Counter Hill Carving, Silsden, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0463 4995

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.31 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Cowling’s 1946 drawing

From Silsden go up the long hill (A6034) towards Addingham until the hill levels out, then turn left on Cringles Lane (keep your eyes peeled!) for a half-mile where you need to veer right along Banks Lane and go 100 yards past Moorcock Farm Hall where the footpath takes you into the fields on your right.  Walk down the line of the wallings, thru the gate, and keep following down until you reach a cluster of large rocks.  Stop here and look over the wall where you’ll see one of the boulders poking its head out on the other side.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

First discovered by Eric Cowling in the late 1930s during one of his explorations of the immense Counter Hill earthworks (thought to be Iron Age), whose remains can still be seen encircling the peaked hill close by.  The stone is found in the edge of the walling halfway down the field towards the Marchup enclosure and is just inside the outer edge of the Counter Hill ditched enclosure surrounding the hill above you. (on the other side of the wall from the carving, you can make out the remains of the faint line of the ditch running pretty straight up towards the next wall)

Cluster of cups by walling
Counter Hill carving from above

At the top eastern edge of the stone is a clear cluster of 3 cup-markings, just as the rock meets the walling.  A much more faint group is visible to the left.  Cowling (1946) suggesting that the three-cup-cluster “shows the final form of the fylfot symbol,” i.e., the three-armed swastika.  Boughey & Vickerman (2003) meanwhile suggest that one of the two clusters are “doubtful (possibly recent?).”

When we came to this site yesterday, the day was overcast and cloudy.  But it seemed there may be more to this carving than has previously been recorded.  What may be a faint ring seemed possible near the middle of the stone, with a natural crack running through it (you can just about make it out in the photo on the right).  There also seemed to be other faint lines on the rock, but until we’ve been here again with better lighting conditions, the two groups of 3-cups is the symbolic state of play for this stone!


  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  2. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  3. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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