Guisecliff Wood (629), Bewerley, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 16415 63565

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.629 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

A box of cup-and-rings!

Takes a bitta finding this one – especially a this time of year when the bracken’s high – but it’s worth the walk.  You’re probably best finding your way to the open-air carving on the slopes above Westcliff Farm, the Guisecliff Wood 626 carving (it’s pretty easy to find).  From here, walk eastwards across the top of the two fields until you hit the old gate that take you back into the woods.  Now it gets difficult!  Walk less than 100 yards in the same direction, if you’re lucky, along the small footpath that runs pretty level through the trees, keeping your eyes peeled for a large sloping rock above you.  I’d say that it’s probably best to start checking the relevant rocks (large ones) after 50 yards in the trees, just to be on the safe side.  If you aint been here before it’s probably best to check it out at the end of Winter or during Spring time.  Good luck!

Archaeology & History

As noted by several people in our visit here the other day, some aspects of this carving are similar in design to the Tree of Life Stone on the eastern edge of Askwith Moor, 10 miles south of here.  But the features on this large carved rock have intriguing elements of their own here: not least of which is the large square ‘box’ into which a cluster of otherwise normal cup-and-rings are enclosed.  It’s a unique feature in prehistoric carvings in this part of the world — although such ‘box’ motifs can be seen further north at Dod Law in Northumberland.

The fainter cup-and-rings
Boughey & Vickerman’s 2003 drawing

There are two distinct sections of carvings on the stone, both of which have a similar tree-motif patterns, but the boxed one grabs your attention more once you’ve sat with the stone for a while. The other small cluster of cups are a little more difficult to notice, but once you see them they almost grow into life!  You can just make out the surrounding rings and lines around some of these fainter cups, which I tried to capture in the photos (but without much success).

Our visit here didn’t pass without some voicing the thought that ‘box’ section could have been added at a much later date — perhaps a Victorian addition?  But we could be way off the mark with that one!

There’s every likelihood of other carvings being found in and above the woodlands here, though any further exploratory excursions here can wait till winter time, as the Nature’s summer growth here is considerable and covers most of the rocks in green.  The carving was first described in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) text as a

“Very large rock with extensive flat surface on which there seems to be two separate designs.  Seven cups are joined in a branch-like pattern, the whole within a square groove from which the ‘stem’ of the branch just protrudes; away from this is an approximately linear feature with three cups enclosed by linked rings at one end and then six more cups with a partial ring.”

If you’re a rock art enthusiast, or a real healthy heathen, this site is well worth checking out!


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


  1. More images of Guisecliff Wood carvings

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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