Walks 7, 8 and 15 all pass this pond. It was once a ventilation shaft for Castedge coal mine, and is clearly marked on the map.
He initially thought they could be burial places, perhaps for a gamekeeper’s favourite dogs. But now wonders whether they could relate to coal mining in the area. One of them has the number 1837 carved into the face. Others show the figures 35 and 36.
Dennis explained: “I came across an old map which indicates the mine ran about 750yds up the clough. I’ve measured using Google Earth the distance from the mine entrance to the stones. It’s approximately 730yds.”
I asked him to describe how to find them: “The best way is to park at Errwood Hall carpark and walk up the slope following the path to the Cat & Fiddle.
“There is a finger post on the right which points to Shooters Clough. Walk down this path. There is a pond on the corner, and just before the pond are two old stone gate stumps.
“Take a sharp left and follow the stone wall up the banking. The stones are about 30 metres from the gate stumps.”
These curious stones appear to be boundary markers. There are five of them, all small thin slabs under 0.5m high with rounded tops. There are two pairs, with stones facing each other and set about a metre apart. These are aligned diagonally up the slope, and the line is continued upslope by a slight path leading to a step stile over the ridgetop wail.
The fifth stone stands alone, below the others, out of line and next to a wall comer. The upstream face of this is crudely inscribed ‘1837’, and while the downstream face is marked ‘36’. Of the two paired stones, the two upstream stones are inscribed ’37’ and ’36’ on the upstream and downstream faces respectively. The other two stones are plain.
The date 1837 roughly coincides with the building of Errwood Hall in the late 1830s or early 1840s and the boundary may have been defined at the date the estate was acquired. However, it is unclear why the stones appear to have two consecutive dates.
Alternatively, the numbers may be parcel numbers, but this does not explain why one is inscribed ‘1837’. The path may have been a traditional access path to the mines below, defined at the time the hall was established.