Fire and the Archaeology of Fylingdales Moor, North Yorkshire
Whitby Museum, Pannett Park, Whitby, North Yorkshire
Thursday 1st December 2005
A seminar, sponsored by English Heritage: Fire and the Archaeology of Fylingdales Moor, North Yorkshire
This seminar will review the responses to the needs of ecology and archaeology on 2... continues...
A massive blaze has devastated a large area of the North York Moors near Whitby.
An ecological expert fears the moorland at Fylingdales could be a barren wasteland for years.
More than 50 firefighters from across North Yorkshire – a quarter of the county's force – tackled the blaze, which covered an area of about four square miles.
Yesterday I went up to Fylingdales Moor with Rockrich with two things in mind.
To show Rich around the moor as he had not seen any North York Moors rock art.
To field test Graeme Chappell and Paul Browns recent book, Prehistoric Rock Art in the North York Moors.
It would have been quite simple to load up my GPS with the 188 x 10 figure grid references supplied in book and just follow my little yellow machine around the moor but I wanted to see if the book would work for someone who didn't own a GPS and had very little knowledge of the site.
The authors have divided the moor up into 7 areas and a small map is provided for each area. I took photocopies of the maps from the book and decided I would only use these and the OS 1:25000 map to find my way around the moor. For a further test I loaded 8 grid references from the book so that I could test the accuracy of the references provided.
Without getting into a long-winded account of our day, We had about 6 hours daylight, and just leisurely strolling around, Rich and I managed to visit 6 of the 7 sites in the book finding many of the carved stones mentioned. The maps in the book work extremely well and the grid references were bag-on. I would recommend that if you are visiting the moor you should park at either the Beacon Howes car park at NZ969013 or the Jugger Howe car park at NZ945003.
You should also bear in mind that this moor is private land and is still recovering from the disastrous fire of 2003. You should try and always follow the footpaths where ever possible and keep any disturbance to a minimum. I would not recommend that you peel back any heather or soil from the rocks as many of the rocks suffered surface damage during the fire and are extremely delicate.
I've previously been up onto Brow Moor but had no sucess at finding any of the rock art that's been reported here. This time I was armed with a bunch of references from the SMR and a gps so I expected to have some success.
I parked up in the car park close to the radio mast on the coast road.
From this point I could see south along the coast past Scarborough to Flamborough. The radio masts of Seamer Beacon were very visible. It was also possible to pick out Shooting house Rigg - site of the Old Wifes Neck and Standing Stones Rigg, home of the Ramsdale Stones.
Using the references from the SMR I tramped onto the moor. The references took me to a stoney area of the moor just south of the trackway. The heather is quite high and due to the recent hot weather the moss and heather were stuck to the rocks like superglue resulting in a total inability to 'peel' back the moss from the rocks. I felt that it would be extremely irresponsible to start digging the stuff off the rocks so I left the area without seeing one piece of rock art.
As I was moving over the moor I noticed two fellas mooching about , cameras in hand and heads down. I wandered over towards them to ask if they were familiar with the moor and had they come across any rock art. I was greeted by a friendly "Howdo, are you looking for cups?"
It turned out that one of the guys was very familiar with the moor and it's rock art, his mate was just along for the ride and to take a few photos. We soon slipped into a conversation about local sites and other rock art folk. I told him of my lack of success in finding any of the art, he said that they were leaving but he would show me a few of the examples in the immediate vacinity.
He showed me four lovely examples, all of which had been covered over to help prevent erosion. These were fine rocks, he also told me where to find other examples including some of the more complex motifs. He warned me that they were in deep heather and on rocks that were at ground level making them very dificult to spot.
The guys then took off for their pub lunch and I mooched across to the area he had pointed out. I found the landmarks he had described and started systematically moving through the thigh high heather trying to find the rocks. Unfortunately after an hour and a halfs searching I came up with nothing apart from scratched shins and ankles so I decided to call it a day and return in winter when the vegetation was a bit lower.
The Brow and Howdale Moors are a lovely place with some stunning views including some fantastic seascapes. There are also a number of barrows and earthworks scattered across the moors. Even though I only found a few rocks I still had a great time up there and would recommend the place for the views alone.
As well as the existing sites, Graeme Chappell has turned up a number of new sites in this area.
NZ 964 013 - 764 303
NZ 965 012
NZ 9674 0105
NZ 9622 0147
NZ 9624 0152
NZ 9561 0123
NZ 959 009
All co-ordinates blagged fron Stan Beckensall's wonderful book "British Prehistoric Rock Art."
"A couple of tumuli near the Bay are called "Robin Hood's Butts," at which, it is stated, he exercised his men in archery."
p114 in 'A glossary of Yorkshire words and phrases collected in Whitby and the Neighbourhood. By An Inhabitant. 1855. You can read this on Google Books.