Idol Rock, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

‘Cup-Marked’ Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 13296 45898

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.221 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.327 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Idol Rock, Ilkley Moor

From Cow & Calf Hotel head onto the moor above you, following the same directions to reach the ornately carved Idol Stone (and its immediate companions). Ahead of you on the same footpath, about 100 yards along, as it begins to slope up the hill further onto the moor, you’ll see a large upright pyramid-shaped stone, about 8 feet all, right at the side of the path. Y’ can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

Deep cups & lines on top

Although ascribed as a cup-marked stone in usual surveys, the cup-markings on top of this rock are seemingly Nature’s handiwork. There is a possibility that cup-markings were carved into the top of the stone, many thousands of years ago, but due to the centuries of wind and weathering, we cannot in anyway assess the curvaceous bowls and lines running across and from the top of this rock to be artificial.


The name ‘Idol Stone’ seems to have come about as a result of the judaeo-christian Victorian obsession of satanic idolatry in all things natural – which many of them still fear. Sadly there are no early accounts of practices of idolatry at this rock, until it was used by chaos magickians in the formative years of that Current in the 1980s.


  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Boughey, K.J.S. & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  3. Cudworth, William, “Rombald’s Moor Antiquities,” in Bradford Scientific Journal, volume 3, 1912.
  4. Forrest, C. & Grainge, William, A Ramble on Rumbald’s Moor, among the Dwellings, Cairns and Circles of the Ancient Britons, W.T. Lamb: Wakefield 1868-9.
  5. Hedges, John (ed), The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  6. Holmes, J., “A Sketch of the Prehistoric Remains of Rombald’s Moor,” in Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society, volume 9, 1887.
  7. Speight, Harry, Upper Wharfedale, Elliott Stock: London 1900.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

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