Broomridge (1), Ford, Northumberland

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – NT 97298 37110

Archaeology & History

In 1863, a bunch of reputable Victorian authors and antiquarians met with the Duke of Northumberland in Alnwick Castle to discuss the matter of making decent images of the petroglyphs which, at the time, had only just been rediscovered in the area.  At one of their meetings, the floor in one of the Castle rooms was covered with rubbings of carvings that they’d made—this one included.  I’d loved to have been there!  Subsequently, from this meeting, sketches of this carving were done and included in the works by George Tate (1864; 1865) and then a few years later in J. Collingwood Bruce’s (1869) rare tome that had been published with the help of dosh from the Duke.

Found along a raised geological ridge running roughly east-west, a number of other carvings are close by and well worth looking at when you visit here.  The basic (and first) description of the site by Tate told that here,

Tate’s 1864 sketch
Collingwood’s 1869 image

“on a high ridge on Hunter’s Moor, a large surface of rock, some forty yards by twenty, having a gentle slope to the northward, is partially uncovered.  In one part, which has been entirely cleared of turf, fourteen figures are scattered over an area of 15 feet by about from 5 to 7 feet.  Some of the figures are of the common type, one of which is 28 inches in diameter; but others present new features; and several are curiously united by straight and curved grooves.  Across the entire diameter of a group of four concentric circles, runs a groove connecting them with other combined figures.  An irregularly shaped, rounded, angular figure, encloses two hollows or cups; and united to this is a broad oval figure.  One figure around four cups approaches to the reniform.”

When the modern rock art expert Stan Beckensall wrote about this site, he mentioned how his own picture of the carving consisted of a number of elements that weren’t included by the 19th century pioneers—which isn’t unusual.

References:

  1. Beckensall, Stan, Northumberland’s Prehistoric Rock Carvings – A Mystery Explained, Pendulum: Rothbury 1983.
  2. Beckensall, Stan, Prehistoric Rock Motifs of Northumberland – volume 1, Abbey Press: Hexham 1991.
  3. Bruce, John Collingwood, Incised Markings on Stone; found in the County of Northumberland, Argylshire, and other Places, privately printed: London 1869.
  4. Tate, George, “The Ancient British Sculptured Rocks of Northumberland and the Eastern Borders,” in Proceedings of the Berwickshire Naturalists Club, volume 5, 1864.
  5. Tate, George, The Ancient British Sculptured Rocks of Northumberland and the Eastern Borders, Henry Hunter Blair 1865.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Pen Twyn, Bargoed, Glamorgan

Cup-Marked Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – SO 1491 0045

Archaeology & History

Sometime in the 1940s, a certain Lady A. Fox recorded a cup-marked stone “in the vicinity of Pen-twyn” near Bargoed.  Its position in the landscape is a good one: on a geological promontory and overlooking the valley below.  The find was indexed by the Ordnance Survey, but apart from it’s grid-reference, all attempts to locate the design have so far proved unsuccessful.

It was mentioned briefly in the Royal Commission (1976) survey of Glamorgan, then subsequently listed in the surveys of Sharkey (2004) and Nash (2007), but none of them were able to locate it.  And hence, I post it here, in the hope that some local hunter will be able to recover it from its hiding place!

References:

  1. Mazel, A., Nash, G. & Waddington, C. (eds.), Art as Metaphor: The Prehistoric Rock Art of Britain, ArchaeoPress: Oxford 2007.
  2. Nash, George, “A Scattering of Images: the Rock Art of Southern Britain,” in Art as Metaphor, ArchaeoPress: Oxford 2007.
  3. Royal Commission on the Ancient & Historical Monuments, Wales, An Inventory of the Ancient Monuments in Glamorgan – Volume 1: Pre-Norman, Part 1: The Stone and Bronze Ages, HMSO: Cardiff 1976.
  4. Sharkey, John, The Meeting of the Tracks: Rock Art in Ancient Wales, Gwasg Carreg Gwalch: Llanrwst 2004.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Careg Bica, Dyffryn Clydach, Glamorgan

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SS 72500 99602

Archaeology & History

An interesting new cup-marked stone found by Paul Blades is this smooth rounded (female) stone that may originally have had some relationship with the tall standing stone of Careg Bica 160 yards to the south.  Around ten cup-marks are etched onto its surface, in a seemingly random arrangement (as usual!).  Although it seems to be an isolated carving, it’s likely that others will exist in the area.

Carving & outlying monolith
Careg Bica petroglyph

The direction and proximity of the standing stone may have had some relationship with the carving.  In traditional northern hemisphere societies, the cardinal direction North is generally associated with darkness and death, primarily due to the fact that this is the area in the heavens where neither sun or moon ever appear; whilst South relates to life and positive natural associations due to it being the high point of the sun during the day. This animistic attribute existed till recently in the water-lore of northern England and Scotland where “south-running streams bore a high repute.”  Whilst such mythic attributes are well established, any cardinal relationship here is purely speculative.

AcknowledgementsHuge thanks to Paul Blades for use of his photos in this site profile – and of course for finding the stone!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Mixing Stone, Low Snowden, Askwith, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Bowl Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 18074 51241

Getting Here

Follow the directions to reach the Ancestors’ Stone and the Sunrise Stone; and there, roughly halfway between them, right by the edge of the old collapsed walling, you’ll see this rise of a stone with a large ‘bowl’ on top.  That’s it!

Archaeology & History

Mixing Stone, looking E

Laid upon the same geological ridge as our Ancestors’ and Sunrise carvings, there are one, possibly two faint cup-marks visible on the low flat surface near the edge of this rock, barely visible unless the light’s right.  But the important element here, perhaps regardless of the cup-marks, is the ‘bowl’ or rock basin on top of the stone.  Internally, it’s smoothed equally on all sides and, due to being in-between the two impressive petroglyphs, may well have had a practical function to it.  Bear with me on this one…

The Mixing Stone’s bowl

Stone ‘bowls’ or cavities—natural and otherwise—have been made use of in many cultures for simple functional purposes, such as grinding flour, herbal mixes, etc.  We find such traditions in some of the bullauns of Ireland and Scotland; whereas in similar stone bowls known as cat troughs in nearby Haworth, milk was poured to appease the spirits of the land (this tradition was still being maintained in 2001!).  Folklore and traditions of such rock basins spread far and wide beyond the UK: one of the German terms for rock basins is Opferkessel, meaning ‘sacrificial basin’ and suggests ritualistic usage by early societies.  Elsewhere on Earth there are numerous accounts of the ritual use of petroglyphs in which indigenous peoples tell of their use of plant- or rock-based paints (in many cases red ochre) to decorate the carvings.  And it’s this element that I’m interested in here.

Water-painted cupmarks

The Sunrise and Ancestors’ Stones 10-15 yards either side of this Mixing Stone are ideal candidates for such petroglyphic paintings using early ochre and other stone or plant-based agents.  Such activities would always have been ritualised, either in honour of ancestors, genius loci, calendrical rites, or whatever the pertinent ingredient was at that place and time.  I’m suggesting simply that the rock basin on the Mixing Stone was used for just such purposes.  This is no spurious suggestion, but at the same time it’s important to recognise that my thoughts here represent merely an idea, nothing more—not a fact.  Whilst we know full well that these carvings were imbued fundamentally with animistic properties—a simple ‘fact’—this functional idea is just that—an idea.  Students and petroglyph-nuts need to understand this.  And the faded cup-marks at its edge are perhaps merely incidental…. though I don’t buy that misself!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Ancestors’ Stone, Low Snowden, Askwith, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid-Reference – SE 18083 51229

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.606 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

The Ancestors Stone

If you’re coming up from Otley or Askwith, take the same directions as if you’re going to visit the impressive Naked Jogger Carving (stone 612), not far from the well-known Tree of Life Stone.  From the Naked Jogger carving, walk up to the small outcrop of rocks that bends above you.  There’s a small collapsed line of walling just behind the outcrop.  Walk along this up the slope as if you’re heading for the Sunrise Stone carving, but only 30 yards along, low down and right into the edge of the wall itself, you’ll see this elongated piece of stone.  That’s the spot!

Archaeology & History

If you’ve caught the petroglyph-bug, you’ll like this one!  It received its name from the curious fusion of natural cracks with the man-made pecked lines that shows, quite distinctly when the light is right and the stone is wet, the outline of two humanesque forms joined to each other.  Figurative rock engravings of ancestors in the UK are extremely rare and when we came across this example, we noticed how the design could be interpreted as two Askwith Moor ancestor figures. Figurative rock art images elsewhere in the world such as the magnificent Wandjina paintings and the extensive galleries of figures engraved at Murujuga (Burrup Peninsula) in Western Australia, might provide an initial comparison, though more specific work needs to be done to better understand this unique petroglyph.

Sketch of the carving

You can almost make out the figures in the above photo: the upper torsos of two beings on the right-hand side of the rock, almost fused together.  And the carved shapes of these “ancestral beings” are morphically similar to some elements in the Sunrise Stone just 50 yards away – which themselves remind me of a Northumbrian carving near Doddington known as West Horton 1a. (Beckensall 1991)  But we should’t get too carried away by the idea because—as we can see here in the sketch of the carving—when looked at from a different angle above, we could infer the right-hand carved elements to be representative of an animal: a deer, perhaps.  Rorscharch’s once more tickle the exploring mind….

The rock has been quarried into at same time in the past (just like the nearby Sunrise Stone), leaving us to wonder what the complete carving might have looked like.  No doubt some pieces of it will be in the collapsed walling either side of the stone.  All we have left to see are the two unfinished cup-and-rings above the natural cracks that give rise to the “ancestral being” appearance.  The faint double cup-and-ring has curious linear arcs to its side, with two well-defined cups enclosed by two of them.  It’s a nice-looking carving when the light is good.  The petroglyph was carved over a long period of time, as evidenced by the differing levels of erosion in different sections of the design.  It’s a common attribute.  The oldest section is the faint double cup-and-ring, whose mythic nature was added to / developed at a much later date, perhaps even centuries later.

In the always-expressive archaeocentric description of Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) otherwise valuable tome, they told this carving to be,

“Long, narrow, thick rock of medium grit. Six cups, one with a double ring with a tab out and two with at least partial single rings, grooves.”

Evocative stuff!

It’s very likely that this carving had some mythic relationship with its close neighbours either side of it, probably over a very long time period and I’m inclined to think it somehow related to the rising of the sun, just like its solar companion further up the slope.  Please note how I emphasize this ingredient in the site profile of its neighbour, the Mixing Stone 10-15 yards away—roughly halfway between this and the Sunrise Stone.   A distinct place of ritual was happening in this close-knit cluster of carvings…

References:

  1. Beckensall, Stan, Prehistoric Rock Motifs of Northumberland – volume 1, 1991.
  2. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Leeds 2003.
  3. Reeder, Phil, “Snowden Carr Rock Carvings,” in Northern Earth Mysteries, no.40, 1990.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Piper’s Crag Stone, Addingham Moorside, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 08497 47097

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.44 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.212 (Boughey & Vickerman)
  3. Piper’s Stone

Getting Here

Piper Stone (photo by James Elkington)

Follow the directions to reach our superb Swastika Stone from Ilkley, visible due to the iron railing that surround and protect the carving on the cliff edge.  From here, keep walking west along the Millenium Way footpath, over the stile of the first wall, then the second wall—six in all—for ⅔-mile (1km), where you’ll see another small crag of rocks on your right, just yards from the footpath.  You’re damn close!

Archaeology & History

When the great J. Romilly Allen (1882) visited the Ilkley petroglyphs in 1878, the Piper Stone was one that he wandered over to see—and he had this to say of it:

“At the edge of Piper’s Crag is a horizontal rock-surface, and on a portion of it, measuring 5ft by 7ft, are carved a series of fifteen cups varying in diameter from 2 to 3 ins.  Of these, one is surrounded by a single ring, four by a double ring, and one by a triple ring.”

Hedges 1986 sketch
Cowling’s 1940 sketch

This type of description, whilst accurate on the whole, rarely does justice to the carving.  It was echoed more than 100 years later in John Hedges’ (1986) survey, when he described the large rock jutting out to possess merely, “a complicated design of cups, rings and grooves.”  When Boughey & Vickerman (2003) did their follow-up survey, they added nothing more.

In an attempt to give some sort of meaning to the carving (and many others), the late great Eric Cowling (1940; 1946) placed it within Henri Breuil’s (1934) classification system, which assigns all carvings different degrees of complexity and form, from Classes 1-4.  The Piper Stone entered Breuil’s Class 3A, being one “with deeply cut and smoothed down grooves.” Whilst this may sound good on the surface, in truth such classifications are utterly meaningless outside of the tables and graphs of statisticians and the boring.  They give the appearance of quantitative research, but they have as much bearing on the nature of the carvings as an energy dowser healing the place with crystals.

Piper Stone (photo by Josh Millgate)

In the flesh, in the real world—so to speak—from the Piper Stone we are looking, not just at the carving, but its place in the landscape: an ingredient that more and more emerging archaeologists are recognizing has a synergistic relationship with some petroglyphs.  And here we have an impressive landscape that reaches out ahead of us for many miles.  We look primarily to the north: the Land of the Dead in many traditional northern cultures.  But our panorama here is 180º, with east and west horizons having the potential for measuring equinoctial periods in the cycle of the year.  But in truth this is sheer speculation.

