The Gristhorpe Man

Bronze age burial and culture in Northern England

The Gristhorpe Man and his world.
Gristhorpe is a small village on the North Yorkshire coast in northern England, about 5 miles south of Scarborough, just on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds.  The area is rich in prehistoric barrows. One such barrow, now known as the Gristhorpe barrow or Gristhorpe tumulus, was dug into in july 1834 by the then landowner William Beswick and a group of his friends. The Gristhorpe tumulus was the most prominent of a group of three barrows which stood close to the cliff top, overlooking the North Sea.

It had originally been a stone cairn which was later covered with clay and turf. What they found inside the barrow was a large wooden coffin made from a hollowed out trunk of an oak tree. 
 Unfortunately only the lid of the coffin now remains intact. Oddly, the barrow seems to have been dug into about 500 years after the original burial, and oak branches had been laid over the top of the coffin. No one seems to know why this took place but it makes you wonder why the occupant of the grave was still being in some way venerated or remembered after such a long time. The coffin lid has a carving at one end which is in the rough form of a human face, though it was more discernible when first excavated than it is today. The coffin was buried in a north / south position with the head end facing south. Inside was the perfectly preserved skeleton of a tall man, stained black from the oak tannins, and wrapped in animal furs. He was lying on his right side facing the sea (to the East). The waterlogged clay had kept the remains in almost perfect condition.  It is now known that the burial took place around 2,200 b.c, in what was the early bronze age in Britain and the Gristhorpe man is one of the best preserved bronze age burials in Europe. 
Log coffin burials from this period are extremely rare in Britain. They are more common in Denmark but the Gristhorpe burial is about 700 years older than any yet found there. There are also log coffin burials from this time known from Germany and the Netherlands. People were probably migrating or exchanging ideas back and forth across the North Sea, possibly settling in different areas, as they always had. It should be remembered that only a few thousand years before this the area of the North Sea between Yorkshire and Denmark was actually dry land (Doggerland) which was slowly overwhelmed  by the sea as the sea levels rose after the last ice age. This was quite a long time but a memory of the bond between these cultures could have remained in folklore and stories as well as family ties, especially given the degree of travel and trade which is now known to have existed.
Anyway, the man was about 6 ft tall, and had been around 60 years old when he died, He also had an almost full set of teeth. Tests showed he had had a high quality diet all his life, mainly of vegetables and meat, and oddly not much seafood even though he lived very close to the sea. Maybe he just didn't like fish. All this makes a lie of the old idea that prehistoric people were undernourished and unhealthy, lived a brutal life and then died young. By this period in time the people in this area were probably growing barley and possibly rearing animals for food as well as hunting wild animals and gathering wild fruit and other foods, in a climate probably warmer than the present, where water chestnuts grew in the east Yorkshire wetlands. 
He had been born locally (In the Scarborough area rather than the Yorkshire Wolds which are close by) and probably lived in the area all his life, though contrary to popular belief people travelled widely in bronze age Europe, trading between the Mediterranean, Ireland, Scandinavia, etc. in amber, metals, flint and other resources. Scarborough would have been a busy place at that time with the easily defended headland being an economic centre for bronze working and trade from distant sources. Keep in mind that this is the period in Britain when the main structure at Stonehenge had already been built, and when most stone circles were already old. Examples of remains from around this period are everywhere to be seen in the area, including Rudston Monolith (the tallest standing stone in Britain) which is not far to the south across the Wolds, and many other barrows etc in the immediate vicinity, one of which contained the famous Folkton 'drums' which are now in the British Museum (why are they too not in the Scarborough museum ?), and the varied remains of prehistoric rock art and other remains on the North York Moors a few miles to the north. Thornborough Henges sacred landscape, a massive ritual centre including barrows, henges, and a cursus, which has been described as the most important prehistoric site in the north of England, lies just 50 miles to the west and must have been well known to the Gristhorpe people at this time. The famous Mesolithic village at Star Carr is also less than 5 miles to the west, but this is from a much earlier period, about 8 - 9,000 b.c. about 6,000 years before Gristhorpe man lived, though this shows a long continuity of habitation in this area. The bronze age in Britain was a rich, artistic and diverse culture. Far from the 'primitive' people scraping a meagre living from the soil that many people still imagine.
Archaeologists assume that because the Gristhorpe man had a healthy diet and lived a long life he must have been a chieftain or some high ranking member of society, but this doesn't have to be the case....maybe the whole tribe was just well fed !  However, the style of burial would seem to indicate someone important or maybe just well liked.
There were several artefacts found with the body, a bronze dagger ( the copper of which the bronze was made had originally come from Ireland ) with a pommel made from a cetaceans (whales or dolphins ) jawbone, a flint knife, a basket, and bones from the feet of a fox and a pine marten. These may have been amulets just as people sometimes wear rabbits feet etc.
A couple of other interesting points....
It seems that the Gristhorpe man had some kind of benign tumour growing in his brain, which although it probably wasn't the cause of his death, would probably have given him severe headaches and probably epileptic seizures. Many ancient cultures regard people with epilepsy as gifted or special because during their seizures or trance states they are seen to have the ability to communicate with the otherworld and gather important information from the spirits, or to possess healing powers. This type of Shamanism would have been typical and commonly practiced in bronze age Britain so this may be why he was still being venerated long after his death. He was thought by his original discoverers to have possibly been a druid or priest of some kind, and although technically speaking druids were the priests of the Celtic peoples in the iron age, this is just playing with words.....the bronze age shamans and Celtic druids would have probably been indistinguishable from each other, with a continuity in their sacred beliefs and practices.  Just a different name.
This leads me to the next point. Originally, one reason he was thought to be a druid was because mistletoe berries were found in his coffin, and mistletoe was a sacred plant to the druids because of its magical and healing properties. Archaeologists now believe these berries are actually gall stones or kidney stones, though this is disputed as a sample of the berries / stones could not actually be used for the analysis.
The Gristhorpe man was put on display in the Rotunda museum in Scarborough soon after his discovery and is still there today with his grave goods etc, though i have to say the modern display is not nearly as interesting as the old one i remember as a child.


Historical atlas of North yorkshire. R. Butlin 2003

The bronze age tree trunk coffin burial. W.C.Williamson 3rd ed. 1872.

Barrows, hollow hills, standing stones and sacred streams.

Barrows, hollow hills, standing stones and sacred streams.
This is a slightly random post. It meanders, but then so does the stream which is its inspiration, the gypsey race, which flows like an ancient thread through the hills of the Yorkshire Wolds.

The Great Wolds Valley Sacred Landscape.
The Yorkshire Wolds is a plateau of chalk / limestone hills a few miles south of Scarborough. Bordered to the west by the vale of York and to the east by the north sea, with steep sided valleys, and some dramatic cliffs at the seas edge. It is an area with many well preserved archaeological remains from the Neolithic period and the bronze age, and particularly rich in ritual monuments and their folklore and legends, which make up the Yorkshire Wolds sacred landscape. Hundreds of bronze age round barrows are known in the area, as well as the Rudston monolith, which is the tallest standing stone in Britain , Duggleby Howe, which is one of the largest round barrows in Britain and is thought to date from the late Neolithic (about 4000 yrs old), no less than 4 Neolithic cursus monuments, Willy Howe barrow, and many others.
Probably the best known feature of this ritual landscape is the Rudston monolith . This huge bronze age standing stone towers 25 feet above ground, and legend says it is as long again under the ground. The ground level was raised in 1861 by 5 feet, so the monolith prior to that was presumably 5 feet taller (30 ft). It stands in the cemetery surrounding Rudston church and there is another smaller stone in the north east corner of the churchyard which, supposedly, originally stood nearer to the monolith. Excavations in the 1700's are said to have found a quantity of skulls around the base of the monolith. The stone itself is siliceous sandstone (gritstone) and was reportedly brought from Cayton Bay, which is about 10 miles away across the Wolds, on the north sea coast, just south of Scarborough (though the Rudston village website says that the stone was brought from Whitby, 40 miles to the north). Rudston was obviously a ritual site of great importance to the people who raised the stone and built the numerous other monuments here, as was the whole landscape for miles around.
The legend of how the monolith came to be in the church yard says that the devil tried to destroy the church by throwing the huge stone at it, but he missed and the stone has been there ever since. Nonsense of course as the stone has been there about 3,600 years.  Far longer than the church, but it's a nice story.
There are also reputedly fossil dinosaur footprints on the stone, though i've personally never noticed these.
There are plenty of other interesting ancient sites around the Wolds Ritual Landscape, such as Willy Howe Barrow, Duggleby Howe Barrow, Ba'l Hill, and the whole area is rich in folklore and fairie legends.  This whole antiquarian magical landscape seems to be centred around the sacred stream known as the Gypsey Race, which winds for miles across the Wolds. This great complex of barrows, old stones and huge cursus monuments seems to follow the Gypsey Race from its source at the village of Wharram-le-Street,  past Duggleby Howe Barrow, Willy Howe and Ba'l hill, right through Rudstons four great cursus monuments, around the monolith and away to the east, before reaching the sea at Bridlington, forming one huge ceremonial centre.
Gypsey streams (there are more than one on the Yorkshire wolds ) are streams which flow intermittently, sometimes being dry for long periods then springing back into life unexpectedly, presumably because of variations in the water table.
The Gypsey Race too has its legends, including one that says when the race flows it is a sign of impending disaster, and the most interesting (to me) says that people who drink from the stream are granted the ability to foretell the future.
The Gypsey Race flows east past Duggleby Howe, a large Neolithic barrow, one of the largest in Britain, surrounded by a ditched enclosure covering about 25 acres.

Ba'l hill

Beyond Rudston the Gypsey Race passes Southside Mount, another Neolithic or possibly bronze age barrow, and the 'barrow cemetery' at Rudston beacon.
Then it flows on past a variety of ancient sacred sites / monuments, including Willy Howe, Ba'l Hill, which is another neolithic barrow, Maidens Grave Henge, Argham dykes, and the group of 4 cursus monuments which cluster around Rudston itself.
The amount of work, energy, time, planning etc that must have been put into this huge ritual complex is staggering and shows that it was obviously of huge importance in ancient times, much more than is obvious from this now relatively quiet and peaceful rural landscape.
The landscape bordering the Yorkshire Wolds is also steeped in legends and folklore.  Filey, a small town on the coast, is home to its own dragon legend.  
Filey Brigg is a strip of land which juts out from the northern end of Filey Bay into the North Sea.

One legend says that a dragon once lived in the area, and the local people decided to do away with it. They baked a huge sticky cake (known locally as parkin) and fed it to the dragon. It was so sticky that the dragon had to go to the seas edge to wash its mouth, and was drowned. It's bones remain visible as Filey Brigg.
On february 28th, 1934 a local coastguard named Wilkinson Herbert saw a 'dragon' in the sea at Filey, with an 8 ft long neck, a 30ft long body, and two huge humps. It had four legs with flippers. He described it as "a most gruesome and thrilling experience". Maybe it was a relation of the dragon that drowned, or maybe it wasnt a dragon at all but something else entirely.
 Whether or not the dragon has something to do with the local peoples pagan beliefs is not known, but apparently filey people were only converted to christianity as late as the early nineteenth century, by a preacher named John Oxtoby. But dragons are very difficult to kill..........
Whilst on the subject of flying fiery things, the story of the 'Wolds meteorite' comes to mind.....On December 13th 1795, during a tremendous thunderstorm, a meteorite fell to earth near the village of Wold Newton. People heard a hissing noise overhead and the meteorite crashed into a field belonging to one Edward Topham, the local magistrate.  It was duly dug up while still warm and smelling of sulphur, and weighed approx 55 lb.  It was later exhibited in London and i believe it is now on display in the Natural History Museum in London.

                                                                        The Wold Newton meteorite.

Duggleby howe
The Yorkshire Wolds sacred landscape was clearly a very important place over a very long period of prehistory, both to the people who lived here and probably to people far beyond the local area too. But the Wolds do not exist in isolation, there are many other ancient monuments and places which have a magic of their own close by. The famous Folkton 'drums' were found in a barrow nearby, the world famous Mesolithic site of Star Carr is right on the edge of the wolds, The North York Moors with its own sacred landscapes (such as Brow Moor, with its wealth of prehistoric rock art ), and its many stone circles, standing stones and barrows etc is just a few miles to the north. All these combine with the many ancient legends and stories to give an insight into ancient beliefs and cultures of the people of prehistory in this area.

The Folkton 'drums'.

An Ancient Egyptian mummy on the Yorkshire coast.

Northern England may not be the place you’d expect to find the tale of a mummy’s curse but Low Hall, a country house at Scalby, just outside Scarborough on the North Yorkshire coast, is reputed to have just such a curse.
The story began in 1904, when John Rowntree, eldest son of Joseph Rowntree (the philanthropist and social reformer, and owner of Rowntrees chocolate factory in York) returned from his travels, bringing with him the mummified remains of an ‘Egyptian princess’, though just who she was no one seems to know. Anyway, he was dead within the year (aged 36). The Mummy was kept on show in a glass case in the library at Low Hall after his death and the story of it being cursed continued to grow. His son Lawrence was killed in world war 1, but so were many others, so why this was attributed to the mummy’s curse I’m not sure. The mummy was then moved again, to a pavilion on the grounds of Low Hall. Some years later (about 1936) the family asked the head gardener (Mr. Jack Hardwick) to rebury the ancient body in the grounds of the house, which according to his daughter Mrs Val Crosby, he did, though by that time it was deteriorating badly. And so the curse was laid to rest.
Except that apparently it wasn’t, as in the last 20 years or so, residents at Low Hall, which by this time had become a convalescent home for Yorkshire coal miners and their families, began reporting strange happenings. Some people reported a malevolent atmosphere in the library, and many of the residents said they felt a hand on their shoulder but when they turned around no one was there. The caretakers dog refused to go into the library at all, staff refused to enter certain rooms where footsteps could be heard when there was no one in the rooms, and doors would reportedly open and close on their own. There was also a blue light which was sometimes seen hovering over the kitchen garden where the mummy was buried.
So, about 10 years ago, plans were made to locate the mummy, dig it up, and return it to Egypt, and one of the people involved was the noted Egyptologist and archaeologist Dr Zahi Hawass, who was part of a campaign to return stolen antiquities to their countries of origin. And rightly so. However, at the present time (2015) this does not yet seem to have happened as the burial site is said now to be either under a golf course or under the bowling green ! Apparently it's more sacrilegious to dig up a golf course than it is to dig up an ancient Egyptian body. 
If anyone has any more up to date news of the fate of the mummy of Low Hall, or knows of any existing photographs, please let me know.

The Flixton Werewolf

Flixton is a very small village about 5 miles south of Scarborough on the North Yorksire coast, nestled on the south eastern edge of the Vale of Pickering, between the hills of the Yorkshire Wolds to the south and the edge of the North York moors a few miles to the north. Today it’s quite a bleak and desolate looking landscape, elemental and rugged, with miles of swampy open countryside, but long ago it was a dense forest with a large lake.  It must have been quite a wild, remote spot in the 10th century when the first known report of the Flixton werewolf tells of it terrorising the local countryside.
 There is no way of knowing now just how far back the Flixton werewolf tales go, but in the year 940 the situation was such that a hostel was built in Flixton specifically for the protection of travellers. The werewolf had reportedly attacked  sheep and local people as well as travellers.  The winters at that time were recorded as being particularly cruel in northern Britain and food was scarce. Freshly buried corpses were dug up and devoured, and anyone out after dark was risking being attacked. The Flixton werewolf became quite notorious around this time, not just around Flixton itself but also in other local villages.
However, the reports then stopped, and he the werewolf doesn't seem to have been reported again for a couple of hundred years or so, when around 1150 (ish) the reports began again.  It, (even assuming it was the same, very old, creature), devoured a local shepherd and a young girl, as well as farm animals. This werewolf walked upright, was incredibly stinky, had a particularly long tail and ferocious looking eyes.  Then all seems to have gone quiet again for about 600 years.
Maybe we should pause here a moment and consider the idea of lycanthropy (the ability to become a wolf, or werewolf) as either an inherited genetic trait, or something which is learned and passed down through the generations in particular families or groups, rather than a single creature roaming around for hundreds of years. Shape shifting is an incredibly ancient phenomenon, reported from all parts of the world in all time periods, even hinted at as far back as the palaeolithic in europe, where cave paintings show the possible transformation of humans into animals. Either way,  it's unlikely that a single creature could survive over a period of at least a thousand years.
One particularly interesting twist to the legend is that it was believed the werewolf was connected to a local magician who either used the creature for his own ends or was actually a shape shifter himself,  taking on the form of a wolf at will.
Anyway, Sometime around 1800 a carriage travelling to York was attacked just outside Flixton by a huge wolf like creature who first attacked the driver and then the occupants of the carriage. One of the travellers reportedly shot the creature, but apparently he didn't use silver bullets, because the creature was unharmed. It has to be remembered that wolves had been pretty well eradicated from this area by that time, and anyway a solitary wolf would have to be pretty desperate to attack a carriage full of people.
Then again much more recently, in the 1970's, local reports say a truck was attacked when a huge wolf like creature jumped on the front and tried to bash its way through the windscreen.
Moving further forward in time to 2016, a story that may be relevant was widely reported in the media about a creature which was seen several times near Beverley, which lies just over the Yorkshire Wolds about 25 miles to the south of Flixton. There were at least 7 sightings reported over a short period of time, of a creature described as 'half man, half dog' which stood upright on its hind legs, then dropped down and ran on all fours before jumping 30 feet over the Barmston Drain drainage canal. It was reported to be at least 8 feet tall and covered in shaggy hair. There is a local legend dating back centuries of a creature called 'Old Stinker' which is also tall and hairy, and has red eyes, and only recently seems to have become associated with the Flixton Werewolf legend, but never the less, local people organised a 'Werewolf Hunt' to try and find more evidence (presumably carrying pitch forks and burning torches). 
So the Flixton Werewolf may be a flesh and blood creature or local folklore, but whatever it is it certainly hasn't gone away. Another point of interest is that Flixton is the site of Star Carr, the site of the famous neolithic lake village which dates back to the end of the last ice age, and so is the first  known site to be occupied after the glaciers retreated about 11, 000 years ago. This gives the place a very ancient history indeed and is a perfect place for stories and legends to grow, and although the oldest reports of the werewolf at Flixton date back over a thousand years, who knows whether people were telling tales of strange creatures here many thousands of years before that, way back in the mists of time.

"He has left his stamp on classic antiquity, he has trodden deep in Northern snows. He has ridden rough-shod over the mediƦvals, and has howled amongst Oriental sepulchres. He belonged to a bad breed, and we are quite content to be freed from him and his kindred, the vampire and the ghoul. Yet who knows! We may be a little too hasty in concluding that he is extinct. He may still prowl in Abyssinian forests, range still over Asiatic steppes, and be found howling dismally in some padded
room of a Hanwell or a Bedlam".
Sabine Baring-Gould. The Book of Werewolves (1865).

                                                       Barmston Drain.

Space Goo.

 space jelly....astral jelly.......Star slyme.......astromyxin.......etc.

A couple of years ago i came across some very unusual 'jelly' in the garden of a house in the North York Moors national park in northern england.        It was a clear jelly, in sort of cube shapes,in several large lumps about an inch across,  as well as more blob like deposits scattered around an area of about 23 sq yards. It didn't smell, and remained undisolved for about a week even though it was quite wet weather.                                                                                                                                     
I've spent a large part of my life working and wandering in the countryside but this was something I'd never seen before, so  I took some photographs and did a bit of research, but more recently  I've come across several references to what seems to be the same as the stuff I saw. So what I've found out is that no one really knows quite what it is !

                                                                                                                                     My photo.
Space goo or something  similar has been found in various parts of Scotland over the last few years, as well as the Lake District in north western England, and as i said, in North Yorkshire. Many other places as well I'm sure, but these are just the instances ive come across.  The earliest record ive found is from  John of Gaddesden who lived from about 1280 to 1361. He was a well known physician who mentions it in his medical writings, suggesting it could be used for treating abscesses. He called it star of the earth, and described it as a 'certain mucilaginous substance lying upon the earth. ' I assume people have always seen it though.                                                                                                                           
For hundreds of years (at least) people have associated star shot with meteorites. In 1440 in an english-latin dictionary it was called 'star slyme'  or assub, which means falling star or shooting star. 
An article in Fate magazine (date and author unknown) described it as 'cellular organic matter' which floats around in space in 'presteller molecular clouds' (?).
On 3rd November 1996 a bright meteor was seen at Kempton in Australia, and the next mornresidents found translucent slime on the roads and in their gardens.
There were several falls of 'gelatinous rain' in Oakville, Washington, in 1994. National geographic called it 'mystery goo rain'. Microbiologist Mike McDowell tested the substance and claimed it could cause illness to anyone who touched it, and said he believed the town had been used as a 'test site' and that the substance had been manufactured. Scientists commissioned by the National geographic society tested some samples but said only that they had failed to find any DNA in the jelly.
There are many such stories.
Some people believe Star jelly to be some kind of pre fertilized frog spawn,  or 'proto spawn' which may have been regurgitated from amphibian eating birds, such as Herons,  which may sound plausible, but the amount I found would have needed to come from some form of monster frog, or a huge army of normal sized frogs. This substance is also sometimes called Otter jelly, presumably because its supposedly regurgitated by otters. mmm.
Slime moulds are another possibility as there are various types and can look unusual.
But then where's the DNA ?
Finally,  a man named Andy Malcolm reportedly claimed on a Scottish radio programme website that it was stags semen. (How would he know that ? ). Well what i found certainly wasn't stags semen.

                                             Keep watching the skies.

Cryptozoology and standing stones

Bogles, bears, and cat troughs.

  The North York Moors is a huge area in the north east of england and one of the least populated areas in the country. It stretches from just north of Scarborough on the Yorkshire coast, inland about 40 miles to sutton bank and north approx 35 miles to Cleveland. Altogether that's about 1300 square miles, believe it or not.
  On a very lonely part of the moors, between Ravenscar and Robin Hoods Bay, is an area called Brow Moor / Fylingdales Moor. It can seem a very desolate place when it's covered in fog or mist but it has a definate atmosphere of mystery and a wonderful sense of the otherworld.
  "It was a country of rolling moors, lonely and dun every direction upon these moors there were traces of some vanished race which had passed utterly away, and left as it's record strange monuments of stone".............'the adventure of the devils foot'.....(from 'Reminiscences of Sherlock Holmes', by Arthur ConanDoyle) .
   The events in 'The adventure of the devils foot' takes place in Cornwall, but the description would apply equally well to the North York Moors. Antiquities from many periods of the distant past abound here if you know where to look and the myths and stories from times long ago are plentiful and fascinating.
In one of the small wooded valleys which runs down to the sea nearby there's a place called Bogle Hole. A bogle is a kind of goblin from Northern England. Mischievous but not usually malevolent.
Here's a story told by two people i know very well about the bogle.
A few years ago they (a young lady and a young man) had set out to walk along the old disused railway line which runs along the coast from Scarborough to Whitby, and which passes along the edge of the moors and through Bogle Hole. The two friends intended to camp along the way and in the early evening ended up near a disused and deserted old quarry, which was now full of trees and which looked like a nice place to camp. On entering the quarry they were both filled with a strong feeling of disquiet, which as they went further in amongst the trees became a feeling of definate unease, to say the least. They felt they were definately not wanted there, so they quickly left and set off to find somewhere else to sleep. a couple of miles further on, as it was getting dark, they came to another nice wooded spot just below the moors (and, as it turned out, just south of Bogle Hole). So they put up their tent under some trees and about midnight, after sitting under the stars for a couple of hours, they decided to go to sleep. In the tent it was obviously very dark, and about 20 minutes after settling down one of the friends (the lady) woke the other in an agitated state. She said she had sat up intending to go outside for a minute, as you do, and sat in the tent was a small man like creature about 18 inches high, with a bald head and pointy ears, staring at her with a grin on his face. This may sound quite funny now but in the darkness, in the dead of night, on a lonely moor, it is not humourous in any way. Anyway, the little man vanished and wasn't seen again that night. The young man accompanied the young woman outside while she did what she needed to do and eventually they both went to sleep. In the morning, when they both went back outside in the dawn light, they noticed that about 5 feet from the side of the tent was a hole about 2 feet square and of indeterminate depth, but obviously very deep, covered with an old rotten piece of wood, which they had not noticed on the previous evening but which could have proved very nasty had they fallen into it. The couple were not particularly familiar with the area at that time and had no idea they were anywhere near the area known as Bogle Hole.

Now, as it happens, another story was told to me by a man who worked in the area at the time doing archaeological work. It happened very close to the same spot, or within a half a mile or so at the most, a couple of years later. He was sitting in his van on the old disused railway line drinking a flask of tea, as a heavy fog had come down and a light drizzle was make life thoroughly miserable for him, when in the fog, about 20 yards ahead, he saw a moving shape, which appeared to be about 15 feet high and quite broad, slightly stooped, which the man described as looking somehing like a gigantic bear, or that was the nearest comparable shape that came to mind. He said it lumbered across his line of sight at a distance of about 20 yards, just a shape in the fog, from left to right down the hill in front of him. There was no sound, and the shape disappeared from sight and was not seen again. He left the place immediately, but again, he was at some point between the quarry and the woods of Bogle Hole. Neither he nor i offer any explanation, but if you visited the area mentioned, on a foggy day, you would understand something of the atmosphere the place can sometimes have.

 Among the many ancient remains on these moors are many carved stones which are currently believed to be around 5000 to 6000 years old. They are known by various names, such as as cup and ring stones, rock art, but my favourite local name is 'cat troughs'. Many theories have been suggested over the years as to the meaning / use of the carvings, from star maps, symbols of religious or magical significance etc. As usual the officially accepted 'expert' opinons are the most unimaginative (and least likely, in my view) such as maps showing the easiest route across the moor, avoiding bogs etc. The various symbols carved repeatedly, here and in other areas across britain, have been shown by various researchers to be similar (identical ?) to symbols known as entoptic images, seen in visions and trance states or when under the influence of hallucinogens / hallucinogenic plants (which are not hard to find in these areas, even today). It must also be remembered that this area was thought to be covered in forest at the time these rocks were carved.

The moors are also scattered with ancient standing stones and stone circles dating from the neolithic era, around 5000 to 6000 years ago. Ancient ritual places of the people who lived here then.

Others are known to have been destroyed over the years, some relatively recently.
But things get found too.......
In the summer of 2003 a huge wildfire burned across the moors for days.
Terrible damage was caused to the animal and plantlife and a huge area was left with little but blackened ash. Many discoveries were made where the heather and peat, which had previously covered the moor, were burned away. One of the most inteesting was what is now called the 'Fylingdales stone' and it's companions, part of a circle including other carved decorative stones which is believed to be part of a ritual centre and obviously just one more part of the wider sacred ritual landscape of these moors...........

