Cluster Stone, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13283 45920

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.160 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.325 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Follow the same directions for getting to the Idol Stone, then walk just 30 yards further up the path and it’s the big rock on your left-hand side.  Y’ can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

Main section of cup-marks
Main section of cup-marks

This nice big boulder can be quite a temperamental chap, depending on how the light plays with the rock surface.  I’ve got some photos of this old stone where you can see next to nowt on it; where as others show clearly aspects of the design that aren’t on the archaeo-images.  But such is the nature of cup-and-rings I s’ppose!

Unlike its rather linear companion a few yards away, this great boulder has the more typical scattering of faded cups, lines and at least one cup-and-ring, etched with seemingly little purpose or structural design.  But as we know, the very notion of structural design in forms consistent to modern mind-sets were anathema to the neolithic people who were etching these patterns on rocks.  Indeed, even the notions of these images as ‘art’ as defined in modern times, has no relationship to the intrinsic reality of either cup-and-rings or reality per se, as experienced by our ancestors.  And I think we find an explicit affirmation of this in the Cluster Stone here.

Close-up of cup-and-ring
Close-up of cup-and-ring

Natural cuts in the rock have been heightened, for whatever reason, so that today the division between Nature’s marks and the mark of humans have become ambiguous as time has worn the features.  The clustering of cup-marks on certain parts of the rock was surely indicative of (what we would term) separate events/forms, whose mythic relationship were, however, intrinscially related.  This may be representative of a landscape map, or a series of events – but each would relate to one and other.  But, of course, we truly don’t know, so think I’d best shut up!

Cluster Stone design (after Hedges 1986)
Cluster Stone design (after Hedges 1986)

The carving itself, as we can see today, has perhaps as many as 40 cup-marks on it (Boughey & Vickerman safely vouch for 26), with five or six lines running across the surface, some of which have been modified by ancient peoples.  The cup-and-ring on the stone is quite distinct.  Neolithic or Bronze Age walling runs just a few yards away from here, but the precise line it takes has not been accurately assessed.


  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, West Yorkshire Archaeology Service 2003.
  2. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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