In Search of Circles 17th August 2011

Crop circles?

Of course not! Stone circles, cup and ring marked rocks and settlements from the Bronze Age all a few miles from home….well Richard’s home to be exact in Co Durham. Not too far from Barnard Castle either, with a couple of great chippies to finish the day!

The area to explore is Barningham Moor and there are lots of routes over it.

We parked on the road that heads out along the open moor from Newsham. Easy peasy here as we were already a height and it was boots on and straight out over the open moor.  There is a great difference from May when all the birds are calling and the Lapwing wheeling, but they have had their two broods and departed to the lowlands. There were still Curlews around, a lot of Wheatears and one hunting Peregrine falcon.

Within a mile or so we were onto the edge of the stone circle of How Tallon. This has sunken slightly over the years, but it is still easy to imagine its importance all those thousands of years ago

This is also where we encountered a large frog


The day was brightening up and now after another mile or so we had to head up to Eel Hill through the bracken to search for cup and ring stones.

Every time you look at them it generates the same thoughts.  In the Bronze Age they were time consuming to produce, yet delicate and intricate with the cup stamp in the middle and so important to these people.

What did they represent? Of course we really do not know what they were for and probably never will and it is this which makes them so fascinating. Ermmmm Erich von Daniken step forward please!

After this we headed down towards Barninghan Moor.

This involved passing through a ‘dry valley’ called Osmaril Gill created by glacial waters and now left as a testament to powers past along with the numerous Shake (Sink) holes scattered all over the moor.

Here there are numerous settlement remains of huts and enclosures hidden in the landscape, but with a bit of height are quite easily seen.

As we headed back to the car we disturbed parties of Grouse that had survived the ‘Glorious Twelfth’ as they cackled across the moor. Finally we reached the trig point on top of How Tallon.

Here after early excavations, some of the cup marked rocks from the burial had found their way into the dry stone wall! A great day out, ending of course with a portion of fish and chips in good old ‘Barney’.

Researching on the Internet we realised we had missed a lot of stones further down Barningham Moor – one in particular found in 2006and so not badly weathered. So in the words of Arnie “I’ll be back”!


About chaddersatlarge

Retired early and making the best of it. I like walking, photography and wildlife. I am also interested in local history and beer drinking.
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