It’s a worthwhile carving to see, both for its views and its excess of non-linearity.  In its form, Rorscharch impressions of early humans emerge; the usual solar and lunar symbols can be seen; star systems seem apparent; maps or settlement ground-plans could be there.  We know that somewhere within it is the animistic ‘spirit’ of the rock itself, but the forms it exalts are, once again, all but lost on us modern folk…

References:

  1. Allen, J. Romilly, “Notice of Sculptured Rocks near Ilkley,” in Journal of the British Archaeological Association, volume 38, 1882.
  2. Allen, J. Romilly, “Cup and Ring Sculptures on Ilkley Moor,” in The Reliquary and Illustrated Archaeologist, volume 2, 1896.
  3. Anonymous, Walks around Cup and Ring Stones, TIC: Ilkley n.d. (c.1990).
  4. Baildon, W. Paley, “Cup and Ring Carvings: Some Remarks on their Classification and a New Suggestion as to their Origin and Meaning,” in Archaeologia, volume 61, 1909.
  5. Bennett, Paul, “Cup-and-Ring Art”, in Towards 2012, volume 4, 1998.
  6. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  7. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  8. Breuil, Henri, “Presidential Address for 1934,” in Proceedings Prehistoric Society East Anglia, 7:3, 1934.
  9. Collyer, Robert & Turner, J.H., Ilkley: Ancient and Modern, William Walker: Otley 1885.
  10. Cowling, E.T., ‘A Classification of West Yorkshire Cup and Ring Stones,’ in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 1940.
  11. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  12. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks to Josh Millgate and James Elkington for use of their photos in this site profile.  Cheers guys. 🙂

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Skyreholme Carving (406), Appletreewick, North Yorkshire

Cup-marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0740 6254

Getting Here

Skyreholme 406

Skyreholme 406 carving

Along the B6265 Pateley Bridge-Grassington road, roughly halfway between Stump Cross Caverns and the turn to Skyeholme and Applecross (New Lane) is a dirt-track on your right-hand side called Black Hill Road. Walk down here for a few hundred yards till y’ reach the gate on the right. A track goes downhill to the psilocybin-rich pastures of Nussey Green. Several hundred yards down, to the right-hand side of the track, we find this and its several companions. Look around!

Archaeology & History

Skyreholme-406 carving

Sketch showing cups

Just a few yards away from the Skyrehome Carving-404, this very basic petroglyph was rediscovered by Stuart Feather (1969) during one his many forays in this area.  Although the stone has what initially seems to be a number cup-marks on it, it seems only two of them are man-made. The rock art students Boughey & Vickerman (2003) think there may be up to four of them.

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
  2. Feather, Stuart, “Appletreewick, W.R.: Black Hill,” in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, volume 42, part 167, 1969.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Skyreholme Carving (405), Appletreewick, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 07395 62382

Getting Here

Skyreholme 405 Carving

Skyreholme 405 Carving

Going down (south) off the B6265 Black Hill Road towards Skyreholme, turn right and go all round the hill ahead of you, but instead of looking to the right (where other carvings, described elsewhere, are found), turn left where the collapsed entrance to a mine-shaft is visible about 50 yards up the hill on the left. Walk up here, keeping to the right side of the collapsed mine, till you reach this rock.

Archaeology & History

Only for the purist petroglyph fanatics amongst you, the rock art students Boughey & Vickerman (2003) allege there to be four cup-markings here—and debatable ones at that—but we could really only make out the topmost cup, shown in the picture and an elongated one (which they think may have been two cups merged into one).  A faint “X” is also carved on the stone, possibly from the mining days.

References:

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

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 


Arncliffe, Littondale, North Yorkshire

‘Carved Stone’:  OS Grid Reference – SD 93 72

Archaeology & History

The Arncliffe Carving

The Arncliffe Carving

This is a frustrating site entry.  Not only do we not know where it is, this carving is not listed in any of the modern books on British petroglyphs, yet it was described and referenced by the famous archaeologist Jacquetta Hawkes following its discovery more than 80 years ago.  After a brief mention of the carving in Frank Elgee’s (1933) Archaeology of Yorkshire, an article describing the carving was penned in the journal Man, from which I draw the only information available. It appears to have been found in the early 1930s (no date or discoverer is cited), but has a couple of peculiarities which may bring the authenticity of the stone into question.  Mrs Hawkes (1934) told that the carved stone was,

“found in the bed of a moorland beck in the village of Arncliffe, Littondale, West Riding of Yorkshire.  It is of buff-coloured limestone measuring 21 inches x 12 inches x 6 inches in thickness; the decorated surface is almost flat.  The curvilinear pattern is executed in regular incisions about 4mm wide and 3mm deep; portions of it have been obliterated by water actions and, as is illustrated in the illustration, at one end the surface has broken away altogether.  The whole stone has been much battered and may well be only a fragment of a much larger one.  The state of preservation suggested that it had been in the stream for a considerable period; it is therefore probable that it was washed down from the open moorland above Arncliffe.  In the original (carving), the design is more coherent than it here appears owing to the fact that in the water-worn portions faint lines are visible to the eye which cannot be shown on a tracing.

