West Lane Rock, Askwith, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 15802 48393

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.509

Getting Here

Walk about a mile along West Lane from Askwith village, towards Ilkley, until you reach a notable rounded bend in the road where, in the field immediately above you (behind the thorns) on your left, is a small scatter of large rocks at the edge of the field.  One of these is what you’re after! (although this stone is just a couple of yards from the roadside, you can’t just pull up here and have a look — unless you’re an idiot! — without causing one hellova bad accident.  So don’t do it!)

Archaeology & History

Carving no.509, Askwith

First described in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) survey, this is a curious “design” — if indeed that’s the right word!  On the upper surface we can see, very clearly, one large cup and two deep curved lines set away from the cup-marking.  One of these lines appears to curve along and down the edge of the rock and, on the shaded side below (somewhat overgrown with nettles when we were looking at it), what may be another large cup-mark and a continuation of the same “carved” line, roughly as drawn in the 2003 survey.  It looks pretty good (if you’re a sad rock-art freak like me), but there could be another reason for the markings…

A mile upstream on the eastern edges of the wooded Scales Gill valley (known in previous centuries as both St. Helen’s Ghyll and the Fairy Dell), recent forestry and industrial work has scarred a number of rocks with engraved lines upon more faded cups or gunshot marks.  When we wandered up here a few days ago and found a couple of these recently scarred stones, I remarked on how, in years to come, unless we made note of these very modern curves and grooves on the rocks, that future archaeologists will be cataloguing them as cup-and-ring stones.  Several hours later on the way back home from our moorland wanderings, we ventured upon this, stone no.509.

I mention this for good reason: as a century back, only 100 yards away, are the remains of what was an old quarry that used industrial machinery similar to the ones that have made the recent curved markings on the stones a mile up the valley.  And as we can see quite clearly with this stone and its companions, they’ve been moved and dumped into their present position at the field-side.  We should keep this ingredient in mind when looking at this stone, just in case the archaeologists who’ve logged this as prehistoric have got their dates out by a few thousand years.  With any luck however, I’ve got it all wrong…


  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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