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Mystery surrounds vanishing circle
A historic moorland stone circle has vanished.
Hilary Simpson, who lives near the bronze age site, is appealing to Keighley News readers for information about its disappearance. She believes it was disturbed by contractors digging a gas pipeline across the moor almost three decades ago.
Other theories put forward by residents and visitors include:
theft by pagan worshippers
their removal by a former landowner.
Mrs Simpson, of Bradup Farm, says sun worshippers visited the site after she moved in 12 years ago, but couldn't find the circle. "Every so often someone knocks on my door and asks where it is," she says. "The stone circle will have been here for thousands of years. Friends and locals remember it clearly up to about the late 1960s. Somebody must be responsible for it being removed, and for the sake of heritage someone must be made to reinstate it."
Former Riddlesden resident Ken Pickles, who has walked the moors all his life, also believes the circle vanished around the time the gas pipe was laid. "I first walked this moor in 1945," he says. "In the late 1960s there were definitely 12 there. It was a perfect stone circle. It offends me that children should be denied things like this. It was Riddlesden's Stonehenge."
The stone circle has been marked on Ordnance Survey maps for many years though recent editions have described it as 'remains'. There were originally 18 stones but by 1929 just 12 remained, the others used in the construction of nearby Bradup Bridge.
A stone circle expert who visited in the early 1990s found what he believed to be the site, but just one stone remained next to a pile of rubbish and oil drums. Another possible site is a few yards west, where several large stones lay strewn in the thick heather.
Gavin Edwards, Bradford council's archaeology officer, says he tried to survey the circle 20 years ago as a student, but his team was unsure it had found the right place. He says: "It was a bit enigmatic. It's a few stones. Even reports in the 1930s described it as very damaged."
Mr Edwards says the Bradup site could not strictly be called a 'stone circle' but was more likely a prehistoric burial ground. He believes his council predecessors liaised with British Gas to ensure the pipeline avoided historic sites on Rombalds Moor.
British Gas spokesman John O'Grady says workmen laying the pipe in 1971 could not have damaged the stone circle because they worked within a strict 45-foot-wide corridor containing all their machinery. He says the original contractors' map shows the Bradup circle as 'remains', 100 feet south of the edge of their corridor.
But Mrs Simpson claims the only access from Ilkley Road to the construction site would have been from a farm gate on the other side of the stones. A direct route from the gate to the work site would have been across land occupied by the circle.
Do Keighley News readers know anything about the history of the stone circle or its disappearance? Write to news editor Alistair Shand at the Keighley News, 80-86 North Street, Keighley, West Yorkshire BD21 3AG. We will publish your recollections.
Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.