I have posted a photo of this iron age settlement before. On an overcast winter’s morning with patches of snow on the ground. The overgrown heather smothered any hope of making sense of the earthworks. Today in bright sunshine I cycled past and was surprised to see that the heather has recently been cut back so that the ditches and hut circles can clearly be made out although perhaps not so obvious on a two dimensional photograph. There are five circles and interpretation of this one in particular is helped by an exposed section of sandstone foundation blocks. Can I see an entrance? My phenomenological mind runs wild. Women grinding wheat using a quern stone. Children playing. Beyond the site along the ridge the ancient oak woodlands have been cleared. Cattle graze, crops are tended, Down in the valley Sleddale is wet and boggy, still dominated by tree cover.
Well worth a visit before the heather grows tall again.
I woke up this morning listening to Radio 4. Half asleep I heard of the latest antics from America, and sometime before that the ‘news’ that on this day in 1972 Parliament voted to join the European Common Market. This of course lead to the Treaty of Accession later in the year and the UK becoming an EC member state on 1 January 1973. And now after 44 years of prosperity we are leaving. Or did I just dream all this? A nightmare, I’ll wake up soon.
So a melancholic mood when I set out up Easby Moor this glorious morning. Blue skies with overnight mists down in Kildale. In his book Landmarks Robert Macfarlane refers to these low lying morning mists as daal’mist or haze fire. They will soon fade. On the moor I caught a tantalising glimpse of a bird of prey. It wasn’t a kestrel and it wasn’t a buzzard; after that my bird identification is a bit wooly. It swooped from one hawthorn tree to another as I tried to get close enough for a photo. I gave up when it crossed the gill. By the time Roseberry was summited all worries of Trump and Brexit had well and truly evaporated. Like the haze fire.
A bitterly cold morning, clumst as they say in the North East, the heather white with hoar frost crystals and the sun straining to break through the low lying cloud. Hoar is an Old English word meaning showing signs of old age but the moors are magic on these mornings, eerily quit, paths and bogs solid to run over.
The stone is on the Ernaldsti, the ancient track south across the moors from Guisborough to Westerdale and it’s likely to be a guide stone rather than a boundary stone. But that’s just my feeling. Behind is Kempswithin Fields, a reference perhaps to the 18th century agricultural experiment to improve the moor to grow corn, wheat and barley, rising to Pike Howe at 294m asl.
Obvious on the stone is a bench mark cut by the Ordnance Survey to record the height above Ordnance Datum. Although no longer maintained the Ordnance Survey have published their complete listing of half a million bench marks which tells me this one was cut in 1953, is at NZ64750820 and is precisely 283.019m above sea level. Unless of course it’s slowly sinking into the peat under its own weight.
There were floods in the village last night. The remains of Storm Angus. Drains were backing up, sandbags were out and the River Leven was close to bursting. So gave Old Meggison a visit on the River Leven in Kildale Woods. Back in the village the river level had dropped about a metre and the rains continued.
A rather dull late afternoon dog walk up to Cook’s Crags overlooking Kildale with the nights drawing in. Kildale is quiet vale almost entirely belonging to the Kildale Estate. The Normans referred to it as Childale when the Percys perhaps occupied the motte and bailey castle. But the Scandinavians were here before then. When St. Cuthbert’s Church was being built 7 or 8 Viking burials were found with swords and other grave goods. It must have been an earlier church where the devil, for a joke, drank the church well dry so that the priest could get no holy water.
The village wasn’t always sleepy. It was on the turnpike road from Stokesley to Whitby and once boasted a school, post office and pub but these are now all converted to residential. The railway arrived in 1861 with it brief periods of ironstone mining and whinstone quarrying.
I visited this brick lined shaft on Tuesday but I wasn’t happy with the photos so a return visit today. It was a ventilation shaft for the Coate Moor Ironstone Mine. A furnace would have been at the bottom and the air warmed would rise drawing in fresh air from the main drift entrance.
Coate Moor Mine operated for a mere four years from 1872 to 1876. It was one of three ironstone mines on the Kildale Estate. Warren Moor and Lonsdale being the other two. None were successful in spite of the iron trade being in a boom period in the early 1870s. Miners were striking to improve their wages and working conditions and at the same time Coate Moor Mine had to compete with bigger mines. By 1875 it was in debt and was put up for auction.
It must be twenty years since I was last here. I was planning an orienteering event. There was no fence around then and with the hole being big enough to catch a heffalump never mind a runner the courses were carefully planned to avoid it. The landowner has obviously been advised of his liability under the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1984 and has since put the fence up. A selfie stick came in handy to take the photo.