The small wood of Scots Pine, on the shoulder of Crossthwaite Common, is a distinctive landmark throughout Teesdale and beyond – similar to the Elephant Trees in Weardale. It’s visible from the Pennine Way as far away as Tan Hill and from the Teesdale Way where it piggy-backs the Pennine Way approaching Middleton in Teesdale, on the fell above Crossthwaite Quarry, as in the photograph.
The trees themselves aren’t particularly ancient, being planted in the Victorian period some time after a large burial cairn dating to the Early Bronze Age (2400 BC to 1500 BC) that previously occupied the spot had been dismantled for building stone c1802.
In a letter to the Teesdale Mercury in 1867, the Rev. W R Bell recorded that workmen found a cist of “four stones set on edge and covered by a fifth”, inside which was an urn made of baked clay containing “carbonaceous matter and fragments of bones”.
The urn was then handed over to the Earl of Strathmore’s bailiff and subsequently transferred to Streatlam Castle. By the time that the castle was demolished in 1959 the whereabouts of the urn was recorded as being uncertain (lost).
In popular mythology, the site, variously known as ‘Carreg Caryn, Kirk Arran, Kirk Carryn and Circarrion’ has been romantically associated with the burial of a Bronze Age, or possibly Iron Age prince, Caryn (Carreg Caryn means ‘rock of Caryn’) whose ghost is said to haunt the fell. Don’t forget to leave a comment if you see anything…
Location NY 939238
Coggins, Denis. “The archaeology of early settlement in Upper Teesdale Co. Durham.” Durham Theses, 1984, pp. 29-31. Durham University, http://etheses.dur.ac.uk/7222/. Accessed 21 October 2020.
Altogether Archaeology. North Pennines Archaeological Research Framework. Part 1: Resource Assessment ed., Altogether Archaeology, 2019. Altogether Archaeology, https://tinyurl.com/y5m4o2c3. Accessed 21 October 2020.
Lloyd, Chris. “Kirkcarrion keeps its secrets still.” Northern Echo, 08 April 2016, https://www.thenorthernecho.co.uk/history/14416049.kirkcarrion-keeps-secrets-still/. Accessed 21 October 2020.