A new volunteer led project which aims to record all the rock art on Rombalds Moor will launch with a public event on Saturday 6th November 2010. The full day event will include a morning of presentations covering rock art, the project background, recording methodologies and a guided walk in the afternoon... continues...
Armed with my new copy of "Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding" (PRAWR), the plan was to do all the interesting-looking sites in the book over the space of a few days.
The forward planning was extensive. Said sites had their 10-figure grid references plotted onto Fugawi, printed off and downloaded onto the GPS.
The plan was to start with North Rombalds Moor. What I had not bargained for was the time it would take to get round just these sites. Two days to get round these alone.
No problem with finding the sites at all. This was the first time I'd used a GPS for rock art and it's difficult to see how I managed without it beforehand. Straight to within sighting distance of the stone every time.
The problem was just the sheer number of sites combined with their spectacular location which meant we spent time just soaking up the landscape.
Must have stayed at The Badger Stone for the best part of an hour. Nice of them to provide a seat.
So N Rombalds Moor was all that was covered and the rest will have to wait.
Back home the task is now matching up the sites with what is already on TMA - not easy with so many sites on Rombalds Moor alone. Some are already here under their own name and some are part of a group.
Where the site does not appear to have an entry already, there is the fun of choosing a name. Of course, you could just name them after the PRAWR classification numbers but that would be unromantic. However, as that publication is one which I expect future visitors will use a lot, I have cross-referenced to their numbers.
I visited Rombald's Moor as a result of finding this web-site. I saw lots of stuff up there but could not nail down Ashlar's Chair, and the pancake stone. I saw the stone that Chris calls the Goth Stone. Not having a camera on me, I did not remember it until now. I have never seen anything like it before. I was surprised by the amount of 18th and 19th century carved graffiti up there.
What can I say about Rombald's Moor. I've only been a couple of times, both in the last couple of weeks. I don't know why 'cause it's probably the closest major site to my home. On the first visit I headed straight for the Twelve Apostles. It was getting late, and I was stuck for time. So for my latest visit (9/2/2) I got there nice and early in the morning, and spent a full day. I ended up spending a lot of my time huddled over the sexy Badger Stone, with a tour of some of the other attractions to follow.
All I can say is this has made my love of all things megalithic even more intense. The whole moor is like a playground for the imagination. A dreamlike quality pervades as you travel from stone to stone. After a while I found myself putting my map and list of grid refs away and just looking, the place is literally full of rock art.
It is a very powerful place.
On the downside a lot of the stones are vandalised. I can understand a need to leave a mark behind, almost in the tradition of these stones themselves - but there are plenty of unmarked rocks scattered across the moor. It just seems like people want to destroy this wonder on their doorstep. Perhaps if folk were educated correctly, and taught to have a sense of pride in this, their true heritage, then maybe it wouldn't happen, who knows.
A word of warning: Be prepared for strange looks from the runners and walkers... :)
This moor, sandwiched between the beautiful Wharfedale valley to the north and Bradford city to the south, is one of the most inspiring, mystery-riddled places I know of. The famous Ilkley Moor is merely a part of it - although it is this particular area, to the north near Ilkley town and the River Wharfe (sacred to the snake goddess Verbeia) that is most densely populated with fabulous cup-and-ring carvings and strange, strange tales both old and new. The best I can do here is recommend a few spots (get OS Sheet SE 04/14 Pathfinder 671 of Keighley & Ilkley):
- Up Backstone Beck, opposite the dishevelled but still-buzzing Backstone Circle (OS 1261 4613), are the remains of a Bronze Age dwelling (OS 1310 4590). It goes much further back than that, though - archaeologists have found evidence of Mesolithic dwellings here, perhaps 10,000 years old or more.
- As you approach the more from Ilkley town, the White Wells (old spa bath, presently a tea-and-cakes place) become obvious. To the west is a clump of trees with a waterfall beneath it flowing onto a ford (OS 1155 4660). This mound is a really special place. Local people leave wreaths to dead loved ones here. At the top of the mound is a massive carved boulder, too. When looking at the mound from below, I imagine the waterfall to be sacred fluids flowing from a cunt, and the mound to be the prone form of the local goddess Verbeia. The two stream either side even correspond to the image on her altar (which you can still see in All Saints' Church in Ilkley town, next to the bridge over the Wharfe - well worth a peek).
