Cup-and-Ring Stone: OS Grid Reference – SE 11164 42651
Also Known as:
- Carving no.107 (Boughey & Vickerman)
- Carving no.228 (Hedges)
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 track for a few hundred yards until you’re on the moor proper (by this I mean the track’s levelled out and you’re looking 360° all round you with all the moor in front of you). Just before the track starts a slight downhill slope, go into the heather on your right, for about 80 yards. You’re damn close!
Archaeology & History
I first came here many years back in my mid- to late-teens with an old school-friend Jon Tilleard, wandering about adventurously, occasionally stopping here and there when I found some stupid cup-mark or other seemingly innocuous scratch on the rocks, gerrin’ all excited and jumping about like a tit! But when we visited the place again a few days back my response was somewhat different. I was worse! But for good reason…
The potential variations visible in this carving are peculiar, to say the least. Ones first impression shows a carving similar in many ways to that shown in Hedges (1986) fine survey; but upon closer inspection a number of initial visual responses begin to look murky. A seeming cup-with-double-ring aint what it seems! To me at least (sad fella that I am!), it’s far more intriguing and far less certain, with a number of oddities still left.
The central feature of the carving is the lovely near-cup-and-double-ring! As we can see in the photo here, there are some insecurities in the top-right of the outer ring. To the upper right of this is another cup-with-partial-ring that was not included in the Hedges (1986) survey, nor Boughey & Vickerman’s (2003) updated work. There are some obvious pecked carved lines — whose specific definition yet remains unclear — in and around this area of the petroglyph; but in the “official” illustration these elements or ingredients were somehow missed.
When we visited the stone the other day, the naturally eroded lines on the rock seemed pretty obvious; but the more we looked, the less secure we were about some of them. Thankfully the light kept changing about, allowing us to get different perspectives — and with the low sunlight of evening casting itself across the rock, some additional features seemed obvious. In particular, what seemed like two natural “scratches” on the stone turned out to have been pecked and carved and the straight lines ran into the double cup-and-ring on the left-side. One of these — the lower and shorter of the two — seems to run into the central cup, but this aint certain. The longer top line has an even more circuitous venture: entering the outer ring, it passes onto the top-inner ring and then bends along its edge, before exiting again on the right-hand side, through the outer ring and heading out towards the large natural eroded cutting a few feet away (see my crappy drawing to get an idea). Other faint aspects on this stone may have the hand of man behind them…
There are certainly a few other cups on the stone: one with a near semi-circle on its lower and right-hand side. The long nature-worn cut, right-of-middle, may have had the hand of man cutting into the cup at the bottom; and another couple of “is it? — isn’t it?” enhanced natural cups seem possible on the left side of the rock. There is also what looks like a distinct single cup-marking on the west-facing vertical face of the stone (you walk towards it from the track). It looks pretty decent, but I’ll let them there “professionals” assess the validity or otherwise of that one! But the other unmistakable and very curious ingredient is the deep, worn arc beneath the primary double-ring feature. This is, as the photo shows, separated by a long natural crack running halfway down and along the stone, above which possibly the double-ring feature touches. This large ‘arc’ feature gives the distinct impression of being a big smile! However…
Turn the image of the central feature upside down and you get a very different effect indeed. A rainbow above the surface of the Earth, with (perhaps) a pool in which the sun has reflected? Or an underworld venture? Looking at it from a few angles gives the impression of a comet moving across the sky, aswell as an eclipse with the diamond-ring effect. But as with cup-and-ring in general, there are plenty of other potentials! Which also begs the question: was it to be looked from the top or bottom (or left or right for that matter)?
I could waffle about this particular carving for much longer, showing that it had quite an effect on me. Check it out and sit with it for a while… It’s superb!
- Boughey, Keith & Vickerman, E.A., Prehistoric Rock Art of the West Riding, WYAS 2003.
- Hedges, John (ed.), The Carved Rocks on Rombalds Moor, WYMCC: Wakefield 1986.
© Paul Bennett, The Northern Antiquarian