Take the directions as if you’re visiting the ornate petroglyphs known asthe Lunar Stone and the Spotted Stone. Walk past them and down the slope, NW, as if you’re heading to the small valley a few hundred yards away. As you reach the bottom of the slope, closer to the stream, a large boulder catches your attention. This carved stone is just a few yards before you reach it.
Archaeology & History
This simple cup-marked design below the northern slope of Stanbury Hill has, on its northeastern sloping face, a single cup-mark; then, past a curiously-etched line (probably more recent) is a larger circular feature, like a very shallow ‘bowl’ as in the one found in the superb Stag Cottage petroglyph complex 300 miles north (and several other carvings). A few yards away, a large single cup-mark has been etched onto another stone. As with quite a few carvings in this region, they have been missed in the standard archaeocentric surveys.
From East Morton village, take the moorland road, east, and up the steep hill. Where the road levels out there’s a right turn, plus (more importantly!) a trackway on your left which leads onto the moor. Go up this traclk and keep walking till you hit a moorland ‘footpath’ signpost. Stop here and walk due west (your left) onto the gently sloping rise of Stanbury Hill. Keep walking for a 250 yards or so, where the land has sloped gently down to the end of the spur; and just 50 yards before it drops down tot he stream below you’ll find a cluster of rocks scattered about. One of the stones here is this one!
Archaeology & History
This is an excellent carving first recorded, it seems, by Stuart Feather in 1977, as cited in the Yorkshire Archaeology Journal’s ‘Listings’ for 1978. It can be found some 27 yards west of a prehistoric cairn near the top of the ridge (14 yards east of the same cairn is the Spotted Stone carving).
We have to assume that when Mr Feather first located this stone that the faint cup-and-rings on the topmost southeast section of the rock had been exposed to the elements from Day 1, so to speak: as the designs here are quite faint and well-worn. Another not unreasonable assumption is that Mr Feather then proceeded to dig away at the rest of the rock, exposing other features on the stone which had laid under the soil for countless centuries, as the northernmost part of the carving has minimal erosion effects on it. Indeed, unless this is true, we have to start thinking that the carving was made over quite lengthy periods of time, due solely to the greater and lesser effects of weathering on different sections of the stone.
As seen in both the diagram and photos, this is a quite extravagent design. Consisting of several cup-and-rings, aswell as a double-ring, it is found amidst a small cluster of equally impressive, albeit very different carved rocks, all appearing to have a quite specific relationship with death and ritual. This and the other stones are found on the western end of a small serpentine ridge of land (Stanbury Hill), with streams flowing on the north and western sides and small remains of marshland to the south. The geomantic feature here, if relevant, relates to movements between the Earth, water, death and the setting sun: quite potent and important issues in the lives of the neolithic and Bronze Age peoples who lived hereby.
The title of this stone carving — the Lunar Stone — should be quite evident: the design has all the hallmarks of celestial lunar movements around the ridge of the heavens; or here, pictured along the edges of the rock (symbolic of the firmament), upon and amidst which the moon travels in its rhythmic motion through the heavens. But don’t take that too seriously: it’s just an imaginative flutter that struck my otherwise distraught inability to know what I’m talking about!
Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks of Rombald’s Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
NB – Since writing this and analysing the imagery, it seems there’s another cup-and-ring on this stone which was missed by Messrs Hedges, Boughey and Vickerman and which we missed in our survey from just a few days ago. We’re going back up to assess the design again in a few days time and it seems very likely that we will have to amend the diagram above.