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…


  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

Longbarrow Field, Timble, North Yorkshire

Cairn (lost):  OS Grid Reference — SE 18 53

Archaeology & History

Described in the Field Lore of Timble village by William Grainge (1895) are the names and short histories of some of the local place-names—with this in particular standing out like a veritable sore thumb!  Quite plainly, as Grainge told us,

“The name ‘Longbarrows’ is indicative of some burial mounds of a very early day.  None exist at present.  The land is under the plough, and is about the best in the township.”

But I cannot locate the position of this long-lost site and it’s not shown on any of the early OS-maps hereby.  Grainge said that the land on which it once stood was owned by a local farmer called Charles Dickinson, who leased it out to others.  He wrote:

“Dickinson had in Longbarrows 3 roods* and 23 perches*, and William Jackson’s share in Longbarrows was 1 acre, 3 roods and 21 perches.  Besides these, John Ward of Nether Timble had 1 rood and 17 perches int he same field, a long narrow slip without fence, between Dickinson’s and Jackson’s lots.”

Does anyone know where this was?  One of my suspects is the gathering place of the Fewston witches, a half-mile south of the village; but no remains of anything can be found there today and I may just be barking up the wrong tree.

The area south and west of here is rich in little-known prehistoric heritage, from the cairn-fields of Askwith Moor, the cairn circle at Snowden Crags, the settlements of Snowden Carr and the extensive petroglyphs all over the place!  Giants cairns of the early Bronze Age and neolithic period were also once more numerous upon the moors to the west and south, so the former existence of a long barrow in Timble wouldn’t necessarily be too unusual.  But where was it?!


  1. Grainge, William, The History and Topography of the Townships of Little Timble, Great Timble and the Hamlet of Snowden, William Walker: Otley 1895.

*  A rood is an English unit of area, equal to a quarter of an acre or 10,890 square feet; a perch was a more variable unit of measure, being lengths of 1612, 18, 21, 24 and 25 square feet.

© Paul BennettThe Northern Antiquarian 

Snowden Carr Carving (569), Askwith Moor, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 17746 50923

Getting Here

Inma’s Drawing of the Carving

Takes a bitta finding unless you’ve got a GPS system, or someone like me to show you where it is! The best way’s probably via the Askwith Moor Road car park, up the road 160 yards till you hit the straight line cut into the moor on your right, where the landscape’s been damaged.*  Walk along this for less than 100 yards, then walk right, through the heather and onto the singular tree roughly 200 yards away.  From here, walk 75 yards (strides) north from the tree.  You’re damn close!

Archaeology & History

About 20 feet from a line of ancient walling in an area pretty rich in prehistoric sites, is this medium-sized stone with a lovely cup-and-ring design.  The carving was first recorded by fellow antiquarian, Eric Cowling (1937), in his short survey of other carved stones in the area.  He called this ‘carving no.7’ and described it, thus:

“In the central area of Snowden Carr is a barrow group, which occupies a slight ridge running from the edge of the bog to the east, almost to the moor road on the west.  The ridge is almost devoid of vegetation except at the higher end.  Here, on a heather-covered boulder, is marking no.7.  The cups are smaller than usual, and only one ring completely surrounds a cup.  The lines linking the cups are only lightly incised, and the whole marking has a delicate appearance.”

Old photo of the carving
Cowling’s 1937 drawing

I first visited this stone in the 1980s with fellow rock art student and author, Graeme Chappell, and for some reason it has always impressed me (I recall Graeme laughing whilst I made joyous noises and stroked the rock, reverentially!).  Cowling’s description of the stone as ‘delicate’ is appealing, as the stone and its design has a nurturing aspect to it, female in nature. (forgive me — but many of these stones tend to capture me in such ways!)  The stone was described more clinically in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) more recent survey as follows:

“Fairly large, flat, smooth grit rock with crack.  Up to seventeen possible cups, one with complete ring, one with partial ring, one with possible ring; connecting groove.”

