Eastwoods Rough 3, Dacre, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1850 6177

Getting Here

Cup-marked stone

Follow the same directions as if you’re going to the excellent Morphing Stone cup-and-ring carving.  From the carving, look up the field to the where the dirt-track is and, by the closest gate with a tree near it, walk straight towards it.  Roughly halfway between the Morphing Stone and the gate you’ll find — eventually — the small stone in the photo with well-defined cups on it.  You might need to wander back and forth until you find it, as there’s many rocks to check out here!

Archaeology & History

Possible cup-marked rock

This small cup-marked stone was rediscovered by Danny Tiernan in the late afternoon of Thursday, August 18, 2011, just as the heavens opened and the rains poured down!  With at least one well-defined cup-mark and another two near the edge of the stone where the grasses had grown, this stone probably needs another look at it, as there may be more beneath the surface, much like when we first found at Morphing Stone.

Danny also found and photographed another larger boulder, a bit further up the field closer to the fence, where what may be a single cup-mark is clearly seen living on top of the rock.  It’s one of those dodgy English Heritage ones though, so I’ll let those ‘qualified’ chaps check this one out and give it their expertise!  It could well be another unrecorded cup-marked stone though…


  1. Eastwoods Rough & other Nearby Sites

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS: Thanks to ‘QDanT’ for him & Teddy’s photos, above.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Fertility Stone, Dacre, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 18552 62228

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.638 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Fertility Stone carving
Fertility Stone carving

Take the same directions as if you’re visiting the Eastwoods Cross base and cup-marked stone, but at Eastwoods Farm itself, walk downhill following the field-wall, past the large house, then through the first gate you come to. (it’s got a ‘private’ sign on it and has some handy bulls in the field – but ask at the house and the folks there are friendly)  Following the footpath along the top of the field, cross the small stream, then head across the next field to the gap in the wall.  You’re here!

Archaeology & History

Boughey & Vickerman’s 2003 sketch

One of a cluster of cup-and-ring stones around the Bryan’s Wood and Eastwoods area, this carving is well worth a visit, but can be covered in shit and muck as the bulls pass through the gap here on their daily amble.  If the daylight isn’t good here, it can be difficult to see the carving – and when we visited the place the other day, the cloud was low and the heavens were ready to open, so our luck was out for a change!  There are a number of cup-and-rings plus a double-ring, fading their ways around the more defined cup-markings.  The stone appears to have been found in the 1990s, but records of it are scant.  Boughey & Vickerman (2003) fail to tell the origin of the name, nor when or who rediscovered the site.  Their description of the carving tells simply:

“Large flat smooth rock sloping slightly to E.  Thirteen possible cups, one with partial double ring and four with partial single-rings; three ringed cups have grooves leading from them.”

Several other excellent cup-and-ring carvings can be found around here.  The hugely impressive Morphing Stone and a prehistoric lightning-carving can be found three fields away to the south, past the trees on the other side of the stream.


Close-up of the stone

The title of ‘fertility stone’ seems a modern one, although word has it that it relates to Beltane fertility rites.  However, I can find no documentary information relating to this, and the people at Eastwoods Farm and adjacent house know nothing to account for it.


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


  1. Graeme Chappell on the Fertility Stone
  2. Guidecliff Woods & Fertility Stone images

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Brimham Rocks, Hartwith, North Yorkshire

Legendary Rocks:  OS Grid Reference – SE 210 649

Also Known as:

  1. Brimham Crags

Getting Here

Sunfall behind Mushroom Rock

From the lovely village of Summerbridge (near Pateley Bridge), go up the steep Hartwith Bank road, going straight across at the crossroads for another few hundred yards, passing the old tombs of Graffa Plain on your right…and they’ll start appearing on your left-hand side (west).  Do not go into the expensive National Trust car-park.  Instead (if you’ve already gone too far), about 100 yards before the Car Park you’ll find a small dirt-track on your left a short distance away.  But if you drive past the rip-off car park, another 100 yards on there’s another spot where you can easily park up on the right-hand side of the road.  Then cross the road and follow y’ nose…

Archaeology & History

The OS grid reference given above is an approximation — for obvious reasons.  This is a huge area that’s covered by Britain’s finest natural megalithic features, obviously sculptured by Nature Herself — though many are the historians who sought to give Druids the credit here.   God knows how!  The area over which these magnificent rock sentinels live covers some 60 acres and is some 1000 feet above sea level.  The view from the hill around which the encircling parade of rocks guards is excellent, allowing our eyes to catch focus on the distant lands of Whernside, Simon’s Seat, York Minster, the Cleveland Hills and Kilburn’s white horse.  It’s quite a view.

Easternmost Rocking Stone
Idol Stone (Godfrey Higgins 1826)

But this tends to be overlooked when you first visit the place, as the rocks which surround and walk alongside you overwhelm with impressions not encountered before.  To those with spirit, you’ll be bouncing and running all day here, clambering upon rocking stones, jumping between dodgy gorges that await falls, and just aching to climb pinnacles that deny you.  But then, if you need the selfishness of silence, this arena will only grant such solace when the rains are about, or dense fog and low cloud keeps others from this haunting amphitheatre.  And it’s not surprising…  The mass of rocks contort into the most beautiful and curious simulacra, which would not have gone unnoticed, nor deemed unimportant in the sacred landscape of our ancestors…

Brimham Rocks have been written about since the 17th century, though they didn’t receive the serious attention of outsiders until the 19th, when numerous Victorian writers — from antiquarians and geologists, to archaeologists and Druids — got to hear about the place.  And by the beginning of the 20th century, a veritable mass of articles had been written in journals and travelogues of all persuasions!  These quiet Yorkshire Rocks had become truly famous!

Brimham Rocks (Walbran 1856)
Old Woman and her consort

A lengthy essay was written in the distinguished archaeology journal of its time, Archaeologia, by northern historian Hayman Rooke (1787), who thought that some of the rocks here had been tampered with by the druids; with the legendary Cannon Rock in particular possessing oracular properties.  The site as a whole was, he posited, a temple for Druids in ancient days.  Certainly the place would have been deemed as sacred, whether by the druids or our more remote neolithic and Bronze Age ancestors.

Harry Speight & his mates, c.1890

In Harry Speight’s magnum opus, Nidderdale (1894), he described these rocky giants as best as he could, admitting as others before and since, that no mere words can convey the impression that only a personal encounter liberates, saying:

“The Brimham Rocks are among the greatest natural wonders of Yorkshire, and many have been the theories from time to time advanced as to the cause of their extraordinary aspects… The resemblances to natural and artificial objects are most striking.  There we have the Elephant Rock, the Porpoise Head, the Dancing Bear (a very singular, naturally-shaped specimen), the Boat Rock, showing the bow and stern completely, etc.  Then there is the great Idol Rock, a most mysterious-looking object, of almost incredible size and form.  It is a perfectly detached block, fully twenty feet high, weathered along face joints into three roughly circular pieces, each from 40 to 50 feet in circumference, piled one above the other; the whole mass, weighing by estimation over 200 tons, being poised on a pyramid 3½ feet in diameter; the pivot itself supporting this immense column having a diameter of barely 12 inches.

“East of the guide’s house are the famous Rocking Stones, consisting of a group of four rocks, which were discovered to be movable in the year 1786.  The two on the west side weighing approximately 50 and 25 tons, require but little force to vibrate, while those on the east side, though much smaller are not so well poised and do not move readily.  Each of the larger stones has a basin-like cavity on the top, and a kind of knee-hole open to the north, said to be the work of Druids.  Close to the Rocking Stones are the appropriately-named Oyster-shell Rock, and the Hippopotamus’ Head.  Turning now some thirty yards north of the Idol Rock we ascend Mount Delectable, where is the agreeable Courting or Kissing Chair, happily at not too close quarters with the above Hippopotamus’ Head and Boar’s Snout.  The Chair consists of a single seat, but why it should be so called, I had better leave the amorous lover to solve.  West of these is the more sober Druid’s Reading Desk, with its church-like lectern on a stout stone base.  The we come to the Lover’s Leap, a gigantic and abrupt face of beetling crag, weathered to the west, and rising to a height of 60 to 70 feet, with three immense fragments balanced in a very remarkable manner at the summit.  The rock is in tow principal sections, and an iron hand-rail has been fixed across the chasm to enable visitors to look down from the top.  Further south are the Frog and Tortoise Rocks, the latter presenting from one point of view a capital resemblance to a tortoise creeping up the face of the crag towards the imaged frog.  A little below this is a good imitation of a cannon, projecting from the edge of the cliff.  In addition to these singular resemblances there are many others which the guide points out, such as the Yoke of Oxen, Mushroom Rocks, Druid’s Oven, Dog’s Head, Telescope, and the curiously perforated Cannon Rock, etc.”

In a later work, Speight (1906) also mentioned the existence of a Druid’s Circle some 300 yards west of the main natural temples, but this site appears to have been destroyed.  Thankfully the large standing stone on Hartwith Moor, a mile to the south, can still be found upright…


Idol Stone (Hargrove 1809)

In folklore, there’s little surprise this place was held by just about every 18th and 19th century historian as a ‘druidic site.’ But more interesting – in the light of Paul Devereux’s (2001) work on acoustic archaeology – is what Edmund Bogg (c.1895) said of these huge contorted stones:

“In bygone days these immense stones were supposed to be the habitation of spirits. The echo given from the rocks was said to be the voice of the spirit who dwelt there, and which the people named the Son of the Rocks. From a conversation we had with the peasantry not far from here, it seems the ancient superstition had not yet fully disappeared.”

This is precisely the notion of spirit given to rocky places elsewhere in the world, where the very echo was perceived as the ‘voice of the rocks’.  Meditate on it a bit, in situ. (a fine summary of this notion and its implications — which has crept into archaeology of late — can be found in Paul Devereux’s work, Stone Age Soundtracks)

One of Brimham’s southwestern rocks was known as the Noon Stone when Mr Rooke (1787) came here.  There are many stones with this name scattering Yorkshire and other northern counties, each with the same mythic background: that the sun casts a shadow from it at midday to indicate the time of day.  Of this Noon Stone Mr Hooke also told us that,

“On Midsummer Eve fires are lighted on the side.  Its situation is apposite for this purpose, being on the edge of a hill, commanding an extensive view.   This custom is of the most remote antiquity.”

On the very southern edge of Brimham’s Rocks (some might say beyond their real border) is the Beacon Rock — and it is aptly named: as in the year 1887 on the day of Queen Victoria’s Jubilee, a great beacon fire was lit here, signalling to others in the distance.  Its title however, pre-dates Victoria’s Jubilee, though we don’t know how far back in time it goes…

…to be continued…


  1. Bogg, Edmund, From Eden Vale to the Plains of York, James Miles: Leeds c.1895.
  2. Devereux, Paul, Stone Age Soundtracks: The Acoustic Archaeology of Ancient Sites, Vega: London 2001.
  3. Grainge, William, The History and Topography of Harrogate and the Forest of Knaresborough, John Russell Smith: London 1871.
  4. Harrison, William, A Descriptive Account of Brimham Rocks in the West Riding of Yorkshire, A. Johnson: Ripon 1846.
  5. Michell, John, The Earth Spirit: Its Ways, Shrines and Mysteries, Thames & Hudson: London 1975.
  6. Michell, John, Simulacra, Thames & Hudson: London 1979.
  7. Rooke, Hayman, “Some Account of the Brimham Rocks in Yorkshire,” in Archaeologia journal, volume 8, 1787.
  8. Speight, Harry, Nidderdale and the Garden of the Nidd, Elliot Stock: London 1894.
  9. Speight, Harry, Upper Nidderdale, with the Forest of Knaresborough, Elliot Stock: London 1906.
  10. Walbran, John Richard, A Guide to Ripon, Fountains Abbey, Harrogate, Bolton Abbey, etc, Johnson: Ripon 1856.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Graffa Plain, Hartwith, North Yorkshire

Tumuli (destroyed?):  OS Grid References – SE 211 642

Getting Here

Early OS-map showing ‘tumuli’

Take the road up to Brimham Rocks from Summerbridge; crossing the little crossroads, then keep your eyes peeled for the singular farmhouse on your right.  Just beyond this, on your right, you’ll notice some small moorland opens up and reaches gently down the slope for some distance.  Go along the footpath for 100 yards or so, then into the heather to your right, for 60 yards or so (as if you walking towards the farmhouse and small crags).  This is where the following sites could be found. (when we visited Brimham recently, unfortunately sunfall stopped us having a proper wander here, so the status of the site/s remains unknown to us)

Archaeology & History

This little-known and possibly destroyed prehistoric site — less than a mile north of Standing Stone Hill and just a coupla hundred yards south of the legendary Brimham Rocks — has been described by several antiquarians from the early 19th century onwards.  It’s an intriguing place, deserving of much greater antiquarian attention.  Ely Hargrove (1809) appears to be the first who mentions prehistoric tombs here, though his sense of direction implies another site (unless he just got that part of it wrong?).   Along with “several small tumuli or carns” near another section of Brimham Rocks themselves, he told there to be,

“Several large tumuli; one of which about 80 yards west of the great Cannon, measures 150 feet in circumference. It is worth remarking that the place where most of these tumuli are found is, at this day, called Graffa Plain, i.e., the Plain of Graves.”

These ‘tumuli’ were again mentioned briefly in passing by one ‘D.N.H.’ in the Gentleman’s Magazine of November 1823.  The great Knaresborough historian William Grainge also described cairns here.  They were then highlighted on the very first Ordnance Survey of the region in the 1850s and shown as “Supposed tumuli.”   Eventually, at the turn of the 20th Century, they were explored at the behest of the local land-owner by Mr L.A. Armstrong.  His description of what they found here is intriguing and well worth reproducing in full:

“By permission of the Right Hon. Lord Grantley, I was enabled to make a careful examination of two of the ancient burial mounds of ‘ Graff a Plain,’ Brimham Moor, on Tuesday, August 4th, 1908.

“Mound No. 1, of circular form, and about 12′ o” in diameter, is situated about 150 yards north-west of the first large group of rocks, upon the south-eastern boundary of the moor, and about 50 yards south-east of the trackway leading to ‘ Riva Hill Farm,’ and it occupies the summit of a slight hillock, upon a comparatively level portion of the heath, which rises rapidly to the south of it in a bold sweep, terminating in the outstanding rocks of Graffa Crags and Brimham Beacon.

“The entire absence of any heather upon the mound, and the profusion of bright green bilberry plants which covered it and at the same time rendered its outline more noticeable, told plainly of a different character of subsoil from that of the surrounding moor ; but prominent as the mound appeared, its actual elevation was deceptive, being barely two feet above the natural level, and the uneven character of the upper surface suggested previous disturbance to be more than probable. A few attempts to pierce the crown, however, proved it to be a cairn, constructed of large stones, and accounted for the prolific growth of the rock-loving bilberry which overspread it, as well as for the uneven character of the surface.

“The thick green covering was carefully stripped off in lengths and placed on one side, and the few inches of vegetable earth removed, revealing the cairn in an almost perfect state, formed of a series of large stones placed methodically in concentric rings, each stone slightly inclined towards the centre, and the whole mass interlocked together by their own weight. Large stones were placed around the outside forming the enclosing circle, which is almost invariably found in the case of earth-built tumuli, and a few of these had been visible before the covering was stripped.

“The construction of the cairn rendered it necessary to remove the stones from the outer ring first, and to work gradually towards the centre where the burial, if such existed, might be expected to lie. This proved no easy task, as the stones were so tightly wedged, and had each apparently been specially selected for the purpose. Almost without exception, they were about a foot in diameter, oblong or oval in form, and three to five inches in thickness, with flat surfaces and rounded edges. No marks of tools were visible on any, but all alike were either water-worn, or had been especially rubbed to their present form. The stone itself was the Millstone Grit of the surrounding moor, but fragments of stone of the form composing the cairn are not now to be found thereon readily, although a careful search might reveal such. Personally I am inclined to think that they have been transported from a considerable distance; that great care has been exercised in their selection is indisputable.

“When nearing the inner radius of the cairn, small fragments of charcoal were noticeable, but they were by no means in large quantities. There was also a layer of fine grey sand an inch or two in depth, which had apparently been spread over the natural surface of the ground, and the stones bedded therein.  Sand of this kind is abundant in the vicinity of the rocks upon the moor.

“In the centre, large pieces of stone were piled around a rough circle of about 3′ 6” extreme diameter, and within these, large and small stones, all of the form previously noticed, were laid more or less upon their flat surfaces, and amongst them the grey sand and charcoal were very evident; pieces of the latter up to an inch square, being found.

“Upon the gradual removal of this central mass of stones, the presence of the unmistakable black ‘barrow earth’ became evident in a slight layer, perhaps an inch or an inch and a half in thickness, and spread over the whole area within the inner ring, the bottom of which had been paved with large flat stones. Amongst this earth very slight traces of a greyish white paste-like substance were”] visible, probably the decomposed remains of the bones after calcination. The deposit was carefully gathered together. Its removal bared the large stones forming the bottom of the grave, and these proved to be two in number, the largest being about 2′ o” across, and of a somewhat angular form ; strikingly different to those composing the cairn itself, for the edges were rough fractures, not rounded in any way. Apparently the surface soil had been removed from the ground upon which the cairn was built, for the upper face of the two stones forming the bottom was level with the natural ground surface adjoining, so far as could be ascertained, and these had apparently been laid down for the reception of the deposited remains.

“As there was every reason to believe that some portion of the ashes might have been placed in an urn, efforts were made to raise the stones above mentioned in hopes of a discovery.  This was by no means easy, but by care and perseverance, it was at last accomplished, but only to meet with disappointment. Immediately beneath was a slight layer of ashes upon the natural ground surface, which latter showed very evident signs of fire, the bright yellow sand composing the substratum being calcined to a dark red colour for quite 2” in depth. This sand was very stiff and compact. The most diligent search failed to reveal any trace of a hole or other disturbance at any point, or of any implements which might have accompanied the body, either upon the surface or amidst the cairn.

“One stone found amidst those immediately covering the deposit, was remarkable because entirely different from all the remainder composing the cairn, and appeared to have been shaped with some definite object in view. It was a fragment of hard sandstone, in the form of a truncated pyramid, the sides and top being roughly fractured to shape, but the base was quite smooth, and bore marks of friction. The base measured 6″ x 5″, and the height about 4½”.  This might have been used as a crushing and grinding stone for grain, or for rubbing purposes, but careful search failed to reveal its companion slab.  With this exception, nothing was found that could be considered as having been fashioned for use, and there was nothing to throw any light upon the probable period of the cairn’s erection.

“The second tumulus examined is situated about 100 yards south-west of the first. It was of rather irregular shape, and appeared to have been somewhat disturbed, but the original diameter had probably been about 9′ o”. Upon examination, it also proved to be of the cairn type, and apparently similar to that previously opened, but it had been disturbed throughout at some distant period, and no trace of the deposit could be found, although the yellow sand forming the subtratum was noticeable, calcined over the whole area as before. There were also traces of charcoal. It is remarkable that amidst the smaller stones of this cairn another ‘ rubbing stone ‘ was found, almost identical with that in the former one, and similarly, this proved to be the only ‘ find ‘ of any description bearing certain traces of man’s handiwork.

“Although somewhat disappointing not to be able to assign the erection of these cairns to any definite period, yet their examination proves valuable for two reasons. First it places beyond any question the nature of the mounds scattered over this portion of Brimham Moor, which is known by the name of ‘ Graffa Plain,’ a name which the late Mr. William Grange translates as ‘ the place of graves ‘ — significant in itself, though he at the same time casts a doubt upon the formation of the mounds in question being anything other than natural. The identity of the grave mounds being established, they prove that a settlement of primitive man of no small magnitude must have been located somewhere in the vicinity.”

The word ‘graffa’ seems to be the plural for ‘graff’, which the english dialect magus, Joseph Wright (1900), convincingly assures us to derive from the old english, “græf, a grave, trench.”  This seems confirmed by the common finding of ‘graff’ in regional dialects from Yorkshire, Lancashire and other northern counties, where it relates specifically to ‘graves.’  A variation on the word, as cited above, finds ‘graff’ occasionally relating to “a ditch or trench; a channel, cutting; a hole, pit or hollow.”  The usually helpful A.H. Smith (1961-63) was curiously silent on this place-name; but local historians Grainge, Walbran and others tell us that Graffa Plain is simply “the plain of the graves.”

I know of no other accounts that have explored this site.  Does anyone have any further information about this place?


  1. Armstrong, A. Leslie, “Two Ancient Burial Cairns on Brimham Moor, Yorkshire,” in The Naturalist, March 1909.
  2. Hargrove, Ely, The History of the Castle, Town and Forest of Knaresborough, Hargrove & Sons: Knaresborough 1809.
  3. Smith, William, “Yorkshire Place-Names,” in W. Smith’s Old Yorkshire – volume 1 (Longmans, Green & Co.: London 1881).
  4. Wright, Joseph (ed.), English Dialect Dictionary – volume 2, Henry Frowde: London 1900.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Eastwoods Cross Base, Summerbridge, North Yorkshire

Cross & Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 18506 62013

Also Known as:

  1. Carving no.637 (Boughey & Vickerman)

Getting Here

Drawing of CR 637 (after Boughey & Vickerman)
Drawing of CR 637 (after Boughey & Vickerman)

The same directions as for the Eastwoods Farm Cup: from Summerbridge, go west on the B6541 towards Dacre Banks, where there’s the signpost for the Nidderdale Way footpath.  Follow this past the disused quarry and into the meadows.  When you hit the Monk Ing road, bear right (north) and keep going till you’re 100 yards from Eastwoods Farm.  Go right, down into the field for about 30 yards or so.  Look around!

Archaeology & History

Described in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) survey as a “low, medium-sized, quadrant-shaped rock standing up from surroundings, with hollowed out central area.”  This hollowed-out central area is, in all likelihood, the remains of a previously unrecognized old cross-base, although investigating archaeologists have somehow missed this.  The stone’s proximity to the old Monk’s Way — a medieval trade route used by the local monastic Order — would give added weight to this assertion.  A perusal of field-name records here may prove fruitful.

Eastwoods Farm Cross-base & Cup-Marks (courtesy Richard Stroud)
Eastwoods Farm Cross-base & Cup-Marks (© Richard Stroud)

Our authors counted “eight possible small, badly worn cups, (with) three grooves running from central basin, all possibly natural.” The grooves may well be natural, but I’d say that one or two of the cups appear to be genuine.  The large hollow in the middle of the stone may originally have been a cup-marking (or maybe even a cup-and-ring — but we’ll never know), before it became used as a site to erect a primitive cross.

Several other cup-and-ring carvings can be found around here — the Eastwoods Farm Cup is in the same field nearby— with the great likelihood of there being others hidden amidst trees or grasses, waiting to be re-awakened!  The hugely impressive Morphing Stone and a prehistoric lightning-carving can be found in the next field, full of rocks, on the other side of the stream.


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

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Eastwoods Farm Cup, Heyshaw, North Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 1852 6201

Also Known as:

  1. IAG637a (Boughey)

Single cup-marked stone in the field below Eastwoods Farm

Getting Here

From the large village of Summerbridge, go west along the B6541 towards Dacre Banks, where you’ll see the signpost for the Nidderdale Way footpath.  Follow this past the disused quarry and onto the meadows.  When you hit the Monk Ing road, bear right (north) and keep going till you’re 100 yards from Eastwoods Farm.  Go right, down into the fields for 50 yards or so.  Look around!

Archaeology & History

A previously unlisted single cup-marked stone which is likely to become overgrown by the grasses pretty soon.  Several other carvings are in close attendance in this field.  It’s not far from the cup-marked Eastwoods Cross Base (aka CR 637) in the same field, but a little further down.  In all probability there are other carvings yet to be found in this area.  The rock art student Keith Boughey (2007) mentioned it briefly in an article on the other carvings nearby, saying simply:

“A small area of rock (very possibly bedrock) measuring 40cm x 14cm at its greatest extent pokes up through the turf, showing one worn but clear cup-mark on its western edge (Fig 3). On its own, this marking would not be significant were it not for the fact that four other carved rocks are already recorded from this particular locality.”

The hugely impressive Morphing Stone and a prehistoric lightning-carving can be found in the next field, full of rocks, on the other side of the stream.

(NB: In a more recent visit to the site (August 2011), the carving had all but disappeared beneath ever-growing Earth.)


  1. Boughey, K., “Prehistoric Rock Art: Four New Discoveries in Nidderdale,” in Prehistoric Research Section Bulletin, no.44, Yorkshire Archaeological Society 2007.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Tadpole Stone, Eastwoods Rough, Dacre, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 18601 61644

Also known as:

  1. Eastwoods Rough II Carving
  2. IAG638b (Boughey)

Getting Here

Tadpole Stone, Dacre

To get here, follow the same directions as if you’re going to the Morphing Stone.  This carving is in the same field, but about 100 yards SSW of there, just to the south-side of the Nidderdale Way footpath.  There’s plenty of rocks about, but with a bit of patience or a natural rock-art dowser’s nose, you’ll find the carving easily enough!

Archaeology & History

Tadpole Stone plan
Tadpole Stone plan (© Richard Stroud)

This is another relatively recent find — though I wonder whether the nearby ‘Fertility Stone’ (about 500 yards north, in some walling) should switch names with this carving, as this one gives the distinct impression of sperm fertilizing the egg!  Don’t you agree!?  The name of the Tadpole Stone was given to it by Michala Potts — and the photograph and design are used, courtesy of Richard Stroud.  In the next field from here, towards Eastwoods Farm, we find the Eastwoods Cross base and cup-markings and adjacent cup-marked stone.  Not far away are other carvings, aswell as a number of other Bronze- and Iron-Age sites.

This design was described in Keith Boughey’s (2007) article on the rock art around Eastwoods Farm, telling how it

“was discovered by Kevin Cale and reported to the N.Y.C.C. SMR back in 2001… A low profile moss-covered earthfast rock a little over 1m in diameter in any one direction immediately S of the Nidderdale Way about 100m east of the end of Monk Ing Road and S of Eastwoods Farm at SE 18601 61643 and 172m O.D. Its domed surface carries a somewhat unusual design interestingly reminiscent of the design carved at the previous site which lies in the same field and landscape 160m to the north-west… An oval or egg-shaped groove enclosed up to six cups; a groove or channel, often referred to as a ‘comet tail’ in rock art motif vocabulary, runs from the central group of the six out beyond the enclosing groove, bends sharply and continues down over the sloping face of the rock.  A wide groove at the base of the rock running into the present turf line may be a further element of the carving.”


  1. Boughey, K., “Prehistoric Rock Art: Four New Discoveries in Nidderdale,” in Prehistoric Research Section Bulletin, no.44, Yorkshire Archaeological Society 2007.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Morphing Stone, Dacre, North Yorkshire

Cup-and-Ring Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 18559 61795

Also known as:

  1. Snoopy Stone
  2. Eastwoods Rough Carving
  3. IAG 638a (Boughey)

Getting Here

Mr Stroud's drawing of the stone
Mr Stroud’s drawing of the stone

Various ways to get here.  I s’ppose the easiest is from Dacre village.  If you go just past Sunny House, take the footpath on your right & walk along it, roughly straight across a number of fields, until you hit the footpath known as the Nidderdale Way.  The field you’re now in should be scattered with numerous rocks all over the place (if it aint, you’re in the wrong place), reaching down towards the trees.  Walk straight towards the trees for another 100 yards and the carving is somewhere hereabouts under your nose!  You’re very close! If, however, you decide to walk up the Nidderdale Way from Dacre Banks, the field you need is the one immediately to your right just before you reach the Monk Ing Road trackway.  The Tadpole Stone (or Eastwoods Rough II carving) is in the same field, close to the Nidderdale Way path — check that out aswell!

Archaeology & History

This is a large carving I found in April, 2006, in the company of rock-art student Richard Stroud (who sent us the pictures).  Twas in the midst of a fine day wandering about checking some of the ‘known’ sites in the area, when we happened across two or three previously unknown sites — and as the day wore on, just before we were gonna head for home, this little beauty poked the edge of its head out of the turf!  It had the pair of us in near rapture, with numerous “Wow’s” and excitable expletives coming from our mouths! We’re easily pleased us rock-art doods — but then it is a beauty when you first see it.

Morphing Stone carving (photo © Richard Stroud)
Morphing Stone carving (photo © Richard Stroud)
Morphing Stone, Dacre (photo © Richard Stroud)
Morphing Stone, Dacre (photo © Richard Stroud)

We came here several times in the weeks following its initial discovery, and it seemed that on each visit, we found an additional aspect to the carving.  It seemed to keep changing each time we came here — hence the name ‘Morphing Stone’!

The prime feature in the carving is the very large oval-shaped ‘ring’ with huge carved bowl in the middle and several outlying cups-markings around it.  Although it’s not plain to see in the photos, there’s a large tongue-shaped protuberance jutting out from one side of the main ringed feature.  You can also see a small cluster of cup-marks on the top-right of the rock: from here — though it isn’t easy to see in the photo — a long straight line links up with the edge of the major central ring.  Other lines run off on the top of the main feature and there are several other cup-markings on different parts of the stone.  It’s obviously best to see the carving “in the flesh”, so to speak, to get a good impression of what it actually looks like.  And, to those of you who might wanna venture up here, there are several others nearby.

A year or two after rediscovering the carving, rock art student Keith Boughey (2007) described the stone, saying:

“Measuring 2.61m from N-S and 1.88m from W-E at its greatest extent, the carved surface carries quite a complex design… At its N end is a large cup/basin with an approximate diameter of 25-30cm, surrounded by a ring that may or may not be complete: 2 cups have been incorporated into the ring on its N and W side. W of this ring a groove leads off S to a further possible cup. On the E side of the large central cup are 3 further cups of varying size. These motifs are all enclosed within a wide groove, which forms almost a dome pattern. Out of the ring, a further groove runs NW out of the design, bisecting the enclosing groove, curving round to form a handle shape before running back in towards the large central cup. The groove shows signs of continuing E towards the edge of the stone. Just outside the W edge of the enclosing dome is one well-defined cup. S of this, in a slight depression, are 2 further cups of differing size. A straight groove appears to run SW out of the enclosing dome shape on its E side towards further motifs on the stone’s S side. The groove may run into an area of cup marks, but there appears to be a break before it continues. When exposed, the carvings looked quite fresh and sharp, suggesting that they had remained covered for some considerable time – possible since antiquity or at least from a time in the prehistoric past when cup-and-ring-markings had begun to lose their significance and were no longer required to be visible in the landscape.”

To those of you who like the new computer images of cup-and-rings, the three below are samples from a number of such images done after the stone had been discovered.  Intriguingly, the long line running between the cluster of cups to the large cup-and-ring doesn’t show up too well; but the barely perceptible line running out, zigzag-fashion, from the large central cup-and-ring, shows up much clearer than when looking with the naked eye.

                          Morphing Stone Nikon Morphing4

  1. Boughey, K., “Prehistoric Rock Art: Four New Discoveries in Nidderdale,” in Prehistoric Research Section Bulletin, no.44, Yorkshire Archaeological Society 2007.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Hartwith Moor, Summerbridge, North Yorkshire

Standing Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 21233 62737

Also Known as:

  1. Standing Stone Hill


Getting Here

A half-mile south of the superb Brimham Rocks complex, take the straight road south until you hit the second farmhouse (and accompanying caravans).  Go up the public footpath past Highfield Farm and just check with the landowner’s permission to wander his land if you want to see the stone.  They’re OK about it if you ask.  The lady there is very amiable and will tell you what’s what, giving directions right to it, telling us it was off the footpath in the middle of one of his fields.

Archaeology & History

Archaeology texts are, once more, silent about this stone (and other monuments in the region), making you wonder just what the hell some of them are paid for!  The stone appears to have given its name to the land upon which it stands which, as the locals tell, “has always been known as standing stone hill.”  And no wonder — it’s a bloody decent standing stone!  On its northern face we find well-eroded lines running down the stone, similar to the weathering found on the Devil’s Arrows a few miles to the east.

Standing Stone Hill stone
Looking south

Although just over 6-feet tall, this is a solid bulky old fella.  But the spot he presently occupies isn’t his original standing place.  He was found knocked over and lying on the ground in the middle of the 20th century, slightly out of position.  But he was thankfully stood back upright by the local land-owners sometime in the 1960s, where he’s been stood ever since.  It must have been one helluva job!  And making it more difficult was the intriguing geological nature of the Earth right beneath this field.  As the lady who now own the land told us,

“When the fields were tilled we found that all of them were easy to turn over, except the one with the stone in it!  There’s virtually no soil of any depth to write home about,” she said.  “It stands on only a few inches of soil and then you hit solid rock right underneath it.  All the other fields are OK – but this one’s the odd one out.”

And before the fields were farmed, just over a hundred years ago, all this land was covered in moorland heather.  Then the land was enclosed, the Earth’s heathland stripped out of existence and turned over to agriculture.  But thankfully the standing stone was left here.  It makes you wonder what else was destroyed when the moorlands were industrialised…

The stone does get a brief mention in Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, where they mention there being “three possible cups in (a) line on one side” of the standing stone, but these are little more than Nature’s handiwork and nowt else.  There are a couple of other cup-and-rings nearby which are the real thing – but the ‘cups’ on this stone aint man-made.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

Brimham Rocks Circle, Summerbridge, North Yorkshire

Stone Circle:  OS Grid Reference – SE 2056 6507

Archaeology & History

Druid's Circle on 1854 map
Druid’s Circle on 1854 map

A site that was illustrated by the early Ordnance Survey lads between the haunted Boggart Crag and Brimham Rocks to the south, I haven’t thoroughly explored this area so don’t know if anything at all remains of what was described.  It may or may not have been an early folly.  The earliest reference to this missing circle comes from Mr Hayman Rooke’s (1787) essay on the Brimham Rocks complex in Archaeologia journal.  Described in context with other prehistoric remains in the locale, Mr Rooke said,

“About a quarter of a mile further to the west (of Brimham Rocks) is a Druid circle, with a vallum of earth and stones, thirty feet diameter. It is exactly of the same construction as those on Stanton Moor, in the Peak of Derbyshire. There are likewise several small tumuli. Thirteen of them are ranged in a kind of circle, the largest not above eighteen feet in diameter. They are formed of earth and large stones. Two of these I opened; towards the bottom the effects of fire appeared on the stones; and ashes were scattered about, but there were no urns to be found.”

This description was echoed a few years later by Ely Hargrove (1809) and reiterated by Godfrey Higgins (1829) in his work on the Druids, but neither authors added anything new (strongly implying they never actually saw this ‘circle’).  The last description I’ve found of the site is in Mr Speight’s (1906) survey — which gives the reality of the site considerably more credence!  He told us:

“About 80 yards west of the Cannon Rock is a large tumulus, and about 300 yards still further is a Druid’s Circle, thirty feet in diameter, mentioned by Hargrove in 1809.”

But that’s it!  Nowt else!  It would seem from Hooke’s initial writing, that we are perhaps looking at a lost cairn circle in this locale, but until someone finds it we will never know for sure.

Intriguingly, there are a number of other prehistoric remains not far from this seemingly lost ‘circle’.  There’s a large standing stone not far away on Standing Stone Hill a half-mile south (kinda gives the game away really, dunnit!?) which I first saw as a kid; some cup-and-ring stones nearby; and the seemingly lost tumuli of Graffa Plain, southeast of Brimham Rocks, showing that prehistoric folk were up to the usual tricks nearby.  But the ‘circle’ is seemingly lost.  Is there anyone out there who knows anything more about yet another one of Yorkshire’s lost stone circles?  More information about the circle or the tombs would be very welcome!


  1. Hargrove, Ely, The History of the Castle, Town and Forest of Knaresborough, Hargrove & Sons: Knaresborough 1809.
  2. Higgins, Godfrey, The Celtic Druids, R. Hunter: London 1829.
  3. Rooke, Hayman, “Some Account of the Brimham Rocks in Yorkshire,” in Archaeologia journal, volume 8, 1787.
  4. Speight, Harry, Upper Nidderdale, with the Forest of Knaresborough, Elliot Stock: London 1906.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian