I was interested to read of a Neolithic “ritualised route” around Scugdale that was published in the journal of the Teesside Archaeological Society1 Brian A. Smith, Ken W. Grant, Alan A. Walker. Cairns as waymarkers within a proposed prehistoric Scugdale ‘Loop’. Teesside Archaeological Society. Bulletin 18. 2013.
The authors conjecture that the route starts at Sheep Wash near the Cod Beck reservoir, climbs the Red Way estate track on to Near Moor, and follows the skyline of Scugdale eastwards to Prod Howe. From there it continues to Barkers Ridge, past Brian’s Pond to Stone Ruck on Bilsdale West Moor, before turning westwards to the head of Thackdale and to a large cairn on Live Moor — the featured image.
The reasoning is large round cairns at key changes of direction, linear distributions of rock art and small cairns, and a nice little waterfall — “as water was almost certainly revered during the Neolithic and early Bronze Age, this feature along with Brian’s pond may have been special, even sacred, places.”
Three of the large cairns have a “very precise angle of view towards Roseberry Topping“. The fourth “appears to direct attention towards Whorl Hill” by having “a probable summer solstice sunset also over” it. Both these hills “may have been endowed with sacred properties in prehistory.”
The authors conclude by suggesting that it is “possible that the Scugdale Loop represented a journey through time from sunrise to sunset at mid-summer.”
I reflected on all this as I explored the latter part of the route — the whole would be quite an epic especially as it does not follow the modern path network.
- 1Brian A. Smith, Ken W. Grant, Alan A. Walker. Cairns as waymarkers within a proposed prehistoric Scugdale ‘Loop’. Teesside Archaeological Society. Bulletin 18. 2013.