Backstone Beck, Ilkley Moor, West Yorkshire

Cup-Marked Stone:  OS Grid Reference – SE 12549 46814

Getting Here

Backstone Beck stone

Walk up Cowpasture Road from Ilkley town centre, and just where the road bends to the left (100 yards above the mini-roundabout), just before the cattle-grid in the road, you’ll notice a tree-lined rocky valley running up onto the moors on your right-hand side.  Walk up the valley for about 175 yards (it’ll feel a bit longer than that though!), where you’ll meet with a wooden bridge.  There’s a small path running up above the western side of the stream, for about 50 yards, then drop down to the stream itself and look up another 20 yards ahead of you.  Y’ can’t miss it!

Archeology & History

Sitting right by the stream-side, this large rounded, ‘female’ boulder doesn’t appear to have been described in any written references, as far as I’m aware.  It’s another one of a number of uncatalogued carved stones on Ilkley Moor which first came to our attention during an earth mystery walk in the 1980s.  It’s nowt special to be honest, unless you’re a real petroglyph fanatic.

Scruffy old sketch, c.1986

Close-up of faded markings

Although the old drawing I did of the place shows a curiously-shaped large D-shaped ‘ring’ enclosing a single cup, this has deteriorated somewhat even in just 25 years.  The two archetypal cups on the left-hand face of the rock are still pretty clear; but what looks like a large cup-marking in the centre of the stone would appear to be natural.

If you walk a few hundred yards up the beck from here, a number of much more ornate carvings can be found above the edge of the valley that might be more to your liking – like the Hanging Stones to the east, desecrated by incomers and retrieved by the faerie tribes of the moor; plus the Rosette Stone, the Map Stone, the Backstone carving, and many more.

© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian

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About megalithix

Occultist, prehistorian and independent archaeological researcher, specializing in prehistoric rock art, Neolithic, Bronze Age & Iron Age sites, and the animistic cosmologies of pre-Christian & traditional cultures.
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