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Take the lonely North road out of Otley towards Blubberhouses – isn’t that a great name? – and when you reach the top of the moor look out for the crossroads. Take the right fork signposted ‘Low Snowden’ and follow the winding road down for about half a mile, or until you find the only place on the narrow road where you can park.

Stop the car and go through the farm gate on the left, then up to the top of the field and through another gate. Now stand still and enjoy the silence. And think to yourself what life would have been like here 50 centuries ago. For you are standing at the entrance to a large Bronze Age settlement, and it has never been excavated.

One of the unexcavated hut circles at Snowden Carr

One of the unexcavated hut circles at Snowden Carr

Lookout for the ‘Tree of Life‘ carving deep in the bracken – it is enigmatic and beautiful. Maybe it is a map of the settlement – no-one knows.

Snowden Carr was first described by a chap called Eric Cowling, a noted antiquarian, in 1946. He described the remains of 10 hut circles – however recent explorations has amended this to at least 13. And there are also numerous walls, burial cairns, a ‘D’ shaped large ‘town hall’, a stone circle and dozens of prehistoric carvings. It even has a Necropolis. Snowden Carr is simply amazing.

Part of a hut circle walling at Snowden Carr

Part of a hut circle walling at Snowden Carr

But it has been sadly neglected by the archaeologists. It hasn’t even figured on the recent ‘Nidderdale Archaeological Survey Report’. In fairness to them, the probably just don’t know how big it is. Because for most of the year it is covered over by impenetrable bracken and nettles. You can really only see a small part of the village during a couple of months in winter when the vegetation is dead. So standing near the ‘Tree of Life’ you see only the outskirts – even on aerial photos and Google Maps it is not really shown. It is only when you actually walk into the place and wade through the vegetation do you get a sense of how big it is. I spent a full morning there awhile ago and still didn’t see all of it.

 Snowden Carr is designated as a Scheduled Ancient Monument – which means you aren’t allowed to damage it in any way (which is good) – it also means you can’t lift up any moss off rocks to look for carvings – which is how most of them are found. And it is out of the way, so few people know it is there. And it isn’t well publicised, so only the enthusiast knows about it.
Snowden Craggs Circle - discovered in 2010 - this is crying out for a proper excavation

Snowden Craggs Circle – discovered in 2010 – this is crying out for a proper excavation

Many of the ancient sites have been damaged over the years – Rombalds moor across the valley is a good example. Landowners 200 years ago dug into the stone circles and graves and destroyed them – a large tomb had 250 cartloads of stone removed by the landowner 150 years ago, and stone circles have been torn down and used to prop up walls and barns. Prehistoric rock carvings have modern graffiti scrawled on top. But Snowden Carr is untouched or damaged. It is just like it was abandoned and then overgrown. It is pristine. It is like the Marie Celeste of ancient settlements.

One of several Neolithic carvings which acatter this area of the moor - there must be many more awaiting discovery

One of several Neolithic carvings which acatter this area of the moor – there must be many more awaiting discovery

 

 But I just wish the archaeo’s would take notice and excavate it. But despite lots of emails to them they have either not bothered to answer or don’t appear too interested. Maybe down to funding, who knows. If any local archaeos are reading this perhaps you will get in touch if you are interested – I will take you there myself!
Anyway, I suppose I should be fortunate. Not everyone has an unexcavated Bronze Age settlement on their doorstep 🙂

Oh, and by the way…there is another one just as large a couple of miles away!

You can read more about Snowden Carr here

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