Great Wood Laithe (019), Skipton, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SD 99620 50551

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.3 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.19 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Cowling’s 1964 drawing

From Skipton centre get to the Horse Close estate on the southern side of the town and look up to the fields on the sloping hill above it with the small woods above ’em.  Head up towards the trees, but before you get there go into the fields on your right, and in one of them you’ll see what looks like a pile of rocks near the middle.  Head for it!

Alternatively, follow the directions to reach the Horse Close Hill enclosure, then walk down into the field on its western edge.  You can’t really miss it!

Archaeology & History

This carving first saw the light of pen-and-paper in the early 1960s, soon after the Yorkshire antiquarian Eric T. Cowling (he of Rombald’s Way fame) was led to the site by his wandering nose and the aid of local people.  He sent a letter to the editor of the Bradford archaeology group at the time (a certain Mr Sidney Jackson), which told:

“South-west of the wood which gives its name to the Great Wood Laithe at the western end of Rombalds Moor and overlooking Skipton from the east, is a cup-marked boulder: NGR – SD 99625055.  In the middle of the field alongside the wood is an outcrop of rock which has been almost levelled with the adjacent field surface by the dumping of boulders from the surrounding ploughlands.

“The top of the outcrop rises to a dome-shaped projection which bears simple cup-markings.  These average two in diameter and total 17 in number.  The whole surface of the stone is weathered, and suitable light may reveal more details.”

And, faded though it is, in better lighting conditions it seems there may be more than twenty cup-marks on the rock.  Certainly this is what the surveys of Hedges (1986) and Boughey & Vickerman (2003) concluded.  There are other carvings close by and, on the hillside immediately above you, the denuded remains of a very impressive prehistoric settlement site known as Horse Close Hill.  Well worth having a look at!


  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  2. Cowling, E.T., “Cup-and Ring Boulders,” in Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 9:5, May 1964.
  3. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  4. Ramm, H.G., “Yorkshire Archaeological Register, 1964,” in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, volume 41 (part 163), 1965.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

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