The old legends state that in the dim and distant past a giant lived on the moors with his wife (who is never named). Giant Rombald was his name, and he is chiefly known for quarrelling with his spouse, and she seeking revenge by chasing him over the moors and throwing stones at him.
There are several large piles of stones about, with names like ‘Great Skirtful of Stones’ and ‘Little Skirtful of Stones’. The old stories go that Rombald was being chased by his wife who was carrying an apron (or skirt) full of stones to throw at the hapless giant, when she tumbled and the stones fell out onto the moor.
In truth, these piles of stones are giant prehistoric burial mounds, long since desecrated by landowners hundreds of years ago. Almost no records of their finds remains nowadays, and they are lost to history.
My grandson Mackenzie believes that the biggest is the burial place of Rombald and the lesser pile of stones is his wifes grave. We had been to the larger one a couple of years ago, but he has never visited the wifes mound. So on a beautiful autumn afternoon we parked the car in a lonely layby and walked up the steep bracken covered track onto the moors.
It was quite steep going at first, and the bracken was deep and obscured the path quite a bit, but after 10 minutes of so we reached the top of the moors and were soon enjoying spectacular views across the Wharfe valley.
The burial mound is half a mile away and the going can be ‘moist’, through a boggy area. Normally Mackenzie would be in the bog getting muddy, but this time he stayed on the dry path – at 9 yrs. old he may be starting to get some sense (in fact he stayed relatively dry and mud free the whole walk).
We stopped for a break at some grouse butts (shooting posts) and watched a pair of Red Kites soaring and diving overhead.
Then onto the burial mound itself, which we could see it in the distance. It is really big, maybe 30 feet across and several feet deep, comprising of thousands of stones. Some of these old cairns have been destroyed aeons past (the ‘Great Skirtful’ half a mile away had 300 cart loads of stones removed from it 200 years ago to repair the walls and barns of the local farmers).
This one has been destroyed too, but what is left is still very impressive. Earlier reports state that a multiple ring stone circle was nearby (now lost) and two standing stones stood guarding the cairn (only one now is visible, laying half buried in the heather).
We stopped here awhile, and Mackenzie climbed down inside the mound to look at the place where a body was originally laid – no record of one exists nowadays.
Eventually we said our farewells, Mackenzie being slightly confused as to how a giants wife could be buried in such a small hole deep in the cairn, and we returned home to watch ‘Kong: Skull Island’ and have some sandwiches and ice cream!
Another good day out on the moors with some excellent company 🙂
For more information on this burial mound, see here.