- The Badger Stone (OS 1108 4605) is fantastic, such a seductive curve to the boulder - though sadly the prolific carvings are fast fading. A very powerful place, I've found - treat it with respect.
- The Swastika Stone (OS 0956 4695) is a must - a wonderful curvy armed cross carved at least 3000 years before the Nazi's decided they had a monopoly on this ancient symbol. Extreme right-wing graffiti and stickers have been spotted up here - but their attempts to associate themselves with the archaic petroglyph merely underlines their simple-minded dumbfuckness. Sadly enclose by railings due to graffiti - be sure to look past the Victorian copy at the front to the fainter original.
- The Doubler Stones (OS 0722 4649) are great. Totally natural (apart from the basins and cups on top), they basically look like two ginormous mushies. Watch out for the close-by farmer, especially if you're looking for the smaller organic cousins of the stones...
- The Buck Stones (OS 0920 4560) are again a natural formation, and again are great. A bit of a mess compared to the beautifully sculpted Doubler Stones, but there's the power - a very primal, raggedy place.
There's much more to discover, and I'll leave my review brief so that you have fun exploring for yourselves. And remember to take more litter away than you bring!
"This moor, according to legend, took it's name from a giant Rombald, who favoured it a good deal. The large block of sandstone at it's eastern end, known as the calf, which lies at the foot of the mass of rock called the Cow, bears an indentation which is said to be the imprint of the foot of the giant, who, in taking a stride from the Cow to Great Alms' Cliff, several miles away, broke the calf off and sent it rolling down the hillside."
The Enchanting North
Pub. Eveleigh Nash
Under the famous Hanging Stone, with its mystic "cup and ring" sculptures, the rock is hollowed out forming a deep overhanging cavity, and I am told that this ancient rock-shelter has been known from time immemorial as "Fairies' Kirk," and traditions of its having been tenanted by those tiny sprites, the fairies, still exist among old people in the neighbourhood. When the Saxons established themselves at Ilkley they were going to build a church up here, but the fairies strongly resented. They would have none of it, and so their little temple was erected in the vale below. The fairies distrust any intrusion upon their own sacred places [...] I cannot go into all the details I have heard of the antics of these mysterious little people here and in the neighbouring gills.
Hanging Stones (west of Cow and Calf), cup and ring marked. Some vandal has been imitating the primeval sculptures by chiselling on the same stone, but the freshness of the recent work is at once seen. It is to be regretted that quarrying has been permitted to get so near this exceedingly valuable monument of antiquity, a relic which, as the ages roll on, must gather an ever-deepening interest.
The "Cow" which I find was called in 1807 "Inglestone Cow," a name now quite forgotten, bears no mean resemblance to a castle, while the "Calf" may be likened to a keep; the two rocks having possibly been united by a wall or bulwark of turf and stones forming a secure and chief enclosure. The "Cow," as it now stands, is I should say the largest detached block of stone in England, measuring eighty feet long, about thirty-six feet wide and upwards of fifty feet in height. From one point of view it presents, like the jutting face of Kilnsey Crag, as seen from the north side, the appearance of a huge sphinx, which may be intentional, or it may be natural, probably the latter.
The face of the rock bears a depression that looks like a human foot, and local tradition concerning it is that the genius of the moors, a certain giant Rumbald, was stepping from Almias Cliff on the opposite side of the valley, to this great rock, but miscalculating its height his foot slipped, leaving the impression we now see.
Both the "Cow" and the "Calf" have cups and channels on their surfaces, which were conjectured by Messrs. Forrest and Grainge in 1869 to be connected with Druidical priestcraft, and that their purpose was "to retain and distribute the liquid fuel which fed the sacred flame on grand festivals of the year."
Cow and Calf, basin, cup and channel marked. Described above. Some think the "basins" are due to natural weathering. I have heard it said the "Calf" fell from the "Cow" during a terrific storm about a century ago, but this is extremely doubtful. Anciently the Cow was known as the Inglestone.
Many of the rocks have been broken up for making the roads and other purposes in recent times. The largest and most notable of these was a monster slipped-boulder which stood near the road below the "Cow and Calf." It was as large as an ordinary cottage and was known as the "Bull Rock." To the regret of many it was destroyed. Old people tell me that these isolated rocks have borne the names of Bull and Cow and Calf time out of memory, but no legend is known to attach to them.