Stone shelter on Whernside

Pitlamp

Well-known member
Ta. By pure co-incidence I have to go past Philpin in a few days time. If he's about I'll have a word.
 

IanWalker

Active member
Sometimes you can find out information about land parcels for free if they were entered into an Environmental Stewardship Agreement on DEFRA's "MAGiC" map.


No luck in this case as our point of interest is not within such a parcel:

1705521807371.png


MAGiC map has been shared on UKCaving before but is worth repeating. It's a great source of information for all sorts of countryside / heritage / environment issues. You have to turn on check boxes to view the layers: here's a snapshot of some nearby historic and environmental records. You can use the 'i' button to query a visible feature

1705520922157.png
 

Lankyman

New member
This structure reminds me of something very similar I came across on Burn Moor a few years ago, not too far away on Bowland. I took some photos and posted them up on Geograph where I theorised that they were predator traps similar to better known ones in the Lake District.
an entrance
another entrance
and another entrance
the trap?

There seem to be three different entrances close to the trap itself, all constructed within the boulders/scree. I wasn't able to confirm if the three entrances connect with the actual 'trap' structure but proximity suggests they are related. Up on Burn Moor my thoughts were they were Victorian control of predators on grouse - there are butts and a shooting box not far away. Perhaps on the Whernside example someone could check to see if there is a similar 'trap' structure nearby. Perhaps it was to protect the sheep/lambs in the nearby fold as the equivalent shooting interest is some way off north near The Tarns?
 

Stevie

New member
There’s a really similar looking structure on Ilkley moor close to where I live. We wondered for ages what it was for. Northern Antiquarian runs with the Pixie theme. I wasn’t sure but I tried to send my daughter in for a look.

 

Attachments

  • 48F422D4-B6FD-4F9E-8C6F-DDF438642FFF.jpeg
    48F422D4-B6FD-4F9E-8C6F-DDF438642FFF.jpeg
    265.7 KB · Views: 45

oldfart

Member
I was talking to Alec Towler, 83 year old farmer, from Middlehouse on Malham moor this afternoon. He has a fox trap on his land just as described in this thread. He called it a cist.
 

john green

New member
By pure chance I was doing a job at Broadrake this afternoon, so I siezed the opportunity to nip back up Whernside to try to get a few more images. I'm not the world's best photographist but hopefully these pictures below will give an idea of what's inside. First one; the entrance. You'll not be able to see the graduations on the steel tape but when zoomed in it's clear that the entrance is 150 mm x 250 mm.
View attachment 18091
I think the enterance has been reduced in size after building it was originally about 15 inch, still a small hole, certainly not intended for people to go through it
 

IanWalker

Active member
I was talking to Alec Towler, 83 year old farmer, from Middlehouse on Malham moor this afternoon. He has a fox trap on his land just as described in this thread. He called it a cist.
How does it work?

All that we know about the Whernside construction is an entrance and a short straight tunnel. There must be more too it to be an effective trap?
 

hoehlenforscher

Active member
1706037787132.png

Not sure why it was built but it is definitely in use by an animal with a fairly wide track between legs, possibly a badger, though given how high on the fell it is more likely a fox.

It is possible that this is a well established fox den and hunters have had their dogs stuck down the hole in the past. So when digging down through the scree to recover dogs (and finish off any cubs inside that might be there, they have reconstructed the entrance to make it easier for the dogs to get in to the foxes next time?
 

tobyk

Member
This is intriguing! Does anyone have any ideas of how old it might be? Beyond the entrance is it crawlable? We went to Orkney last summer, and there were some incredibly low entrances into some of the Neolithic tombs there. Some of which were on the top of hills.
 

oldfart

Member
How does it work?
I was talking to Alec in the pub yesterday. He could only vouch for the sist on Malham Moor. There was a slate deadfall which was triggered somehow by the passage of the fox. It is then a simple matter of removing a couple of stones and letting the dogs do their work. It hasn't been used since the war.
 

Pitlamp

Well-known member
David Johnson has kindly been up there for a look and he says the following (reproduced with his permission):

"This morning I finally trotted up to the mysterious stone feature that has been exercising folks' minds. It's precise location is SD73531 80174, by the way. It has definitely been narrowed, at least on the left side entrance, and looking at the ground above it, behind the entrance, it was clear to me that it had been dug backwards, from the surface downwards, rather than having been tunnelled in. I also noticed just to its left a pile of flagstones that were stacked there rather than having naturally landed there. There also seems to be a ramp leading up to the top of the passage from the little path a couple of metres to the right of the entrance. I would say the ground was taken up for at least 6m from the entrance.

I stand by all the possibilities that I discounted in my previous email and I now also discount my hypothesis that it might have been the offtake for a leat serving Top Farm. The steepness of the slope and the mass of scree below rule that out. What I can say with total conviction, using archaeology-speak, is that it's a truly excellent example of its kind. You'll be pleased to hear that.

While I was up there I looked (again) for the source of the Broadrake leat, and I found it and was able to trace it all the way down to Broadrake. If either of you would like precise details, let me know.

Oh, I forgot to say (!) what I think the feature is. I never make something up or try to fob people off with spin. If I don't know, I say I don't know. For this thing, I haven't a bloody clue. What I will say is that on my way down I wandered left and right looking for any trace of a leat going downhill to the south-west that might have originated at the 'thing'. Initially nothing, but over the centuries especially up there features can be dramatically changed as we all know and it is just possible (no more than that) that there may have been a leat, following what is now that wee path. It's odd that at the first wall you meet going downhill, next to the gate, there is a water smoot. Yes, the wall has been rebuilt to insert the gate but the massive lintel on the downhill side of the wall looks original to me - why would they have inserted a smoot when that wall was first built unless it was to allow a cut channel to flow through? (And I don't think it relates to the modern drainage ditch on the west side of the path). Further down the grockle path, maybe half way or so between the two gates, there is a straight channel that has clearly been dug contouring along and again not linked in any way to the modern path. It has a very pronounced cast bank alongside it and is fed by a number of short rills that all enter it at right angles. No way natural. Below there I lost it - too many little channels all over ... until I picked up the definite Broadrake leat
."

He also suggested that more could be learned if a camera could be got in there, to give a better view of what lies out of sight. Does anyone fancy a go at this? Maybe a GoPro & video light on some sort of wheeled platform, on the end of some drain rods? Perhaps even a tiny drone with anti crash capability?
 
Top