Whitelaw, Kirknewton, Northumberland

Cup-and-Ring Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – NT 942 295

Also Known as:

  1. Whitelaw Stone

Archaeology & History

Sometime at the end of the 1860s, a local man—Mr William Wightman of Wooler—was in possession of this impressive-looking petroglyph which, we presume, he uncovered.  The carved stone was, as we can see, broken off from a larger piece and so it’s very evident that this was originally a larger design than the one illustrated here in Mr Middlemass’ (1872) drawing.  The only information we have about it are from his short notes,

The Whitelaw Stone

“was found on the north side of a hill called Whitelaw, the next eminence south-east from Yeavering Bell.  The stone is a very hard gritty sandstone, and bears distinctly the tool marks by which the circles have been cut. The tool must have been of iron or bronze, as the material is too hard to be operated upon by stone implements; moreover, the tool marks shew that the instrument used had a sharp round point, and must have been held in a similar way to the modern chisel.  The marks shew the size of the point.  The object of the artist evidently has been to fill the stone with ornament as between the two great circles; and at the corners he has placed smaller circles to suit the space. The similar nature of the circles on all the stones hitherto figured would seem to show that such stones, if monumental, were not legendary, but, most probably of a religious character; serving, like the Christian cross, to invite the traveller to pay his devotions on a spot rendered sacred by the emblems of worship.”

Searches for this have been made by Stan Beckensall (1983) and his acolytes, but it remains lost. (the grid-ref is an approximation)


  1. Beckensall, Stan, Northumberland’s Prehistoric Rock Carvings – A Mystery Explained, Pendulum: Rothbury 1983.
  2. Middlemass. Robert, “On an Inscribed Stone in the Possession of Mr William Wightman, Bank, Wooler,” in History Berwickshire Naturalists Club, volume 6, 1869-72.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

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