Swaledale Walk on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

A fun day out on Harkerside Moor with a big hit of history

In October Tim Laurie was invited to talk at our Rohan shop in Leeds about the Archaeological Fieldwork he does in Swaledale. Tim is also cataloguing the relic woodlands which have an entwined history within the prehistoric landscape. He invited Linda, Daz and me (Katie) for a guided walk in Swaledale in North Yorkshire.

On a crisp, sunny November Sunday, the frost only melting where the sun touched, we started our walk just above Grinton making our way up to High Harker Hill Long Scar. Our first sight is some old established Juniper trees alongside Grinton Gill; Tim wants to check on them to see that they haven’t developed a dieback condition that is threatening them. We find them, and they are okay. They look verdant and lush against the bank sides. Further on Tim Laurie points out cairns and other Bronze Age sites including man made embankment earthworks. These impressive manmade structures were all constructed by human hand, and run along the heathland as far as the eye can see.

Harkerside Moor

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

Juniper Tree

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

Tim Laurie, in his Hilltop Jacket and Vintage Winter Bags.

The landscape in this area is peppered with sites that many people would just walk past without noticing. Tim has such a keen eye in spotting these sites, a technique he has honed over many years, he points out that where the Game Keepers burn back the heather in large squares making a “chess board look” to the heath landscape. This allows new shoots of heather to grow for the grouse to feed on, and that this reveals the stones traces of prehistoric sites like round houses and cairns which otherwise would be hard to see.

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

We come to a square foundation that was, as Tim speculates, a hunting lodge, where hunted Red Deer would have been feasted on. We continue to walk along a track, stop for lunch where we are treated to a chorus of grouse, calls of “Get back! Get back!”. After our pack lunch we come to a limestone structure alongside Grinton Gill. Tim explains that Swaledale has a long history of sheep farming and when sheep were taken down to market, sheep washes were used to clean the sheep’s fleece. The limestone structure held the flock of sheep whilst a dam would be built across the stream, and then the sheep would pass through to clean them.

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

Can you spot the Grouse?

We continue on, but now follow the most beautiful spring stream. Approaching, the spring source appears just below an impressive limestone scar. The spring water gently flows making the most pleasing gurgling, trickling noise. Near to the spring is a Burnt Mound; Tim has discovered over two hundred of these burnt mounds in Swaledale and Wensleydale. This Burnt Mound has two humps made up of fist sized fire cracked stone with a depression at its centre. Stones were heated on a fire and used to heat the spring water in hut like structures for sauna for ritual cleansing after hunting wild boar or deer.

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie  Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

We continue our walk up a massive earthwork of limestone which joins the natural limestone High Harker Hill Long Scar and further to the north we are treated to stunning views over Reeth. The soft and golden November sun lights up views of Fremington Edge, Arkengarthdale, and upper Swaledale. Truly stunning.

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

After lingering for some time we make our way back down to Grinton. Just before getting to the end of our walk Tim points out an early Lead mine site and bits of charcoal and smelting bits can be found around rabbit burrows if one looks around their entrances.

Swaledale is brimming with history. On our days walk we have seen an amazing amount of historical sites and the use of the land by our ancestors in one small area.

If you would like to know more about the Relic Trees, burnt Mounds and other archaeological sites, check out www.swaag.org for Tim Laurie’s papers and publications.

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

Daz wearing his Field Jacket, High Ground Hoody, Superfine Merino 150 and Ecco Expedition III Torre. Linda in her most used/loved Hilltop Jacket, Dry Roamers, Superfine Merino zip 200, Gradient Fleece and Mountain Guide Cap. Katie in her much loved Mountain Guide Jacket, Striders, Gradient Fleece, Iona Hat ans Stravaig 18L – all from Rohan Leeds Store.

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

Close up of some Lichen.

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

Love this picture, so natural they didn’t know I was taking the photography.

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

Linda stood on top of some Earthwork.

Walking on Harkerside Moor with Tim Laurie

What a view we had.

KatieRohan Leeds

 

Rohan Heritage

Comments are closed.