Winter Hill Stone, Cowling, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SD 98288 41976

Getting Here

Winter Hill Stone, looking NW

The easiest way to get here if you’re coming for the first time is via the A6068 Glusburn to Cowling road. On the south side of Cowling, take the small road Old Lane, uphill on the east side of the road (very easily missed – keep your eyes peeled!) and keep going up until the road just about levels out, where there’s a muddy parking spot on your left (the giant Wainman’s pinnacle is down the path from here).  Cross over the road and head up towards the giant Hitching Stone. When you reach the first fence, cross over it and follow it into the boggy heathlands to your right (west-ish).  Head into the tribbly grass and keep walking for 3-400 yards till you see the large rock growing out of the Earth.

Archaeology & History

Cup-markings near ground-level
Looking from above

Not far from the legendary Hitching Stone is this curiously-shaped boulder sitting peacefully and alone in its landscape.  It is in fact a large cup-marked boulder, previously unrecorded until being described in The Old Stones of Elmet. There are no totally guaranteed cup-markings on top of the stone (many of ’em seem to be natural, though some could have been etched all those years ago and have weathered well); instead they are curiously etched at the base of this large rock, just above ground-level.

Hitching Stone on horizon

As can be seen in the photos, on its lower south-facing edge there are around 20 well-defined cups that clearly stand out.  No other cup-marked stones appear to be nearby (surely there’s a few more kicking about…?).

An earlier assertion I made (2001) about the nearby Hitching Stone aligning with the winter solstice sunrise from here was recently put to bed following the morning observations of myself and Dave Hazell on December 21st, 2010, when — as can be seen in the photo here — the midwinter sun emerges from the land a few degrees of arc further southeast than expected.  However, I aint checked what the alignment here would have been when the cup-markings were first etched here, around 5000 years ago perhaps…  Would any of you archaeo-astronomers out there know about this?


  1. Bennett, P., The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

(Visited 58 times, 1 visits today)

Written by 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *