A free exhibition of large format colour and monochrome images of Megalithic sites by Steve Francis at Artsmill Gallery in Hebden Bridge. The exhibition runs between Wednesday 22nd August and Sunday 23rd September 2007.
This is a rather interesting site, because the layout of the Iron Age hillfort now encompasses the remains of a motte and bailey castle. The hillfort enclosed the summits of two adjacent hills, Wendel Hill and Hall Tower Hill.
The hillfort has been identified by some researchers as the capital of Cartimandua. It has also been interpreted as the capital or chief stronghold of the Kingdom of Elmet and was later owned by Edwin Earl of Mercia.
Under the famous Hanging Stone, with its mystic "cup and ring" sculptures, the rock is hollowed out forming a deep overhanging cavity, and I am told that this ancient rock-shelter has been known from time immemorial as "Fairies' Kirk," and traditions of its having been tenanted by those tiny sprites, the fairies, still exist among old people in the neighbourhood. When the Saxons established themselves at Ilkley they were going to build a church up here, but the fairies strongly resented. They would have none of it, and so their little temple was erected in the vale below. The fairies distrust any intrusion upon their own sacred places [...] I cannot go into all the details I have heard of the antics of these mysterious little people here and in the neighbouring gills.
Hanging Stones (west of Cow and Calf), cup and ring marked. Some vandal has been imitating the primeval sculptures by chiselling on the same stone, but the freshness of the recent work is at once seen. It is to be regretted that quarrying has been permitted to get so near this exceedingly valuable monument of antiquity, a relic which, as the ages roll on, must gather an ever-deepening interest.
The "Cow" which I find was called in 1807 "Inglestone Cow," a name now quite forgotten, bears no mean resemblance to a castle, while the "Calf" may be likened to a keep; the two rocks having possibly been united by a wall or bulwark of turf and stones forming a secure and chief enclosure. The "Cow," as it now stands, is I should say the largest detached block of stone in England, measuring eighty feet long, about thirty-six feet wide and upwards of fifty feet in height. From one point of view it presents, like the jutting face of Kilnsey Crag, as seen from the north side, the appearance of a huge sphinx, which may be intentional, or it may be natural, probably the latter.
The face of the rock bears a depression that looks like a human foot, and local tradition concerning it is that the genius of the moors, a certain giant Rumbald, was stepping from Almias Cliff on the opposite side of the valley, to this great rock, but miscalculating its height his foot slipped, leaving the impression we now see.
Both the "Cow" and the "Calf" have cups and channels on their surfaces, which were conjectured by Messrs. Forrest and Grainge in 1869 to be connected with Druidical priestcraft, and that their purpose was "to retain and distribute the liquid fuel which fed the sacred flame on grand festivals of the year."
Cow and Calf, basin, cup and channel marked. Described above. Some think the "basins" are due to natural weathering. I have heard it said the "Calf" fell from the "Cow" during a terrific storm about a century ago, but this is extremely doubtful. Anciently the Cow was known as the Inglestone.
Many of the rocks have been broken up for making the roads and other purposes in recent times. The largest and most notable of these was a monster slipped-boulder which stood near the road below the "Cow and Calf." It was as large as an ordinary cottage and was known as the "Bull Rock." To the regret of many it was destroyed. Old people tell me that these isolated rocks have borne the names of Bull and Cow and Calf time out of memory, but no legend is known to attach to them.