Comet Stone, Cliffe Castle, Keighley, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference – SE 0577 4210

Also known as:

  1. Cliffe Castle Stone
  2. Grubstone Ridge Carving
  3. Keighley Market Stone
  4. Carving no.216 (Hedges)
  5. Carving no.351 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  6. Upwood Hall Stone

Getting Here

Go to the Cliffe Castle Museum on the outskirts of Keighley town centre (dead easy to find with car park to rear) and explore the museum! You’ll find it eventually!

Archaeology & History

Comet Stone, Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley
Comet Stone, Cliffe Castle Museum, Keighley

This lovely-looking carving has been on a bit of walkabout over the last hundred years or so! We’re not quite sure exactly where it first lived, but old records tell that it was found upon the Grubstones Ridge, which is a small section of the moor around and/or between the Great Skirtful of Stones giant cairn and the curious Roms Law, or Grubstones Circle, both on the very tops of Burley Moor (most folk call think of it as just another section of Ilkley Moor). Here it lived (approx grid reference SE 138 446) for several thousand years until, many centuries later, in the mid-19th century, one of them there christian chaps came along – y’ know the sorts.  He was the reverend J.A. Busfield and came to live upon the heathen edge of our Rombald’s Moor at a great house called Upwood. Like many of these weird people, he took a bit of a shine to our ancient relics and, amidst one of his sojourns to the Grubstones one day, came upon this multiple-ringed stone lying amidst the heather, close to the old circle of Roms Law.  Liking it so much, he thought he’d have it as an ornament in the grounds of his hall at Upwood, on the southern edges of the moor overlooking Riddlesden and Keighley — and there it stayed, living quite comfortably, until 1925.

It then spent nearly fifty years living enclosed in the huge abode of Keighley Museum until, in 1971, it was presented by a certain Mr. R.W. Robinson of the same establishment, to Keighley Council, who thought in their weird ways to lean “it against a pile of rocks on the pavement of Bow Street, near Keighley Bus Station, with a small plaque,” telling of its tale and of other cup-and-rings nearby. And there it stayed until more recent years, when it was returned back to the Cliffe Castle Museum – safe, quiet and looked after each night!

Drawing of the carving
Drawing of the carving
Cowling’s early drawing

It’s a lovely, almost archetypal carving: a simple cup surrounded by four complete rings, with a ‘tail’ coming off the edge, similar to the image of a comet flying through the skies – which is, perhaps, what this carving represented. Of course, it could have been something completely different!

The region where this stone was located was an important area for the dead in ancient times – a motif that’s common to many cup-and-rings – and it seems probable that the stone itself was once part of a tomb, though we seem to have no record substantiating this. The carving was highlighted by William Cudworth as being in Upwood on a map dated 1847-51. The next description of it was by Arthur Raistrick in 1936. John Hedges (1986) listed it as stone-216 in his survey; then Boughey & Vickerman (2003) re-list it as stone 351.

NOTE – Don’t confuse this carving with another that is held in the same museum here, the Cliffe Castle or Baildon Moor 144 carving. Well worth having a look at!

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  2. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, Otley 1946.
  3. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  4. Raistrick, Arthur, ‘Cup-and-Ring Marked Rocks of West Yorkshire,’ in YAJ, 1936.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Comet Stone CR

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Comet Stone CR 53.875161, -1.913724 Comet Stone CR

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One thought on “Comet Stone, Cliffe Castle, Keighley, West Yorkshire”

  1. Arrrh, so that is where the famous Keighley bus station stone has finally landed. At least its now in a museum, rather than in the town centre with all that west Yorkshire weather slowly eroding the carving away.

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