Wheeldale, near Egton, North Yorkshire, England by Katharine Ainger

Wheeldale, near Egton, North Yorkshire, England

This image shows two from a series of 6 standing stones which line a several mile section of the unfenced, single track country lane that runs between the village of Egton Bridge and the ford at Wheeldale Gill. This part of the moor has the fantastically descriptive name of Murk Mire Moor alluding to the mists and bogs unwary travellers encounter here. The history of the stones is not known with various conflicting theories being put forward. No one has ever been able to satisfactorily explain the origin or purpose of the rectangular holes cut into the stones and whether these are contemporary to the original siting of the stones. The North York Moors are littered with prehistoric features and standing stones (both singular and arranged in circles). Many of these have been re-purposed over the centuries so it is possible that these are prehistoric stones which have also been reused as snow markers, or, as some people think, they could be eighteenth century hoaxes.

What is known is that the stones are located in a spectacularly historic location. Within just a couple of miles there are the Bronze Age burial mounds known as the Three Howes Barrows, Cawthorn Roman camp and training ground and the Wheeldale Roman Road (otherwise known as Wade's Causeway as it was supposedly constructed by local giant Wade to enable his wife to cross the moorland bogs without getting her feet wet and which is also of disputed origin).

Whatever the true story of these stones they provide a tangible link with the landscape and the people who have lived here before our time. The clear blue sky and purple flowering heather belie the name Murk Mire but within half an hour of this photo being taken the sky was white, the wind was blasting and it was raining sideways.