Doesn’t quite capture the feel of the place, which I’m sure they’d admit.  The next time I’m up here, I’ll get some better photos of the carving.


  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
  2. Cowling, E.T., ‘A Classification of West Yorkshire Cup and Ring Stones,’ in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 1940.
  3. Cowling, E.T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.
  4. Cowling, E.T. & Hartley, C.A., ‘Cup and Ring Markings to the North of Otley,’ in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 33, 1937.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Huge thanks to one of my fine ladies, Inmaculada Ibanez-Sanchez, for the drawing! Cheers Inma!

* A pipeline was laid across the moor here, and subsequent work (I presume by the same company) was done again in early 2011, cutting through and damaging several prehistoric monuments and destroying at least one prehistoric cairn.  An archaeological survey of the region should have been done before any work proceeded here, but I’m unaware of any such excavations, or archaeological reports preceding or concurrent to the ecological and historical damage performed.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Snowden Carr Carving (603), Askwith Moor, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 17993 51112

Getting Here

Snowden Carr carving 603

From Askwith village go up the Moor Lane and at the crossroads go straight across (Snowden Moor is across left).  Go down and along Snowden Carr Road until the road levels out and, watch carefully, about 500 yards on from the crossroads on your left you’ll see a small crag of rocks in the fields above.  Stop and go through the gate walking up the field and as you near the top you’ll see a gate across to your left that leads onto the moor.  Go through this and on the path which veers up to the right up to the Tree of Life Stone.  About 20 yards along, keep your eyes peeled just off-path, to the left, where a small rounded stone hides at the edge.

Archaeology & History

This was one of a number of cup-markings that Graeme Chappell and I came across in the early 1990s, though it didn’t receive any literary attention until included in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) survey.  It’s only a small fella, consisting of just six or seven cups on its upper rounded surface — though what may be a carved line runs round the southern side of the stone.  It seems to have been associated with a small cairn close by (a common feature on these moors) and adjacent prehistoric settlement walling.  In Boughey & Vickerman’s text, they gave the following notes:

“Small rock with rounded surface at ground level, near scattered cairn. Seven or eight cups, possible grooves at edge.”

Drawing of the stone (Boughey & Vickerman)

[You’ll notice in the photo above that the local phantom painter had been here again, artistically highlighting the cup-marks.  The photos we took were done earlier this year, when the paint (or whatever it is) was first noted.  It had not been painted-in the previous autumn.  But most notably is the fact that this carved stone has never previously appeared on the internet (until today) and the only other reference to it is in the standard Boughey & Vickerman text.  This would indicate that whoever it is that’s painting the carvings up and down mid-Wharfedale possesses a copy of that text, aswell as being relatively new to the subject of rock art.]


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

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Snowden Carr (597), Askwith Moor, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 17965 51158

Getting Here

Find your way to the excellent Tree of Life cup-and-ring stone, then walk about 10-15 yards west.  It’s under your nose!

Archaeology & History

Single cup-marked stone

Another stone for the rock art purists amongst us: a singular cup-marking near the edge of the rock.  Although the photo here seems to show three cup-markings close to each other, only one of the three is in fact real.  The other two are simple geological creations.  But this fact seemed to go over the heads of some English Heritage archaeologists who reported to Boughey & Vickerman (2003) that this was a stone “with three cup markings” on it.  I’m not sure who trains EH rock-art enthusiasts, but they seem to have a tendency to mistake natural features with artificial cup-markings and their evaluations should be treated with considerable caution (you’ve gotta wonder who the students are that are teaching them).

The rock itself is found in close association with other prehistoric remains and may have been a part of enclosure walling.  Very close by are numerous well-preserved settlement remains, cairns and other cup-and-ring stones.


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

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Snowden Moor Settlement, Askwith, North Yorkshire

Settlement:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1785 5128

Getting Here

Travel along the Askwith Moor Road between Blubberhouses and Askwith (near Otley) and park-up at the large gritted parking post on the moor edge.  Walk straight onto Snowden Moor (east) and walk a few hundred yards north until you reach the brow of the small rounded hill, scattered with small stones and outcrop rock.  The settlement is all around you!

Archaeology & History

As we already know from earlier posts on TNA, this moorland region is rich in prehistoric remains, and the settlement that I’m about to briefly describe here is another excellent site – when you can see it!

‘Hut circle’ at the rocky knoll

My first exploration here was in the company of Graeme Chappell more than 20 years ago, where we tried locating remains that had been described by Eric Cowling (1946) during a foray taking photographs of the cup-and-ring stones nearby.  But due to an overgrowth of moorland vegetation at the time, the remains which Cowling described proved hard to find.  Years later when Richard Stroud and I visited the place in May 2005, all the heather had been burnt back and much of what looked like the remains of an entire prehistoric village was in plain view for us to see.  I was well impressed!  This occurred again last year, enabling the bunch of us who came here a few times to see even more of the place.  But — just like the newly discovered prehistoric settlement on Blubberhouse Moor a couple of miles north — once the heather grows back again you wouldn’t really think anything of worth was hidden here.   In archaeological terms however — despite the lack of references and research by those who are paid to be archaeologists — we have one helluva little-known prehistoric settlement, complete with walling, hut circles, village hall (!), tombs, cup-and-ring carving and more, much of it probably dating from the Bronze Age, but some of the sites here indicate it was also much in use during the Iron Age period aswell.

Probably the best place to start exploring here is on the large flat rock on the rounded knoll at the edge of the moor (SE 1785 5129) with a simple cup-mark saying ‘hello’ on its surface, looking east down into the Fewston Valley and across lower Wharfedale, then veering up towards the hills above Nidderdale.  The great prehistoric temple of Brimham Rocks is clearly visible from this spot aswell.  Upon this rocky hillock we have a veritable scattering of several large, earthfast boulders and smaller rocks, from where much of the settlement expands, mainly to the west through to the south, across the open moors in front of you.  On a clear day this is truly beautiful and quiet spot.

Line of ancient walling, running NE
Line of ancient walling, running SW

Just a couple of yards from the edge of the rocky knoll is a very good example of what would at first sight appear to a prehistoric hut circle.  Its position at the top of this rocky knoll however, implies an additional function other than a purely domestic one.  Also from here is a prominent long straight stretch of walling running roughly southwest for about 90 yards onto the moor, and also to the northeast, downhill off the moorland for some 30 yards before disappearing into undergrowth (we didn’t actually explore this lower section of walling running downhill, so there’s probably more to be found there).  This long section of walling, mainly comprising small stones and rubble, with a number of larger uprights defining much of its length, is just one of several stretches of walls that are clearly visible hereby.  There are also a number of other hut circles to be found scattered around this particular walled sections near the top of the rocky rise. When Eric Cowling (1946) came here he counted 10 of them here; but subsequent explorations have found at least 13 of them hereby.

Upper D-shaped enclosure
Overgrown D-shaped enclosure

One of the most notable remains here is the large D-shaped enclosure about 25 yards west of the rocky knoll.   This very impressive archaeological site was curiously not included in the Nidderdale Archaeological survey report of sites in this region.  Either they hadn’t done their homework correctly when they came here, or the heather must have been really deep; cos as you can see in the photo here, it’s a decent size!  I tend to see this large stone enclosure as a sort of tribal gathering building of sorts — a bit like a ‘village hall’ so to speak. If you get here and see it all in context, it makes a lotta sense (not that it’s right of course, merely an opinion).  With the exclusion of the Cowling D-shaped enclosure more than 80 yards east of here, this is the largest monument on this section of the moor, measuring some 45ft along the NW to SE axis and 20ft across the NE to SW axis.  The walling in parts is quite thick aswell and the stones making up the main north, east and southern edges are anything between 12 inches to 34 inches tall. Along its northeast edge is a curious stone, with what initially looked to be a most distinct cup-and-ring carving on the outer walling, but once we’d looked and looked again, saw it seemed to be one of the oddest light-created ‘carvings’ we’d ever seen! (i.e., it’s natural)

