Featured Row – Crown End, Westerdale Moor

Crown End stone row on Westerdale Moor on the North Yorkshire Moors is a probable single stone row measuring 168m long, including about 21 visible medium and large-sized stones situated on both sides of a west to east ridge. The row has been partly incorporated into a later field bank. One stone has a possible small cross carved on it, perhaps an attempt to Christianise the row.  The row is orientated north to south and stands in an area with several cairns, prehistoric settlements and field systems.

Plan of the Crown End stone row (Source: GPS Survey by Sandy Gerrard)

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5 comments

  1. SumDoood · · Reply

    How often do you tend to find a stone row is / was part of a field system? I find myself wondering about this having recently walked past what I took to be a Neolithic field boundary (nr the Moor of Drannandow, Galloway), when all I really noticed was one “wall”, most of it straight, but with one contour hugging bend, and comprising v big stones with big gaps in between.

    Can one say that such a wall-type structure cannot be a row, if it is significantly not straight?

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    1. This is a tricky one to answer as we can not be sure that a line of stones incorporated within a field boundary started life as a row or as marking out stones for the boundary. As a rule of thumb it is a good idea to look at the form of other boundaries in the area and if they are very different and do not have large stones incoporated in them there is a better chance that what you are looking at is a row. Each feature therefore needs to be judged on its own merits. I have been looking at a few of these recently and will try and put together a fuller response that deals with your question. Longer rows tend not to be straight and some rows have stones placed fairly close together. Again I will dig out some examples and post a proper reply later.

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  2. On Dartmoor where many rows are close association with prehistoric field boundaries in every known instance the rows are earlier. The field systems are generally of Middle Bronze Age date. At Holne Moor the terminal reave in the coaxial field system stops just short and is parallel with the triple stone row. At Yar Tor another triple stone row is slighted by Bronze Age field bounaries. This is also the case at Hurston Ridge and Assycombe whilst at Hook Lake one of the row stones is incorporated into a round house and at Shoveldown all the rows apart Row are respected by the later fields. The row at Stanlake is largely buried below an historic boundary bank. In all these instances it is fairly easy to differentiate between the rows and boundaries. Where it gets more difficult is in places where lines of stones clearly form part of the field system but look different suggesting that they may have started as something else. There is really no way to be sure although the evidence from Dartmoor certainly suggest that they did not do this regularly and instead seem to have either respected them or ignored them. The two rows on the North York Moors where boundaries seem to have been added to parts of the row at a later late certainly provide evidence that this could happen and there are other examples where this has happened such as Bryn Seward and Parc y Meriw but again these are historic as was the case at Harold’s Stones – since removed. Apparently the stones at Saith Maen were converted into the wall of a sheepfold or perhaps it is actually the remains of a sheep fold. Many field boundaries have been identified as stone rows over the years. Foremost among these is Hwylfa’r Ceirw which is scheduled as a stone row, the line of stones at St David’s Head and another on Skomer. They all clearly form part of a field system, but did they start life as rows? The answer is we do not know and probably will never know, but it is perhaps safest to categorise them as field boundaries since they fit comfortably into that classification. Detailed work on some might promote some to possible rows but essentially one would need a cairn and or blocking stone to clinch it. Langstone Moor 2 has been claimed as a stone row but the consensus is that it is a reave and that the stones simply form part of the structure. At Crown End and North Ings by contrast the boundary does not precisely follow the stones and indeed in both instances the stones extend beyond the boundary. At North Ings excavation proved the the stones were earlier. I still need to have a look at the Shearers and Standingstone Rigg as both of those might be seen as field boundaries rather than rows.
    As I indicated before long rows are always not straight. Sometimes the stones are bigger and perhaps closer together towards one end, but this is not universally so. That said this could be taken as an helpful indication if there was no other evidence. Any lines of large stones embedded in a field wall or bank are worthy of consideration and I am sure many rows remain to be found in this way though for the reasons given above it will always be tricky to prove. Detail of construction will probable be crucial. Rows of smaller stones in banks are likely to be lost for ever. It is always best to assess each site on its merits taking into account what can be seen and the context. It is important to remember that whilst each region tends to have a common type of row there are nearly always exceptions and this means that rows of a type that are usually found in a particular region can be found in smaller numbers elsewhere. I hope that helps. I would be interested to learn more about the Moor of Drannandow, Galloway site that you refer to.

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  3. SumDoood · · Reply

    I’ve looked again at my photo taken nr Drannadow, and the way in which the wall / row turns on a contour low down by a stream makes it seem more wall-like. But it’s well worth the not-long walk to look around the sites on the moor, including Drumfern.

    What’s a reave?

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    1. Thanks for that SumDoood. Will put it on my list of places to have a look at. A reave is the name given in SW England to prehistoric field boundaries. Some denote the edges of fields whilst others (some over 10km long) are considered to denote territories. There are some particularly fine examples of Dartmoor.

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