March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Yorkshire Walking rambling

Ram tracking on March Hill

I’ve been reading up (* see some sources at the bottom of the post) on the mesolithic hunter gatherers who spent some of their time on March Hill on Marsden Moor and this weekend seemed a good time to walk back up there for a mooch about.

I wasn’t planning on doing any digging, from what I gather there was enough well-intentioned disturbance in the 20s and 30s, so much so that it made for a trickier research challenge for latter day archaeologists.  Best leave that to the professionals. I’m fascinated though by this hill that I can see from the front of our house, away in the distance . But not in a Close Encounters Of The Third Kind way, I haven’t started sculpting it in mashed potato or anything.

When you stand on March Hill and look around at what is now pretty much a 360º vista of moorland it’s compelling to imagine the valleys and ‘moors’ covered in a forest some 7000-5000 years ago, sheltering aurochs (wild cattle), boar, deer etc before it all transitioned to peat.

Fire pits and hearths along with countless microliths (small flint tools / scrapers / cutting blades) denote where one or more groups of hunter gatherers, over successive years, stopped on March Hill to heat and then work flint and also to cook. I’m taken by the fact that the flint was transported (partially worked) as cobbles from as far as the Lincolnshire Wolds.

My son Joe came along on the four-hour round-trip, as hunting companion, as well as our tracking hound Brodie. It wasn’t just my flight of fancy giving us these roles – we were keeping a very wary eye out for a large Ram that had been encountered by others just below the hill a couple of days previously.

At this time of year straying across a Tup can be a bit of a ‘uh-oh’ moment – they don’t budge ground (we’ve had to take some wide detours in the past) and they can charge (although I’ve never had that happen to me). Maybe not the aggressive wild boar that the March Hill Mesolithic folk would have had to contend with but still worth avoiding.

Stopping every so often along the flank (where more microliths workings have been found) and then onto the summit of the hill to look for the muscular, horned shape of a Ram was absorbing (and a bit tense) – I got a sense, of sorts, of what it must have been like to track prey across the landscape.

Below are some shots from our hike around and over March Hill – it was really cold and windy up high – but no rain (which is almost compulsory over a bank holiday weekend).

March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Yorkshire Walking rambling
The view from the park (opposite our house) with March Hill in the distance

 

March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Yorkshire Walking rambling
Heading up the pack horse trail and onto the moors .. with some other walkers in front of us. In fact the first hour and a half or so (until we started to detour off towards March Hill ) was really busy – a lot of people doing some of the Pennine Way for the weekend maybe? (it joins the pack horse trail near the Rochdale road / A640).

March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Yorkshire Walking rambling

March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Yorkshire Walking rambling
Flags for the path that have been helicopter-dropped, ready for placement. March Hill in the background. I liked the circular pattern on this one, the simple shape akin to prehistoric mark making..
March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Yorkshire Walking rambling
Recently slumped rocks on the southern flank of March Hill. Shooters Nab (left) and West Nab (right) visible on the horizon with Pule Hill in the middle distance on the right.
March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Yorkshire Walking rambling
The rocks were on a sufficiently steep side of the clough that we didn’t linger too long beside and below them!
March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Panorama Yorkshire Walking rambling
Panorama of the view from the summit of March Hill. March Haigh reservoir below
March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Yorkshire Walking rambling
Joe and Brodie sheltering for a snack stop out of the cold wind — I was up high, checking ahead for the Ram..
March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Yorkshire Walking rambling
Some of the victorian engineering at the reservoir – March Hill behind.

March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Yorkshire Walking rambling

March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Yorkshire Walking rambling
On the way back to Eastergate (Marsden) we spotted some shrub (?) saplings we didn’t recognise.. any ideas?
March Hill Marsden Moors hike Hiking Yorkshire Walking rambling
Brodie testing the quality of March Haigh reservoir..

 

http://www.archaeology.wyjs.org.uk/documents/archaeology/Palaeolithic-and-Mesolithic-Research-Agenda-for-West-Yorkshire.pdf

Britain BC by Francis Pryor

Prehistoric People of The Pennines by Penny Spikins

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