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    Dumb steeples?

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    Kai Roberts

    Join date : 2011-03-15
    Age : 34
    Location : Calderdale

    Dumb steeples?

    Post  Kai Roberts on Tue Mar 15, 2011 8:26 am

    Whilst investigating the history of an c.1700s obelisk at the junction of the A62 and A644 at Cooper Bridge in West Yorkshire known as the Dumb Steeple, I was intrigued to find the following by Philip Ahier in his essential 1944 tome, Legends & Traditions of Huddersfield & Its District:

    "Mr. Harry Speight, in an article which appeared in the Yorkshire Weekly Post some years ago, wrote the following account of conical stones - 'In several places in the West Riding, there are, in my judgment, still existing monuments of this primitive worship. They are known by the not very enlightening name of Dumb Steeples. No legends or traditions appertain to them, nothing is known of their origin or history, and still they stand dumb or silent witnesses to the creed of a prehistoric age.'"

    Sadly, Ahier gives no proper citation for the Speight article but I wondered if anybody had ever come across it, or read Speight (or indeed anybody else) referring to standing stones as "dumb steeples" in any other context?


    Last edited by Kai Roberts on Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:36 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Sunbright57

    Join date : 2011-02-10
    Age : 59
    Location : Nelson - the one in Lancashire sorry to say!

    Dumb Steeples

    Post  Sunbright57 on Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:34 am

    Hello, I have heard of Harry Speight, but never heard of these so-called Dumb Steeples, but I suppose ancient standing stones could be referred to "as such".
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    Kai Roberts

    Join date : 2011-03-15
    Age : 34
    Location : Calderdale

    Re: Dumb steeples?

    Post  Kai Roberts on Tue Mar 15, 2011 10:51 am

    Sunbright57 wrote:Hello, I have heard of Harry Speight, but never heard of these so-called Dumb Steeples, but I suppose ancient standing stones could be referred to "as such".
    I've certainly never heard it used in reference to standing stones before, only to the two 18th Century obelisks at Cooper Bridge and Grange Moor, both in the vicinity of Huddersfield. However, Speight was well-versed in Yorkshire topography and it doesn't seem like he would invent such a name and like you say, it seems credible enough. The article Ahier quotes doesn't seem to have been connected to the 18th Century Dumb Steeples, so Speight clearly wasn't proposing it as an post-hoc explanation of their name.
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    Paulus

    Join date : 2009-08-20
    Location : Yorkshire

    Re: Dumb steeples?

    Post  Paulus on Tue Mar 15, 2011 12:15 pm

    Kai Roberts wrote:Whilst investigating the history of an c.1700s obelisk at the junction of the A62 and A644 at Cooper Bridge in West Yorkshire known as the Dumb Steeple, I was intrigued to find the following by Philip Ahier in his essential 1944 tome, Legends & Traditions of Huddersfield & Its District:

    "Mr. Harry Speight, in an article which appeared in the Yorkshire Weekly Post some years ago, wrote the following account of conical stones - 'In several places in the West Riding, there are, in my judgment, still existing monuments of this primitive worship. They are known by the not very enlightening name of Dumb Steeples. No legends or traditions appertain to them, nothing is known of their origin or history, and still they stand dumb or silent witnesses to the creed of a prehistoric age.'"

    Sadly, Ahier gives no proper citation for the Speight article but I wondered if anybody had ever come across it, or read Speight (or indeed anybody else) referring to standing stones as "dumb steeples" in any other context?

    If memory serves me, Dumb Steeples are late-medieval or early-industrial monuments, with no prehistoric background. I vaguely recall some dood writing an article on them in William Smith's Old Yorkshire, or similar early Yorkshire journal. I'll have a scan thru some of what I've got later on Kai and let y' know if I find owt.

    If you come across the Speight article anywhere, I'd love to read it. He was the finest Yorkshire historian we've ever had - it's just a pity he never turned his boots & historical eyes on Calderdale. The rule I've found with Speight is simple: if he says it's so, it probably was!

    All the best - Paul Cool
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    Kai Roberts

    Join date : 2011-03-15
    Age : 34
    Location : Calderdale

    Re: Dumb steeples?

    Post  Kai Roberts on Tue Mar 15, 2011 1:17 pm

    Paulus wrote:If memory serves me, Dumb Steeples are late-medieval or early-industrial monuments, with no prehistoric background. I vaguely recall some dood writing an article on them in William Smith's Old Yorkshire, or similar early Yorkshire journal. I'll have a scan thru some of what I've got later on Kai and let y' know if I find owt.

    If you come across the Speight article anywhere, I'd love to read it. He was the finest Yorkshire historian we've ever had - it's just a pity he never turned his boots & historical eyes on Calderdale. The rule I've found with Speight is simple: if he says it's so, it probably was!
    Yes, I agree dumb steeples were generally early industrial monuments - that's certainly the case with the example at Cooper Bridge. The question is whether that name could possibly have been transferred from an earlier colloquial term for stone monoliths in general or indeed, vice-versa. Like you say, Speight is generally a highly reliable source.

    When I get the chance, I shall delve into the archives of the Yorkshire Post at Bradford Library to see if I can find the original article - it's just possible the card-file might actually be of some use in this instance. One day I also intend to go through Ahier's papers held by WYAS, so the original cutting may be amongst those. I would certainly be very grateful if you could have a browse to see if you have anything relevant. Cheers!
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    Paulus

    Join date : 2009-08-20
    Location : Yorkshire

    Re: Dumb steeples?

    Post  Paulus on Tue Mar 15, 2011 3:18 pm

    Kai Roberts wrote:Yes, I agree dumb steeples were generally early industrial monuments - that's certainly the case with the example at Cooper Bridge. The question is whether that name could possibly have been transferred from an earlier colloquial term for stone monoliths in general or indeed, vice-versa.

    Check out Wright's Dialect Dictionary - there'll be summat about it in there somewhere! It's a stunning sourcebook for all sorts.

    Kai Roberts wrote:When I get the chance, I shall delve into the archives of the Yorkshire Post at Bradford Library to see if I can find the original article - it's just possible the card-file might actually be of some use in this instance.

    I was in the reference section earlier today and know they've stuck tons of our old papers and old journals on some centralized website. The British Archives or summat. Have you checked it? You need your library card details to sign-in and there's some superb old stuff on there, which you can access from home.

    Kai Roberts wrote:One day I also intend to go through Ahier's papers held by WYAS, so the original cutting may be amongst those.

    I wouldn't mind seeing them misself.

    I've had a quick browse thru where I thought the 'Dumb Steeple' article might be and can't find it Kai. Soz. If I come across anything in subsequent days/weeks, I'll pass you it on.

    atb - Paul
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    Sunbright57

    Join date : 2011-02-10
    Age : 59
    Location : Nelson - the one in Lancashire sorry to say!

    Dumb Steeples

    Post  Sunbright57 on Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:33 am

    Check this out, is it the same monument ? http://www.flickr.com/photos/atoach/3398893509


    Last edited by Sunbright57 on Wed Mar 16, 2011 7:41 am; edited 2 times in total
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    Kai Roberts

    Join date : 2011-03-15
    Age : 34
    Location : Calderdale

    Re: Dumb steeples?

    Post  Kai Roberts on Wed Mar 16, 2011 9:06 am

    Paulus wrote:I was in the reference section earlier today and know they've stuck tons of our old papers and old journals on some centralized website. The British Archives or summat. Have you checked it? You need your library card details to sign-in and there's some superb old stuff on there, which you can access from home.
    I hadn't seen that. I haven't actually got a card for Bradford libraries so it might be a good incentive to rectify that fact.

    I wouldn't mind seeing them misself.
    Indeed. There could potentially be some very interesting stuff in there. I've often thought about doing a project on the folklore of Huddersfield and the surrounding area. Hardly anything has been written on it since Ahier and as his work is now so hard for most people to come by, the time is clearly ripe.

    I've had a quick browse thru where I thought the 'Dumb Steeple' article might be and can't find it Kai. Soz. If I come across anything in subsequent days/weeks, I'll pass you it on.
    Thanks for looking, Paul, and I would certainly be very glad to see anything you might stumble across in the future.

    Sunbright57 wrote:Check this out, is it the same monument ? http://www.flickr.com/photos/atoach/3398893509
    Aye, that's the one. A good photograph of it, as well. Usually it's impossible to get an angle on it which doesn't include all the hideous traffic provisions around there.
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    Sunbright57

    Join date : 2011-02-10
    Age : 59
    Location : Nelson - the one in Lancashire sorry to say!

    Dumb Steeples ?

    Post  Sunbright57 on Fri May 13, 2011 10:44 am

    I have found another of those so-called Dumb Steeples, this one stands in the graveyard of the old St Thomas' church, Church Street, Barrowford. When the old church was built in 1839 four different type of steeples were payed for by generous benefactors, but the money ran out and one of them was never erected on the roof. So, instead it was placed in the churchyard and later an inscription put on it's base which gives a rather mournful, yet quite poignant, statement of fact:

    In 1839 I should have mounted high,
    But, alas ! what is man ?
    Poverty and discord
    Has tied me to the ground
    And here I am left alone.

    In 1964 the church was destroyed in a fire and now only the ruins remain, but it's graveyard and tombstones are quite a touching site for here we can sit and ponder what life is all about, or in some cases, isn't. The other three steeples, that did get erected on the roof, now stand looking forlorn in the ruins. A new church was opened nearby in 1970.

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