Trig Points Around the Ridings

trig sign

Trigpoints are the common name for “triangulation pillars” the UK mapping and triangulation system before GPS and Google Earth. There is a great Trigpoint website with map references pictures and search facilities. ‘These are concrete pillars, about 4’ tall, which were used by the Ordnance Survey in order to determine the exact shape of the country. They are generally located on the highest bit of ground in the area, so that there is a direct line of sight from one to the next. By sitting a theodolite (an accurate compass built into a telescope) on the top of the pillar, accurate bearings to nearby trigpoints could be taken. This process is called “triangulation”.

A major project to map out the shape of Great Britain began in 1936. The network of triangulation pillars, with accurately known positions, led to the excellent OS maps which we enjoy today. The coordinate system used on these maps is known as the “National Grid”, and it is essential that you are familiar with this system if you are to get the most of OS maps, or this website. ‘

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Stalactite & Stalagmite at Stump Cross

Remember the Difference between Stalactite & Stalagmite

A stalactite is named from the original Greek  stalasso “to drip” and meaning “that which drips” (drips do not go up except in science fiction.)
A stalagmite also from the Greek   stalagma is the “drop” or “drip” that ends up on the floor or running down the walls. (Sounds like a student flat)
You can remember the Greek derivation and work out which is which or you can recall the schoolboy incantation ‘As the tights come down, the mights go up!’ or another memory aid A stalactite – with a “C” – hangs from the “C”eiling in a cave system or cavern. A stalagmite – with a “G” is on the “G”round of a cave system or cavern.
Helictites are a delicate cave formation of calcium that changes its axis from the vertical at one or more stages during its growth creating a curving or angular form. Helictites have been described in several types, ribbon helictites, saws, rods, butterflies, “hands”, curly-fries, and “clumps of worms”.( I do not mind meeting Curly Fries but Clumps of Worms ugh!)


Stump Cross Caverns lie between Pateley Bridge and Grassington in Nidderdale. The limestone cave system at Stump Cross extends beyond the show caves which are open to the public to an overall length of approximately 4 miles.  Many of the deeper caverns are only accessible to experienced cavers.(see below)  In both areas there are numerous Stalactites and Stalagmites to inspire and damp corners to explore.

How the Caves Were Formed

The formation of Stump Cross Caverns began millions of years ago, when the area which is now the Yorkshire Dales was covered by oceans. Sediment from the ocean floor would eventually form limestone, the basic material from which the caves are made. The caves themselves began to form as the limestone was eroded by weak acid rain, created when carbon dioxide from the atmosphere mixed with the precipitation to form carbonic acid.
Many years ago, underground streams found their way into the cracks and began to expand the cave system as more rock was worn away. Once the streams had gone from the upper levels of the valley the cave system was left behind, and the mineral structures that are present today slowly began to form as water dripped through the caverns.

The caves at Stumps Cross were discovered in 1860 and have long been a visitors attraction. As I child I remember the’ butchers block’ a lump of stalagmite that was lit be a gruesome red glow. The impressive reindeer cavern was opened to the public in 2000 and development continues. The Stump Cross centre now includes a spacious tea rooms to cater for Patrons, who work up an appetite touring the caves, via a ‘Luxury Yorkshire Afternoon Tea’. Cave entry for the public is about £7 and more details and opening times are available here.

Caving as a Hobby

There is a list of Yorkshire Caving clubs and societies on the My Yorkshire web site. This may prove useful if you want to take up Potholing or caving as a retirement hobby but I think I will remain with my feet on the above ground. The Stalactite & Stalagmite formations have taken millennia to form and are very fragile so the British Caving Society produce guidelines on conservation access and protection.

I have no photographs as yet of the Stump cross formations so I have borrowed these American images from: Series: Ansel Adams Photographs of National Parks and Monuments, compiled 1941 – 1942, documenting the period ca. 1933 – 1942 Created By: Department of the Interior. National Park Service. Branch of Still and Motion Pictures. Photographer: Adams, Ansel, 1902-1984

Top Ten West Riding Churches

To select but 10 churches for a ‘best of’ list was impossible so I tried to find 10 varying churches in each Riding and this is my effort for the West Riding of Yorkshire. I would be happy to consider for inclusion a readers top ten if you send me details.

    1. St John Baptist Adel is one of our finest Norman churches and is a Grade 1 national treasure and an architectural gem. Internal decoration, chancel arch and carvings are of top quality. Through the church yard is York Gate a garden open for Perennial the gardeners charity
    2. St Cuthbert Fishlake (above) is believed to have safeguarded the remains of Cuthbert from the Vikings. The priest’s doorway is Norman and the south doorway is one of the most decorative in the country.
    3. Hatfield St Lawrence is a large cruciform church with a crossing tower externally perpendicular with some good windows and crenelations . Norman and medieval features include a fine clerstory, monuments and font.
    4. St Mary’s Sprotborough like other churches had its tower heightened in the perpendicular period. Monuments from 13th century onward and an interesting rood screen make this an interesting church to visit.

shipley St Paul's

    1. Shipley St Paul’s (above) is the original 1826 parish church of Shipley. It has dark, soot blackened sandstone walls that befits a church from and set in the industrial West Riding.The building, an historic “Waterloo” or “Commissioners'” church also has a “listed” organ
    2. Birkin St Mary’s is an impressive Norman church with a 14th century south aisle. Due to associations with the Templars there are items of quality in many areas of this fine church.
    3. Halifax St John is the largest 15th century parish church in Yorkshire. Fine 17th century ceilings and communion rail, poor box and box pews are key features.
    4. St Andrew`s Church Aldborough was partially destroyed by Scots raiders in 1318. The present building is the third church to occupy what is thought to be the site of a Roman Temple of Mercury in Roman garrison town of Isurium Brigantium. The north wall dates from around 1330, and carries a brass of William de Aldeburgh dating from around 1360.
    5. Dewsbury All Saints or minster has been rebuilt in 18th & 19th cneturies but many sculptural pieces from the 9th century have ben reincorporated. There is also some stunning stained glass.
    6. St.  Mary Tickhill housed Austin friars and has north and south porches. There is also an important church organ from the mid 19th century

The Yorkshire Church Notes of Sir Stephen Glynne (1825-1874) Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record is available by clicking on the picture below but at a price of £28.50. You may choose to spend the money visiting or donating to the churches mentioned ABOVE.
Book Cover

The medieval review says this book (Editor L.A.S. Butler) has ‘effectively rescued Glynne’s Yorkshire Church Notes from merely describing a frozen moment in time into a valuable resource for those who wish to trace for themselves the 19th-century changes in church architecture’. ‘A major contribution to the study of Yorkshire church architecture at a time of change’. Leeds Civic Trust.

See also Ten Top North Riding churches and Top York churches on Gods Own County.