Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference – SE 17795 51235
Also Known as:
- Carving no.577
Follow the directions to find the Tree of Life Stone, then follow the main footpath uphill from it. Once on the level, look out for a couple of large rocks abaat 100 yards to your left. Check ’em out, cos it’s on one of ’em!
Archaeology & History
This is another decent carving living on these prolific moors. Found near the end of a lengthy line of prehistoric walling that runs east-west over this part of the moor, the general Rorsharch-response to this carving is of some sorta skull or screaming face. My impression of it the other day was, “it looks like a pig!”
Although mentioned by numerous writers, the first description of it was in Eric Cowling’s (1937) essay on the cup-and-ring stones north of Otley, saying:
“On an isolated table stone, situated at the upper end of the shallow valley which drains Snowden Carr, the writer found a marking having a strangely skull-like appearance, but which is really a group of three large cups which are linked by inter-turning curved grooves.”
He then strives to make links between this carving and the design on the Swastika Stone above Ilkley — which in some way is a little similar, i.e., as a three-armed triskele swastika; but the notion is perhaps as accurate as saying it represents a cloud, or a tree, or bird-flight, or any number of other natural phenomena. Beckensall’s (1999) brief note of the stone — despite getting his grid-ref off by a few hundred yards — described it as “four cups linked and enclosed by grooves, unconvincingly suggesting a skull to some people.” With Boughey & Vickerman (2003) saying:
“Fairly large, upstanding rock with surface sloping down to N. Figure of four cups linked by and enclosed by grooves: entire pattern resembles a skull, hence the name ‘Death’s Head Rock.'”
- Beckensall, Stan, British Prehistoric Rock Art, Tempus: Stroud 1999.
- Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
- Cowling, Eric T., “Cup and Ring Markings to the North of Otley,” in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, part 131, 33:3, 1937.
- Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian