Wednesday, 28 July 2010

The Grey Stone ring carvings, Harewood and Almscliffe Crag

The grey stone erratic boulder overlooking Harewood house and across to Almscliffe, stone 399 on the Boughey and Vickerman survey. Its very easy to locate for rock art, a bridleway through some imposing gates opposite a turning to Wike on the A61 road lead up to New Bridge over the river, the grey stone is on the hill 340m SE in Grey Stone Pasture (appropriately!) on the left just before you reach the woods and bridge, theres a large oak tree on the hill behind it too. The concentric circles of the carving face west towards armscliffe, the natural rock boulder mirroring the silhouette of the outcrop in minature form, the midwinter full moon of the bronze age would have set behind Almscliffe viewed from this point. We visited for the winter solstice sunrise of 2009 and the glow over the valley was beautiful.

The 7 circles without inner cup remind me of some circle lightning I saw as a child, ever decreasing mirroring without end. We elaborately disguise our feelings and thoughts to give ourselves the impression of change but ultimately the patterns remain the same. Microcosm of life on a microcosm of the focus of this area. Almscliffe draws the eye from a full circle around it, from all points you notice its mushrooming intrusion on the landscape.

I've been particuarly interested in Paul Bennett's findings about Almscliffe's Faerie's Parlour, the existence of which had also been confirmed to me by a climber friend. Apparently its a very small enclosed tunnel which you can crawl so far comfortably but then becomes extremely claustrophobic. This tunnel supposedly leads from Almscliffe to emerge out from under the bridge I mentioned below the grey stone at Harewood. The Northen Caves entry on the cave however details an exploration by Royal Park middle school in the 70's.

The tunnel has been an obsession now for months! We have explored it to at least a depth of 50 metres, but time and fear has kept us from our goal.

Me and my friends have created an E-book related to Almscliffe, and music to accompany the text.

I'd like to think this is a project which will grow with time, as we didnt cover everything we discovered due to time limitations. Specifically the connections between almscliffe and the grey stone, which are referred to in the local folklore of Rombold the giant. He lived in Ilkley, on the moor, and frequently argued with his giantess wife. One arguement resulted in a chod of rock being thrown from Ilkley at the retreating giant, and where it landed it formed Almscliffe and a smaller piece, the Grey stone.