“Mr W.J. Hemp, who has kindly examined the Arncliffe tracing, identifies the style of the design with the ‘entrail’ pattern of the well-known Pattern Stone from the chambered cairn of Bryn Celli Ddu in Anglesey…

“The technique of the Arncliffe tracing is comparable with the simple incisions which form the oldest of the four techniques recognizable in the Irish megalithic tumuli, where its early date is indicated by the fact that some examples are demonstrably older than the construction of the tumuli in which they occur…

“Mr Frank Elgee, who has also been good enough to comment on the Arncliffe tracing, cannot suggest immediate comparisons from this neighbouring group (around Ilkley, PB), but such evidence as there is he considers to be against assigning a date earlier than the MIddle Bronze Age.”

The late great Eric Cowling also mentioned the stone in his prehistoric survey of the mid-Pennines, but added no further details of his own and seems to have just copied what we have just read.

The fact that the ‘carving’ was found in a stream-bed may mean that the markings on the stone were due to natural erosion; and the fact that the rock was limestone may give added weight to this idea.  However, the fact that Mrs Hawkes, Frank Elgee and W.J. Hemp thought the carving to be authentic cannot be overlooked.  The area is also rich in prehistoric remains (see Douky BottomDewbottoms, Yockenthwaite, Blue Scar, etc)  The design itself is an odd one and has none of the traditional hallmarks consistent with neolithic and Bronze Age cup-and-ring stones, but seems more reminiscent of much earlier mesolithic and palaeolithic images of carved animals and dancing human figures.

If anyone knows more about this site, particularly its whereabouts (perhaps in private possession or hiding in some museum box, where increasing numbers of cup-and-rings are wrongfully kept), or whether the ‘carving’ has been disregarded as little more than natural weathering, it would be good to know for certain.

References:

  1. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  2. Elgee, Frank & Harriet, The Archaeology of Yorkshire, Methuen: London 1933.
  3. Hawkes, Jacquetta, “A Prehistoric Carved Stone in Littondale,” in Man, volume 34, 1934.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian


Gatepost Stone, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 09497 46961

Getting Here

Cup-and-rings on gatepost (photo credit, Dave Whittaker)

From Ilkley, follow the same directions as if you’re going up to the superb Swastika Stone.  Keep walking on the footpath, west, for 65 yards (59m), then walk into the heather on your left.  Barely 5 yards in, you’ll see this fallen standing stone or gatepost.

Archaeology & History

First described in one of Stuart Feather’s (1964) old rambles, I first saw this stone in my late-teens and was as puzzled by it then as I am today.  Upon an obviously worked stone that may once have stood upright (or was intended to do), two faint and incomplete cup-and-rings were carved – but when exactly?  If this stone was cut from a larger rock into its present shape, were the petroglyphs already on it, or were they done when the ‘gatepost’ was created?

It was first described in one of Stuart Feather’s (1964) rambles up here and later included in Hedges’ (1986) survey, where he told it to be a, “recumbent gatepost with one cup with almost complete ring and one cup with vestigial ring.”  Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) survey added little more.  And when a group calling itself Carved Stones Investigation got itself about £250,000 to “investigate” the Ilkley petroglyphs, I was hoping that they could have at least turned this stone over to see if other carvings were on the stone – but they just revisited all those found by others, made a new list, and took the money to be honest (no website and no book – as they should’ve done).  Thankfully, local folk are having a look at this and others and doing the work they should have.  Check it out when you’re next up at the Swastika.

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, Megalithic Ramblings between Ilkley and Baildon, unpublished: Shipley 1982.
  2. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  3. Feather, Stuart, “Mid-Wharfedale Cup-and-Ring Markings: no.26, 27, 28 – Black Pots, High Moor, Silsden, near Keighley,” in Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 9:10, 1964.
  4. Hedges, John, The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

AcknowledgementsHuge thanks to Dave Whittaker for the photo.  Good luck with the plans fellas.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian