Cottingley Woods (3), Bingley, West Yorkshire

OS Grid-Reference – SE 09825 37861

Getting Here

Follow the same directions as if you’re visiting the impressive Fairy Stone carving, then 3 yards east is the Cottingley 2 double cup-and-ring, keep walking past through trees for another 5-6 yards  where you’ll come across this reasonably large curved flat stone.  Y’ can’t really miss it

Archaeology & History

Cup, with ring faintly visible

This was another carving in the small cluster by the Fairy Stone that I found on my visit here in the 1980s—but it’s a pretty innocuous one to be honest.  There’s a faded incomplete “ring” (not really visible on my photos due to pouring rain and very poor light when I was here) with a distinct cup-mark in the middle.  Several inches away from the cup-and-ring is a carved line that arcs around it creating an incomplete oval design; and what seems to be a single cup-mark is visible at the top of this oval.  Other marks on the stone are both natural as well as recent ‘scratches’.

Some elements of this carving—as with others in this petroglyph cluster—seems to be modern.  The cup-and-ring seems to be the real deal, but the ‘oval’ seems to have been added much more recently, perhaps by the scouts who play around in this part of the woods.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Cottingley Woods (5), Bingley, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid-Reference – SE 09843 37869

Getting Here

Cottingley Woods CR-5

Get yerself to the Fairy Stone, then walk east past the adjacent woodland carvings—numbers 2, 3 and 4—from where you should walk about another 10 yards east across the grass, keeping your eyes peeled for a large flat stone measuring about 6ft by 10ft just as you go back into the tree cover north-side.  You’ll find it.

Archaeology & History

This large carved rock is the easternmost known petroglyph in this small woodland cluster of five. (a sixth one can be found, but it’s several hundred yards east from here)  Consisting of two distinct cup-and-rings in relative proximity to each other on the northern section of the stone, this design—unlike others in this group—has a greater sense of stylistic authenticity to it.  Despite this, one of the two cup-and-rings seems to be a more recent addition to the rock, as close inspection shows peck marks that aren’t very well eroded as you’d expect on rock of this type if it was truly ancient.  The more faded cup-and-ring on its northwestern section looks to have a greater sense of age about it when we look at its erosion level….perhaps…

The 2 Cup & Rings
The 2 cup-and-rings

We have to take into consideration when looking at this carving and the others nearby that possess some quite peculiar design-elements, that this section of woodland is used extensively by boy scouts who do what boy scouts do in their teenage ventures: from making fires, climbing trees and, perhaps, scribing on stones if/when their elders aint looking.  It’s an important ingredient that has to be taken into consideration when looking at the more rash motifs hereby—this carving included.  The more faded cup-and-ring on this, however, may be the real deal.  And hopefully, next time I visit this site, She’ll not be dark and pouring with rain (much though I love such weather), so I’ll be able to get some better photos!

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Cottingley Woods (2), Bingley, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid-Reference – SE 09819 37862

Getting Here

The carving in situ

Follow the same directions as if you’re visiting the impressive Fairy Stone carving, then check out the overgrown rock three yards away, to the east.  You might have to rummage under the scrubbage to see it, but you’ll find it if you want to!

Archaeology & History

I first found this stone in the 1980s when I’d been shown the Fairy Stone carving which, at the time, was thought to be all alone.  But I used the olde adage: “where’s there’s one cup-and-ring, others tend to be“—and found this and several others closed by.

Large messy cup-and-ring

It’s a relatively small, slightly-domed earthfast rock, upon which we find an unusually large cup-and-double-ring design with a carved line running from the large central cup out to the edge of the stone.  However, the carved lines that constitute both the inner and outer rings are ‘crude’ in form and style when compared to the vast majority of other British petroglyphs; and for some reason, this aspect of the design has me casting doubts over its prehistoric authenticity.  I hope I’m wrong!


  1. Bennett, Paul, ‘Tales of Yorkshire Faeries,’ in Earth 9, 1988.
  2. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Fairy Stone, Cottingley, Bingley, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 09816 37862

Also Known as: 

  1. Black Hills Carving 01
  2. Cottingley Woods (01) carving

Getting Here

To get here, start from Bingley centre, go through Myrtle Park, across the river bridge and turn right at the dirt-track. Walk on & go over the old bridge/ford of Harden Beck, keeping with the track until the next set of buildings and be aware of a footpath left here. Take this and cross the golf-course, bearing SE until you reach the edge of Cottingley Woods. Take the distinct footpath into the trees & walk up the vivid moss-coloured path until you reach the level at the top where the woods become more deciduous. Here, turn left for 100 yards into the bit of woodland which has been fenced-off and walk about. You’ll find it!

Archaeology & History

Cottingley Woods Fairy Stone

This is a truly superb cup-and-ring stone which anyone into the subject must take a look at!  It was first found by the old forester here, Ronald Bennett, in 1966 — ten years before the rock art student Keith Boughey (2005) mistakenly reported it to have been found “by Valerie Parkinson…in 1976.”  Everything about it’s excellent — but I think the setting in woodland is what really brings it out.

The first published account and photograph of this superb carved stone seems to have been in Joe Cooper’s (1982) precursory essay on the Cottingley Fairies in an article he wrote for The Unexplained magazine in the 1980s.  A few years later I included the stone in a short article on local folklore (Bennett 1988), then again much later in The Old Stones of Elmet (2001).  It was curiously omitted from Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) survey, as were the other carvings that are found very close by.  Not sure why…  But of the small cluster here (I’ll add the others later), this carving stands out as the best of the bunch by far!  Its name has nothing to do with the Cottingley Fairy folk down town: it simply originates from my own teenage thoughts and the true ambience of the setting. Check it out!

Joe Cooper’s 1982 photo
Fairy Stone carving

The rock is typical millstone grit and its carved upper surface measures roughly 3 yards east-west and 2 yards north-south, sloping gently into the ground.  As the photo shows, this is an elaborate design seemingly centred around two large and another smaller circular form, each enclosing a number of internal cups, ring and lines.  The next time we’re over there, we’ll try get some clearly images and make a detailed drawing of the old fella!  In the event that you visit here, check out the other three carvings close to this primary design — and try work out which one of the three was carved by the scouts in more modern times!  Another simple cup-marked stone was recently found in the undergrowth a short distant east of this group.

Sketch of the design in 1981

Recently the carving was given attention with what’s known as photogrammetry software: this enables a more complete image of the 3-dimensional nature of objects scrutinized.  In the resulting photos (which I’m unable to reproduce here due to copyright restrictions), a previously unseen long carved line was detected that runs across the middle of the larger of the two enclosing rings.  Hopefully in the coming months, those with the software (can’t remember whether it’s English Heritage or Pennine Prospects who won’t allow it) might allow us to reproduce one or two of their images to enable the rest of the world to see what their images have uncovered.  After all, considering that we peasants brought this carving to their attention, you’d at least hope they could repay the finds.  Some of these larger organizations, despite what they may say, simply don’t swing both ways!


In an early edition of my old Fortean archaeology rag of the 1980s, I narrated the tale of one Anne Freeman, who was walking through the woods here.  When she reached the top of the woods, near some stones she heard a loud chattering and allegedly saw two tiny figures barely one-foot tall wearing red outfits and green hats in “medieval peasant dress”.  Andy Roberts (1992) later repeated the tale and illustrated the carving in his Yorkshire folklore work.

In the 1960s, the old ranger Ronnie Bennett (no relative of mine) who first found these carvings, also reported that he saw little people here: “not one, but three,” as he said.  Not fairies with wings, but more gnome-like.


  1. Bennett, Paul, Of Cups and Rings and Things, unpublished: Shipley 1981.
  2. Bennett, Paul, ‘Tales of Yorkshire Faeries,’ in Earth 9, 1988.
  3. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  4. Boughey, Keith, “A Group of Four Cup-and-Ring-Marked Rocks at Black Hills, Cottingley Woods,” in Prehistory Research Section Bulletin, no.42, 2005.
  5. Cooper, Joe, ‘Cottingley: At Last the Truth,’ in The Unexplained 117, 1982
  6. Roberts, Andy, Ghosts and Legends of Yorkshire, Jarrold 1992.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian