Another of the small cluster of little-known prehistoric carved stones in this woodland on the edge of Bradford, not in the Boughey & Vickerman (2003) survey. This however is possessed of a cup-and-half-ring, with other seemingly carved ingredients fusing onto natural aspects of the rock. The design is found on the highest part of the stone; and whilst the main cup is easy to make out, the encircling half-ring is slightly troublesome.
There are two distinct lines running down one side of the rock, both seemingly natural, but they may have been added to—it’s difficult to say with any certainty. Certainly the one closest to the cup-and-half-ring has the carved line etched to meet the natural geological feature, as you can just make out in the photos here. There also seems to be other carved features surrounding the central design, with other marks round the main cup, almost suggesting that a complete ring was being made, but never accomplished. It’s an odd one. If I’d have stripped the moss from the stone I could have seen the design in greater detail, but I’ve gotta bittova soft spot for mosses and lichens, so left it alone!
Follow the same directions as if you’re visiting the largest and most ornate of the Buck Woods carvings. From here, walk 10 yards to the Buck Woods 3 carving, then about the same distance forward again until you reach the low lines of (what looks like) Iron Age walling running roughly east-west through the trees. Walk 10-20 yards east along the walling until a gap or entrance appears – and on the other side where the walling starts again, check the 2nd or 3rd rock along, beneath the mosses.
Archaeology & History
There are no previous references to this small cup-marked stone, whose cups are on the topmost surface of the stone in this ancient stretch of walling (into which some vandal has recently carved his name, ‘Hunt’). It’s another one for the purists amongst you though, as we only have 2 or 3 cupmarks here, as the photos show – with just one which I can say is a certainty. Curiously the other two look, for all the world, as if they’re mollusc cups!—but considering you’re about 50 miles from the sea, this seems a little unlikely. Worth having a look at when you’re checking the other four carvings close by.
A nice simple, almost cute cup-marked stone—not included in the Boughey & Vickerman (2003) survey—with three simple cups running almost in a straight line from the middle of this long stone to its outward, eastern edge. One of the good features of this and its associated carvings is the setting amidst which it’s found. We tend to associate these carvings with open moorland, where many now live, but when they were first carved they were surrounded by woodland and much more: important ingredients relevant to understanding the nature of these curious carvings…
From Thackley corner, take the Esholt road down Ainsbury Avenue. Walk past the Thackley football ground and another 50 yards on, to your left, there’s a field. Cross this and go through the gate into the trees. Another field is across the footpath, but turn right and walk on the muddy path, keeping parallel with the other field, until the walling bends round to the left. About 15 yards round where the wall bends left, watch out for the silver birch tree and the small cup-marked rock at its base, right up against the wall.
Archaeology & History
This is an archetypal single cup-marked stone known as a ‘portable’ — though in its original state, when the rock was obviously larger than it is today, I doubt anyone could have carried it further than a couple of yards! The stone has been split from a larger rock, and we’re unsure the size of its original form—but presume it to have been perhaps double its present size.
The broken rock stands (now) upright against the wall and nice birch tree (Betula pendula), but wasn’t like that when we first found it, and the cup was barely visible as it faced down into the Earth. As the images show, we have just a single cup-mark on its outer face. It looks typical of those carvings found in the larger Bronze Age cairns scattering the moors to the north, but we have no evidence nor folklore indicating the existence of such a monument hereby. The extensive amount of overgrown multiperiod walling all over this woodland may have used up such a cairn, but we will probably never find out, as the woods have been overused by industrialists, who are now, slowly, turning the woods here into a park.
From Thackley corner, take the Esholt road down Ainsbury Avenue. After a couple of hundred yards, note the metal gateways into the woods. Go through here, following the main path, until you reach another split in the paths where one of those awful touristy signs tells you where you are. Walk past this (not left or right) into the opening of large oaks and other trees on a flat plain. A path swings round the right side of this, and less than 100 yards along, watch out for some rocks on your right, heading towards the wall and small field. You’re damn close!
Archaeology & History
This is one amongst a cluster of at least five cup-marked stones very close to each other in the woods here — and probably the best of the bunch. Also found in conjunction with what seems to be an Iron Age walled enclosure 20 yards away, there are at least eight cup-marks on top of this rock, They occur in two groups: one, on a sloping section of the boulder where three fading cups can be seen; and the other is on the topmost section of the stone, where five larger cups distinctly stand out, and occur in conjunction with what seems to be a long carved line running close to the edge of the rock before it drops sharply to the ground.
This and its associated carvings are found in close proximity to some sort of walled enclosure. It’s difficult ascertaining the age and nature of the enclosure walling, as masses of it are found throughout this section of woodland and it appears to be multiperiod in age and nature: from Iron Age to Victorian by the look of things. Neither this cup-marked stone, nor any of its close associates (the closest of which is the Buck Woods 3 carving, less than 10 yards away), were recorded in the Boughey & Vickerman survey of rock art in West Yorkshire.
Seemingly not visible anymore, but directions given by a Miss N. Hutchinson in the early 1960s worked for me and Dave Pendleton when we checked this out at the end of our teens. We had to look around till we found it, based on the following directions. The carving was found “on top of a low dry wall on Esholt Lane, Esholt…on the stretch of road from the junction of Gill Beck with the River Aire to the stone-built barn on the left-side of the road, that is, going towards Esholt.”
Archaeology & History
First described by Miss Hutchinson in a letter she sent to Sydney Jackson (1964), editor of Bradford Archaeology group newsletter. When we first found this small carving (not far from where we grew up) we were at the end of our teens, and followed the directions cited in the Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin (see above). The carved design was typical of the primary arcs found in many of the Baildon Moor cup-and-ring carvings a bit further up the hill, but with two other small faint cup-markings on it. According to Boughey & Vickerman (2003), the carving’s now been hidden in a section of walling that’s been rebuilt. The drawing here is from one of my unpublished notebooks. (1984)
Bennett, Paul, Ramblings of Archaeological Remnants in West Yorkshire, unpublished: Shipley 1984.
Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
Jackson, Sydney, ‘Cup-Marked Rock – Esholt Discovery,’ in Bradford Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 9:4, 1964.
Take the road from Shipley to Guiseley, the A6038, past the turn-off to Esholt, until you get to the top of what’s locally known as Hollins Hill. There’s a small farm-track to your leftand in the woodland here you’ll find the rocky outcrop.
Archaeology & History
Nothing has been written about this spot, but in this large wind-and-water worn rock outcrop, with its small cave, on the top part of the rock are several faint cup-markings.
Legend tells that a man on horseback jumped from the top of here and landed safely at Low Hall, Yeadon, 2500 yards away to the east. (probably some sort of solar lore)
Gray, Johnnie, Through Airedale, from Goole to Malham, 1891.