Morphing Stone, Dacre, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 18559 61795

Also known as:

  1. Snoopy Stone
  2. Eastwoods Rough Carving
  3. IAG 638a (Boughey)

Getting Here

Mr Stroud's drawing of the stone
Mr Stroud’s drawing of the stone

Various ways to get here.  I s’ppose the easiest is from Dacre village.  If you go just past Sunny House, take the footpath on your right & walk along it, roughly straight across a number of fields, until you hit the footpath known as the Nidderdale Way.  The field you’re now in should be scattered with numerous rocks all over the place (if it aint, you’re in the wrong place), reaching down towards the trees.  Walk straight towards the trees for another 100 yards and the carving is somewhere hereabouts under your nose!  You’re very close! If, however, you decide to walk up the Nidderdale Way from Dacre Banks, the field you need is the one immediately to your right just before you reach the Monk Ing Road trackway.  The Tadpole Stone (or Eastwoods Rough II carving) is in the same field, close to the Nidderdale Way path — check that out aswell!

Archaeology & History

This is a large carving I found in April, 2006, in the company of rock-art student Richard Stroud (who sent us the pictures).  Twas in the midst of a fine day wandering about checking some of the ‘known’ sites in the area, when we happened across two or three previously unknown sites — and as the day wore on, just before we were gonna head for home, this little beauty poked the edge of its head out of the turf!  It had the pair of us in near rapture, with numerous “Wow’s” and excitable expletives coming from our mouths! We’re easily pleased us rock-art doods — but then it is a beauty when you first see it.

Morphing Stone carving (photo © Richard Stroud)
Morphing Stone carving (photo © Richard Stroud)
Morphing Stone, Dacre (photo © Richard Stroud)
Morphing Stone, Dacre (photo © Richard Stroud)

We came here several times in the weeks following its initial discovery, and it seemed that on each visit, we found an additional aspect to the carving.  It seemed to keep changing each time we came here — hence the name ‘Morphing Stone’!

The prime feature in the carving is the very large oval-shaped ‘ring’ with huge carved bowl in the middle and several outlying cups-markings around it.  Although it’s not plain to see in the photos, there’s a large tongue-shaped protuberance jutting out from one side of the main ringed feature.  You can also see a small cluster of cup-marks on the top-right of the rock: from here — though it isn’t easy to see in the photo — a long straight line links up with the edge of the major central ring.  Other lines run off on the top of the main feature and there are several other cup-markings on different parts of the stone.  It’s obviously best to see the carving “in the flesh”, so to speak, to get a good impression of what it actually looks like.  And, to those of you who might wanna venture up here, there are several others nearby.

A year or two after rediscovering the carving, rock art student Keith Boughey (2007) described the stone, saying:

“Measuring 2.61m from N-S and 1.88m from W-E at its greatest extent, the carved surface carries quite a complex design… At its N end is a large cup/basin with an approximate diameter of 25-30cm, surrounded by a ring that may or may not be complete: 2 cups have been incorporated into the ring on its N and W side. W of this ring a groove leads off S to a further possible cup. On the E side of the large central cup are 3 further cups of varying size. These motifs are all enclosed within a wide groove, which forms almost a dome pattern. Out of the ring, a further groove runs NW out of the design, bisecting the enclosing groove, curving round to form a handle shape before running back in towards the large central cup. The groove shows signs of continuing E towards the edge of the stone. Just outside the W edge of the enclosing dome is one well-defined cup. S of this, in a slight depression, are 2 further cups of differing size. A straight groove appears to run SW out of the enclosing dome shape on its E side towards further motifs on the stone’s S side. The groove may run into an area of cup marks, but there appears to be a break before it continues. When exposed, the carvings looked quite fresh and sharp, suggesting that they had remained covered for some considerable time – possible since antiquity or at least from a time in the prehistoric past when cup-and-ring-markings had begun to lose their significance and were no longer required to be visible in the landscape.”

To those of you who like the new computer images of cup-and-rings, the three below are samples from a number of such images done after the stone had been discovered.  Intriguingly, the long line running between the cluster of cups to the large cup-and-ring doesn’t show up too well; but the barely perceptible line running out, zigzag-fashion, from the large central cup-and-ring, shows up much clearer than when looking with the naked eye.

                          Morphing Stone Nikon Morphing4

  1. Boughey, K., “Prehistoric Rock Art: Four New Discoveries in Nidderdale,” in Prehistoric Research Section Bulletin, no.44, Yorkshire Archaeological Society 2007.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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