in the bottom of the Man. It looked like the Man had been taken from the same rock as the outcrop, and that some of the weathering had taken place prior to it being stood up.
The stone looks like it's local, as can be seen by the similarity to that of the bedrock outcrop in the same field. It seems that both the Poind and the Man have been placed purposefully in relation to the outcrop. The outcrop itself has what may be the highly eroded remains of cups. But I could see why there might be considerable doubt, but it is very soft stone, as can be seen by the erosion on the Man. The cow, rabbit and sheep crap that covers much of it didn't help make it any easier to decide if they were solution holes or nearly gone cups. In better light, it might be easier to tell one way o the other.
The Poind is home to a number of rabbits, and the Man has Owl pellets in the grooves on the top. The spot commands a good view over towards Tyne valley to the south, and a clear view of the Simonside hills to the north. It's easy to see why the historical record states that men were 'set to watch' here during the reiver years. They would have had a darn good vantage point to look for the signs of reiving activity.
Not only related to this mound and stone, but to the three surviving burial monuments in the Bolam area. Recent folklore reports the appearance of a hairy anthropoid, in the Yeti/Sasquatch style. It has been suggested by some researchers into such phenomena, that reports of this kind of creature are related to transient electrical phenomena emanating from faultlines in the bedrock.
Others have suggested that prehistoric monuments are also related to faultlines (not leylines). Perhaps there's a fault in the Bolam area that ties these reports of creatures with the prehistoric monuments in the vicinity. (mebbe!). I have chosen to believe that a combination of these ideas, combined with the presence of iron in the bedrock, is what played havoc with the memory card in my camera. As the closeup of an iron nodule on the Man was wiped, and other images on the card were scrambled. Spooky action at a distance? Or an overactive imagination?
Here's something that mentions two stones being at the site:
1718. Warburton in a letter to Roger Gale, Jan. 5, this year, says, that about two miles south of Thornton, close by the military way called the Devil's Causeway, "are two large stones standing on their end like those at Borrowbridge, but not so big, and betwixt them a tumulus, which I was at the expence of opening, and in it found a stone coffin, about three feet in length, two in breadth, and two in depth, which was black in the inside with smoke, and had in it several lumps of glutinous matter, which my workmen would needs have to be pieces of the dead hero's flesh.
It was covered over with two flat stones, and not above a yard in depth from the summit of the tumulus, but had neither inscription, bones, coins, urns, or other remarkable thing." -- (Hutchinson's Northd.)
The highly interesting and remarkable group of antiquities here spoken of, are represented in the annexed engraving.
They are called the Poind and his man, and are situated on the north side of Harnham moor, Northumberland. Lord Wharton's "Order of the Watches upon the Middle Marches" in 1552, directs "the watch to be kept at the Two Stones, called the Poind and his Man, with two men nightly, of the inhabitors of Bollame." -- Hodgson's Northd.
I wondered what 'poind' might mean - the OED gives a couple of related meanings. One is to do with seizing someone's possessions when they can't otherwise pay a debt (or to encourage them to pay up) - the poind is the property, beast or other type of possession.
However, an unusual northern use of the word means a pinfold - a pen for animals - possibly the 'distrained', seized animals like the ones above.
Examination of the records shows some confusion regarding the Poind. Some seem to refer to it as the mound, others seem to use the term in ref to the surviving stone.
It's reasonably clear that at some point there were at least two stones here, one of which appears to have been taken to the grounds of nearby Wallington Hall. Speculators have even suggested that there was once a circle at Shaftoe crags, and that the Stone here, the one at Wallington, the Middleton stone and another as yet re-discovered stone near Salter's nick, may have all been taken from this postulated circle.
The cup-marked outcrop is marked as 'Hunter's stone' on the 1866 map.