Old Wife's Neck
Bronze Age Standing Stone and Cross Dyke
Fylingdales Moor, North Yorkshire  OS Map Ref NZ9006502139
OS Maps - Landranger 94 (Whitby & Esk Dale), Explorer OL27 (North York Moors - Eastern Area)


The Old Wife's Neck standing stone
The Old Wife's Neck standing stone with smaller neighbour in the foreground. View looking eastwards, the Forestry Commission plantation of Sneaton High Moor in the background is lost in the mist.
The Old Wife's Neck is one of seven or more small standing stones arranged in an east-west alignment across the eastern slopes of Shooting House Rigg. Although it is the tallest of the group at 75cm high it is its curious profile when viewed from certain angles that make this stone so memorable. As can be seen from the photograph above at this angle the stone can be seen to resemble a human head and torso yet when when viewed from the front of the 'head' the stone appears as a plain 'L' shape rock. It would seem plausible that the Bronze Age people who raised this stone were aware of its human likeness and it would be tempting to speculate that it was seen as some kind of idol stone or even a guardian of their territory. When I visited the site the area was blanketed in drizzle and low cloud and it was not difficult to imagine the effect of a stone human figure looming out of the mist, another stone that gives a similar effect can be found in Derbyshire at Gardom's Edge. On the other hand these simulacra, as they are known, may simply be the result of our modern search for meaning in ancient sites and the stones may not have been seen as anything special by their constructors.
The alignment of stones on this hillside seem to form an early part of a much larger monument. The photograph below shows the banks and ditches of a long linear earthwork that follows the line of stones, there are five banks and three ditches with the stones set into the outer banks. This cross dyke is thought to form part of a Bronze Age territorial division of the land which might lend credence to the Old Wife's Neck being seen as a guardian stone. The whole earthwork which is 40 metres wide and extends nearly 800 metres can clearly be seen running left to right (west to east) on the satellite image at the bottom of the page, the Old Wife's Neck is located towards the western end, a short distance to the left of the track seen running from top to bottom.
The Old Wife's Neck cross dyke
Mist, rain and mud. Looking west where the track (running left-right in the foreground) along Shooting House Rigg cuts through the earthwork of the cross dyke. Two banks and a ditch are visible in the centre with a further bank to the far right of the picture.
 
Google satellite image of Shooting House Rigg cross dyke (zoom and pan to view)


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