Doubler Stones, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stones:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0723 4652

Also Known as:

  1. Carving Nos. 41 & 42 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  2. Carving Nos. 6 & 7 (Hedges survey)
  3. Doublestones
  4. The Fire Stones

Getting Here

The great Doubler Stones (photo – James Elkington)

Various ways to get here, but the 2 most common are: (1) from Brunthwaite village, above Silsden, following the road uphill for a mile, then turning right (west) onto the moorland dirt-track to Doubler Stones Farm.  Just before here there’s a footpath uphill (north) for 200 yards to the stones.  (2) follow the Millenium Way footpath south up Addingham Moorside, onto Addingham High Moor.  Keep going on the same path another 500 yards and they’ll appear ahead of you.

Archaeology & History

First described as the ‘Doublestones’ in the local Addingham parish records of 1786, these great mushroom-shaped rocks were later brought to the attention of archaeologists by J. Romilly Allen in 1879 and they greatly intrigued numerous Victorian antiquarians, who puzzled as much about their exotic forms as the cup-marks on their tops!  Allen wrote of them:

“These rocks are by far the most remarkable freaks of Nature to be seen in the district. They occupy a prominent position, perched on the extremity of a rocky knoll which juts out into the valley; and as seen from below, with their weird forms standing out clear and sharp against the background of blue sky, they present so extraordinary an appearance that they would at once attract the attention of even the most unobservant.  In general outline they resemble gigantic toadstools; and I presume that they are called Doubler Stones from the fact of their shapes being almost identical.  They may be appropriately described as Nature’s Twins.  The upper surface of the cap of one of these stones has three large basin-shaped cavities in it.  Two of these lie along the central axis of the stone, and measure respectively 1ft 3in by 2ft 9in deep, and 1ft 9in by 1ft 3in by 9in deep.  They are united by a deep groove, a continuation of which runs out over the edge of the stone at each end.  There is another basin lying to the west side of the two central ones, with one of which it is connected by grooves.  It measures 2ft by 1ft 9in and is 9in deep.  There is no direct evidence that these basins are artificial; but it is quite possible that they may have been so originally, and have been enlarged by natural agencies.  But in addition to the basins, are twenty-six cup-markings of distinctly artificial origin.  They vary in diameter from 2 to 4 in.  One group of cups appears to be arranged in parallel rows.”

Cup-marks on the right-hand Doubler Stone
Cup-marks on one of the Doublers (after Hedges 1986)
Cowling’s 1946 drawing

Although the writer thought there were no artificial cup-markings on the other Doubler Stone (the one on the left in the photo), John Hedges (1986) and Boughey & Vickerman (2003) cite there to be at least two cup-markings on this rock.  Other writers have given different numbers for the respective cup-marks thought to be on these rocks down the years.

If you’re into prehistoric rock-art, check this place out.  If you’re a geologist and aint been here, you’ll be even more impressed!


Approaching the Doublers (photo – James Elkington)

In Nicholas Size’s Haunted Moor (1934) he described the Doubler Stones as being the abode of ghosts and a place of sacrificial rites in ancient days. While in Guy Ragland Phillips’ Brigantia, we find that the word ‘doubler’ itself “is a large shallow dish, bowl or plate” – which we find on top of the greater one of these two well-worn-weirdoes.  As well as being haunted, there is some other little-known, though not unexpected folklore here, which told these old stones to be the meeting place of witches in previous centuries.

In addition to this, we are told that the witches of Fewston valley to the west used to meet up with the more famous Pendle witches at these stones.  One historian proclaimed that this notion was spurious, as it would be too far for the Pendle witches to walk – which says more about the historian in question than the people of previous centuries.  The distance from Pendle to the Doublers can be traversed in a day and is an ideal meeting spot, away from the prying eyes of a wrathful Church, that sought war against the animistic practices of our ancestors.


  1. Allen, J. Romilly, ‘The Prehistoric Rock Sculptures of Ilkley,’ in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 35, 1879.
  2. Allen, J. Romilly, ‘Notice of Sculptured Rocks near Ilkley,’ ibid, volume 38, 1882.
  3. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Chieveley 2001.
  4. Boughey & Vickerman, Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, West Yorkshire Archaeology Service 2003.
  5. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  6. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  7. Jennings, Hargrave, Archaic Rock Inscriptions, A. Reader: London 1891.
  8. Phillips, Guy Ragland, Brigantia: A Mysteriography, RKP: London 1976.
  9. Size, Nicholas, The Haunted Moor, William Walker: Otley 1934.

Acknowledgements:  Massive thanks to landscape photographer, James Elkington, for use of his images in this site profile.  Thanks mate! 

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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One thought on “Doubler Stones, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire”

  1. Having a thorough hunt on Ilkley and Rombalds Moors for the stone carvings, it’s a superb way to spend some precious free time, love the things I’ve already found, a truly wonderful place

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