Denuded cairn? or denuded walling?
Another arc of walling (shit picture though – soz…)

A few yards from here, heading to the little peak close by, more walls emerge. On the small rise in the land about 30 yards west you’ll see an arc of stones running around the contour line of another hillock on the moor.  It’s difficult to say with any certainty, but a lot of this arc of stone is certainly man-made and at least Iron Age in date, perhaps earlier; but the line of stones itself may actually run all round the very edges of the hill on whose sides this section rests (see photo).  You get a distinct impression here that this small hill was actually sectioned off all the way round, so to speak, for some reason or other.  The remains of at least two small cairns can be found on the top of this small enclosed rise, close to one of which Boughey & Vickerman (2003) have designated there to be a cup-marked stone.  From this elongated hillock we look immediately northwest onto the flat moorland plain of the Snowden Moor necropolis …amidst which the hardworking Keighley volunteer Michala Potts recently found the Snowden Crags cairn circle.

Section of Snowden Carr settlement walling

Further down the moorland slope—a couple of hundred yards below Cowling’s D enclosure—are yet more remains, many of which lie outside the geographical boundaries of the “official” Scheduled Monument Record for this settlement (known as SMR 28065).  We’ve located several other cairns in relatively good states of preservation; more extensive lines of another walled enclosure (again in a large D-shape), as well as several cup-marked stones.

The Site and Monuments account of this place tells us simply:

“The monument includes a cairnfield and associated concentration of prehistoric features.  Included in the area are a large sub-rectangular enclosure, two smaller enclosures, at least 17 cairns of various sizes, several lengths of boulder walling, a hollow way, and at least 17 carved rocks. There is also a bare patch of ground on which lumps of lead slag survive. This was produced by medieval or earlier lead smelting.

“This concentration of prehistoric features is situated towards the north east edge of Snowden Carr, and measures c.426m x c.155m.  The cairns occur throughout the area and range in size from an elongated cairn 17m x 7m down to cairns c.4m in diameter. The cairns are best preserved in the north western part of the area. The large sub-rectangular enclosure has an earth and stone bank c.3m wide and c.0.6m high. The bank is double on the east side of the enclosure.  The two smaller enclosures have rubble banks 1m-2m wide and up to c.0.6m high.  They are more irregular in shape than the large enclosure.  The boulder walling consists of a number of approximately linear rubble banks 1m-2m wide. It is concentrated in the area immediately north west of the large enclosure, and in the area to its south. The boulder walls are interpreted as part of a field system contemporary with the large enclosure.  The hollow way is located within the southern group of boulder walls and may be contemporary with them. “

There is still a considerable amount of work that needs doing in and around this settlement complex and it seems any work here is gonna be done by the like of us amateur doods.  Archaeological officials don’t seem interested here.  I was informed by Neil Redfern of the archaeology department of English Heritage for North Yorkshire that they are unable to support any funding that might help towards any decent analysis of this important archaeological arena, nor do they consider the important cairn circle discovered a few months ago on the northern end of this settlement worthy of financial help either, which is of course very disappointing,* but typifies their lack of enthusiasm unless money comes their way.  And so this site profile entry will be added to gradually as our amateur team visit and uncover further aspects of this neglected prehistoric arena – such as the finding of another previously unrecorded ancient circle of stones not too far away!


  1. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS: Wakefield 2003.
  2. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.

Acknowledgements:  Many thanks for use of their photos to Graeme Chappell and Michala Potts.

* No doubt a church window somewhere will eat up a few thousand quid and weeks of their time to fit the little piece — along with all those prawn sandwich meetings that cost so much to endure.  Much more important!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian 

Askwith Moor Carving 529, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 17396 50745

Getting Here

To be found a couple of hundred yards west of Askwith Moor Road, head towards the bottom of the row of grouse-butts, following the fence that runs into the moorland across from the dusty car-park.

