Dragon Stone, Steeton, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 03590 43677

Also Known as:

  1. Hollins Bank Farm Carving

Getting Here

Dragon Stone carving

Go northwest along the country lane running between High Utley (on the outskirts of Keighley) and Steeton known as Hollins Lane, which then becomes Hollins Bank Lane.  You’ll see the fine castle building as you go along, known simply as The Tower arising from the top of the tree-line.  As you get to the driveway leading down to the Tower, a less impressive farm building is on the other side of the road, known as Hollins Bank Farm.  On the right-hand side of this house is an old overgrown road.  Walk along here to the end, going into the field immediately left where a small group of stones can be seen halfway up the field by the tree.  You’re here!

Archaeology & History

First discovered one sunny afternoon on April 7, 2010, in the company of Buddhist scholar Steve Hart, this is a really curious carving, inasmuch as it seems to have been deliberately carved around what may be curious naturally eroded cup-forms.  You’ll have to visit it to see what I mean.  They’re a bit odd.  Almost too perfect as cups to be the ancient eroded ones we’re used to looking at.  But this aside….

…and again
Dragon Stone, looking NW

It’s a lovely flat stone, with curvaceous lines running across the middle and edges and into cup-markings.  Although some of the cups give an impression of being natural, others have the authentic-looking ring to them, with at least one of them possessing a near-complete ring encircling it (as you can faintly see in the close-up photo here).  There are at least 19 cup-markings on this stone, and four main ‘lines’ running roughly in north-south directions, with the cups interspersed between them.  At the top (north) end of the rock, separated by a crack, the lines stop and we just have some cup-markings.  The crack in the stone may have been functional here.

Although graphically different, the carving has a similar feel in design (for me at least) to that of the Wondjina Stone at Rivock Edge, on the other side of the Aire Valley a couple of miles east of here — though this newly found carving is in a better state of preservation.  The small scatter of rocks around it seem to have been unearthed or moved recently by the land-owner (who aint keen on you looking on his land, so be careful) and the good state of preservation may be that they were only unearthed sometime this century.  We must also keep in consideration that the lines that run across the surface of this stone are water-lines and may be more the result of Nature’s hand than humans.  It’s obvious that some human intervention has occurred here, but it may be difficult to ascertain the precise degree of affectation between the two agencies.

Close-up of cups & lines

According to the archaeological record-books there are no carvings here, but another simple cup-marked stone accompanies this more extravagant serpentine design just a few yards away; a simple cup-marked stone may be seen at the top of the hill; and the faint Currer Woods carving can be found 0.68 miles (1.09km) due west of here, on the other side of the small valley.  Other outcrop stones scatter the fields and slopes here, some of which still need checking to see whether or not further carvings exist.

…And for those who may bemoan my seemingly romantic title of the carving: remember! — close by in Steeton township, between the years 1562 and 1797, there was an old field-name known well to local folk, of “one parcel of arable land in town field called Drakesyke, 3 acres”, i.e., the dragon’s stream or dyke. (Gelling 1988; Smith 1956)


  1. Clough, John, History of Steeton, S. Billows: Keighley 1886.
  2. Gelling, Margaret, Signposts to the Past, Phillimore: Chichester 1988.
  3. Smith, A.H., English Place-Names Elements – 2 volumes, Cambridge University Press 1956.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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