Llanerch Farm, Llanfihangel-nant-Melan, Radnorshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SO 1576 5858

Also Known as:

  1. Llanerch Stone
  2. NPRN – 306082

Archaeology & History

Llanerch cup-marked stone (after Watkins, 1932)

A small and simple cup-marked boulder, hidden away in the Welsh hills, all-but unknown even to cup-and-ring fanatics!  It’s nowt special to look at, reminding me somewhat of the numerous cup-marked rocks that scatter the edges of Baildon Hill in Yorkshire.  Found close to a number of other prehistoric sites, the stone isn’t in its original position so we’re unable to tell whether it was associated with any tombs (as is probable).  The carving consists of around 32 cup-marks, with some 18 of them visible on its upper face.  It’s likely that there were more cups on it originally, for when it was first found (as shown in the photo here, taken soon after being discovered) one side of the stone had been split away, but the other section was nowhere to be seen.  Alfred Watkins (1932) told how it was first discovered:

“Following a visit by the Woolhope Club in 1928 to that fine mound on Radnor Forest—Cruger Castle…a fellow member (Mr. Walter Pritchard), working on alignments, discovered a fine cup-marked stone, at Llanerch Farm, a little south of the mound.  I visited and photographed the stone the same year, and took a rubbing of the cup-marks on it, also taking as careful a bearing as possible, and marking it on the paper while on the stone.”

Its isolation is a little unusual, but there are likely to be other carvings scattering the nearby hills and valleys awaiting discovery by enthusiastic explorers.


The great ley-hunter himself, Alfred Watkins (1932) — following in the footsteps of some of his contemporaries it’s gotta be said — used this carving to add fuel to his notion of leys and aligned sites, thinking that the cup-markings on  the stone were representative of such things, etched thousands of years back to be used by other travellers.  Can’t see it misself — but then I did spend a few years looking at the potential relevance cup-and-rings had with alignment features when I was a boy, ruining many a-map and finding they had no relationship whatsoever to such things!  But it seems that Mr Watkins was still going through the exploratory phase at the time, because, after taking a rubbing of the stone he told:

“I also (as soon as I got home) tested for alignments, and inked in those of four cups which I found, as I considered lines of three to be of no value as proof. I could not at that time see any tangible proof of anything, and put it down to this (broken) stone having probably been moved. The reproduction I give is of this crude rubbing exactly as I finished it (outlining then the rather indefinite edges of the cups) in 1928.”


  1. Sharkey, John, The Meeting of the Tracks: Rock Art in Ancient Wales, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch: Llanrwst 2004.
  2. Watkins, Alfred, Archaic Tracks round Cambridge, Simpkin Marshall: London 1932.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

(Visited 36 times, 1 visits today)

Written by 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *