Woman Stone, Askwith Moor, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 17103 50541

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.520 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Takes a bit of finding this – but if you like your rock art, it’s worth the search!  You can follow directions for the getting to the Man Stone then, when you reach it, look to the near horizon to the east.  Get to the bottom of the sloping hillside where a large rounded boulder sits and walk up the slope about 10 yards.  Look around here cos you’re very close.

Woman Stone carving
Carving highlighted in chalk

Alternatively, from the Askwith Moor Road, follow the path to the triangulation pillar on Shooting House Hill.  Keep going for another 100 yards and check a small path to your left (south).  Follow this down until you get to the top of the slope.  Go to the bottom of the slope and look around!

This carving is best checked out in winter and early spring: if you go here in summer & autumn there’s bracken covering the entire site & you’ll never find it!

Archaeology & History

Drawing by Inmaculada Ibanez-Sanchez

This stone was first discovered by Graeme Chappell and I during one of our many ambling explorations here in the early 1990s and was first mentioned in my Old Stones of Elmet (pp.149-152).  Marija Gimbutas would have loved this seemingly matriarchal-looking cup-and-ring carving, suggestive of many Mother Goddess images she found across Europe – hence its title!

Woman Stone design (after Boughey & Vickerman)
Woman Stone design (after Boughey & Vickerman)

I don’t think that the old-school archaeological types would lower themselves to say such a thing, but as I aint one of them I’m quite confident in saying that this carving does seem to be a pictorial representation of a female figure: one of the earliest of its kind in the British Isles? (check its nearby male compatriot, the Man Stone – a distinctly human figure and one of the earliest of its kind in the British Isles)  Very close by we are left with old place-name remnants pointing directly at the presence of pre-christian goddess remains in the mythic landscape – an issue I’ll expand on in the near future.

In the survey by more recent rock art students Boughey & Vickerman (2003), their illustration of the carving makes it look even more like an early female figure! (though I hear they don’t like people giving the carvings names – unless, of course, one of them lot names it…)


  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  3. Gimbutas, Marija, The Language of the Goddess, Harper-Collins: San Francisco 1989.
  4. Gimbutas, Marija, The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe, Harper-Collins: San Franciscoo 1991.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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