Brass Castle (1), West Morton, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 08119 44111

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no. 40 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no. 81 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Brass Castle (1) Cup&Ring

From East Morton, head up the winding Street Lane for just over a mile until, on your right-hand side, you hit the long straight Roman Road, or Ilkley Road as it’s known.  Literally 690 yards (0.63km) up, on your left a footpath is signposted.  Take the path alongside the wall, through the first gate (note the pile of stones at this gate, which are the remains of the destroyed Bradup stone circle) then keeping on for ⅓-mile till you reach another gate, then 200 yards to the next one where you reach the moorland proper.  From here you need to walk through the heather, just over 300 yards southwest where you’ll reach this large rock. Y’ can’t miss it!

Archaeology & History

Looking down at the CnR

Considering the size of this stone, visitors might expect there to be more on it than there actually is; although a large section of it has been quarried off and there might have been more to it in earlier times.  A basic cup-and-ring with one or two single cup-marks elsewhere on its surface, the carving was first described by Stuart Feather (1964) following one of his many rambles hereby, when he was checking out the Rivock carvings a short distance to the west (calling it the Rivock 18 stone).  He wrote:

S. Feather’s 1964 sketch

“On the eastern edge of the Rivock plateau, about half-a-mile west of the stone circle at Bradup Bridge, is a cup-and-ring marked rock of a pronounced triangular shape.  This at present measures 10ft by 8ft and is 3ft high at its western side… At some time in the past it has been quarried, probably to build part of the adjacent gritstone walls.  The 8ft side of the rock has quite distinct drill marks visible…

Close-up of the CnR

The rock has…on its sloping surface a very fine cup-and-ring mark, the ring 6in in diameter around a cup 2in deep, all finely executed and well preserved.  Running south from this cup-and-ring mark is a level area 3ft long and 5in wide, which ends alongside the ring at one end and at the quarried edge of the rock at the other.  This is probably the former position of a fossil which has weathered out and its alignment onto the cup-and-ring may be due to the carving having been deliberately sited in juxtaposition to this very distinct natural feature.  Only one other 2in deep cup remains on the surviving original portion of the rock; others may have been quarried away.”

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  2. Feather, Stuart, “Mid-Wharfedale Cup-and-Ring Markings – no.18, Rivock”,  in Bradford Cartwright Hall Archaeology Bulletin, 9:2, 1964.
  3. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Way Hagg, West Ayton Moor, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stones (lost):  OS Grid Reference – SE 9657 8840

Archaeology & History

In the autumn of 1848, antiquarian John Tissiman (1850) and his associates took to uncovering two burial mounds amidst a large cluster of them on the eastern edge of West Ayton Moor.  This one at Way Hagg was quite a big fella, measuring 36 yards across.  When they cut into its northern edge towards the centre, 8-10 feet in, they came across an upright stone, nearly two feet high, on which five cup-marks had been cut. (see sketch, no.2)  Slightly beyond this were three other stones (in sketch, nos.1, 3 & 4), each with cup-marks on them, beneath which was a tall urn.  Whether or not the carvings had been deliberately positioned to cover the urn, we do not know. Nonetheless, we can be reasonably assured that these petroglyphs had some mythic association with death when they were placed here.

Tissiman gave us the following detailed measurements of the respective carvings:

1: Nearly even surface. Length, from 16 to 18 inches; breadth, 10 to 20 ditto; depth, 8 to 9 ditto; with large oval hole cut in the centre, 7½ inches long, 4 inches broad, and 3½ inches in depth.  On the opposite side are three holes, from 2 to 3 inches in diameter, and from 1 inch to 1½ deep.  2: Uneven surface. Length, 23 inches; breadth, 14 inches; depth, 13 inches; with five holes, from l½ to 3½ inches in diameter, and 1 to 1½ inches in depth.  3: Uneven surface. Length, 33 inches; breadth, 22 inches; depth, 10 inches, with four holes, the largest being 4½ inches in diameter and 3 inches deep; the others, from 1½ inches to 2 inches in diameter, and 1 to 1½ inches deep.  4: Uneven surface. Length, 27 inches; breadth, 23½ inches; depth, 10 inches, with 13 holes, from 1½ inches to 5 inches in diameter, and ¾ of an inch to 3 inches in depth; also three lines at the end of the stone.”

The carvings were included in Brown & Chappell’s (2005) fine survey, but they weren’t able to find out what happened to them after Tissiman’s excavation. They remain lost.  If anyone has any information as to where they might be, please let us know.

References:

  1. Brown, Paul & Chappell, Graeme, Prehistoric Rock Art in the North York Moors, Tempus: Stroud 2005.
  2. Tissiman, John, “Report on Excavations in Barrows, in Yorkshire,” in Journal British Archaeological Association, April 1850.

Acknowledgements:  Huge thanks for use of the Ordnance Survey map in this site profile, reproduced with the kind permission of the National Library of Scotland

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Haw Farm (01), Swartha, Silsden, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 05206 46856

Archaeology & History

An intriguing find, made not too long ago by Jeff Wallbank of Silsden.  Simplistic in design, it’s found on a small ridge of rocks adjacent to an old quarry (so there may have been other carvings here in times gone by), rising up immediately south of Haw Farm about 20 yards away, from where you can ask permission of the kind land-owner to have a look at the stone.

It’s pretty basic: consisting of a distinct triangle of three plain cup-marks on one side of a natural crack that runs across a section of the stone. Immediately adjacent and on the other side of this crack, is another singular cup.  This appears to have a carved line running from it and possibly an elongated semi-circular element around the cup itself.  It’s not too special when compared to the much more ornate petroglyphs further east, but is worth checking out if you’re walking in this gorgeous western edge of Rombalds Moor.

Acknowledgements:  HUGE thanks to Sarah Walker, without whose help and permission to use her photos, this site profile could not have been written.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Bucking Hill (03), High Moor, Brunthwaite, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0845 4529

Archaeology & History

Discovered by Stuart Feather in the late 1950s, this was one of two carvings found very close to each other (see Bucking Hill 2) whose exact location are unknown (the grid-reference cited here is a reasonably accurate approximation).  In his short article where he mentions the Bucking Hill 2 carving, he then told of,

Sid Jackson’s vague drawing of the carving

“the discovery a few yards away of a small stone bearing a cup-and-ring mark providing evidence for at least one other symbol from this small hill.  This stone, only 14in long, 8in wide, and 6½in thick, has a cup 1¾in in diameter, ⅞in deep with a shallow channel 1½ long running from it.

“Round the cup, which is very symmetrical and has the pecking clearly defined, is part of a concentric channel which, if it were a complete circle, would have a diameter of 4in.  The channel, which starts near to the small channel that runs from the cup, goes only halfway round the cup and is obviously unfinished.  It is irregular in width and depth and in marked contrast to the workmanship of the cup.”

He then queries as to whether this small carved stone could have come off the larger cup-marked Bucking Hill (02) boulder close by.  We may never know, but when we consider the lack of general erosion on this cup-and-ring (the pecking was still visible), it would obviously have remained upside-down in the peat for a few thousand years!  There was an old cairn a short distance away on the top of Bucking Hill and it may have come from there.  Anyhow, Mr Feather subsequenly took this portable carving home with him and it’s subsequently been donated to the Ilkley Manor House Museum where it should be visible. (can someone send us a photo so we can add it to the site profile?)

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
  2. Feather, Stuart, “Mid-Wharfedale Cup-and-Ring Markings – Nos 21 and 22: Bucking Hill, High Moor, Rombald’s Moor,” in Bradford Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 9:5, 1964.
  3. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Bucking Hill (02), High Moor, Brunthwaite, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 0844 4529

Archaeology & History

This was one of two carvings reported by Stuart Feather (1964) that were very close to each other (see Bucking Hill 3), both of which consisted of simplistic designs but which, he thought, may once have been part of the same rock.  Its precise whereabouts are not known (the grid-ref is an approximation).  He wrote:

“On the southern slopes of Bucking Hill, a fine gritstone rock 5ft 6in by 4ft 6in by 1ft 6in high, has a very clear cup-mark 2in in diameter and ½in deep carved 8in from the straight eastern edge of the rock.”

Feather thought that the edge of the rock had been cut and quarried for use in the boundary wall to the east.  He may have been right.

References:

  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
  2. Feather, Stuart, “Mid-Wharfedale Cup-and-Ring Markings – Nos 21 and 22: Bucking Hill, High Moor, Rombald’s Moor,” in Bradford Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 9:5, 1964.
  3. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Bucking Hill (01), High Moor, Brunthwaite, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone (lost):  OS Grid Reference – SE 0828 4507

Archaeology & History

Described by Boughey & Vickerman (2003) as being located somewhere “below Dirk Hill Sike” in the Rivock woods plantation, this is (or was) a “medium, upstanding rock lying NW-SE (with) one possible heavily weathered large cup-and-ring: cup 75mm diam. and ring 200mm diam.”  However, the authors give no references to this site, nor images, or notes as to who rediscovered this stone.  In their survey they also included one of the Bucking Hill carvings twice, giving the impression that there was more here than had previously been reported.  These errors have subsequently been repeated elsewhere on-line.  In saying this, there are a number of rocks scattered in this area which may have had carvings on them, but it’s been heavily forested and, recently, the trees have been felled and so many of them will have been damaged, turned over, or simply destroyed as a result of the forestry shennanigans.

References:

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

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Ripple Stone, Rivock Edge, Silsden, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Line Stone OS Grid-Reference – SE 07492 44836

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.25 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.64 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Helen inspects the stone

Coming via the Keighley-Bingley (Airedale) B6265 road, go up to Riddlesden and then up the winding Banks Lane until you reach the T-junction.  Turn left here and about 330 yards along, on the right-side of the road is a dirt-track.  Walk up here, sticking to the track (not the footpath) towards the cliffs of Rivock ahead of you, going through the gate and into the Rivock woods area.  450 yards on from the gate, on your right you’ll pass the long straight line of walling running uphill and literally 275 yards further along the track from here, walk straight up into the trees for 20 yards where, just before the slope begins to truly veer into an “uphill” state, you’ll see the stone in question!

Archaeology & History

Cups on east-side of stone

In 1961 when Stuart Feather rediscovered this carving, the “rock was almost completely covered by a six-inch layer of peat and vegetation.”  But, like all good rock art explorers, he slowly and carefully peeled it all back and brought back to light another one of Rivock’s olde stories.  We know not what the story on the rock might tell, but it looks good nonetheless!  Feather counted “several cups carved on it”, but a few more have ben discerned since then.  When Boughey & Vickerman (2003) described it in their typically minimalist way, they told it be a “large square rock with surface in slope of hill.  About nineteen cups.”  Evocative stuff!

Sketch of basic design
Faint line visible, left-side

When I first saw visited this carving as a young lad, the thing which stood out to me more than anything was the long but faint line that ran down one section of the stone.  Added to this was an equally faint arc attached to the side of the line, like a “D” form.  A few months later I did a sketch of it on my second visit, but I’ve looked and looked and seem to have lost it. (not good)  The one I’ve done here is a recent one.  As we can see, a series of cup-marks straddle each side of the D-line and are plainly visible, which implies that the line was carved much earlier than the cups.  Of course, it’s possible that the cups were repeatedly forged over and over many times over a century or more and the D-line, for whatever reason, left untouched.

Another interesting aspect of this D-line is its repetition in the much more ornate petroglyph 35 yards to the east (presently known as Rivock 67 until we devise something more appropriate).  The recently rediscovered Slinger Stone 100 yards south may also have the same feature, but this needs further surveying before we can say for sure.

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, ‘The Prehistoric Rock Art and Megalithic Remains of Rivock & District (2 parts),’ in Earth, 3-4, 1986.
  2. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
  3. Feather, Stuart, ‘Mid-Wharfedale Cup-and-Ring Markings: No. 14, Rivock,’ in Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, 7:1, 1962.
  4. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.

Acknowledgements:  With thanks to Andy Roberts for giving this stone its modern name.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

Little Almscliffe Crags, Stainburn, North Yorkshire

Legendary Rocks:  OS Grid Reference – SE 23237 52275

Also Known as:

  1. Little Almes Cliffe
  2. Little Almias Cliff Crag

Getting Here

Little Almscliffe Crag (photo – James Elkington)

Coming from Harrogate, take the B6162 and B6161 road to Beckwithshaw, through the village and, 4-500 yards on, turn right onto Norwood Lane.  2 miles along, keep your eyes peeled on your left for a gravelled parking spot and you’ll see the large rock outcrop 200 yards south of the road. …Otherwise, from Otley: go over the river bridge and turn right up Farnley Lane and follow the B6451 for a few miles, thru Farnley village up the Washburn valley, past Norwood and at Bland Hill, turn right along Broad Dubb Road for 1¾ miles where you’ll reach that same gravelled parking spot.

Archaeology & History

Very much the ‘little brother’ of Great Almscliffe, 3 miles (4.83km) to the southeast, this site would be more of interest to the travelling geologist, perhaps, than to antiquarians.  But that depends what tickles y’ fancy I s’ppose.

In 1702 when the northern antiquarian Ralph Thoresby mentioned this and its big brother to the southeast, he described the “two famous crags of Almes Cliff—in some old writings called Aylmoys ut dicitur—but have seen nothing memorial of it, saving its remarkable lofty situation.”  He missed the cup-and-ring carving on the east-side of the crags, obviously, which indicates that it had some form of animistic sanctity in ancient times.

The location on 1851 map
Little Almscliffe c.1900

Little Almscliffe was one of many impressive places located within the ancient Forest of Knaresborough; and although it wasn’t on the original boundary line, a perambulation (i.e., annual ritual walking to the old stones, trees and wells defining the region) of the area written in 1770, in what Mr Grainge called “the Copyhold Forest”, was undertaken by the Enclosure Commissioners.  It differed from the more ancient perambulation rite, in that the newer one included a mention of,

“five bounder stones also marked F to an earth-fast stone, lying northeast of Little Almes Cliffe, marked also with an F; (and) from thence by other four bounder stones marked F to Sandwith Wath…”

The letter ‘F’ here signifying the word ‘forest’, as in the Forest of Knareborough.

William Grainge (1871) also believed these crags to have been a place of druidic worship.  He wasn’t the only one.  Many other writers of the time thought the same thing; and although we have no concrete evidence to prove this, it is highly likely that these rocks would have served some ritual purpose in pre-christian days.  Certainly in more recent times (during the 1980s and ’90s) we know that ritual magickians used this site for their workings.  On a more mundane level, the crags were previously used as a site for for beacon fires.  One was erected here in 1803 when the first Bonaparte threatened to invade England; but I can find no written accounts of earlier beacons here.

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, The Old Stones of Elmet, Capall Bann: Milverton 2001.
  2. Bogg, Edmund, From Eden Vale to the Plains of York, James Miles: Leeds 1895.
  3. Bogg, Edmund, Higher Wharfeland, James Miles: Leeds 1904
  4. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  5. Grainge, William, History & Topography of Harrogate and the Forest of Knaresborough, J.R. Smith: London 1871.
  6. Parkinson, Thomas, Lays and Leaves of the Forest, Kent & Co.: London 1882.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Stone of Stars, Rivock, Silsden, West Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 07507 44564

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.26 (Hedges)
  2. Carving no.65 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

A Stone of Stars, Rivock

The best/easiest way to approach this and the Rivock carvings as a whole is to reach the Silsden Road that curves round the southern edge of Rombalds Moor (whether it’s via East Morton, Riddlesden, Keighley or Silsden) and keep your eyes peeled for the singular large windmill.  About 200 yards east of this is a small parking spot, big enough for a half-dozen vehicles.  From here walk 450 yards east along the road till you hit the dirt-track/footpath up towards the moor.  Follow the track up for about 400 yards and you’ll see the crags a half-mile ahead of you.  Get up there to the Wondjina Stone and follow the walling east for about 175 yards where you’ll see a track-cum-clearing in the woods. Walk along and the first large stone on your left is what you’re after.

Archaeology & History

I first visited this carving in my teenage years in the 1970s, before the intrusive so-called “private” forest covered this landscape and when its petroglyphic compatriots were easier to find.  Thankfully this one’s still pretty accessible and possesses a damn good clear design.  It was rediscovered in the 1960s by Stuart Feather and his gang, zigzagging their way across the open moors, pulling back the heather to see what they might find.  His description of it told how the stone,

“has two roughly level areas, one 18ins and the other 2 feet above ground level.  Both (levels) have several well-preserved cup-and-ring markings on them.  There are eight single cup-and-rings and 18 cups, two of the latter being joined by a clear channel seven inches long and 1½ inches wide.  Nearly all the markings are unusually well preserved and the pocking marks are very clear.”

Note the line running down

He also had “the impression that all the markings on this stone and possibly one other similar stone in the Rivock area have been carved by the same hand, as all the symbols are nearly identical in in type, size and execution.” (this other carving he’s referring to seems to be one about 170 yards to the north, where occasionally “offerings” have been found)

The design from E-W

When John Hedges (1986) and his team checked the stone out he could only make out “seven cups with single rings, twenty two other cups”; whilst the ever descriptive Boughey & Vickerman (2003) saw “twenty-nine cups, eight with single rings.”  Eight cup-and-rings is what most people see when the light’s right.  There’s also a long, bent carved line on the lower level of the rock, running from near the middle of the stone out to the very edge.  It seems to be man-made (although I may be wrong) – and I draw attention to it as this same feature exists on at least three of the other large and very ornamental cup-and-rings hereby within 300 yards of each other – and on these other carvings the long “line” is definitely artificial.  Tis an intriguing characteristic…

Stuart Feather’s old sketch

When visiting this petroglyph you’ll notice how some of the carved elements on top of the stone are more eroded than those on the lower section.  This is due to the fact that the lower section was only revealed by Feather and his team in the mid-20th century, after it had been covered in soil for countless centuries.  As a result you can still see the peck-marks left by the implements that were used to make the carving, perhaps 5000 years ago!

The name of the stone was inspired by a local lady who saw an astronomical function in the design (I quite like it as well).  Examples of petroglyphs representing myths of heavenly bodies have been described first-hand in some tribal cultures and, nowadays, even a number of archaeologists are making allusions about potential celestial features in some carvings in the British Isles.  That doesn’t mean to say that it’s correct, but the idea’s far from unreasonable…

Anyhow – check this one out when you’re next up here.  You’ll like it!

References:

  1. Bennett, Paul, “The Prehistoric Rock Art and Megalithic Remains of Rivock & District (parts 1 & 2),” in Earth, 3-4, 1986.
  2. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
  3. Deacon, Vivien, The Rock Art Landscapes of Rombalds Moor, West Yorkshire, ArchaeoPress: Oxford 2020.
  4. Feather, Stuart, “Mid-Wharfedale Cup-and-Ring Markings – no.16 – Rivock,” in Cartwright Hall Archaeology Group Bulletin, volume 8, no.10, 1963.
  5. Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
  6. Morris, Ronald W.B., “The Prehistoric Rock Art of Great Britain: A Survey of All Sites Bearing Motifs more Complex than Simple Cup-marks,” in Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society, volume 55, 1989.

AcknowledgmentsHuge thanks to Collette Walsh for use of her photos.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian

The Wartie Stone, Yell, Shetland

Legendary Rock (destroyed):  OS Grid Reference – HP 5223 0467

Archaeology & History

Whilst classifying this as a “legendary” rock, it was as much a functional stone that played an integral part of local village life in the 19th century and, most probably, way before that.  This large stone possessed a large cavity in the shape of a giant human footprint, measuring 12 inch by 4 inch.  It could be seen “above the Deeks of Bracon, North Yell, up Hena”, but when first described in 1865, it was said to be “no longer in existence.”  Despite this, when an Ordnance Survey dood came looking for it in 1969, he reported it as “still in existence” and known of by local people.  Is there anyone in the far far north who can tell us?

Folklore

The impression of the large footprint was natural, but the use to which local people made of it is valuable when we seek to understand pre-industrial customs.  The Royal Commission (1946) lads echoed the folklore handed down by J.T. Irvine from 1865, telling that,

“Formerly the people used to wash in dew or rain-water that had gathered in the cavity and stand in it to get rid of warts.  The tradition was that a giant had planted one foot here and the other on a stone on the Westing of Unst.”

Healing stones with such properties can be found everywhere on Earth.

References:

  1.  Royal Commission Ancient & Historical Monuments, Scotland, Inventory of the Ancient Monuments of Orkney and Shetland – volume 3, HMSO: Edinburgh 1946.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian