The Modern Antiquarian. Stone Circles, Ancient Sites, Neolithic Monuments, Ancient Monuments, Prehistoric Sites, Megalithic MysteriesThe Modern Antiquarian

The Nan Stone

Standing Stone / Menhir


The walk to the Nan Stone from Scaling Dam is beautiful at this time of year.
If you start from the Scaling Dam car park and then follow the circular walk signs they will lead you into Quarry Lane. Alternatively you can access Quarry lane from the main A171. From Quarry Lane just follow the path and you will eventually come to the moor.
There's lots to see here as the walk to the moor takes you along the edge of the Scaling nature reserve. If you love wild flowers then this is definitely a place to be. It's times like this when I wish I knew the names of many more of our wildflowers. Also at this time of the year it is almost impossible to avoid stepping on small black frogs, they are less than 1cm long and are everywhere.
To get to the Nan Stone you should turn right and follow the earthwork when you get to the open moor. If you can't see the earthwork to your right then you haven't arrived yet, keep walking.
Once you have turned right and begun to follow the earthwork you will notice an upright standing stone. The Nan Stone is part of this boundary so keep walking. The earthwork turns off to your right but you must keep walking ahead to the top of a small hill, this is where you will find the next stone. This large stone is now leaning but the weathering on the top shows that it was once erect.
Keep walking along the same line and you will eventually come to a well-made keepers track. Cross the track and climb the small knoll. From the top of this knoll you should be looking out over a large marshy area of sedges, moss and a couple of dwarf trees. You should be able to see the stones slightly to your left on the rising ground on the opposite side.
The next bit is up to you. I bog-trotted across the sphagnum swang wearing just a pair of trainers. It was a blistering hot day and my feet soon dried. Sensible folk can pick their way around the swang and keep their feet relatively dry.
The stones are both standing and are about 1 metre tall. The squared stone is a modern boundary stone that was probably erected during the eighteenth century. The Nan Stone is its rather squat neighbour. The stone has a flat face with a + carved into it, there is also some very weathered carving close to the base of the stone and some cup-like depressions on the top of the stone which are probably solution cups caused by natural erosion processes.
There are two things about the Nan stone that I really like.
The first is the journey to the stone. The walk is not particularly long or challenging but it takes you along an old road lined with ancient hawthorns hanging with honeysuckle. You then walk through an area of wetlands which are rich in wildflowers, butterflies, birds and fly-infested sheep that refuse to give ground to you but will happily transfer half of their blue-arsed lodgers to your keeping.
You then walk onto the lovely moody open moor with it's vast expanse of heather, bilberry and bracken . And then your final challenge is crossing a lush sphagnum bog.
The second thing that appeals to me is that this moor is rich in prehistoric remains and this stone may well have been used as a boundary marker way back in ..? who knows.
It is possible that when we walk this boundary we are walking along something that was established in prehistory and is still in active use today. My OS map has this boundary marked as Euro ER, Co Const CP & UA Bdy. I'm not too sure what all of that means but what I do know is that this ancient boundary still has meaning today
The Nan stone has been transformed from a stone that possibly legitimised the claims of one small group of prehistoric North Yorkshire people to a patch of moorland territory to a stone that helps define a European political constituancy. Onwards and upwards.
The Nan Stone is lovely, get yersels there.
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
23rd July 2006ce
Edited 24th July 2006ce

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