The following is taken from "Stonechat" 15 "The Nine standards" are a series of dry stone cairns on a ridge, above Kirby Stephen, on the Cumbria/North Yorkshire border. Not surprisingly there are nine of them and the ridge is creatively named "Nine Standards Rigg"
No one seems to know their purpose, yes it is a `border`, but why nine of them in around 100m? There are stories that they were built as tests/rights of passage or something for the sons of a farmer, but who knows? No-one even seems to have much of an idea as to when.
The cairns vary in size and shape, no 2 are identical ranging from an inverted cone, to a bell shape and `simple` square pillar. The cone is the shortest at (around 2.1m high) whilst the pillar and its immediate neighbour are over 3m.
Whilst well built most of the original cairns had begun to show signs of serious decline by the late 1990s, with some apparently on the verge of collapse. An extensive renovation programme was then carried out by Steven Allen on behalf of the East Cumbria Countryside Project, winning the Building Design and Conservation category of the 2006 North Pennines AONB Conservation Awards, with specific note being made of the sensitive nature of the restoration. Steven explained to me that all the work was carried out by eye, no frames/patterns, just a few rough dimensional guidelines. It was seen as important that the reconstructions were not to perfect or formal, capturing the original character of the cairns rather than being completely faithful reproductions. Mind you Steven`s rough work would leave most other wallers in shame, and his `recreations` are stunning to behold. Well worth the hour or so walk to get to.
Not quite so stunning are the 2 mortared cairns, each around 50-60cm high. They mark the Coast to Coat path about 50m below the nine standards. To think someone had to go to the effort of carrying up sand and cement. If any of you decide to visit these cairns doyou think you could manage a stick or two of dynamite? Sean Adcock