Archaeology & History

Single cup-marked stone

This single cup-marked stone — list as carved stone no.529 in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) survey — was reported when some English Heritage doods came here and found this small upright stone (probably part of a larger prehistoric monument, e.g., walling or cairn) and gave the cup-marking their “all clear” stamp and thought it authentic.  But if memory serves me right (which it doesn’t always do these days!), I’m pretty sure Graeme Chappell came across this possible carving in the early 1990s during one of our many forays over these moors.  It’s a cute little thing — though only for the purists amongst you perhaps — but, of course, needs to be seen in the context of its proximity to the many other prehistoric monuments across this moorland plain.


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

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Death’s Head Carving (577), Askwith Moor, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 17795 51235

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.577


Getting Here

Follow the directions to find the Tree of Life Stone, then follow the main footpath uphill from it.  Once on the level, look out for a couple of large rocks abaat 100 yards to your left.  Check ’em out, cos it’s on one of ’em!

Archaeology & History

This is another decent carving living on these prolific moors.  Found near the end of a lengthy line of prehistoric walling that runs east-west over this part of the moor, the general Rorsharch-response to this carving is of some sorta skull or screaming face.  My impression of it the other day was, “it looks like a pig!”

Although mentioned by numerous writers, the first description of it was in Eric Cowling’s (1937) essay on the cup-and-ring stones north of Otley, saying:

“On an isolated table stone, situated at the upper end of the shallow valley which drains Snowden Carr, the writer found a marking having a strangely skull-like appearance, but which is really a group of three large cups which are linked by inter-turning curved grooves.”

Close-up of main design
The Death’s Head Rock

He then strives to make links between this carving and the design on the Swastika Stone above Ilkley — which in some way is a little similar, i.e., as a three-armed triskele swastika; but the notion is perhaps as accurate as saying it represents a cloud, or a tree, or bird-flight, or any number of other natural phenomena.  Beckensall’s (1999) brief note of the stone — despite getting his grid-ref off by a few hundred yards — described it as “four cups linked and enclosed by grooves, unconvincingly suggesting a skull to some people.”  With Boughey & Vickerman (2003) saying:

“Fairly large, upstanding rock with surface sloping down to N. Figure of four cups linked by and enclosed by grooves: entire pattern resembles a skull, hence the name ‘Death’s Head Rock.'”


  1. Beckensall, Stan, British Prehistoric Rock Art, Tempus: Stroud 1999.
  2. Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
  3. Cowling, Eric T., “Cup and Ring Markings to the North of Otley,” in Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, part 131, 33:3, 1937.
  4. Cowling, Eric T., Rombald’s Way: A Prehistory of Mid-Wharfedale, William Walker: Otley 1946.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Step Stone, Snowden Crags, Askwith, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 17841 51306

Getting Here

Get to the Fence Stone carving and walk up to the top of the hill about 50-60 yards away.  Once on the long flat rock, walk less than 20 yards WNW until you see the stone in the picture.

Archaeology & History

So named due to it being shaped like a little singular step on a stone, this cup-marked carving was first found in the middle of May, 2010, around the same time Michala Potts located the Snowden Crags cairn circle.

Step Stone, Snowden Crags
Close-up of the cups

First described and illustrated on the Avebury Forum on June 3, 2010, this cup-marked rock is found in association with a number of (as yet) unexcavated prehistoric remains, close to some Iron- or Bronze Age walling and a distinct hut circle, close to one of the D-shaped enclosures 20 yards away.*  When I first found it there seemed to be just two simple cups on it, but upon viewing it several times over the last few weeks in differing lighting conditions, it seems there may be as many as 4 cups on the southwestern face of the rock.  In one of the images here, you get the impression that there could actually be five cups — but I’m gonna play safe and just say there are three such cups here.

* At least 3 large, prehistoric, D-shaped enclosures have been isolated on these moorlands, with diameters ranging between 15 and 80 yards.  None of these have yet to receive serious archaeological attention!

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian