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The Old Wife's Well (Sacred Well) — Miscellaneous

I think we can probably establish this as having a pre-historic origin.

In 270 a.d., the Emperor Aurelian declared worship of the sun god, Sol Invictus, an official religion throughout the empire. He dedicated the Sol Invictus Temple in Rome on December 25th., 274, and declared that day Dies Natalis Solis Invicti – the Day of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun. Our midwinter festival has been held on 25th. ever since.

If this spring had previously hosted a winter solstice festival, then the Romans patrolling the nearby Wade's Causeway would have referred to it as Fontana Natalis – the 'Birth Spring', or 'Winter Solstice Spring' (the winter solstice being the birth of the year – in the Welsh language, Christmas is Nadolig, in Cornish it's Nadelik, both words derived from Latin natalis - 'birth').

Centuries later, a folk rendition of Latin fontana natalis (perhaps influenced by Norman French 'fontein') was all they could manage. But it's there to this day – Nattie Fonten. Roll on, roll on.

Breckon Howe (Round Barrow(s)) — Images (click to view fullsize)

<b>Breckon Howe</b>Posted by hotaire

Seal Howe (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

This is an interesting name. It seems specifically Danish, from a personal name, 'Sile'. In N. Yorks., we find it as Sil Howe, near the High Bridestones.

The N. Yorks. name is problematical, in that Yorkshire experienced several distinct 'Viking' incursions. However, it seems most likely that a Cumbrian 'Sile' would have come with the Norse/Danish group that was expelled from Ireland in 902 a.d.

Vikings often intruded their burials into prehistoric mounds. Within fifteen miles of my flat, we have, for example, Shunner Howe (Old Norse 'Sjonar') Simon Howe (Old Norse 'Sigemund') Sil Howe (Old Danish 'Sile') etc. Norse artifacts were found in Lilla Howe when it was excavated in the 1970s, too, even though that name is Old English, rather than Scandinavian. All of these are prehistoric in origin.

It would be interesting to know if this Cumbrian site has been excavated, and if Scandinavian artifacts were found. From the name, it does seem entirely possible.

Standingstones Rigg (Ring Cairn) — Images

<b>Standingstones Rigg</b>Posted by hotaire

Cock Howe (Round Barrow(s)) — Images

<b>Cock Howe</b>Posted by hotaire

Louven Howe (Round Barrow(s)) — Images

<b>Louven Howe</b>Posted by hotaire

The Wheeldale Stones (Standing Stones) — Fieldnotes

There are two of these, one on each side of the road. Whilst the tradition of young couples holding hands through the hole as they take their vows at Doagh (Co. Antrim) is interesting, it can hardly apply here – these giants are nine feet high! I have no idea what they are, or from which period they come.

There is a smaller version (about 2½ feet high) further south on this road, at the turn-off to Three Howes.

The Wheeldale Stones (Standing Stones) — Images

<b>The Wheeldale Stones</b>Posted by hotaire

Louven Howe (Round Barrow(s)) — Miscellaneous

Origin of name and cross on top :
In 1121, King Henry 1 married Adeliza, daughter of Godfrey de Louvain, Duke of Lower Lorraine. As part of her entourage, came her half-brother, Josceline de Louvain. Shortly afterwards, Josceline married Agnes de Percy, whose family owned this moorland. (Her brother was Alain de Percy, whose name is preserved in Allen Tofts). It is thought that this cross was raised on top of the howe to commemorate the wedding. It couldn't have been much later because, when Alain died without legitimate heir in his father's lifetime, Josceline de Louvain changed his surname to Percy in order to preserve his wife's illustrious dynasty

The cross was broken – along with about thirty others on these moors – by Puritan 'iconoclasts' who regarded them as idolatrous. This would be during the Commonwealth period (1649 – 1660).

Louvain Howe marks the junction of roads from Whitby and Robin Hood's Bay on the way south to Thornton-le-Dale. There is a well here, served only by surface water, and, consequently, often dry. It's roughly eight feet deep and three feet square – I once sheltered in it during a storm!

Murk Mire Moor (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Fieldnotes

Un-named stone on Murk Mire Moor. Similar in type and proportions to Blue Man i' the Moss and Margery Bradley

Murk Mire Moor (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Images

<b>Murk Mire Moor</b>Posted by hotaire

Blue Man I' The Moss (Standing Stone / Menhir) — Miscellaneous

The name is often said to be from Welsh 'plu maen', meaning parish stone. Problem with that is Welsh 'plu' means feathers! Parish is 'plwyf'

Cornish 'plyw' (pronounced, I think, 'ploo') means parish, and that fits the bill better. But Cornish for stone is 'men'

We're left with either Welsh plwyf maen, or Cornish plyw men. But neither are a million miles away, and 'parish stone' looks plausible.

The problem now is establishing how early this "parish" was. First mention of parishes in English was in 'Life of Cuthbert' by anon of Lindisfarne, circa 700. Its "parrochia of Osingadun" was in N. Yorks, and held by Abbess Aelfflaed, but is now lost.

Levisham Moor (Ancient Village / Settlement / Misc. Earthwork) — Fieldnotes

Settlement excavated by Scarborough Archaeological & Historical Soc. 1957-1978.

At least eight rectilinear enclosures were found, most lined along an earlier dyke. Not all enclosures were excavated internally, but some contained huts. The most likely dating for these enclosures seems to be 1st. century a.d.

One of the enclosures (enclosure D) seemed to be specifically for the purpose of iron working, and contained evidence of three furnaces.

The high iron content of the ores analysed, and especially its magnetic properties, suggest that ore was brought from the west side of Rosedale (8 miles to the west) rather than extracted on Levisham Moor itself. Rosedale is the only known source of magnetic ore in N.E. Yorkshire, and this occasioned a massive mining operation in c19th. a.d.

The Levisham Moor 'furnace house' is the oldest evidence of iron working known in N.E. Yorks. – by about a thousand years!

Simon Howe (Cairn(s)) — Images

<b>Simon Howe</b>Posted by hotaire

Scamridge Long Barrow — Fieldnotes

Scamridge long barrow measured 165 feet long, 54 feet wide and 9 feet high at its eastern end, and 46 feet wide and 7 feet high at its western end. It's not in bad nick, though the eastern end has collapsed through excavation, and trees now grow on the disturbed earth there.

Canon Greenwell, excavated the barrow in 1864, and found the bones of fourteen or fifteen individuals jumbled in an area 40 x 3½ feet at the eastern end of the barrow. One or more of the skulls was cleft at the time of death. More remarkably, the bones were burnt. Indeed, they constitute the earliest known evidence of cremation in north-east Yorkshire.

Scamridge Long Barrow — Images

<b>Scamridge Long Barrow</b>Posted by hotaire

Lord Stones (Round Cairn) — Images

<b>Lord Stones</b>Posted by hotaire

Kepwick Moor (Long Barrow) — Fieldnotes

Excavated by Greenwell pre-1877. Remains of 5 individuals found. No sign of cremation. Two flint flakes, but no other grave goods

Simon Howe (Cairn(s)) — Fieldnotes

Are you sure the offending structure is a grouse butt? Or is it a wind-break constructed by Lyke Wake walkers? I noticed that they'd desecrated Lilla Howe in the same way and for the same reasons about ten years ago.

Update 16th. August, 2006 : English Heritage field investigator points out there are no grouse butts in this vicinity, and agrees that the offending structure is a windbreak built by walkers. Decision on what - if anything - can be done is pending.
14th. August, 2006.


My name's Hotaire. I've been based in Pickering, North Yorkshire, for 30 years. My interests include just about everything on the North York Moors prior to the Norman Conquest.

I started out by photographing the place – three consecutive annual exhibitions at the National Park Centre (1994, '95, & '96). But then, sick of not knowing a hell of a lot about what I was photographing, I followed the trail into academia. My M.A. thesis was on the Ragnarsson dynasty of York – the first (Danish) of the two Viking settlement waves here.

My two favourite reads are Bede's 'Historia Ecclesiastica' and Steinbeck's 'Cannery Row' - don't ask! And now I've turned writer, having just completed a 200 page tome called 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary & Thyme'. No publisher yet, but it's early days.

Thank you for visiting me.


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