Finally, another topic of interest relating to this area is the number of sightings of big cats (A,B,C's....or 'alien big cats'). The following exaples are all people personally known to me. There are many more.
(It should be noted here for anyone reading this from outside the u.k that there are no native big cats in the uk. the Scottish wild cat is the only one and is just like a large tabby cat, not even the size of a fox).
  A friend (the same one in the bogle incident above, only more recently) was walking at Ravenscar at about 8 a.m. one june morning in 1990 and saw a very large black cat, (about the size of an alsation dog) cross the path in front of him and disappear into the woods.
  Two friends with their 14 year old son saw a large black cat (again about Alsation dog size) in a field about 1 mile south of Ravenscar in october 2003.
  Two friends and their 11 year old were walking their dog in the forest about 3 miles west of Ravenscar in 2002. Their son went into the trees briefly to empty his bladder and came out very distressed because a large black cat had walked towards him through the undergrowth.
  But the most interesting tale is told by two friends who were walking home late one night on the outskirts of Scarborough, coincidentally on the same road which reaches Ravenscar 11 miles to the north, when they saw 2 animals which they at first thought were dogs, wandering around in some trees, on the edge of the main road (the A 171 to whitby). When the 2 animals became aware of the couple they casually ambled across the main road and jumped up on to a garden wall, which was about 4 feet high. The animals were not dogs, or foxes (they were in any case much too big to be foxes), but looked tawny colured in the light of the street lamps. Being a main road this was very well lit. They walked like cats, their long tails hung curled like the typical big cat tail, and when they jumped onto the wall and sat looking across the road they moved just like cats. Without doubt they were very large cats ! casually playing together and totally unafraid.
A village on the same main road, Cloughton, about halfway between Scarborough and Ravenscar, was noted by researchers as being a national hot spot for big cat sightings, and as i said, these stories are just the ones told by people i know personally.

Earth mysteries and fairies on the north york moors

Giants, mushrooms, and mordor. 

Wandering through the hills and forest of northern England, finding Blakey Topping isn't difficult, as it rises from the surrounding landscape like it's been dropped there, which according to legend it has, or rather thrown there.
The story goes like this.......
The great giant Wade was in dispute with another giant and scooped out a handful of earth to throw at his enemy. this great scooping of earth created the nearby gorge known as the Hole of Horcum. Anyway his throw missed and the hill known as Blakey Topping is where it landed.
There is a prehistoric trackway leading from the Hole of Horcum to Blakey Topping known as the Old Wives Way, so maybe thats a clue to what the dispute was about, or maybe he was actually throwing it at his old wife. there is also an ancient holy well / sacred spring not far away called the Old Wives Well, and another ancient trackway called Wades Causeway, so clearly Wade and his wife are inseperable from the local landscape.

  Wades Causeway is a long stretch of ancient trackway between Malton and Whitby (about 25 miles) which, like so much else, is usually credited as a 'roman' road. this is due to the sad fact that most antiquarian scholars, and indeed most modern archaeologists, could not and cannot get past the idea that nobody could possibly have built such roads BEFORE the romans invaded our land, as it was full of ignorant barbarians. That the existance of ancient temples like those at Avebury and Stonehenge and elsewhere and feats of engineering such as Silbury Hill make a lie of this idea seems to pass most of them by. Anyway, the legend says that Wade built the trackway for his wife to cross the moors to milk her cows.
Wade is reckoned to represent Woden / Odin. Also possibly Wayland the smith from Germanic and Norse mythology. Wades wife is perhaps the ancient Great Goddess.
  The whole landscape around Blakey Topping is a place which emanates an atmosphere of magic and to camp here on a late summer night and watch the stars appear and the moon rise is a wonderful experience. There are the forest covered hills to the south and east and the heather moors rising to the north and west. it's only about 10 miles across the forest to the east before the cliffs fall away into the north sea.
Just below Blakey Topping the moss and lichen covered remains of the neolithic stone circle add to the magic.

  A note for mycologists and space travellers, the fields around the stone circle produce the biggest crop of psilocybin semilanceata i've ever seen.

On a less positive note, just about a mile and a half to the north, there is the Fylingdales early warning station. Looking like nothing so much as the dark tower of Mordor, it ruins the view for  miles around. An intrusion from cold war days which should be dismantled as soon as possible.