In my opinion, the best way to view anything out of the ordinary is by foot, the more unusual, obscure and inaccessible, then, the greater the appeal, the more difficult to find or access, the better. When I climb into my fell boots, warm outdoor clothing, attach the ruck sack and the camera, then, I’m in my element, From metal detecting over Towton Moor (amongst various litter I did find from the battlefield, a horse shoe and the tip; about 10″s long, of a piece of 500 year old sword, which to me, was a result), to being weathered out and having to spend a night on Red Pike in the Lake District, Many of the British historic sites and Fell and Dale summits I’ve visited on numerous occasions, but, never studied or archived them, so, returning and cataloging such locations has enormous appeal, so, this is the first of what hopefully will become, many, hope you enjoy my labour of love.
It has being suggested that stone circles were always constructed close to the homes of dragons and other mystical creatures. They almost represent the birthplace of civilisation in Britain, a kind of gathering place, market square or village gathering point.
The so-called Yockenthwaite stone circle stands by a footpath in a valley on the north bank of the river Wharfe close to the hamlet of Yockenthwaite in Langstrothdale, just west of the B6160 road. Buckden village is 4 miles to the south-east, while another hamlet, Deepdale, lies just a little to the north of the winding country road to Hawes.
The circle is near to Yockenthwaite farm. Although many historians call it a stone circle it is actually a Bronze-Age ring cairn with a circle of small stones (kerbstones) that are still quite clearly defined.
The stone circle consists of 20 small stones set almost edge to edge that are roughly 3 feet high, covering a diameter of 25 feet. These stones are, infact, the kerbstones of what remains of a burial cairn or ring cairn where a prominent tribal chieftain was buried. Just outside the circle at the north west side are a few other stones that make up an outer, concentric ring and a few portal stones that formed the entrance. In the middle of the circle a small mound can just be made out, which would have been the site of a burial. Originally, there would have been a mound of earth covering the stones but this has long since gone. Just to the north of the circle are what could be the remains of another burial cairn.
The name Yockenthwaite is said to be of Scandinavian origins. Thwaite meaning ‘a clearing’, while Yocken could be a derivation of ‘Eogan’ of probable Irish origins – hence we get the place-name ‘Eogan’s clearing’. Thwaite is quite a common place-name is the Yorkshire Dales and also in north-eastern England giving us some idea where Norse invaders came to settle in the 9th-11th centuries.
26/03/2015, 10.30am – Another impulsive decision, another spring day, all 4 seasons in one day, typical Yorkshire weather, snowing in the morning, windy and raining between sunny spells, I swear, we don’t need weather reports on the TV, the old dangling stone outside your front door will suffice and be just as accurate.
A mid-week 90 minute drive to Yockenthwaite in the Yorkshire Dales is sufficient to refresh the city blues. This is something I love about southern voices complaining about ‘them northerners’, some of them don’t have a clue, this really is God’s County and at this time of year, not, over populated. Yockenthwaite is the official termination of part 2 of the Dales Way, it’s the end of the second day’s walking from Grassington, a fair old distance of 13.5 miles and, if the visual evidence is anything to go by, the proof of wild camping exists, not in the true fashion of wild camping, leaving no evidence that you’ve been there, but, there was evidence of a fire being there plus, sadly, broken glass on some open ground alongside the river bank, close to the stone circle, I guess some people just won’t adhere to the simple rules of the outdoors, shame.